The great Tom Baker celebrated his 83rd birthday yesterday, and the above image appeared on This Writer’s Twitter feed. Good old Tom – incisive as ever!
In a recent interview (Doctor Who Magazine #501, if you want to look it up – and you should because almost the entire magazine is devoted to interviews with him that are hilarious), Tom was asked what he makes of our current crop of politicians. His reply:
They’re mostly w***ers. I don’t think they have any ideas. They’re ruled by events. Like [Bertrand] Russell said, ‘Politics is largely governed by sententious platitudes’ – you know, we’re not allowed to know the reality.
Considering the amount of delusion currently being peddled over Brexit, for example, you can tell he has a point!
It’s incredibly frightening. Christ, what will become of us? Never have… well, I can’t say never, because in the late eighteenth century there was terrible contempt for Parliament… but right now, because we’re all in communication all the time, never have we all felt such utter contempt and mistrust of our governing class.
People say, ‘There’s an MP at the door? Well, kick his bollocks in!’
This may be the origin of the comment used in the image.
We’re living in tumultuous times. I could weep when I read terrible, crushing headlines about the mountain of grief in the world – how many people are crushed by poverty, how many people are uneducated, how many people are not getting proper schooling – but what can I do for them? I don’t have much of a future, in terms of time – so what can I do?
Asked about the EU referendum, Tom took a view that many of us may have wished other senior citizens should have taken:
I’m old, so it’s not my problem. When I’m asked if I’m going to vote Leave or Remain, it doesn’t agitate me either way, because I’m terribly aware that I won’t be here [to live through the consequences]. I’ll be dead. I’m resigned to that. I’m amazed, actually, that they allow old people to vote. It should be for the future generations to decide. I no longer care. Anyway, nobody knows, do they? Whether you vote Remain or Leave, in or out, nobody knows what the consequences will be.
The interviewer, Benjamin Cook, suggested that for many voters, it would be an emotional, rather than a logical response.
Yes, which I suppose is what most people do politically. You’re trying to do an informed thing, but from your heart. When the poor are shouting, ‘Down with the rich!’, I rather go along with that, because I’m very sympathetic to the poor, but you couldn’t have another mob over there, all very well-dressed, shouting, ‘Down with the bloody poor!’ The poor are beyond reproach. You’d have to have a heart of stone to criticise the poor.
One wonders whether Tom has every seen a Conservative MP discussing benefit claimants.
But when I see Mr Cameron… (shudders). He’s got a very pursed little mouth, hasn’t he? He hasn’t got the mouth of a leader, really. Nor has Jeremy Hunt [the Secretary of State for Health] – with that odious f***ing smirk of his. Why would you smirk? Oh, it’s vile.
We shan’t go too deeply into Tom’s speculations on whether Mr Cameron ever dallied with a pig’s head (“It’s an incredible story, isn’t it? Yes, if enough time has elapsed, you shouldn’t question it. Stories do get distorted over time… The imagination is the licence to trespass into areas that you wouldn’t do in real life. Perhaps with a pig”).
Instead, let’s go back to Hallowe’en 1992, and a very brief comment on the European Union as it was at the time, during an event at the Arnolfini arts centre in Bristol. I feel justified in publishing this because I asked the question to which Tom replied:
John Major [then-prime minister] says, ‘Britain will be at the heart of Europe.’
And it echoes out: ‘Heart of Europe, heart of Europe… heart of Europe.’
And then the echo comes back.
How prescient Tom was! One might almost believe he really is the Time Lord he portrayed on television for seven years.
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