Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mr Fear Of Onions, Lord Olivier, And That Torquemada Of The Tanning Booth, Mr Tommy Sheridan

  Posted by Picasa I am officially dumfoonert. A few days ago, I was reading about the hypnotist and "motivational speaker" Mr Paul McKenna, who sued a newspaper over scurillous reports that he had purchased a "bogus degree" from La Salle University, Louisiana. Mr Victor Lewis-Smith wrote in The Mirror: "Anyone could be fully doctored by La Salle within months (no previous qualifications needed), just so long as they could answer the following question correctly: 'Do you have $2,615, sir?'."
While the university was accredited to a fraudulent body called The Council For Post-Secondary Christian Education, the court found in favour of Mr McKenna, because it could not be shown that he was aware that he had purchased a bogus qualification.
About Mr McKenna, I know little, except to say that I run screaming from the room every time he, or any other hypnotist, appears on the television. This is a matter of faith as much as superstition, as I was once humiliated by a touring hypnotist at the Harbour Pavilion, North Berwick, who convinced me to eat an onion in the belief that it was a clootie dumpling. Having accomplished this task for the entertainment of the assembled, I was snapped back to reality by a slippery click of the hypnotist's cold fingers, yet still I am troubled by flashbacks and bilious attacks every time I see a jar of pickled shallots. I am also convinced that the hypnotism was to blame for the return of the night terrors - a complaint I endured in childhood - and my subsequent arrest, in the grounds of the Peebles Hydro, wearing only Polyveldt shoes and a "kiss me quick" hat.
But, like Ronnie Corbett, trapped in a supermarket trolley with a wonky wheel, I digress. I had intended to write about the courtroom shenanigans involving that Torquemada of the tanning booth, Mr Tommy Sheridan.
I have spent several days in the court observing this peculiar case, and I am unable to suppress the suspicion that, due to a mix-up in his Filofax, Mr Sheridan believes he is performing on the festival Fringe. If he was, I am in no doubt he would win an award, for the world of drama would struggle to invent a character as overstated or ridiculous. It is as if Mr Burt Lancaster had taken on the role played by Mr Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men and played it with the animal confidence of an acrobat.
Of course, Mr Fonda was on the jury. Mr Sheridan is in front of them, defending his own reputation in an ever more baroque manner.
Without wishing to challenge the laws of sub judice, I am reminded of an anecdote once told about Lord (then plain "Sir Larry") Olivier, an actor whose reputation and self-confidence made direction impossible. Sir Larry was cast as the lead in a play, the story of which turned on the revelation that his character was homosexual. Yet in rehearsals, the great man was flouncing and mincing so much that his colleagues were driven to despair. None of their lines made sense if Sir Larry was so obviously scented with lavender. The play was redundant. Eventually, the director summoned the courage to tackle his leading man,while the rest of the cast cowered behind a curtain, awaiting the explosion. But Sir Larry was unabashed. "Dear boy," he exclaimed with a heavy lisp. "I like to start it big, and then I rrrrr-rein it in."
Far be it from me to give advice to a man such as Mr Sheridan, but I think he might, in the interests of plausibility, like to rein it in.

1 comment:

Learson said...

Why be afraid of onions. After all, we share 90% of our DNA with them.

Only in a political ochlocracy like Scotland could a self-regarding mammothrept like Sheridan become a member of parliament.