Donald MacInnes: Read on to see just how far from 'great' we've sunk


Monday 16 July 2012 12:38 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Before you commit to reading any more of this, I should warn you that I most certainly do not have my finger on the pulse of this Kingdom, so if you were expecting to feel the warmth of collusion – an edgy togetherness – you might want to stop before venturing too far in.

And although I really don't aim to please, I'd hate you get to the end and have any regrets. You may even want to leave a trail of Smarties behind you, in case you get halfway through and realise that, actually, I'm talking out of my backside. At least then you can follow the sweeties to the exit.

Anyway, if you're still there, I'm assuming you agree that, just because a few million people think one thing, it doesn't follow that everyone must. Or even does. As an example, yesterday a professor of Iranian studies at St Andrews University announced that Alexander the Great was only "Great" depending on who you ask.

To the Greek-educated West (and thus our history books), he was an all-conquering genius; a youthful dancer across borders, who brought the light of knowledge and a self-confident, glittering understanding to a cold, static world. Like Gary Barlow.

However, to those whom he conquered, Alexander was a sinister, culture-sapping monster who laid waste to ornate, long-developed societies, imposing his uniform blandness and sickening more people than he ever elevated. Like… well, you see where I'm going with this.

I wish I could say it was just Gary's toadying ubiquity during the jubilee "celebrations" that made me want to chew my hand off, but in truth, even if we didn't have a Queen or any of her silly princes, he would still bother me, this purveyor of soaring ballads; Britain's sleepy-eyed laureate of mediocrity. And while I don't care if I am, surely I can't be alone in this? Have we sunk so low?

I suspect we have and it depresses the hell out of me. Why did we let it happen? There's even a clue in the name, for goodness sake. Barlow. Bar. Low. As in "setting the…" What happened to showbiz names that hinted at a higher being? Something… exciting. What happened to blokes called Freddie Mercury or Alvin Stardust?

Sadly, Gary's name doesn't seem to matter to Britain. Three years ago, OnePoll announced that the public regarded our friend as Britain's Greatest Ever Songwriter. Seriously? Did I miss a meeting?

But then again, as I said, it's all about who you ask. Had history taken a slightly different turn, Alexander the Great might have ended up Alexander the Dick. And you can't imagine that he would have inspired many statues …

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