Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Screwing up and bygones

Mark Oaten's autobiography "Screwing up" is published on 26th September and a large edited extract appeared in the Independent yesterday. From the extract, the book seems worth a read if only because it seems to have been approached from the viewpoint of searing honesty:

Yet in the end the harsh truth was that there was no-one else to blame. Not a male escort, not the News of the World, just me.

This is about the fifth iteration of all this. I was surprised, looking back in my archive, that it was actually June 2006 when Mark produced a Newsnight film about this fall from grace. That included a homage to Sigmund Freud's actual couch. (I kid you not) And now it's September 2009. "Will this damage the party?" - Is the hysterical cry. Of course not. Don't be silly. He didn't break the law. He didn't start a war under false pretences. Noone died. He didn't hurt anyone except his family and himself.

So, it's ancient history. Bygones which are well and truly bygoned. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone..." etc etc. I wish Mark all the best with the book and his future, and I particularly hope the publication is of some benefit to his family. I feel sorry for them and for Mark.

There is a vibrant discussion about this on Liberal Democrat Voice. And Jonathan Calder and Mark Littlewood seem to be maneuvering their battleships on the matter.

Should we even discuss and speculate as to why he did it? Well, if you publish a book on a subject, it would seem perverse if you didn't want people to talk about the subject. After all, you don't publish a book just for one copy to be stuck on the shelf of the British Library to collect dust, do you? You want to actually sell the odd copy, don't you? And discussion sells the book.

So my two-penneth worth, or rather the eminent psychotherapist, Philip Hodson's two-penneth worth, is this:

Finally, the role of the unconscious mind in causing these very sad and destructive social unmaskings should not be underestimated. For many husbands, particularly in middle-age, there is a quiet and unexplained desperation to escape an existing pattern of life. Possibly they are attracted to power more than power is attracted to them, and this triggers depression. Perhaps their career no longer fits them at all but they cannot easily think about sloughing off its constricting skin. Part of them wants to play; part of them seeks attention; part wants to drop out; part wants to be young again; part wants to be mothered; part wants to be an artist; part wants to retire – but none of these is considered ‘rational’. Instead, they get themselves into a horrible public pickle – rather like the ex-Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Allan Green who of all people was caught kerb-crawling in King’s Cross in the early 1990s. Or like Mark Oaten in 2006 who was trapped in the headlights of the News of the World. Their tragedy is that secretly they must have wanted to be caught.

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