The Politically Incorrect Show - 31/01/2000
[Music - Die Fledermaus]
Good afternoon, Kaya Oraaa & welcome to the Politically Incorrect Show on the free speech network, Radio Pacific, for Monday January 31, proudly sponsored by Neanderton Nicotine Ltd, the show that says bugger the politicians & bureaucrats & all the other bossyboot busybodies who try to run our lives with our money; that stands tall for free enterprise, achievement, profit, & excellence, against the state-worshippers in our midst; that stands above all for the most sacred thing in the universe, the liberty of the human individual.
[Music up, music down!]
Returning from the gym last Saturday morning I found an e-mail message from an old friend, Olive Weddell with the subject heading, "Sad news." I knew at once what the "sad news" would be - her husband of 47 years, Bill Weddell, brother of the late broadcaster Jessica, had died the previous morning. Bill had been in declining health for several months, & I had asked Deborah Coddington to conduct an interview with him for The Free Radical "before he does a Jessica on us," Jessica having most inconsiderately departed before a similar exercise could be conducted with her. Deborah, with whom one trifles at one's peril, was uncharacteristically terrified at the prospect, having heard from me about Bill's awesome intellect & his, shall we say, curmudgeonly qualities - as Deborah was to write in her preface to the interview, his "reputation as a fearsome Objectivist who dismisses fools & frivolity with a harrumph."
Certainly that had been my fate when first interviewing him 26 years earlier. I was working for National Radio under Jessica's supervision at the time. I had seen regular letters in the Dominion, utterly unintelligible letters from this "W. R. Weddell, Pinehaven," impossibly elongated by words like "metaphysics" & "epistemology" & "Objectivism" & somehow linking these to a defence of capitalism, which I thought was very bad. One day I asked Jessica if she were linked to THAT Weddell? "Yes darling, he's my brother," she informed me majestically. "By the way, darling, I want you to interview him."
I began the interview by asking Bill to give a brief introduction to the basics of Objectivism. He replied that Objectivism began with the axiom that "existence exists." I said something like, "Well what's the big deal with that? Of course it does!" not realising in my ignorance that considerable intellectual expenditure throughout the history of philosophy had been expended on doubting that anything exists at all, certainly in the form in which we perceive it. In the ferocious private arguments that followed he would keep dragging me back to the basics, trying to show me that if I accepted that the chair in front of us existed, which I did, then further down the philosophical track, I would have to accept that freedom was the desirable social state for man, which at that time I didn't. Infuriatingly, he would win all our arguments, & I told myself that either I would have to pretend that none of this had happened, or I would have to do some serious study & rethinking of my own. I opted to do the latter - and so, with Bill as the catalyst, the course of my life was altered.
Bill Weddell was a force of nature, swift to anger & truly terrifying when roused. Equally, he loved the things that excited his admiration with a genuine & abiding passion. The last time I saw him was just after the publication of Deborah's interview, which he was very chuffed about. He, Olive & myself & one other friend wined & dined the afternoon & evening away, alternately talking animatedly & listening to great pieces of music. One of them was the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #3, at the end of which, desperately ill though he was, Bill almost leapt out of his chair in applause & appreciation. His Olympian sense of life had been engaged.
There'll be no funeral for him. "Waste of money! Have a slap-up meal on me instead!" he told Olive. But I would like to take a moment to salute him, his magnificent spirit & his valiant labours for freedom over the years, with the concluding moments of that concerto.
[Bring Rach 3 up to end]
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