Richard Ingrams's Week: Not everyone was taken in by the master of the pause

Share
Related Topics

Three famous people to my knowledge had a deep and lasting hatred of Private Eye, the magazine I edited for more than 20 years. They were Kenneth Tynan, Jonathan Miller and Harold Pinter.

In his diaries, Tynan records that when in 1974 Sir James Goldsmith issued 63 libel writs in an attempt to destroy the magazine, Pinter rang him up to say that he and his wife Antonia had cracked open a bottle of champagne to celebrate the good news.

The solemn tributes paid to Pinter in recent days remind me a little of those paid to Francis Bacon, with many of the same words being used – bleak, enigmatic, disturbing, menacing, etc. In neither case, however, did their admirers seem to understand what it was all about. What was Pinter trying to say? Did he even know himself?

That last possibility made me think of him, at least in his early days, as a kind of artistic medium recording the meaningless and often cruel remarks that are made by voices "on the other side".

Outside the theatre, Pinter more often seemed like a comic figure, especially when coupled with his devoted wife, Lady Antonia. He was always pictured scowling, while she had an angelic smile as if she were a member of the Royal Family.

There are many Pinter stories which I hope will not be overlooked by his biographers. One of my favourites – passed on to me by my friend Maureen Lipman – tells how a recent dinner party was silenced by the news that Harold had just written a new poem. There was great excitement as all those present urged the great man to honour them with a reading of his latest work.

After a show of reluctance Pinter agreed, and recited as follows: "So. On it goes. On it goes. And on. It goes. And on. And on. It goes."

Israel has become its own Goliath

For some time now I have been convinced that the state of Israel is doomed. How or when its downfall will come about I have no idea. It may not be in my lifetime, but come about it will.

It may seem stupid or even perverse to predict that a country with massive military power and the uncritical support of America could be destroyed. Still, Israelis will be familiar with the story of the Philistine Goliath who was brought down by a single pebble.

Israel is nowadays like a stumbling Goliath. There are no longer any politicians of stature and foresight. Though there is widespread corruption and, as can be seen from the correspondence column in this paper, the country's critics no longer feel constrained by possible charges of anti-Semitism. In the current crisis it is significant that journalists are barred from Gaza, the reason being perfectly obvious, namely that the Israeli government is trying to prevent the outside world from knowing what is happening there.

That is not just a sign of guilt, but desperation. It is also futile. Unfailingly, when Israel launches one of its bombardments, the front pages of our newspapers carry pictures of wounded children, their eyes wide with fear, their faces smeared with tears and blood. As soon as that happens, the propaganda war is lost by Israel. But their politicians don't seem to have learnt that lesson, thereby only hardening the impression that everything they do is wrong, and my own conviction that their country is doomed to extinction.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness