Old Age Is A Flood

One has to move down, not up the line. The lower down in the pecking order they go, the more genuine politicians seem. Once the heady haze of power is infused into them, they’re gone and narcissism takes over.

May 26, 2018, 10:01 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL.11, No.-21, May 25, 2018 (Jestha 11, 2075) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

I am using the most poignant words I ever heard come out of a politician’s mouth. Normally he was one who, as a teenager, I had marked as a ‘constant deliverer of boredom’ Charles de Gaulle (the late).       He wasn’t a boring man; it was just his narcissism that was boring. It was almost like listening to repeated pictures of Napoleon saying “moi, je suis la France.” But coming to think of it now where do we find a politician who doesn’t think they are a personification of the country they supposedly represent?

One has to move down, not up the line. The lower down in the pecking order they go, the more genuine politicians seem. Once the heady haze of power is infused into them, they’re gone and narcissism takes over. It doesn’t differ across professions. Bank managers affect a swagger once they become managing directors and sportsmen lose that charming humility once they become sports’idols.
For a good long time I truly believed that women were different but now, having closely observed how women deal with fame and power, I have come to the conclusion that women manage to hide their narcissism and arrogance better than men do, or maybe men are more honest than women about what they think of themselves and their achievements. Whatever it is, it is for certain that we have now moved into an era when everyone wants to be ‘famous’: the era of the fame game.

It’s taken over the newspapers, the television, and the media in general: they are all plastered with intimate details of the Angelina Jolies and Aishwarya Rai Bacchans of this world! From talent shows to peeks at celebrity mansions the hoi polloi get to share in the excitement. Once it enters family life the tension among family members can sometimes be cut with a knife, figuratively speaking.

It seems that familiarity really can breed contempt. Nowadays there are journalists even whose remit is to dish out the dirt about famous people, or their families. They are aided and abetted quite often by family members who sometimes believe they are more deserving of the limelight than the family member of focus. This is truly bringing the worms out of the apple of family life and we don’t have to go far nowadays to find examples.

This weekend’s wedding at St. Georges in Windsor has excited a lot of support; particularly from those close enough to wish the best for Diana’s youngest son. It’s been a lonely journey for Harry in many ways, but he seems to have found a woman he can build a life with-if only her family weren’t so jealous!

One sees the signs in all the comments coming –thanks to the Daily Wail (aka Mail)-from the US, a nation enamored with fame and now ‘royalty’.  Over 200 years ago the American colonists literally bent over backwards to get rid of the British monarchy. It then seems amazing that they now want a piece of it. Think back at the number of Presidents who have claimed kin. One of the Bush Presidents claims descent from Charles 2nd.Considering that Charles had no legitimate descendants and, so it’s claimed, scores of illegitimate ones, a goodly proportion of the British population must be now be able to claim descent from this colourful royal!

This is all to say that there is really nothing new under the sun. This is an age, however, when people are googling to find their ancestry, hoping to find what? We may well wonder. It seems, however, that the older we get the more curious we become about the past. Along with the curiousity comes the usual plethora of ailments: rheumatism, arthritis, overweight or under whichever chooses you, failing eyesight, you just best one and another floods in. That is why de Gaulle in one of his bombasts declared to the French people that ‘old age is a flood’.

In the current environment it appears to me that the person who needs most public support is Queen Elizabeth herself.  She’s had much more to cope with than her mother ever had. Three of her children went through divorces, not pleasant things at the best of times but particularly unpleasant for a woman who has built her whole life on keeping her promises and fulfilling her commitments; and then has to witness her offspring stumble. These are the rough patches the Queen has had to smooth over and carry on doing what she was born to do.

The media barons, of course, love it when people in high places falter. Would they love it as much if it happened to them? No, of course they wouldn’t. So, isn’t it reasonable to expect a certain amount of decorum around other people’s families, especially when there’s a wedding in the offing?   Weddings rarely bring out the best in people. There’s always plenty to squabble about especially if a family has stepsiblings, and especially when siblings believe that one among them has received more parental affection and advantages than others. Those who have more experience than we always advice ‘putting up’ and ‘shutting up’. It’s not new wisdom by any means but it’s still good advice. A prophet once taught us that only those of us without sin have the right to cast stones at others. We should stick to that because after all as de Gaulle once said “Old age is a flood” and we have no way of knowing when the flood will pour down on us!

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