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Feb
2017
Saturday 18th
posted by Paddy McGuffin in Features

An old friend of this column was frequently heard to opine that increasingly people seemed to believe they were the stars of their own movies and that everyone else were merely bit-part players.

He was decrying the lack of courtesy, consideration and plain old fashioned good manners exhibited on an almost daily basis in the metropolis he had grown up in and seen turn for the worse in his view. And it was hard to disagree after a rush hour commute across north London where pensioners were barged to the ground, wheelchair users considered a nuisance to be pushed past and any mode of public transport that didn’t arrive the instant one got to the stop was a grievous affront.

Where acts of kindness or just normal decency were so few and far between that people looked astonished and assumed an ulterior motive.

It is an insidious mindset that sneaks up on you, if one is not careful one becomes hardened, inured to the suffering of others.

The most graphic and horrifying example of this personally witnessed by your scribe on multiple occasions was, upon hearing an announcement of one of the sadly all too frequent instances of an individual taking their own life on the Tube, you could palpably feel the hostility, resentment and anger from my fellow commuters that they had been inconvenienced.

No thought was given to who the individual was, what had driven them to such as desperate act, or for that matter to the poor train driver traumatised by the incident through no fault of their own.

It is certainly not just London of course where such behaviour occurs although it would probably have a fair claim to have originated the concept of such inculcated sociopathy.

And Thatcher of course, who actively encouraged selfishness, arrogance and contempt for those deemed to be inferior to oneself. Rapacious greed over charity, strength over weakness.

“I’m alright Jack and sod the rest of you.”

But to return to my initial point. This idea that everyone believes they are the star of their own film came back to this column rather forcefully this week as it struggled to make any kind of sense of what the hell is going on in the world at the moment.

For many of us the film we believe we are starring in is more your home movie variety, but the bigger the ego the bigger the production, to the point where even Cecil B DeMille would have blanched at the extravagance of the budget.

The thought also occurred that we might not actually be in the movie we think we are, or understand the plot.

Take conman-in-chief Donald Trump for example (Christ I wish someone would). It is blatantly obvious he believes he is the eponymous star of Orson Welles’s masterpiece Citizen Kane.

It is equally apparent that he hasn’t watched the film all the way through.

Citizen Kane is of course a satire on press baron and well-known fascist sympathiser Randolph Hearst.

The film shows a man who becomes eaten up by the lust for power and avarice to the point that he loses sight of the really important things in life.

Trump seems to have missed the moral centre of the piece somewhat, pilfering the iconography but leaving the message behind.

What Trump obviously didn’t realise was that the images he, ahem, “borrowed” from the film were themselves appropriated from the Third Reich by Welles to show the psychotically bloated ego and megalomania of Kane.

The film Trump is actually closer to starring in is All the President’s Men, the true story of a crooked deceitful and increasingly deranged president, Nixon, brought low by his own hubris and impeached as a result of the Watergate scandal, hoist by his own petard.

And talking of being brought low through one’s own mendacity, it’s not just Trump who has had an erroneously labelled showreel playing in his head in recent weeks.

Leave campaigners appear to think, post-referendum, that they are Michael Caine in Escape to Victory whereas the other side see themselves as Randle P McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest.

Personally I feel more like Danny DeVito or Christopher Lloyd’s characters in the same film. I haven’t got a bloody clue what’s going on but I’m pretty sure I don’t like it.

Theresa May patently sees herself as Joan of Arc, again apparently without watching the final reel of that particular celluloid opus, while everyone else sees her as the Witch in the Wizard of Oz.

I half expect her to announce the triggering of Article 50 with the words: “Fly my pretties.”

And then we have Ukip fuhrer Paul Nuttall, who seems to think he’s Kirk Douglas in Spartacus whereas he more closely resembles a bastard hybrid of Zelig and Walter Mitty.

Nuttall, who is — at least he was last time I checked but that may well change — standing for election in Stoke on Trent next week, was this week forced to admit that claims he had lost “close friends” in the Hillsborough disaster were false.

Nuttall has form in this regard, previously having to admit that he does not actually have a doctorate and that he was never a professional footballer with Tranmere among several other claims boasted of on his (now defunct) website profile.

He’s like a Scouse Jeffrey Archer except that it is debatable whether even as odious a rodent as Archer would have exploited the deaths of 96 people and the decades of suffering by the survivors and bereaved relatives in a repugnant attempt to get the sympathy vote, or some form of credibility from his lies.

At time of press he was still clinging to his claim that he was there on that tragic day but if it transpires, as many suspect, that he was not he has truly sunk to a new low even by Ukip’s bottom feeding standards.

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