Thursday, September 06, 2007

The stiff upper lip quivers

(This is yesterday's post, recovered from the feeder archive)

Dismaying news for opera lovers this morning, Bryn Terfel, regarded as the world's finest bass-baritone has cancelled eight performances at the Royal Opera House this autumn. This was to have been his first appearance as Wotan in the complete Wagner Ring Cycle. The reason? One of his sons has a badly broken finger. His wife told reporters that Bryn will be "doing less opera in future because it means he has to be away from home a long time."It's a dilemna, isn't it?

Part of me wants to applaud a man who puts family life before fame and fortune and part wants to ask why a family cannot support the husband/father in his work? It isn't fair to focus on this individual case, which just happens to be the one on the front page of the papers, but it strikes me as symptomatic of the change in attitude towards masculine behaviour.

Alongside our village there is a Royal Marine Commando base, home to some of the finest, bravest, toughest and most highly trained young men in the British forces. Many of them are currently in Afghanistan, having already done several tours in Iraq. As a pacifist, I may not agree with political decisions but I fully support our troops, whether they are deployed to war zones or on humanitarian missions. I have difficulty, though, with the media focus on their families, their creature comforts and their feelings. There is no conscription in this country, every member of the armed forces joined up to a career knowing that it had inherent discomforts and dangers. To be fair, the 'bring my boyfriend home for the birth of our baby' and 'my son has been given the wrong kind of boots' stories are probably very embarrassing for the young men concerned, but they are far more prolific than tales of endurance and heroism.

When it is announced that Royal Navy ships are leaving Plymouth for a six month deployment, we see wives and children telling their tales of woe because daddy will be away for Christmas or Easter or baby's first birthday. How does this wearing of bleeding hearts on their sleeves help the families or the sailors to get on with their lives? Whatever happened to British stoicism? My father's generation endured unimaginable hardship and saw horrendous sights in the second World War, his father's generation went through the unspeakable horrors of the Great War, can you imagine any of them asking to be allowed home to attend a child's birthday party? Can you imagine their wives complaining about being left to manage the house and children?

Has feminism taken the backbone out of both genders?


  1. Here we go again:

    I'd like to comment on feminists and how they labored mightily to destroy the family as a unit. Luckily they've failed in the most part because few men have so little self regard that they've allowed themselves to be reduced to girly men and few women have strived to make the men they love into a parody of masculinity.

    I see no dilemma about a man like Terfel who breaks a contract and leaves others to pick up the pieces. His fame and fortune, as you put it, is part of what he's chosen as his career. The work for which he trained and practiced, no less than any other professional, he does to support his family. I'd be willing to bet that there's another reason he's not honoring his obligations and it has nothing to do with a broken finger.

    The bleeding hearts complaining about their husbands absence when they're in the military is particularly odious. They knew what they were getting into.

    Here's what one of your chaps had to say about pacifists: Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. George Orwell

    PS: Feminists who take exception to my remarks are invited to rebut at my blog and not attack our hostess here.

  2. Thanks, erp. I don't mind alternative opinions from anyone else as long as they observe the common courtesies.


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