Monday, 31 August 2009
Worth a read
I have long been a fan of Clive James. First as a songwiter: in collaboration with Pete Atkin, he wrote the lyrics to some wonderful and memorable songs in the early 70s (now reissued on CD and nestling happily on my iPod). Then he wrote a lot of poetry, much of it political commentary, and very funny and accomplished it was too. For a while he was the television critic of The Observer, and his column was the one thing that I absolutely had to read every week. Most people will be familiar with his autobiographical volumes such as Unreliable Memoirs, which I warn you against should you ever try to read them in public. He has such a wicked sense of timing a punch-line that I have been reduced to breathless tears and risked cardiac arrest. He is literate, educated and, to use an unfashionable word, wise.
He is what you could call broadly of the intellectual liberal-left, which makes his latest essay (on the West's, and in particular feminism's, response to Islam and Islamic culture) quite remarkable. It would be impossible to summarise here, but I urge you to read it. It's long, and the subject-matter is hardly the easiest, but it's well worth the effort. From the latest editon of the magazine Standpoint.
(Here's one of Clive with Pete Atkin, just for old times' sake.)