By David Bullard (Out To Lunch)
On Julius Malema, Bow-wow Boustred, Justice Malala and public editors
The Isle of Man? As they say in parts of England... "are you havin' a larf?" I daresay decades of wandering the corridors of 44 Main Street can dull the imagination but one might have hoped that a former deputy chairman of Anglo American would have set his sights slightly higher than the Isle of Man as a post retirement, retirement destination. In an interview with Business Day which would have done the late Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling proud, Graham Boustred offered his colourful views on life, sexually frustrated women in business and the passing of the Anglo dividend over lunch at his home in Sandhurst. They were forthright views and delivered with some spicy expletives to the three assembled hacks who had been invited to enjoy a light lunch at Boustred Towers. I'm told that, to anyone who knew Boustred in his Anglo years this would have come as no great surprise.
One of the great traditions of hospitality (according to my culture at any rate) is the right to speak your mind in your own house or gentleman's club. Conversations under one's own roof are subject to Chatham House rules and should not be repeated outside. Of course, that means also choosing your guests carefully and I have to say that inviting three hacks and expecting them not to repeat the conversation for the amusement of the proletariat is the height of folly. Which was Graham Boustred's great mistake. As an Anglo retiree of 84 he would have assumed that anything said under his roof was privileged information and would have been very surprised to see the hack's version of the conversation reported in the newspaper next day. For heaven's sake. You invite people around, give them food and drink and the next thing you know they're tittle tattling about your views on women in business and so on. Definitely not cricket.
Let's be honest: Mr Boustred holding forth is a much better story than Mr Boustred not holding forth and I am interested to see that the majority of people unquestioningly accept that this is what really happened when three journalists had lunch at his house, notwithstanding the unreliability of newspaper reporting in this country. Unless we hear Graham Boustred's version we are in no position to judge unless one happens to be the famous city planner Xolela Mangcu or failed newspaper editor and professional lickspittle Justice Malala. They both damn near creamed their jeans in excitement at the discovery of another apparent confirmed case of racism within our rainbow society. They remind me of David Attenborough scrabbling in the dirt to look for small creatures doing something noteworthy.
Journalists tend not to live in places like Sandhurst and I suspect a little class envy might have crept in. It's always fun to bash the toffs innit? Is it not possible that the journalists who lunched at Boustred's house that day decided between them to present the story in a deliberately sensational way to get people talking? Of course it is. That's what we do all the time. We put the word "troubled" in front of a company's name to sow seeds of doubt. If the company wasn't troubled before it damn well will be after we've done that. We put the word "disgraced" in front of someone's name and it really doesn't matter if the reader can't remember the reason for the disgrace because the damage is done. Alleged is another great journo cop out word. You can get away with murder if you refer to an "alleged" child molester by name without having to prove a thing.
Graham Boustred's views are undoubtedly rather extreme for many people but they are no more extreme than Malala's or Mangcu's. Xolela Mangcu (when he isn't bragging about his CV) espouses some hideously racist, anti white views in his Weekender column but nobody bothers to complain to the Human Rights Commission because we all know he is "allegedly" a whack job. The same goes for poor Justice who is so insecure that he once wrote that he believes he is a topic of conversation at my dinner parties. Only when we want people to go home Justice.
Personally, I think extreme views make for a much more interesting society and contribute to the greater debate but this is not a view shared by many I am sorry to say. I think the world would be a duller place without the Boustreds, Mangcus, Qwelanes and Malalas but that's because I come from a proud civilization steeped in a long history of mockery and not taking ourselves too seriously. That is why British comedy is by far the best in the world (sorry to be supremacist about this).
South Africa, on the other hand, is not even an emerging nation when it comes to humour. It is a country that much prefers to take offence and that's why it's so rewarding to take the piss down here on the southern tip. Back home, nobody would take any notice.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
By David Bullard (Out To Lunch)