Autumn Leaves, Michel de Montaigne and the Blockheads

By October 26, 2020 No Comments
Yesterday, in the midst of my own lockdown madness, my grumpy mood was suddenly lifted by a scene looking across a valley to the west of Bolton.

Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3

It was a misty day and I was looking northwards as the sun was rising behind me and lighting up a ridge of autumnal woodland.  It then disappeared into what is the expanse of the West Pennine Moors and the Forest of Bowland even further beyond. All thoughts of hectoring, annoying, know all politicians and their appointed “experts” were briefly banished. The world seemed a better place for my distraction.

But perhaps it was a clue as to how to get through these bizarre times when there are so many rules and rule making blockheads that no one can keep up with.

My Life is Full of Terrible Misfortunes Most of which Never Happened

Much like the late songwriter and artist Ian Dury, the sixteenth century French philosopher and essayist, Michel de Montaigne, thought we were all blockheads. He thought that he had much to learn from nature about how to live in the world.

“Let us permit nature to have her way. She understands her business better than we do.”

Montaigne often observed his own insouciant cat. Preferring its temperament to his own and, for that matter, most of the ancient philosophers he had been studying.

“In nine lifetimes, you’ll never know as much about your cat as your cat knows about you.”

I suspect he would have preferred self-isolation in the company of his cat to his daily grind with the politicians he rubbed shoulders with in the parliament at Bordeaux or the royal court in Paris.

So I ask myself what Ian Dury and Montaigne would have made of all this?

The best I can do is imagine Michel smiling in his study, in a circular tower to the east of Bordeaux, gently stroking his cat and accepting that it had no advice to give him. Then placing a vinyl disc on his sixteenth century, hi-fidelity, turntable. In my mind’s eye I can see the disc now; the Blockheads first album, released in 1977, “New Boots and Panties”, and the stylus is hovering over this track…

Blockheads – a song by Ian Dury and the Blockheads

You must have seen parties of Blockheads,
With blotched and lagered skin,
Blockheads with food particles in their teeth,
What a horrible state they’re in.

They’ve got womanly breasts under pale mauve vests,
Shoes like dead pigs’ noses,
Cornflake packet jacket, catalogue trousers,
A mouth what never closes.

You must have seen Blockheads in raucous teams,
Dressed up after work,
Who screw their poor old Eileens,
Get sloshed and go berserk.

Rotary accessory watches,
Hire-purchase signet rings,
A beauty to the bully boys,
No lonely vestige clings.

Why bother at all about Blockheads?
Why shouldn’t they do as they please?
You know if it came to a brainy game
You could baffle a Blockhead with ease.

How would you like one puffing and blowing in your ear-hole?
Or pissing in your swimming pool?

Bigger brained Blockheads often acquire,
Black and orange cars,
Premature ejaculation drivers,
Their soft-top’s got roll-bars.

‘Fill her up, ‘ they say to Blockheads,
‘Go on, stick it where it hurts’.

Their shapeless haircuts don’t enhance,
Their ghastly patterned shirts.

Why bother at all about Blockheads?
Superior as you are,
You’re thoughtful and kind with a well-stocked mind
A Blockhead can’t think very far.

Imagine finding one in your laundry basket,
Banging nails in your big black dog.

Why bother at all about Blockheads?
Why should you care what they do?
‘Cause after all is said and done,
You’re a Blockhead too.

(oi oi)
(oi, oi)…
Neil Kinsella

Author Neil Kinsella

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