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No wonder Boris Johnson is a fan of Tintin

 


The PM shares the youthful idealism of the creation of Hergs

It turns out that when Boris was in the hospital, his family sent him Tintin books. I can just imagine him sitting in his bed, in his jimjams, reading them aloud: Big snakes! Mountebanks! Billions of blue blistered barnacles!

Of course, Boris likes Tintin. The two blondes; the two journalists; the two never grew up, which means they never get tired. Bond is now a wet feminist, Batman is in therapy. Tintin stays between 12 and 18 years old, eternally curious and, like Boris, indestructible.

Not to say that it is two-dimensional. One of the secrets of Hergs success is that its creation tackles adult themes without naming them. When I reread the books about five years ago, I was struck by how dark they could be. Captain Haddock is a violent alcoholic; Professor Calculus clearly has undiagnosed dementia. And over time, Tintin the imperialist became Tintin the liberal. In a first edition from the years 1931 Tintin in the Congo (a book so fanatical that they sell it in cellophane with a health warning), it detonates a rhino with dynamite. In 1976, and Tintin and the Picaros, he wears bell bottoms, does yoga and has a peace symbol on his motorcycle helmet.

But liberalism is still harsh, as was generally the case in popular culture until Vietnam spoiled things. The sixties Star trek is robust (an egalitarian future, yes, but Captain Kirk is another impulsive adventurer whose phaser is about to stun) Impossible mission (This tape will self-destruct in five seconds) begins in 1966 as liberal and very robust, and ends in 1973 as very liberal.

I watched the 171 episodes (the evenings here are long) and you can identify the moment when the producers of Imperibles decided that the Vietnam War had put on a show about Americans running around the world to solve the problems of other peoples. For those who care, this moment is season five, episode three, The Innocent, when the mission goes wrong, our heroes must blackmail someone to bail them out, and they must face, for the first time, the possibility that they’re just as bad as the bad guys.

One of the reasons why Boriss’ critics don’t like him is that they think he’s like a cartoon character who has no degree of self-reflection. I’m sure it’s not true, but even so, it’s his cartoon qualities that actually attract many of us. Boris is a return to the time before the 1970s, before Picaros Tintin, when the West was liberal in the sense of being open-minded and generous, but not yet whiny and self-flagellant. Far from being a far-right boor, Boris represents the resurrection of Western idealism. I am so happy that he is getting better.

In search of the real Proust

To escape the corona panic on television, I fell back on another European master: Marcel Proust. I do not read Swanns Way, however, but listen to it and then, if a section appeals to me, I will come back to the book. A strange method, but Proust will hardly start and it is easy to give up, whereas with an audio book version, the text seems clearer and easier to follow.

I made two discoveries. One, that everyone knows, is that he is a remarkably evocative writer. He can tell some insignificant details from his childhood as narrators in a way that immediately triggers a memory of those who are not only the event, but the place, the smell and the precise way that one felt. The narrator remembers his utter desperation when his mother went to dinner rather than saying goodnight, and I instantly remembered sitting on the window sill in my bedroom, watching my mother leave and crying as if it were the last time I ever see her.

I was probably six years old, by the way, not 30 years old. My other revelation, which no one had ever told me, is that Proust is also incredibly funny. Swanns Way has the reputation of a heavy book and without conspiracy which ruminates endlessly on the smell of the cake and that’s it, but Proust is aware of it and the text is full of bathos and irony. His eye for characterization is splendid. My favorite is the great aunt of the narrators, who affects being terribly sick and despises two groups of people above all the others: those who say that it is probably not as bad as you think and those who tell him that you will surely die.

She partly insists that she never sleeps. This too is evocative. My mom insists she hasn’t slept in the blink of an eye since 1986, which I once refuted by sharing a wagon with her by recording her snoring on my phone and listening to it at breakfast. lunch. She insisted that it was the sound of the train.

An unforgettable smile

Farewell to one of the greatest Tims of all, Tim Brooke-Taylor, the actor who unfortunately died of the dreaded virus. I found some recordings of The Goodies when I was little and devoured them: Kitten Kong and Bunfight at OK Tea Rooms are real works of art. When I’m told that an actor I love has died, I can’t help but smile sometimes. It is a reflex and not a merciless one: I think of a way in which they made me laugh. It is a rare and glorious heritage that must be remembered with a smile.



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