Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Phil and Trev and Sal and Pam.


I had the four of them – back to back last night. First Phil aka HRH Prince Philip was interviewed by Trevor MacDonald and then Salman Rushdie was interviewed by Pamela Stephenson aka Dr Pamela Connolly.

I have always had a lot of time for Philip since he was a dashing naval officer, he was the George Clooney of our days, except that he was a real hero, mentioned in dispatches and serving throughout WW2. Elizabeth fell in love with him as a teenager and has proved, after 60 years of marriage, how right she was. The most telling remark about him last night was:

‘The thing about the Duke – nobody ever leaves him.’

He hasn’t had an easy ride. The establishment would have much preferred the heir to the throne to marry a chinless duke. And when Elizabeth became Queen he had to give up his absorbing naval career and find a job for himself. He has managed the Royal Estates, actively heads about 500 charitable establishments and has passionately supported all young people and conservation, decades before this was the’ in’ thing to do.

He is famous for his outspokenness and irascibility. When he was driving Trevor Macdonald around Sandringham- sometimes with both hands on the wheel, he got stuck in the mud, and there was some hilarious prolonged bleeping whilst he unstuck his vehicle. Then again when he asked for trees lining the road to be thinned, ‘the bloody idiot’ did it all wrong.

I have a theory that the Royal couple are happier now than they have ever been. Imagine having your MIL and SIL at close quarters all of your married life. It was great to see him firing on all cylinders in his eighties and long may he continue.

I have seen a number of the Dr Pamela Connolly interviews and am fascinated to see how the outrageous actress/ comedienne, after marrying the outrageous Billy Connolly had morphed into this earth mother- like psychotherapist (or clinical psychologist) with more gravitas than Margaret Thatcher’s hair spray.

I haven’t read any of Sir Salman Rushdie’s books but used to feel impatient with him for never having a good word to say about Britain when Britain was protecting him – at great expense- for years. Now- thanks to ‘Shrink Rap’ I understand.

His father although a delightful parent to small children, was violent and abusive when drunk. Salman was sent to Rugby where he always felt an outsider. He had three stripes against him – he came from abroad, he was clever and he was rubbish at games. As far as his father was concerned coming second was not an option. It seemed the only real affection came from his ayah and Salman felt under loved. Pamela talked abut his ‘underlying rage’ and came out with the phrase: ‘Be perfect or die’. She does tend to find a phrase or word and then belabours it – usually with the co-operation of the interviewee.

She does have the gift of getting the subject to open up and Salman was amusing when he said during the sixties at Cambridge only about 50 other people were having all the fun and moving when, close to tears, he said how touchéd he had been, when at a reading, a woman had thanked him for writing abut her life.

After four divorces Salman feels he is in a good place and content to be single. He spent 13 long years struggling to be recognised as a writer and to give his life some meaning. I’m glad for him and although I find it difficult to take the programme entirely seriously I’m grateful for the insight and greater understanding of a man of our times.

Two very interesting men.


Sam, Problemchildbride said...

I'm a fan of Rushdie's, however Pamela Stephenson gets on my nerves, although I can't say exactly why, or even if it's fair.

I'd have watched the interview though as Rushdie interests me more than Stephenson irritates me. 4 divorces? Blimey, I didn't know that. Poor man to have had such a monster father.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I've never read any of Rushdie but have seen him here and there on different YV shows--I'm thinking particularly of Bill Mahers Show REAL TIME...which quite political and I enjoy it tremendously....! I must try to read the book you mentioned.

Pribce Philip....another country alltogether! It cannot be easy to have been in the position he has been in ALL these many many years...! I have a difficult time understanding how Royalty carry's off their roles. Always having to be "on", etc. I don't know if it is true but I had always heard that Prince Philip was a bit of an Anti-Semite...And I must admit that has colored my feelings about him quite a bit. If it is true, well...it is not a very admirable thing in my eyes.

PI said...

Sam: I know exactly why she irritates you because I feel the same. She becomes a parody of the 'know it all - nothing you can say will phase me and BTW don't you fancy me rotten' type of shrink.
I never thought I would feel sorry for Salman but I really did. He's desperate for people to like him, in spite of his spiky exterior.

Naomi: I do hope you are wrong about Philip. Like you that, I believe, is an absolute no-no!
He is very un PC and uses expressions which are no longer acceptable. I really don't want to believe that he is in any way anti Semitic.

Dandelion said...

I'm sorry to say it, but Pamela Stephenson is a ghastly woman that is an affront to all genuine psychotherapists. Her smugness really gets my goat - a real psychotherapist would know they had nothing to be smug about. I pity those to really go to her for help.

PI said...

Dandelion: oh dear! Pamela isn't doing too well on the popularity stakes.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I hate Salman Rushdie because he can write. Okay, not hate, call it jealous, and I'm so jealous I only read the first page of his books then put them down. Boooo me.

I don't know much about the others.

The thing about famous people is that they are like us with our frailties, humanness. I often wonder, if any of us got famous, what would the media say about us. Eeeeeek.

PI said...

GG: I have always imagined his books would be intellectually beyond me but having seen his tears I might give them a go.
It's strange that underneath that apparent arrogance is a little boy wanting to be hugged.
I don't think I would handle personal criticism well. If I thought it was valid I'd be upset and if it wasn't, enraged. Oh to be a cool customer - like Joan Didion. Or at least appear to be. Who knows?

Anonymous said...

oh tish-tosh - I wanted to watch that Phil the Greek programme and now I've missed it.

I've no idea how to work On Demand or whatever it is that VirginMedia offer for you to watch missed programmes. So that's that, then.

I wanted to find out more about him and his life ... hoping he doesn't regret giving up the Navy ...

not interested in Salman and Pamela AT ALL!!


PI said...

Belle: hope you get my message - he's on Part 2 at 9pm ITV #1 tonight.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Pat - yes I got that ....
I'll record it - I know why I missed it now ... Waking the Dead (two parter) is on at the same time ... broadcast by my esteemed employer so am duty bound to watch (not!)

No idea about the anti-Semitism - it's not something I've ever thought about vis-a-vis Prince Philip. But the Russian, Greek and British royal families are a bit beyond my knowledge of their social mores.

Dredging stuff out of my memory, now. Wasn't Edwina Mountbatten Jewish? Can't see how she would have become so accepted (if you disregard her youthful wildness) if there was anything anti in the family!


PI said...

Belle : I've done some googling and am satisfied that he is not anti semitic. On the contrary. There was a vicious rumour started by the chap who owns Harrods.

Anonymous said...

oh no - he gets everywhere - I am SO glad we didn't give him a British passport - he has proved definitely NOT the right sort.

btw have updated story part viii a bit if you care to visit!!

sablonneuse said...

Hoping to catch part two tonight if Bear goes to bed early.
id you sort out the page numbers?

Keith said...

Yes, Phillip is a great character and also a great hunter and crackshot to boot. I visited Sandringham once and the trophy room was open to the public. There were literally hundreds of heads of wild animals lining the walls, all reputedly to have been shot by the Duke in various parts of the world over a long period of time. I was most impressed. Pity it's now closed to the public and never mentioned in the publicity blurb.

PI said...

Belle: I am so grateful. I have just sorted the number problem. Thank you and I'll be round in a jiffy.

Sandy: I've just done it now - thanks to Belle.

Keith: I went to Sandringham also but don't remember the trophy room. I really enjoyed the furniture and decor though.

Keith said...

"Don't mention the Trophy Room, I did once, but I think I got away with it!" - Apologies to Basil Fawlty.

Eryl Shields said...

I've never read a whole book of Salman Rushdie but have read odd phrases quoted here and there and thought 'wow! I must read him' but haven't yet got round to it. Probably if his early years hadn't been so difficult and he wasn't so fragile he wouldn't be so good at what he does. There seems to be a lot of evidence to suggest that to make great art you need to be very angry about something. And apparently a lot of writers, who studies have shown are the maddest of all artists, refuse psychotherapy because they fear it will fix them and rob them of their talent.

I don't have a TV so I never get to see these people, haven't seen Pamela Stephenson for twenty years!

kenju said...

YOu make them sound more interesting than ever!

PI said...

Keith: I think I get the connection:)

Eryl: she is a totally different person. Rather like the people she used to lampoon.

Judy: Thank you dear:)

Dandelion said...

The chap that owns Harrods, he did lose a son in highly dubious circumstances, and what looks suspiciously like a cover-up, let us not forget. All paranoia is usually rooted in some degree of reality, and watered by intolerable hurt.

PI said...

Dandelion: for his own sake - I hope he can accept the decision of the court and let his son rest in peace.

Keith said...

No matter what the authorities and the courts say, there will always be that nagging thought in my mind that things about Di and Dodi's accident are not right.

PI said...

Keith: I sympathise; I have the same unease about Dr David Kelly's death.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I would forgive Salman almost anything because he is, IMHO, the greatest living writer in the English language. Read "Midnight's Children", his first and still his best novel set against the partition of India.

PI said...

Daphne: that does it. I've just ordered it from Amazon. I'll have to finish my Joan Didions' first.