About The Rusticant

To be rusticated – banished to the country

This section has been edited 30 November 2016 adding the picture right. Please do not be confused about names. I have adopted the name my mother had selected for me had things been very different at birth but I remain Martin into the future.

The person at the top of the page is not a different person. The pics are the same self in two guises but melding  happily into one. Next year, hopefully before the spring, I will have embarked on the early stages of a professionally monitored programme at the Laurels Exeter, Devon 

At this point I must quote the one person who has really seen me pass out so to speak. She said, “my god you are a better looking woman than a man”. That’s progress !

In time I will get hold of the WordPress world and turn this blog into something of a resource.

Read on if you want to understand my blog title “the rusticant”. The work below is dated but relevant.

An energetic indolent individual. The Rusticant explained 

Last summer (2013) during a distinguished period of energetic indolence much of which was spent on the beach at Winchelsea, East Sussex, I read Hilary Mantel’s widely and rightly lauded novels, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. Mantel introduced me to a word which had previously passed me by – “rustication”. Fall out of favour with a retributive monarch like Henry VIII and you could feel a heavy cold blade across the back of the neck. But if you were lucky you might simply be put out of sight – sent to the country; rusticated.

My rustication had recently happened towards the end of 2012. Without the slightest planning I had ended up in a small village in the beautiful Weald of Kent – population about 1500 – in an environment so completely different to Piccadilly, Leicester Square which I had quite recently said goodbye and farewell to.

A person rusticated, I deduce, is a rusticant – a noun, as migrant is a noun. Rusticant does not exist in my dictionaries. Thus I have invented a new word to which I lay claim with the title of this blog,which is dedicated to what drives me: thought, politics, the arts, writing and the people that perform those vital duties in our daily lives.  

“A writer’s job is to remember what the fundamentalists try to erase”.The controversial H L Mencken gives me a succinct sub text to this blog.

The Rusticant is about writing and communication. Not so much about what I write but what I read and love. The internet could and should be the ultimate conduit of free expression. But it must not be a cloaca and as Camus wrote; “absolute freedom mocks justice. Absolute justice denies freedom. To be fruitful the two ideas must find their limits in one another”. So it is with censorship.

Virtually weekly I read somebody’s work for the first time, often found through random TV-watching or radio-listening and often people who are not widely known. Two very recent examples are  Yasmine El Rashidi and Iram Ramzan. The former a contributor to New York Review of Books offers vivid and insightful comments on her native Egypt; the latter a local UK writer with a feeling for “Paxo” along with much else it seems. She, I found through a Woman’s Hour interview.

Newspaper journalists who I currently read with regularity are David Aaronovitch , Nick Cohen,  Phil Collins, Boyd Tonkin and for balance Tim Montgomerie and Oliver Kamm.  For a view of the squalid Square Mile  Merryn Somerset West. I am invested unsuccessfully. Karl Marx also dabbled I recently learned. I have almost abandoned the Guardian and consequently  miss Marina Hyde and Deborah Orr. Whatever happened to Julie Burchill? Caitlin Moran is fine compensation for JB’s less prolific output.

Which leads me to women writers who have inspired and informed me and who have not been unduly pre-occupied with their gender, being more concerned with their innate skill as writers. Jill Tweedie, in the 1970s, taught me much about feminism through her column for the Guardian and memorably wrote: “You don’t have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won’t hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa, just as well without, and a mild interest in hemlines doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word.”

Jill Tweedie deserves a photo here. Some others that have broadened my horizons are Jeanette Winterson, Lorna Sage, Angela Carter, Zadie Smith,  Anne Tyler, Diana Athill, Wendy Perriam. I haven’t read Austen but I am not ashamed and not dead yet. My favourite modern male author is Phillip Roth. In Counterlife he writes “…a life of writing books is a trying adventure in which you cannot find who you are until you have lost your way”. The same could be said of “reading books”.

Albert Camus has been a fairly constant companion during this year (2014). I wish an Albert Camus was alive today. Maybe he/she is somewhere but I am now instructed in the difference between The Rebel and the revolutionary. I remain the former and given freedom, democracy and the enlightenment I would always challenge the revolution.

Hats off to some truly outstanding writers and contemporary witnesses in whom I have sought knowledge. Christopher Hitchens, Clive James, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Gore Vidal, Germaine Greer,Truman Capote………and then some others from outside the English-speaking world – Gabriel Garcia Marques, Fernando Pessoa, Jorge Luis Borges. And many thanks to the man at a barbecue who persuaded me to read Ulysses, me having decided that “Portrait of the Artist” might be my limit. Joyce told me in that book that “…errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery”.

Norman Geras, “The Norm”, is so far unsurpassed for me in the blogosphere – he died towards the end of last year and my finest on- line achievement was to have him link me to his site when I last blogged about 3 years ago. I intend to continue with this one, long  into the future.

I left school in a state of wonderment and hardly any qualifications. My Catholic education was nothing short of ludicrous. At least I have by way of conversation the quite unusual status of having served mass in Westminster Cathedral and St Peter’s in Rome. I think I did that in a state of incipient atheism.

May the Fulham Football Club emerge triumphant from the Championship and take their place back in the Premier League. With an overbearing German manager I would think they have a good chance.

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