Lindsay Perigo
Lindsay Perigo

The Politically Incorrect Show - 06/11/2000

[Music - Die Fledermaus]

Good afternoon, Kaya Oraaa & welcome to the Politically Incorrect Show on the free speech network, Radio Pacific, for Monday November 6, 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!]

I don't know about you, but I can't stand mornings. I am not fit company for man or beast in the mornings. I wake up thinking, "Oh God, am I still here?" & it takes several hours & hundreds of cups of tea to restore me to my usual charming, irresistible self. I spent years of my broadcasting career doing breakfast sessions, & never adapted to the brutality of having to be out of bed at four in the morning. My co-host on Morning Report, Geoff Robinson, was the opposite. He would arrive at work bristling with good cheer, & I would want to shoot him. Oscar Wilde said, "In England, people actually try to be brilliant at breakfast. That is dreadful of them. Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast." I have that last sentence engraved on my tea-cup!

I thought of Oscar as I drank my tea last Friday morning. The night before I had been to the Auckland Theatre Company's production of The Judas Kiss, a play about Oscar & the great love of his life, Lord Alfred Douglas, or "Bosie" as he was known - a much younger man, talented & beautiful, but fickle & flighty. He deserted Oscar in the end. His mother had offered to restore the family allowance which his homophobic father had cut off - on condition that he leave Oscar. Bosie did. Oscar bestowed his scornful consent upon these "thirty pieces of silver."

David Hare's challenging script was brilliantly delivered. The air in the theatre fair crackled with one-liners - a succession of sacred cows shot down in parenthesis. It was also thick with tragedy. At the end, one was left wondering - just what WAS the answer to Oscar's question to Bosie at the moment of betrayal: "Are you my EXCUSE for this, or the CAUSE of it?" ("This" being a bundle of blank pages that Oscar brandished as testimony to the paralysis of his formerly mighty pen.)

It would be easy to say that Oscar himself was really the author of his downfall - after all, he didn't HAVE to follow Bosie by the nose, he didn't HAVE to press charges against Bosie's father, he didn't even HAVE to go to jail - the authorities deliberately delayed his arrest so as to give him time to flee England. But who among us is in a position to condemn another for the stupid things he does in the name of love? Certainly, I'm not.

In truth, Oscar's real crime was much more cosmic than sex with men. He was a non-conformist - a gadfly who mocked & dazzled, who tossed fireworks into a dark grey sky. "The only way to get rid of a temptation," he said, "is to yield to it." To the pinched, prosaic puritans of his time, he was someone who DESERVED to be brought down - & bring him down they did, in a case which, in the words of historian A. L Rowse, "led to an accumulation of barbarous inhumanity & suffering that was incalculable."

Oscar died in 1900, saying to one of his death-bed visitors, "Look at that wallpaper, Frank - one of us has to go" & observing that "the English are determined not to enter another century with me in it." A further century on, he has the last laugh. His plays, & plays about him, are performed all over the world. "Work is the curse of the drinking classes" raises a laugh everywhere.

To Raymond Hawthorne & the Auckland Theatre Company for The Judas Kiss, the Free Radical Award.


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