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The Metafizzical Essays
of Nicholas Hancock

The Poet of Despair

Published by The British Hancock Society
with the permission of the author.


As a nation our flops are world-class. What they canít achieve in sheer vulgarity they make up for in dizzying lights and solemn-faced MCs. Thereís Countdown, Golden Balls, Win My Wage and the unsurpassable Weakest Link, a certain Anne Robinson. It would of course be unfair to forget University Challenge with a down-market Paxman: UK Gameshows.Com boasts that ĎVery few quiz programmes could be said to make up part of the fabric of the nation, but [this] is certainly a contenderí. A fabric so coarse, let me add, that itís not for sensitive skins. And youíll say Iíve forgotten Big Brother. Have I, hell!
     So much for our flops. Iím not so concerned about them as about our readiness to watch them and what this says about our national psychology. Are the reasons genetic or simply historical? Ė Are we born brutish, or did we become so over centuries of isolated development like the Tasmanian devil?
     And itís not only what we watch. Itís our immature attitude to life in general and alcohol in particular; itís our insistence on gumming up our pavements with spent chewing gum; itís our delight in mob violence and our curious affection for everything thatís vulgar. British and brutish may not be synonyms, but their close union is scarcely accidental: think of one, and you think of the other.
     Then thereís the famous British brick. Its menorrhoeal hue casts a bloody stain over Blakeís Ďgreen and pleasant landí; but thatís where, given the choice, we want to live.
     This may all have something to do with the weather. Under the present biblical rain Ė the first three weeks of July Ė our geraniums are blackening, so I ask myself whether centuries of such weather might mildew our souls, blacken them like these flowers.
      Naturally you will ask why I live in so brutish a place. The answer is clear: I too am a brute, born and bred.