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Deliver Us From Delingpole

There’s a fellow called James Delingpole who writes for the British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph. He’s not well known or even very widely read, I’m not interested in what he has to say but I have taken notes on how he says it.

I have used him as a regulating valve, a crosscheck mechanism and for that he’s very useful.

In the past there have been occassions when my dissatisfaction with the generally perceived reality of our world has been so intense that I’ve been angry about it. There’s nothing wrong with that intrinsically, as the comic Dom Joly said recently, ‘of course I’m angry, anger equals energy.’

He’s got a point, but how that anger emanates is, I believe, very important. Knowing the true source of your anger is vital, anger is a very base emotion, someone does something to upset you and you get angry, how angry depends on everything but the actual event. It very often depends of what has gone before, right back to your babyhood and early experiences.

It’s annoying, I don’t enjoy accepting that some things my mother did or didn’t do to me can affect my current, late middle-aged behaviour but experience has taught me that this truly is the case.

A minor accident with a rather foul-mouthed lady in London’s Regent Street last week was a classic example. She walked into me; as in I was walking in one direction and she walked into my left hand side. I immediately said sorry, she was considerably older and physically much smaller than me, I was naturally concerned for her welfare and reached out to steady her.

She had that special hair that women of a certain age create, it looks more like a helmet than actual human hair, however the hair is irrelevant, she was also immediately very angry.

She said something along the lines of ‘watch where you’re going you dozy cunt.’

I was, as you might be able to imagine, somewhat taken aback by this comment. She stood looking at me with what can only be described as violent dislike. It was a stand off, she was so angry with me she didn’t walk away, she stood her ground, challenging me to respond.

This moment gave me time to gather my thoughts. I’d been thinking about anger, irrational responses and James Delingpole as I’d been walking. I was primed and ready and for once in my life, I had the time to make up my response; which was close to this.

'It was only 50% my fault Madam. Please deal with your inadequacies privately you foul mouthed harridan.'

As expected, this only elicited a further torrent of expletives from the lady who stormed off past the Apple store and disappeared into the crowd.

I felt very chuffed with myself, I didn’t get angry, I didn’t shout or swear, I even tweeted about it I was so puffed up.

Obviously since then I felt hugely guilty not only for what I said but also that I felt the need to share my mini triumph with the tiwtterarti. The first part of my response was spot on, sure, it’s psycho-babble but containing an element of truth and perception. If I could have stopped at the word ‘privately’ I would have had a 100% score, it was the admittedly very mild and slightly obscure use of the word harridan that let me down.

(harridan comes from the French word haridelle, an old horse or nag, a vicious and scolding older woman.)

But back to the Delingpole man. He is angry, furious, bitter and instantly resentful, he feels bullied and set upon, he’s sulking, moody and reactionary. He is, in essence, a man child.

His anger leaks into his writing, he feels convinced that the whole world is made of stupid people who fall for the lies and spin of the neo-liberal elite, or the neo liberal elite themselves. Anyone who ever voices an alternative opinion to his narrow worldview is a bully or a thug.

He rants against ‘green energy’ and ‘renewable fuels’ and ‘the lies of the anthropomorphic climate change lobbyists.’ Every word he writes screams in your ear, he is furious, frustrated that we can’t see we’re all being conned, tricked, duped by the elite who are laughing at us.

I find this distressing because I could easily, and have easily fallen into the same pointless ditch of frustrated fury.

The same ditch but with very different targets.

Where as he blames people in government in the developed world, celebrities, do-gooders, sandal wearing ‘eco fascists’ and obviously my mate Dale Vince who sends him into frothing spasms of fury, I blame international merchant bankers.

Oh yes, and hedge fund managers, bankers, the Federal Reserve for being the bankers patsies, the very notion of banking and anything to do with banks, credit and all the hideous, vile criminals who work in the international banking sector but don’t look or sound like criminals because they went to private school and wear suits.

See, I’ve done it there, a little bit of anger leaked out. I don’t just have legitimate criticisms of these institutions, criticisms that a healthy majority of educated people might agree with.

I bloody hate bankers. I blame them for everything that’s ever gone wrong with the world in my life time.

I hate them so much I want to build a steel wall around the City of London, cut off the electricity, water and all communications and issue them with a demand from the British people.

“Give us all our money back or starve to death you sub human, short sighted greedy blood sucking stain on our history.”

I might have support for saying this, I might get some people to say ‘Yay, right on Bobby, let’s stick it to them,’ and that would be momentarily uplifting. But most people who are not seething in their own pre-existing anger juice are going to respectfully step to one side and move on. They might make reference later to ‘that mad bloke screaming about bankers’ but that would be it.

So Delingpole is nothing more than a man shouting at a tree in a park. A loon, someone who needs help and sympathy, time and understanding from trained professionals with back up support.

I am trying to stop shouting at trees in the park. I know that’s what Delingpole is doing because I’ve done it. I’m grateful to him for showing me the error of my ways.

I want to learn how to take my legitimate anger at the cruelty and greed so manifest in our world today and channel it into a positive and effective driver for change. Here, above all else, age and experience is the best weapon in my diminutive arsenal.

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Reader Comments (43)

Was Dom Joly not quoting Johnny Rotten?

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

I read the article in the Telegraph after you posted your link. It appeared to be about as tongue in cheek as it's possible to be. I suspect your hatred of the paper and what you believe it represents didn't let you see that.

I suspect the same could be said of 'the bankers', perhaps vilifying everyone that has ever worked for a bank versus the half a dozen or so people who were actually responsible for the crisis in a handful of banks that could perhaps be legitimately blamed is also a problem.

More importantly, why not criticise the toothless regulator that ensured every bank in the land kept within their risk and capital adequacy guidelines?

Or how about saving your venom for the two UK banks that did require a bail out for dabbling in a market they clearly didn't understand or have the ability to survive?

Or how about a government at the time who set up the regulator to have such loose restrictions on the business or those that agreed to bail out such poor financial businesses because the impact was mainly in their own political heartland?

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterasanyfuleno

Wow he sounds a lot like a guy here called Andrew Bolt and many others...


March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSplinterOz

Whilst, childish, I have to admit to being delighted at your analogy of someone shouting at a tree in the park. That thought will entertain me for a few days in work, no doubt!

I'm generally an angry person that bites his lip. I find a good cardio session squashes the anger, at least a bit. I can see a lot of myself in this latest blog posting of yours, which I'm not sure is an indication of a wider problem, or that I'm just a tool :D

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNiall

Perhaps Cervantes knew full well that most of his readers would agree that Quixote should just wake up, get a grip, and go back to suffering the slings and arrows of ordinary everyday life. And God knows there are endless little (and a few fucking great big) 'disincentives' placed against any who even think of daring to tear off their straightjackets. But there are ways of working through the Quixotic phase and actually arriving at some sort of chivalrous integrity. The key is to stay 'at the back'. Didn't Patrick McGoohan demonstrate thus throughout the fabulous 1st Prisoner series? Reserve stepping forward strictly for defence, ie "don't invite a fight - accept it instead" (Lao Tzu).

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnyattheback

I think you are describing rage, not mere anger. The former robs you of objectivity, of analytic ability, of context, of balance, of empathy and, sometimes, dignity. Always a state that I regret in hindsight.

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

nb. as far as the finance industry went, it was not merely bankers - the role of politicians in unsustainable financial policies in both public and private spheres makes them culpable. The more astutute knew that we were living on borrowed time from the unsustainable increase in house prices and the massive increase in personal debt. Remember all those TV programmes on that very subject?

Whilst it was the financial regulators and politicians that should have been responsible for nipping this in the bud before it all went bang, it is also important to note that far too many on the liberal wing were happy to go along with the inflating of this bubble whilst it appeared to give the state more money to distribute (even if much of it was wasted and distorted the economy).

So by all means rant about the bankers, but don't forget who failed to ask questions about the sustainability of the system that gave them the opportunity. They too are culpable.

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

That impulse to say 'right on', to egg people on in self-righteous fury, is so tempting. It's especially tempting when you feel like you're having to bite your lip and not shout at the trees yourself. Buddhists sometimes call it 'samsaric support', where you feel you're providing encouragement though really you're enabling something potentially corrosive. Of course when someone is railing in an infantile way, it's bad for them and destroys their credibility as an intelligent, insightful commentator. The Delingpoles of the world would like nothing more than for their opponents to degenerate into hysterical shriekers. But your insights here are what we all need to keep working against the things that really make us angry- the ability to distinguish between regression and meaningful action.

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

Anyone who lives beyond their means is responsible for the financial crash. Unfortunately that includes the majority of the population judging by the amount of paying on the never never that has gone on in recent times. Whatever happened to humility?

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWill Bick

I like the subtle implication that, if she'd been the sort of person who'd go into the Apple Store, she might have been a nicer person ;-)

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermartxw

It's funny that you should write a blog post about personal feelings and everybody so far thinks you're making a political statement.

I could write a book about the relationships I had with my mothers, but it would be too boring and I like people too much to burden them with it.

I do not trust climate science as it stands right now. Although a lot of good work is being done in the field, the problem is still far to complex for even the best computer modelling available.

But two things my mother (and perhaps yours) used to shout at me over and over again, short circuits the necessity for science in this case:

"Don't waste that."


"Will you stop making such a mess."

I defy anybody to tell me how wasting stuff and making a mess of where you live can be a good thing under any circumstances. So, even though our mothers fuck us up (they don't mean to, but they do), they also talk sense sometimes.

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Tonge

how many mothers do you have?

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWill Bick

Currently none. They both died. As people do.

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Tonge

Dellingpole is lazy and going for the soft target. Emerging economies in China and India and if we don't start living within our means we will end up penny less. The fact is a lot of "green changes" improve life, standby saver plugs mean that you only have to turn on the pc tv etc. any connected accessories monitors and speakers for example. Yes its lazy but its green too. Compact flouresent lamps do not leave the entire house in darkness when they blow. I'm sure those people with modern circuit breakers know what I mean. Walking and cycling are good for the cardio vascular system, and in the case on my home town quicker than driving, I regularly feel very smug and look down upon a Prius caught in traffic. It is a human condition to compare ourselves to others and focus on our superiority. Greener - tick, healthier - tick, able to weave through the traffic and get home sooner - tick. But in this case I should point out that my saddle would be close to the driver's head height. Given my seating position it is the only way I can look at it.

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris Watt

James Delingpole is nothing but a Bill O'Reilly wannabe - he has nothing to say and says it far too loudly.

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNeilius Cornelius

Yet again your blog has really made me think.

I love ranters - provided I agree with what they say (therefore I love your anti-banker rant, regardless of any petty inaccuracies). However if I don't agree I will dismiss them as embittered eejits.

I do a LOT of ranting; when I was young it got me into trouble, in pubs and so on, but now I am old I reserve it for family and friends; we gather and rant at each other, until it makes us laugh - no harm done and we all feel the better for it.

Rage. anger, call it what you like.... bottling it up can be very damaging to health; it has to be let out somewhere. My Dad had a great solution he called the Rude First Draft - when he was annoyed (usually with the bank manager or some petty council official) he would write a really insulting letter, full of obscenities and graphic descriptions of the horrible physical torture he would like to inflict on the object of his wrath. Often he would illustrate it with cartoons (I still have a hideously accurate cartoon of my former headmistress, an unpleasant Thatcher-like - er - harridan) He would pass it round, we'd all have a good laugh, he'd have got it out of his system and was then able to write a polite and well considered letter that would get results.

There are many ways to channel the anger; I believe there is even a yoga thing called 'Woodcutter Breath'. A lot of women I know who are afraid of their own anger (not me!) have used this to their advantage. Screaming into a pillow, smashing old chipped china on the garden path, and all sorts of physical activities help to use that energy. On one occasion I had a lot of large thistles to pull up and imagined each one was someone I disliked. Therefore seizing them by the throat and tugging hard became pleasurable and productive, so by the end I was knackered but happy - and no longer furious, with a thistle-free herb bed.

Writing stuff and not publishing it, as my Dad did, probably helps, but I think the world would be a dull place without those few who are brave enough to rant in public. It makes me feel I'm not alone. But it does have risks; I would hate people to criticise me and I have huge difficulty with the kind of comment that corrects the writer on minor details and starts sentences with things like 'with respect' and 'but surely' (oo-er, witness my own petty prejudices). I shall of course be crushed if anyone writes an uncomplimentary comment to this.

I guess the trick of public spleen is to rant entertainingly, which you do (along with Charlie Brooker, David Mitchell, Tim Minchin, Ben Goldacre, Stephen Fry, et al) well and which that Delingpole geezer doesn't. Not that I'm biased, you understand....

Above all, though, you have self awareness, and question yourself. That has to be a good thing!

Keep it up!

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy Old Ratbag

You will get angry and maybe even depressed if you think too much about how the human race can be both selfish and irrational and at the same time achieve amazing things like eradicating diseases and discovering that the universe started in a point of infinite density.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
Reinhold Niebuhr."

"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward."
Kurt Vonnegut

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris Eames

You might be surprised that theologian Richard Rohr definitely agrees with your last sentence. That we rage and shout and enforce our ego in the world in the first stage of life. Shouting at trees is first stage, and I'm still there. That's a welcome and important characteristic of the young(ish).

It's only through discovering our own failings and weaknesses in later life that we enter the second stage. That's when we can live comfortably with conflicting viewpoints, and cease to have anything to prove.

Many of us never get there. We become very black and white about things. We get bitter. If you still shout at strangers on Regent Street into your seventies (or perhaps screaming from a newspaper column) you may be a bit stuck.

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Carr

Oh Robert, don't you realise the City is run by the "Old school Tie" network? They're born and bred to be greedy and selfish, just ask your Cotswold neighbours! I assume you rant at them regularly?
They do let plebs in to do the hard work, most of them become greedy too either from resentment or plain awe.
There's also people in the City who are incredibly bright and really do know what they're doing.
Oh and save some anger for property developers and estate agents, most of them have little or no qualifications and therefore have no idea that by falsely inflating house prices (to buy MR2s) they are helping to create the unsustainable bubble. Obviously this is all made possible by the Finance industry lending money they didn't have to people who couldn't (really) afford to pay it back. Just look at the state of the USA!
The property market is cyclical, this is because it takes 10-15 years to recover from moronity then forget all about it and start again. *slaps forehead*.
P.S, an old woman using the C word? I hope she washes her mouth out with soap. Vile!

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

You were wrong RL to call the lady a harridan (as you say). She was wrong to call you a dozy whatever. Don't shout at trees in parks.......(Unless you feel you really must).

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

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