Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Michael Foot, 1913-2010




Maybe the right man at the wrong time. Maybe if it had been him and not Harold Wilson in the Sixties. By the mid-seventies I am guessing it was too late, too late for Britain anyway. And then came 1983 and All That. But even if he was wrong at the wrong time - and the best people are wrong sometimes - he was a man you could trust to be what he was, a more-than-straight-enough, more-than-good-enough man. A literary man (I remember him reading passages of Shelley at Cheltenham, with Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes and Melvin Bragg on the same bill), an honest man, the perfect picture of the post-war intellectual whose ideas were ideas. I never heard any of his great speeches, nor have I read him (though The Plump has, and I think I should too) and by the time he came to lead Labour his rhetoric was blowsy, a kind of tired rippling in the wind.

Personally, I liked his dress sense. No-dress-sense is sometimes the best dress sense. Today the dress sense is pitch perfect. Suits come and go though it is harder to tell what's inside them. No harm in guessing, mind. Not difficult either.



5 comments:

efwilson said...

Michael Foot embodies everything I love about this country. For me, he was the ultimate Englishman. It's now up to us to keep his ideas and his human decency alive.

Thanks, George, for writing the tribute.

Ms Baroque said...

Lovely, thank you, George. Yes, I wish we had a politician even remotely like him now. I remember the sort of sinking feeling I used to feel when Foot was got at in the press over and over again - even the famous duffel coat wasn't really. (And certainly not a donkey jacket.) But I always thought he was lovely. Ideas, ideals, morals, taste, principles. And knowledge to back it all up.

Desmond Swords said...

I always thought the duffle coat was a mistake toward the end of his political career. He was undoubtedly a positive advert for the English nation, but behind the lines of westcountry intellectual flowing and following in the great liberal tradition that leg of England, Wessex, injects into a composite English psyche alloyed with old labour, before the kids came and hustled in a way to become capatalists, for the good of 'their' society. Not at first of course, after the war and finally, with the working class having a collective and democratically elected hand on the tiller of State, they went and blew it because a third wave of seventies labour student radicals, though looking mean and all menace when starting out in Old Labour, by the time of NuLab's phut off the intellectual radicalism had settled into status quo, bowing and scraping before one another as Lord this and Lady that, after three generations of passing years, each one away from the war, another year to imperceptibly disconnect from our source of a true working-class energy and the force focussed on a longer term aspiration Foot and Benn held, represent and which two decades from now, will be gone and the only fuse through which the force of working class demands can be met, is extreme unrest and possible upset between the working class and aristocrats who haven't changed for a thousand years, I imagine, they're all very proud of, in a way hard to define and to understand for one less deeply meshed in the weave of English history, unattached enough one will always sing a fair-play song fundamental to the rule we knew back when it was obvious ...i dunno.

Desmond Swords said...

Sorry to clutter up the comment stream with shadow, it's only an attempt to escape the box a light leapt from on the seventh level of an eight grade in the ninth year of study, it will come.

What comes also can return, each arrival beginning as a departure, and for every tenth dimension there's another box inside the riddle wrapping enigmatically, everything there is to understand, in a command of letters spelling out ourself, in the age old manner of stepping up to a plate and taking what's on it, gifting it to the heavens and beginning all over again, what resides within, without once a perception of self transcends and landing upon the branch befitting most our capacity and talent for making natural lanaguage beat in lay and rann and to seek in heather that which will come, a music happening in our mind alone, the poetry and fictions making reality but a dream, for before our dream can become reality, fiction evenly mixing upon the stage need be to fully in flight and with the correct imprimatur, be oneself a passport to the place that doesn't exist unless in a vision of it first, pre-cognized in time not linear but past present and in the futures all superposition and connect to the Theory of Everything and string, is to a quantum field where the quark split into its constituent parts first, in that amount of vibrational field where harmony and music from the spheres occurs, creates us and everything seen, known, that we can hear, see, smell, taste and touch in three dimensional reality mediated through five conscious vibrational manifestation of hearing sight smell taste and touch - a reality confined to the billions of us in our singular experience, yet connected by culture, location tradition and upbringing to some transcient place of understanding therelationships between small and great, between God and us, is not fixed to any mode and code of conduct, apart from rules in a document we possess that tell us so, such and such being equal, greater, lesser or not so, means nothing but summer on the road to nowhere special: what ...i dunno

Lucy said...

I was really interested to see the films of his speaking when he was at his peak. I'd heard tell he was such an orator, but my memories of him were at the ' tired rippling in the wind' stage, which was sad and even a bit embarrassing sometimes. And the coat they called a donkey jacket was fine, subdued and well cut, but it wasn't black and Thatcher upstaged him, I suppose.