On this week’s episode, we discuss how to stay sane in the age of Trump, whether Hull deserves the mantle of Britain’s City of Culture, and if Tatler were right to outlaw the word ‘ghastly’.
First, we sat down with Harry Mount, who writes a guide in this week's magazine on how to keep your head in 'Trumpworld', when all about you are losing theirs. The key, Harry says, is to block out the noise:
"Don’t let Trump — or his usefully hysterical enemies — drive you crazy. Ignore the trolls and the virtue-Trumpeters; discard Trump’s anti-media hysteria as the cynically concocted ruse it is. Most people — including you — aren’t shouting, so why should the shouters have a monopoly on your attention? Neither the Trump-lovers nor the Trump-haters have a monopoly on the truth."
He was joined on the podcast by Michael Segalov, a writer and activist, who defended the protests and urged people to get angry, saying:
"There is, of course, a time and a place for responding to people in a cool, calm and collected manner, but, at the same time, there are very real, very pertinent, very present consequences to things already happening under [Trump's] administration. To sit silently by whilst they happen is really dangerous."
The next best thing to visiting Hull, this year's City of Culture, is reading James Walton's account of his trip there. Once considered a post-industrial failure, Hull has been afforded a second life as a cultural oasis in the heart of the East Riding. James joins the podcast along with Sam Jordison the editor of the Crap Towns series of books, which, in 2003, named Hull the UK's single crappest town. The title was ill-deserved, says James on the podcast:
"The place is buzzing. You come off the train and, as part of the City of Culture, there's a grand piano in the station foyer and people are playing it (playing it rather well). There's big signs saying 'Hull, where have you been all our lives?'. There's cheery volunteers there. And everywhere you go – outside Yates's Wine Lodge – people are talking about the City of Culture."
On the subject of the EU referendum, Sam Jordison says that there's a correlation between towns that are seen as 'crap' and a vote against the EU:
"It's a very depressing thing really and in Hull you can really see it, because for Hull to vote Brexit is just like shooting your face off, it's crazy. The European Union has spent millions and millions of pounds in Hull, when our own governments – Tory and Labour alike have been pretty culpable in this – have not been good at supporting Northern towns."
Finally, we sat down with Michael Henderson to commiserate with him over the demise of the word 'ghastly' from the style guide of snooty bible Tatler. For Michael, the word deserves another chance, as it is something so precise, so uniquely English, and so applicable in many cases, that it could never be replaced. In the magazine, he writes that:
"The lefties are ghastly, so many of them, because, like Rousseau, they believe in the perfectibility of man, and are peeved when life, with its muck and nettles, disappoints them. Possessed by a sense of virtue they deny to others, it is no surprise that so many become humourless prigs. So keep that word close to hand, Tatler. There’s never been a better time to use it."