The Human Mind: Very Odd

I sat in a bar and sipped my glass of claret. At the next table there were a young man and a woman of, I would guess, about 75. She was very elegant. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but I was pretty sure I had the measure of her. She had seen and heard everything in her long life, but she stuck, stubbornly, to the values of her youth.

And then, for some reason, I suddenly found myself thinking about a young novelist called Martin Amis. You may not have heard of him, but he is all the rage in literary circles. His father, Kinglsey, was a brilliant novelist. Martin is also very successful, though not nearly as talented.

Why did that elegant woman make me think of Martin Amis?

I have worked it out. I have read a couple of young Amis’s books. I know that he uses the words f–k and c–t several times on every page. He does that in order to demonstrate how grown up he is. But he also hopes to shock. He would look at that elegant 75 year old woman and think how appalled she would be that anyone could use the sort of offensive language he uses. And he would think he had hit the jackpot. “I,” he would say to himself, “am a great novelist because I have shocked that awful waste of time, that horribly old woman”.

But what Amis junior doesn’t realise is that the old woman he so despises is not shocked at all. She (I am trying to read her mind now but I think I’ve got it right) just thinks he is a very silly little boy who is using bad words to try to shock her. She has heard them all before, and she is not impressed by his use of them. The fact that she can lead her life without uttering obscenities every moment of it does not mean she is shocked when they are used by others.

How strange that sitting in a bar at a table near an elderly woman should have led me to think in this way.



16 thoughts on “The Human Mind: Very Odd

  1. There are times when otherwise inappropriate language is suited to the context of a story. I’ve sometimes used crude language in my writing as well. When writing about young men, well, one must accept that in certain social contexts they won’t speak in the most polished of manners. However, I find Martin Amis to be a very silly boy indeed. His writing is vulgar for the sake of being vulgar. He creates contexts in which to be as crude as possible.


  2. I am ashamed to report that until a few weeks ago I was almost completely unaware of the existence of Martin Amis, or his oeuvre, with the single exemption of his f**kingly banal ‘Time’s Arrow’ which I had identified from the reviews as a cheap load of derivative w**k trading on the tragedy of the Holocaust.

    Imagine my surprise when the BBC wheeled out the c**ting wee f**k to be included in a studio discussion on the morning of the US election results with the fragrant Ann Coulter and a dreadful Newsnight female presenter Emily Maitless whose sole qualification for her contribution to the PC mandated Newsnight presenter gender ratio is her (supposed) possession of a vaj**jay.

    Returning to the aforementioned c**ting wee f**k I could not help but notice that the discussion exposed his somewhat unfortunate inability to prevent his face from reflecting his inner emotional journey that accompanied each utterance in the way that a concealed toilet-cam might record the facial expression corresponding to an expression (pun intended) of a Type 1 on the Bristol Stool Form Scale.

    Suffice to say that the aforementioned c**ting wee f**k launched into a rambling and incoherent attack on Donald Trump which had somehow assigned to Trump the responsibility for the death toll of the American Civil War before someone on the Newsnight production team mercifully hit the kill button on the c**ting wee f**k’s mike before the aforementioned c**ting wee f**k disappeared irretrievably up his own b**thole.


  3. I’ve read novels by Kingsley Amis but I have read nothing at all by his son. I don’t know if he is all the rage in literary circles, Charles, although he seems to be full of rage at times. He is either loved or hated by critics but I don’t feel the least bit tempted to buy any of his books.

    “Zone of Interest” sounds as though it might be best avoided, described as a Holocaust comedy!



  4. I tried reading Martin Amis a couple of times, I couldn’t get to the gist of the story because of the unessecary use of words from some medieval book.

    I go past a small confectioners that sells bread rolls and chips, the children from the local school congregate there (not all can enter the shop) the language is very like a Martin Amis book, perhaps that is their reading matter for GCSE’s? I am very elderly now, I am not shocked, I just accept that it must be part of growing up.

    I used to tell my children, leave your school language at school, we didn’t need to hear it at home.


  5. He’s just not a very good novelist. Stayed young in the wrong way, i.e. emotionally immature. A tin ear, shown by titling one of his early novels “Dead Babies” and using the The Holocaust, without anything new to add to the subject, in a late one. When I first read him I was shocked, not by any foul language that might have been present, but by the emotional emptiness.


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