Harry, the rat

Jeremy Gordin writes on the Prince of Wokeness' recently released autobiography

Remember those jolly lines from ‘The Waste Land’ by TS Eliot, that rather miserable and anti-Jewish poet?

‘A rat crept softly through the vegetation/ Dragging its slimy belly on the bank/ While I was fishing in the dull canal/ On a winter evening round behind the gashouse/ Musing upon the king my brother’s wreck/ And on the king my father’s death before him.’ [i]

 I was musing on these lines [ii] after reading Rebecca Mead’s review of Prince Harry’s book Spare [iii]. Rather cleverly, Mead extols the talents of ghost writer JR Moehringer (rather than the prince’s er ‘abilities’), noting how Moehringer interweaves and refers to Shakespearean words and phrases throughout Spare, including especially (as you might expect) ones from Hamlet, another tale about a troubled prince and various ghosts.

And I was thinking, as you might have guessed, that ‘Musing upon the king my brother’s wreck/ And on the king my father’s death before him’ could also work quite well in Spare – for example, in a passage in which a thoughtful Prince Harry could perhaps be presented cogitating about the future [iv].

Oh well, if Moehringer needs any assistance, especially with spending his share of the $20-million advance that Harry allegedly got paid for the book, Moehringer can reach me c/o Politicsweb.

Which reminds me; there have been countless articles, psychoanalytically-based and otherwise, analysing why Harry wrote SpareWhy? Get a life everyone. (Or ‘reason not the need,’ as King Lear puts it.) There are 20 million good reasons why, and there might even be (we read) as many as another 20 million of them in the months and years to come. 

But, listen, it’s clearly been a successful project. We read that Spare is the fastest-selling non-fiction (ahem) book in the UK ‘since records began in 1998, selling 467,183 copies in its first week, [and that] The Wall Street Journal has reported that the book sold 1.4 million copies in its first day, across the US, the UK and Canada’[v].

    It was for this reason (its obvious success) that I suggested, over crumpets and marmite, to a very close acquaintance (VCA) that one might perhaps purchase Spare for the family library[vi]. She responded with a large dollop of asperity, which was not (I think) solely due to her powerful dislike of me spending money on books. I suspect the cause might have been a kind of ‘embarrassment’ – for want of a better word.

Having by now seen and heard all the ‘interesting’ excerpts from Spare, which have been broadcast and written about everywhere for weeks, I suspect some people – obviously not included in the 1,4 million mentioned above – might be asking themselves what sort of self-respecting person, who thinks of him/herself as being the owner of a not-too-shabby intellect, would want to profess publicly (or even to family members) that they have an ‘interest’ in Harry’s tome?

You know what I mean? Many folk would, for example, rather be caught with grubby underwear (following a car accident) than be seen paging through, say, CosmopolitanPlaygirl, or Jacob Zuma’s biography in the doctor’s rooms. This is because they want rather to be thought of as people who read L. Wittgenstein, J. Pauw or Politicsweb. I’m not trying to be derisive, by the way; I am familiar with and sympathetic to this sort of ‘embarrassment syndrome’[vii].

In other words, might it be possible that Harry’s maunderings are about as insignificant as – how shall I say? – most todgers? (Spoiler alert: Harry apparently discusses his ‘todger’.) I think this might indeed be the case (that there’s not much significant in this book) [viii].

Not only that but, judging from all those excerpts I’ve heard and read, Spare is bloody nasty. One of the saddest and most plaintive lines I’ve come across in a long time is King Charles III (though he might then still have been the World’s Longest-Serving Intern) saying to Harry and his big bad bro’, William, “Please, boys – don’t make my final years a misery.”

Then, on top of that revelation, how about Harry telling us that his dad takes his teddy bear with him wherever he goes. (Spoiler alert: King Charles III is 74.) I, by the way, also take my teddy everywhere I go (mine’s name is Arthur).

But if my son bruited such information about in a book, I’d give him (my son, not the teddy) a serious snotklap. Or what about Harry’s alleged physical fight with Willy? Jeez, my brother and I did that stuff day in and day out. Isn’t that what red-blooded male (and even female) siblings do? Or do my brother and I need to see a shrink?

Or what about when Harry was touring in the Okavango and a leopard entered the ‘compound’? Everyone else was terrified but not Harry. He ‘embraced’ the leopard (we assume figuratively). Because he knew the leopard was actually ‘Mummy’ (wearing leopard skin print, presumably). Well, if one of my children write about me as a svelte leopard or some such – and not as per my true avatar, a warthog (‘The name is Mr. Pig, got that?’) – I’m going to haunt them big time.

Above all, though, the various excerpts from this book make me worry a great deal about the Duke of Sussex. Clearly this fellow has been infected with one of the world’s worst cases of Woke-ism that I’ve ever encountered[ix]. I don’t know to what extent the ghost writer fiddled with the material – but Harry flashes every virtue signal known to humankind. I’ve not read such rubbish for ... well, not since the last time I read certain Seffrican columnists (not found on Polweb).

I have a dear friend with whom I sometimes argue about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (I might even refer to it at times as ‘Russia’s genocidal invasion’.) But whatever I say about the invasion – whatever evidence I might marshal – he reverts to the good ol’ ‘argument’ (for want of a better word): whatever’s gone wrong in the world for the last 100 years or so, and is still going awry, is the fault of the CIA, FBI, Federal Reserve, Elon Musk, and the goddamn Yankees in general. Finish en klaar.

Now that, friends, is what I call a lekker conspiracy theory – and the reason I’ve told you about it is to let you know that I don’t subscribe to any conspiracy theories. I hate them all. However, in the case of Prince Harry, I do blame everything, especially his Woke-kishness, on the (allegedly) ascendant American way-of-life and especially on Harry’s wife. Ms M got him by the proverbial short and curlies and it was game over.

Finally, besides musing upon the king my brother’s wreck, I’ve also been thinking about that mantra estate agents like so much. What’s it? Oh yeah: location, location, location. Well, a couple of days ago, before the electricity went off, I was watching a TV news report about some ‘thugs’ having broken into the Alphendale Secondary School in East London, for the third time in three months.

They ripped electrical cables and copper pipes from the walls, cables from the ceilings, stole ‘teaching equipment’, and vandalised such sports facilities as the school has. In short, the place was a mess – and children, due back to study this week, couldn’t do so. For one thing, the plumbing was damaged – so no working toilets.

Community activist Schalk van der Sandt said: ‘Satan sent his troops to finish off Alphendale School just before it opens’.

I can’t comment on Satan’s complicity, but Van der Sandt also said the school ‘authorities’ and local community have a shrewd idea of who’s been responsible and have told ‘the leadership’ of both SAPS and the Department of Education. But nothing ever seems to happen.

My point is that the way the world works for you can also have to do with where you find yourself (the location), and it seems odd to me that sufficient money has been spent on Harry’s advance and on the purchase of his self-serving piffle – sufficient, that is, to pay for sorting out many, many Alphendales, not to mention the electrical and water ‘infrastructures’ in Parkview.

Yet how very far away Harry and his book must seem to those children and others in East London – who are treated as just some more of this country’s spare people.

Or am I being over-Woke about our troubles on this southern tip of Africa?


[i] Eliot filched part of this passage from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (I, ii) where Ferdinand is thinking sadly about his father: ‘Sitting on a bank, / Weeping again the king my father’s wrack’. No matter; Eliot ‘borrowed’ much of ‘The Waste Land’ – a discussion for another day perhaps.

At least, though, the poem’s ‘speaker’ didn’t have to deal with load shedding.

[ii] Possibly this was because Prince Harry reveals in Spare, which I’ll get to in a nano-second, that he had his first shtup behind a pub somewhere – which doubtless reminded me of ‘a winter evening round behind the gashouse’. I’m a lateral sort of thinker, at least about horizontal matters.

[iv] It’d have to be about the future; Brother Willy’s not king yet nor has he yet messed up things, not by Mountbatten-Windsor standards anyway, and ‘papa’ Charlie’s also not dead yet.

[v] More copies seem to have been sold than even of my unauthorised biography of Jacob G Zuma; and possibly even more than of Jacques Pauw’s The President's Keepers, which I find difficult to believe. It seems a lot has to do with which ghost-writer you use (I ghosted myself) and what kind of effort is put into marketing by the publishing house. (We hope someone in the publishing houses is listening.)

[vi] I can’t reveal the identity of my VCA because I’ll get into trouble, but I can tell you she’s gorgeous and not unrelated to my offspring. I should also mention – well maybe – that despite strong protestations to the contrary, my VCA is pretty ‘taken’ with the British royal family. For example, she knows the difference between this royal niece and that royal cousin, as well as their names, all which information I am incapable of keeping in my head for more than 13 seconds.

[vii] For example, during my youth I was known to make certain that the copy of The Times Literary Supplement, lying on the front passenger seat of my vehicle, was turned upside down when I alighted to enter a Parkview coffee shop. What if some passer-by reported to Anton Harber or Justice Malala that I was a closet intemellectual?

[viii] Audi alteram partem though. Not everyone agrees with me. E.g., Mandy Weiner has written: “All in all, I found Spare to be authentic, raw, and vulnerable. It is intimate, and honest, and sad”. Now then, I have long loved Mandy, (platonically of course), so I don’t quite know what to say, other than that I do wonder if there might be something peculiar in the air of the radio station where she works.

On the other hand, if you want to try something rather different, check out John Crace’s ‘I was alone. Abandoned. With only a hundred million in the bank’.

[ix] And don’t forget that both my offspring have relatively recent degrees from UCT.