Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mary Beard: My kind of Roman

Mary Beard's TLS blog - click here. And read about her party fortune-telling - click here.

I learn that a middle-aged man, who resembles a homophobe's idea of what a homosexual man looks like, has been very rude about Prof Mary Beard - the writer and presenter of BBC2's Meet The Romans. If you've given up on TV and have an interest in Roman antiquity then I strongly advise you to re-new your TV licence just to watch this series.

Ingeniously, Beard has discovered the voices of the Ancient Roman dead - not of the emperors or their spin doctors - but of the ordinary people: the butchers, the ex-slaves, the woman who loved wine, the shitters and the bathers, the parents of the boy brained by a falling roof tile, and so on. She channels their words to us from their stone memorials chiselled in Latin which lay about under other historians' noses for two millennia; awaiting Mary Beard's exquisite TV seances. These dead people were like us live people, desperate to be heard and remembered. Just like the TV critic with his funny matchstick legs, his ageing male model face, his dyslexia and other sob story details (a mother complex, for instance, and a love life I cannot repeat here).

Mary Beard is - but, no; let's leave it there. The TV critic drew attention to Beard's appearance. She's not his kind of blonde, or Blonde even. She fails to remind him that he's cast himself as a cock-cunter for professional (and perhaps personal) purposes. Beard is the Beeb's finest jewel right now - as smart as smart can be, learned, humane, empathetic. She animates the past because I suspect she understands the present: she understands how arbitrary are time's divisions. She does not write joke columns for a fading Sunday newspaper; she does not make her readers feel better by mocking a collective third party. She has no need of schtick.

Mary Beard reminds me of why I want to have a TV in the house. Just in case.

24 comments:

Ciaran Rehill said...

Agreed. A A Gill to be reincarnated as a baboon.

Bat E said...

That was spot-on Madame. I read what he said about her and, without getting all 'feminist', he's a shit!

Anonymous said...

Gill is a parasite and a bore

Anonymous said...

Gill runs on empty

AA said...

Fabulously put Madame. Mary Beard should be on the box every night. I can't get enough of her!

Jonathan King said...

Never watched it; now, inspired by you, going straight to my iPlayer!

Alice said...

Your own review is superior to Gill's. What a pity you toil unpaid, Madame. But would you be free to write such a piece? Probably not.

Anonymous said...

Dr Beard fascinates me. I watch her shows over and over again on iPlayer and I've recorded them too. Her appearance is part of why I find her fascinating. To me she is beautiful.

Jude Calvert-Toulmin said...

Fabulous Madame, if I could count on anyone to see what a great woman Mary Beard is and how puny is her detractor, it would be you. Thank you for yet another wonderful blog post darling. XXX

Anyone wishing to support Mary (and I believe Ill Gill's comments have really stung her) can do so on a blog post she made today here: http://timesonline.typepad.com/dons_life/2012/04/meet-the-romans-aa-gill-and-lifes-little-ironies.html

I've left her a comment today which said this:

I think Miriam O'Reilly got it bang on in The Guardian in her article, "AA Gill, drop the cheap jibes about Mary Beard – and learn something": http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/25/aa-gill-jibes-mary-beard?CMP=twt_gu. He's a misogynist who refers to his girlfriend as "the blonde", which sums up where he's coming from. He's always been a boring chauvinist; his words mean nothing, and anyway, which critics are remembered hundreds of years after their deaths? Their names hardly roll off the tongue. "My work will be an ancient conifer. The clamour of my critics, a short-lived annual which will die like a weed." - one of my own rather arrogant quotes after having been lambasted and criticised for my looks and the shape of my breasts all over the internet when I started out as a writer.

You are a fabulous, shining example of an Alpha female on the box who has the courage, like Germaine Greer and the lovely Sheila Hancock, to age as nature intended without resorting to surgery. Our society encourages women to disguise and hide the lines of wisdom they've earnt through a lifetime of experience and, often, child-rearing, with botox and surgery, making them look as vulnerable and naive as young women, thus being less of a threat to men. Very few of us women over 50 dare not to dye our hair (I dye mine blonde, I'm not as brave as you), wear make-up, or resort to surgery or botox (um no thanks to the latter two, ever.)

I believe the world of broadcasting has been waiting for you, Mary, and you are going to lead the way for many middle-aged women in the future who deserve the right to be respected for the mature, experienced women they are without having to appear less threatening for men by camouflaging their wisdom.

And as for what you look like, you look fabulous, free, wild, mischievous, intelligent, glowing with kindness and energy and radiating love and concern. These are the qualities which manifest themselves in true beauty, not a plastic mask.

I know from experience how deeply these barbs by the terrified little boys posing as swaggering confident men can wound and hurt, but think beyond that to what you are doing for society. This is one small step for broadcasting, but one huge step for womankind. Bravo! *cue massive applause*

...and here's an interview I did for a Sheffield Hallam University journalism student a couple of years ago for her dissertation "The Causes and Effects of Ageism on Women": http://into-view.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/interview-with-jude-calvert-toulmin.html

Mary Beard is going to change the face of broadcasting forever.

Madame Arcati said...

Thank you Jude. Tell me your news when you have a moment.

Anonymous said...

Madame Arcati's influence spreads far and wide :
www.thesocialshuttkle.com

Madame Arcati said...

Thank you http://www.thesocialshuttle.com/.

My blessings to Australia. I must come visit one week and spread my gospel far and wide.

grooming Guru said...

I've always said my favourite words in the whole world are "AA Gill is away"

Madame Arcati said...

Magic words - let us hope he is given cause to make it permanent.

A message to Madame Arcati on Twitter from Mary Beard: going to print out your blog and keep it for when I might be feeling low!

Anonymous said...

Mary Beard is by far the most watchable and most intelligent presenter on TV. She has that rare ability to convey her passion, like David Attenborough or even the dreaded David Starkey. It's fabulous that Madame Arcati appreciates her.

Christian said...

Lovely comment from the Telegraph article on this which deserves sharing.
"He used to be AAA Gill until he was downgraded."

Christian said...

I'm fascinated by Jude C-T's comment about the shape of her breasts being criticised. Where can we get a peek at them?

Elly said...

I haven't seen Beard's programme but I trust it is good.

However I thought her riposte to AA Gill was very snobby. She said she thought maybe he was callous and sexist because he hadn't been to university and so didn't know how to communicate with learned ladies.

Whereas I have found university people to be some of the most crass and callous and sexist, and that is just the feminist professors.

QRG

Madame Arcati said...

Her TV show is excellent - I think she was stung by Gill's casual nastiness which is (as usual) summoned up by his jaded desire to aggravate. Unfortunately churning out tired insults at female performers who have not got themselves spray tanned, blonded, botoxed or otherwise beautified for his mental tumescence is his stock in trade, and goes down well among the cunties at the droopy Sunday Times. Murdoch has had his eye off the ball there for years.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to Madame's account of Roger Lewis's dinner with Michael Gove at the Garrick

Madame Arcati said...

I learn that Roger gave Madame a detour on this occasion and gave a party narrative to the Londoner's Diary. If you can find it on the Evening Standard website let me know. The things writers will do for mere publicity!

Anonymous said...

The Londoner's Diary is not online any more. Why have they done that?

Madame Arcati said...

It's still online but sadly 'buried'. If you key 'Londoner's Diary' into the paper's search box, up pops the diary - but it is untitled and blurred with the news. A practised eye will discern it. Very odd. I do hope the page is not in trouble. It's edited very well and breaks many a tale.

Anonymous said...

That's mad. It's an iconic spread - why is the Standard burying itself?