Saturday, March 25, 2017

In the Flesh

I cannot say that I have had the privilege to rub shoulders with many notable individuals   those with some sort of valid claim to historical transcendence. 

At what was an impressionable age I did come into contact with a plethora of really quite minor celebrities through my father’s business, then familiar faces from the broadcasting milieu and the middle orders of the small screen acting profession. 

If I were to be put into cryogenic stasis for a century or so and then, on emerging, attempt to impress my new contemporaries with these acquaintances, nobody would have any idea who I was talking about. 

However, there is a tiny trio of names which might still be worth dropping. Individuals with whom I am very pleased to exchanged a few words: Douglas Adams, Stephen Hawking and Carlos Fuentes. 

And I suppose - minus the few words part - I might add Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (alias Lenin). 

For such was our encounter in his Red Square mausoleum in 1984 (appropriately enough) that it felt unmistakeably ‘in the flesh’. 

In Lenin the Dictator, An Intimate Portrait Victor Sebestyen describes Vlad as...

‘The kind of demagogue familiar to us in western democracies, as well as in dictatorships. In his quest for power, he promised people anything and everything. He offered simple solutions to complex problems. He lied unashamedly. He identified a scapegoat he could later label ‘enemies of the people’. He justified himself on the basis that winning meant everything…. Lenin was the godfather of what commentators a century after his time call ‘post-truth politics’. 

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