Success is horrible. You have a great life, but can't enjoy it

Once you are successful, people defer to you, which induces a temperament of pouting and petulance


I don't want to brag or anything, but I can still get into the same pair of trousers that I was wearing 30 years ago. Mind you, I was attending clown college at the time.

I don't want to brag or anything, but I can still get into the same pair of trousers that I was wearing 30 years ago. Mind you, I was attending clown college at the time.

Talking of college, I'm not quite sure about this, but I have the feeling that a lot of those people you see wearing T-shirts and sweatshirts with the emblems of Harvard or Princeton University on them haven't really studied at those prestigious educational establishments at all. Either that, or being educated at one of those Ivy League institutions isn't actually the fantastic start in life that it's cracked up to be, seeing as a lot of those wearing Harvard and Princeton sweatshirts are busy selling illegal hot dogs down Oxford Street. I went to Chelsea School of Art - we didn't have a sweatshirt, and our college scarf was a pickled eel.

I, of course, subsequently entered the entertainment business, and I find that a lot of young people these days seem to want me to pay for their education. Like many others, I get lots of begging letters from kids who want to go to drama school but can't get a grant; those letters go straight in the bin. It's not that I'm mean, you understand, it's just that I'm saving them from a life of pain.

Of course, the most likely outcome is that, having gone to drama school, these youngsters will never work in the entertainment industry at all. I got a random anonymous form from Equity, the actors' union, a while back, that attempted to get a picture of the working lives of its members. One question on it was: "Do you have savings of: a) nothing; b) £70-100; c) £100-170.60? And that was it - the top limit was £170.60, because Equity couldn't possibly imagine that an actor would have any more in the bank than that.

However, there is a faint chance that one of those drama school graduates will become successful, and that is what I am protecting them from - success - because frankly, success is horrible. Success is horrible because nearly everyone who is successful in show business has an absolutely fantastic life, full of action, excitement, free stuff and nice wooden furniture with comfortable cushions. But they are incapable of enjoying it, because they think they are having a terrible life.

A current example of somebody who is having a great life but thinks he isn't is the rapper Eminem, who is almost as whiney and self-pitying as a farmer. On his latest record, "The Way I Am", Eminem complains that fans won't leave him alone, that his record company doesn't like him and that the radio stations won't play his "jam". Well, excuse me, Marshall, but where did I hear your jam? On my washing-machine? On my fridge? (I don't think so, especially since I keep my jam in a cupboard, though some do keep jam in the fridge. You really don't need to, as long as you ensure that the lid is screwed on properly and you don't allow bits of butter to get in there, which makes it go mouldy.) No, I heard his jam on the radio.

The ironic thing is that having a fantastic life but thinking you have a terrible life is actually much more psychologically painful than simply having a terrible life. Successful, should-be-happy people think they are having a terrible life because of insecurity, ambition, jealousy and so on. Once you are successful, people tend to defer to you all the time, which induces a big-baby temperament of constant pouting and petulance and leads to a huge feeling of self-pity if you fail to get your own way in the most minor thing.

I think that the way successful entertainers get goes some way to explaining the mind-set of a great many Israelis at this time. Many have remarked on the fact that, although their forces and the armed settlers have killed over 100 unarmed Palestinians (many of them children), they still perceive themselves as the victims!

That self-pitying mind-set comes from the state of Israel being constantly indulged by the United States, despite Israel's routine use of torture, its secret nuclear arsenal and its illegal occupation of Arab land. The Israelis are also bolstered in their delusions by the Western media (with honourable exceptions), which continue to regard the confrontation between civilians with stones and catapults and M16s, tanks and heavy machine guns as a somehow balanced struggle, in which both sides are equally to blame. Otherwise, newspapers seem simply to imply that the Palestinians are somehow guilty for starting the whole thing. So, when a boy and his unarmed father are shot by Israeli troops as they cower in terror, it turns out, according to most of the newspapers, to be the fault of the Palestinians.

If the Israelis, who hold the power, were to start behaving decently, not only would the lives of millions of Palestinians be improved, but so would the lives of millions of Israelis. Alas, that seems unlikely to happen - self-pity is a powerful drug.

And now I have to take a couple of months off this column to complete a stinking book of short stories that my bastard publisher expects me to deliver, just because he's given me a gigantic advance. So I'll see you again after Christmas.

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