Revolutions can be messy, unexpected, chaotic and they don't always start in the most obvious ways.
They are about ideas that capture the public imagination. In October 1789, for example, a sumptuous banquet was held in the great theatre of the chateau of Versailles. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette attended. The next day rumours spread around recession-hit Paris that an orgy of gluttony had taken place. Stories of the great feast seemed outrageous to the ordinary women queuing outside shops empty because of food shortages that meant they could eat neither cake nor bread.
Later that afternoon, the royal guards were astonished to see a column of exhausted and dishevelled fishwives advancing through the drizzle towards the great palace. The women carried mostly broom handles and kitchen knives – but they pushed their way in, nevertheless, and demanded an audience. And indeed, a small delegation was admitted into the king's apartments. He listened to their complaints and promised to release grain stocks and have them delivered to Paris.
Somewhat mollified, the fishwives went on to eat and drink whatever they could lay their hands on in the chateau and then stretched out to sleep on the floors of the royal kitchens and the benches of the Assembly. The king and queen retired rather uncertainly to their bedrooms and wondered what to do with a palace full of drunken women.
Emboldened by the fishwives' success, the second attack came as dawn was breaking. The sound of tramping feet was heard as the mob advanced with axes and sabres. Soon the people of Paris were racing across the Cour Royale and storming up the marble staircases to the royal apartments. They shouted that they wanted to tear out the heart of the "Austrian whore", Marie Antoinette, and to fricassee her liver. A guard held them back long enough for the queen to flee along a secret passageway. Not long after that the carriages of the king and queen rattled hastily out of the palace gates.
Who would have thought it? A bunch of fishwives. And now we have a previously unknown couple called Jon and Tracy Morter marching in our vanguard. They're the ones who had the inspired idea to launch a Facebook campaign to get Rage Against the Machine to the Christmas No 1 slot ahead of the now traditional X Factor single. And who knows what it might lead to? Because we're all raging against the machine and these days you don't have to march through the countryside in the drizzle and storm palaces. You don't have to wield broom handles. You just go to your computer. You can have a one-click revolution if you want it.
I also like this idea of The X Factor as the axis of Western evils, Simon Cowell the great satanic Sauron. Which isn't to say I don't like The X Factor, which isn't to say it isn't great Saturday night TV. It's easy to be snobbish about The X Factor and I don't want to fall into that trap. I watched every minute of it this year and not only did I fall in love with the adorable cannon fodder that was Joe McElderry from South Shields, I cried when he won.
Talk about the opiate of the masses. This is the genetically engineered force-grown super-strength hydroponic skunk of the masses. And it's good. It does the job well. There's nothing like seeing someone deserving having his life transformed for real. But it's a lot of people who are less equal than others in our unequal society paying to watch one of their number achieve "the dream". The whole malarky reinforcing the myth that there is a way out if only you can keep going: "It's the climb!" I object to it in the same way I object to the lottery.
Of course, I don't know if Rage will win or not. We find out tomorrow – but wouldn't it be a wonderful thing? Wouldn't it be glorious to know that there is some hope this Christmas? This awful Copenhagen Christmas when 'tis the season to be deeply depressed as we watch world leaders letting greed and self-interest triumph yet again. Christmas kind of came at the wrong time this year. What with war entrenching, recession biting, bankers laughing all the way to the you know where and Obama failing to be the second coming.
Very jolly. So – like the fishwives drunken party – a victory for Rage would be a start, at least. It would be inspiringly symbolic. It would show that the little people have their own funny, unexpected ways of fighting back, that they can find the loopholes. Sometimes one small act can be the start of bringing down the whole great edifice.
Glamorous star or goldfish – the jury's out
Keira Knightley has stepped out on stage for the first time to mixed reviews. She's just opened in a West End production of Molière's The Misanthrope updated to contemporary times by Martin Crimp. Reviewing her in the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts said she had "all the charisma of a serviceable goldfish". But in this paper, Paul Taylor reported that she was strikingly convincing, turning in a performance "rather thrilling in its satiric aplomb".
Both critics talk rather a lot about her appearance. Letts, who calls her Miss Knightley in a patronising fashion, talks about her flawless face, and Taylor devotes a whole paragraph to her figure saying she's "a poster girl for natural thinness".
I haven't seen the play but when it comes to Keira Knightley I don't put much faith in male critics whether they are for or against. She's one of those actresses whose looks carry all before them – all men, that is. Personally, I don't know any woman who likes her as an actress or relates to her or finds her life enhanced by what Knightley brings to the roles she plays.
Now you might easily think this is humbug. We're just jealous, you might say. But there are lots of stunning actresses who I adore – Scarlett Johansson, for example - and some of them aren't even that good at acting, but I still like them because they bring a warmth to the parts they play, a feeling that they're on the side of women and could never be a goldfish.
Embrace your Mini-Me, but leave the staycation at home
I love it when a new word comes into the vocabulary and it really works. My absolute favourite at the moment is the Twitter word "trending". On Twitter a topic "trends" when it works its way to the top of the most-viewed list. Of course I'd never use it in real life (well, not yet) with a straight face, but it's such a wonderfully apposite word, it gives me great pleasure.
Some new words are just awful, though – like staycation, for example – and could never be said without those quotation marks you make in the air with your fingers. (Therefore don't say them.) Other new words just creep up on you. I found myself using "mini-me" the other day, as in "you know that blond mum at the nursery with a mini-me" with reference to a mother whose daughter looked just like her. A word like that sticks if there's a need for it – and I could think of no better way to describe the situation.
Death by remote control: a new chapter
Marriage counsellors report that the TV remote control is a flashpoint in many relationships. Yesterday a man was jailed for three years for killing his wife with the remote. Paul Harvey threw the remote at his wife during a petty row. Sadly, he didn't know she had a congenital condition which meant her skull was eggshell thin.
The TV remote is an obvious symbol of control. And with the arrival of TV on demand, the scope for arguments between couples gets greater.
When I fast-forward the ads I like to go a few seconds into the programme so I don't even have to see the sponsor's little book end. My husband likes to stop a few seconds earlier. Such are the battlefields of marriage.Reuse content