July 14, 2014
July 6, 2014
Young enough to be my son, a man cradles the corpse of his 10-year-old boy.
man looks tenderly upon the
boy’s body, which he is about to wash. Behind him, other family members are distraught; their noisy distress renders them incapable; he can hear how useless they are.But you are still with me while I do this in remembrance of
man might be saying.
Except he would not say it, could only think it. Except he cannot think of it, dare not address himself to what happened – and who even knows how it did? He can only do what – yes, really – what a man has to do.
In Baghdad the city morgue is full to capacity: bags of bodies stuffed into freezers, temperatures in the streets outside nudging 50 degrees; mortuary staff carrying on withthe stifling work of listing and labelling. Wherever possible, reconciling recent images – broken faces, busted bodies – with earlier photos of missing persons.
Sometimes the remains cannot be released to relatives until a DNA test has proved positive.
The woman in charge doesn’t know the numbers, although in reply to the reporter’s question she concedes there are many more sectarian killings than a year ago. She laughs but not out of cynicism or defiance or nervousness; it is only funny that someone would need to ask.
Otherwise untimely, in these extraordinary circumstances her laughter is appealing. It carries the half-thought – why would she need to think it through? – that carrying on is what she does in remembrance of normality.
Doing what she has to, Our Lady of the Morgue is proof positive of that public virtue – bureaucracy. She bags bodies because life unrecorded might never have been; except for family, there is nothing to say, either way.
Public and private, official records and a father’s grief. In the open valuation of human life, each of these matters as much as the other.
Rolf, you dolt, you’ve put your own name on a par with ‘Adolf’ – never to be used again.
During six whole decades of showbiz, first there was ‘Rolf’, which really said: this person is permanently childish, bubbling over with didgeridoos and other party noises not far removed from whoopee cushions, including a jelly wobble version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ and something else – the stylophone – that sounds like a singing birthday card; also, he may be 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 but he still draws and paints like a child prodigy.
Which is to say that he would not, could not ever have a boner because his didger ain’t old enough to do it.
…..followed by ‘Harris’, the second name which has always meant: actually, he’s a straight-down-the-line average guy who’s only pretending to be peculiarly infantile; no fear of stunted development cum sexual fetish on the part of this professional performer. In bed with his wife, he surely acts his age rather than his show size.
We don’t and probably won’t know why Rolf Harris committed the indecent assaults which eventually led to his conviction and the jail term of five years and nine months to which he was sentenced on 4 July 2014. But might it have something to do with a grown man playing a largely pre-pubescent role throughout his entire adult life?
This is not to excuse his actions; only to observe that the continual commute between an excessively childlike exterior and the interior life of a sexually mature adult, must have been a dangerously long stretch, with plenty of opportunity for personal failure and moral failing.
Since he became a children’s entertainer in the 1950s, Harris has been cast in a role categorised as pre-sexual, as noted in a Telegraph feature of 13 years ago:
“Rolf Harris…is, after all, a sexless being….the man who paints huge and wonderful pictures for wide-eyed children while making a comical panting noise, which to him doesn’t sound remotely like someone having an orgasm. He is a man so guileless and innocent and unsullied that he couldn’t see the smutty innuendo lurking within the title ofhis most famous, all time, blockbuster hit-single, ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport’. Jakethe Peg was a man with an extra leg to Rolf – nothing more or less, nothing to giggle at. Smut and Rolf just don’t go together – smut and Rolf is an oxymoron.”