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Amaryllis on Hubris

We are now officially the laughing stock of Europe… a high price to pay for the bookshop now being in a Labour constituency for the first time in its life.
Politicians! When will they ever learn? Perhaps if they studied a bit of Greek history, surely on the Eton/grammar school syllabus, they might have learned of the term ‘hubris’, ‘the pride that blinds’…
Or actually, Teresa May could just have learned a lesson from her predecessor. David Cameron called for a referendum on the EU and then sat back dreaming of his name in the history books as the man brave enough to let the people decide etc. But, unfortunately the people had a mind of their own and he will now be in the history books as the man who unnecessarily, and for his own aggrandisement, gave rise to Brexit – and then made a swift exit leaving others to clean up his mess. He now spends most of his time having pedicures!
Teresa May succeeds as Prime Minister: has her own ego trip – a bigger majority to push through her ‘hard’ Brexit; calls a general election despite saying she wouldn’t and has woken up today to the even worse mess of a hung parliament. She now faces a humiliating alliance with the DUP to make any kind of headway, calls from all sides including her own for her resignation and disbelief at her incompetency from the very European powers she will be hoping to impress.
Chaos on a massive scale but she didn’t need to just look to the Greeks to be warned: The King James Version says ‘Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall’ – and she a vicar’s daughter… Many politicians cite Trollope as a favourite author and Augustus Melmotte in Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, is typical of a the powerful man whose pride and arrogance prove his undoing as a tiny slip leads to exposure and suicide.
In Middlemarch, Mr Bulstrode, a wealthy banker with a suspect past employs religious hypocrisy to build himself into somebody he is not. He is exposed and exiled from the community and only his loving wife stands by him.
In Frankenstein, Victor’s pride in his scientific experiments creates the monster that destroys him – especially relevant to TM and DC in regard to the monster, Brexit.
In comparison with the past bleak months, the election actually feels like a party in the park! I have been considering how to find solace in times of such bleak uncertainty and distress. The television is hopeless, endless channels with absolutely nothing to watch – how is that possible? After a great spell at the pictures: Lady MacbethTheir FinestThe Handmaiden and Frantz, the silly, super-whatever season has begun.
So, inevitably, I turn to books; but difficult times require a certain type of book: the story needs to confirm humanity without trivialising it. Anything by Barbara Pym, apart from Quartet in Autumn (too melancholy), springs to mind and so I have chosen Jane and Prudence for one of my next book groups. I read Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny this week which worked wonderfully well on the train journey as the weather added its bit to the general bleakness. As an antidote to the awfulness that is Trump and is withdrawal from the Paris agreement, I would choose Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis and just wish she were around to deal with him. Other palliatives would be Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Another Marvellous Thing by Laurie Colwin, Something Fresh by P G Wodehouse and pretty much everything from the 19th century.

About Amaryllis


Amaryllis is our bookshop blogger.


Her pen name is taken from Alice Thomas Ellis’ Other Side of the Fire, which is unfortunately and scandalously out of print. One of the funniest bits in the book is the bodice-ripper that one of the characters is writing and the female - who slays the men with one toss of her raven locks and one glance from her fiery green eyes as she strides among the glens, faithful wolfhound by her side - is Amaryllis! And the name just seemed to suit so here we are.

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