Sunday, 10 October 2010

Little blokes too

So the other day I was writing about men below average height. I think this was brought on by two events.

The first was the death of Sir Norman Wisdom, a small man whose film alter ego, Norman Pitkin, held us to ransom and blackmailed us in much the same way that anorexics can. At 12 or 13 I loved his slapstick, sneaking into the local Gaumont (disapproved of by anti-cinema and anti-theatre attitudes at home and forbidden by my school if you were wearing uniform) was revolted by ghastly songs like Don't laugh at me 'cos I'm a fool, but it didn't take long to become very quickly bored by the lack of sublety of the plots and total improbability of anyone taking this twit seriously, let alone any self-respecting girl falling in love with this grinning drip Pitkin: if this was subversion (and I was very keen on subversion then. Still am, in many ways.) it was about as anti-Establishment as Puss in Boots on ice.

All the same, there has to be something to be said for someone who apparently gave the restive and liberal youth of Albania, under the despotic Enver Hoxha régime, the Pitkin catchphrase 'Mr Grimsdale!' to be uttered furtively to fellow-members of the underground. In due course the Hoxha régime fell, along with all those other eastern European communist governments, but so far I haven't heard of Sir Norman Wisdom being given any of the credit for it. Who knows, maybe there are Pitkin Streets and Mr Grimsdale Boulevards in the capital, Tirana?

The second was the extraordinary unpopularity, marked by record low standing in the polls, of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president. Nobody seems to have a good word for the bloke, and if he stands for the presidency again, in eighteen months' time, it looks as if he's going to be humiliated. If he does get in, it'll be by default, because the likely opposition candidates are so dire. If you get in by default, you can't really claim any kind of popular mandate for your programme. Like Sir Norman Wisdom, at first I liked Sarkozy and what he stood for, but as his presidency has tottered from crisis to crisis, and as he has barely scratched the surface of all the promised reforms that I as a resident outsider felt France needed so badly, I've gone off him rather.

I remember a scene in a Norman Wisdom film called, I think, On the Beat, in which Pitkin tries to get into the police force. As he is far below the minimum height for recruitment he puts on stilts, and of course he's found out. If Sarkozy ever put stilts on to convince the French that he was the man for the job, it never made it to the national news, but it's widely known that he's sensitive about his height. Any measurement between him and Sir Norman would be a close run thing. Which begs the question: what sort of a president would Sarkozy make if he were taller?

Then there's another little bloke, Lawrence of Arabia...

...but he'll have to do for another time.


Dave said...

Ah, underachievers.

Slapstick 'humour' has never done anything for me.

Vicus Scurra said...

Sarkozy, Wisdom, Lawrence.
None of them ever made me laugh.

Charlene said...

I watch in awe the person who is less than expected to be by those watching, who do not notice that they are less. It's an admirable vision of confidence and sometimes they achieve beyond expectations.

Sometimes not.

Tim Footman said...

Obama’s six foot one, and he’s having a crap time as well.

Christopher said...

Dave: Fully agree.

Vicus: Fully agree.

Charlene: That seems to cover all eventualities. Magisterially, if I may say so.

Tim: Hi. Good to see you, as always. But I wonder if Obama is constantly devising schemes to make himself appear less tall, in the hope that this will make him somehow more authoritative?

Spadoman said...

Since I never stand next to anyone in authority, I can't relate to the height theory. I mean, Kermit the Frog has extreme popularity, and he's a puppet that stands less than three feet, (0.9144 m), tall.
Then there's Tom Cruise, Hollywood action hero who is 5'7".
Someone once told me that some movie stars stand on milk crates because they would seem so dwarfed by others on stage. I don't know about the politicians. My search tells me that Abe Lincoln was the tallest YS President and James Madison was the shortest. One could look at this site:

And see if height made a difference on their governing styles.

All this aside, I have never been shorter or taller than my mate when we lay in bed.


Sarah said...

Aaah, now I like a bloke in a turban.

Dave said...

A turban adds inches to your height.