The problem with being called a bully is that once that label is out of the bag it’s very hard to put back in. When someone shows you a photo of a murderer or paedophile or member of The Brexit Party the usual reaction is simply confirmation – “yes, they definitely look like a murderer/paedophile/member of The Brexit Party, just look at their hollow eyes and slippery skin, I wouldn’t like to sit next to them on a bus”. The same applies to the garden variety bully. There’s often a notable lack of smoke without fire and so the shit-fire is spread and the smell ingrained. Once a bully, always a bully, someone very clever probably once said; and by jove they may have been right.
I was bullied a little bit when I was younger. You’d think that my ginger hair, huge front teeth and goggly-eyed glasses would have marked me out as a little too cool for school, but apparently these characteristics are not necessarily considered strengths in the playground hierarchy. And so once in a while someone bigger and less well intentioned than me (which accounted for only about 90% of my school peers) would act on the urge to take out their frustrations on the nearest goofy, four eyed, ginger twat they could find. Enter, moi. But no, put that tissue away and weep not for me. I may have been given the odd dead arm and so on but when I say I was bullied a bit I should emphasise the ‘bit’ part. You see, I realised quite early on that there are ways to rise above bullying – in my case I was thankfully quick witted enough to avert danger by suggesting my would be attacker’s mother might be a particularly low budget and accommodating prostitute whom I had recently visited (or something equally unlikely and personal) and in an all-boys school this would inevitably result in much mirth amongst onlookers and so most of the time my special power would save me. I also realised that if you performed various acts of defiant stupidity then you could gain a reasonable degree of grudging respect, more so if said defiance ended up in a bollocking. I got a lot of bollockings when I was at school and exhibited a daredevil nature that has long since fractured and faded. Sorry, Mum and Dad.
I’m sure that being persistently bullied as a child must be fucking awful. I may have had a bit of grief once in a while but I was never afraid to go to school, and when you’re growing up and supposed to be enjoying life before bills and taxes and responsibility it seems brutally unfair to have that taken away from you from some cave dwelling thug for really not very much reason at all. I suppose it is in the nature of such environments that there will always be a structure of bullies and the bullied, and the acts that are committed because of that structure are surely far, far sadder and more regrettable than simply not passing your chemistry GCSE. The only positive is that it is possible, with patience and wisdom, to tame and re-educate a bully before they get to the adult world, because if there is one thing that is many times more pathetic than a school bully it is an adult one. There’s murderers, paedophiles and members of The Brexit Party and then, just above that there’s grown up bullies; not quite the lowest of the low, but low enough to reach out and touch it.
If you watch the news then you’ll know how this is going to end. Gentle love dove, Priti Patel. She may not have admitted to being a bully and she may have apologised if she caused any “upset”, but really that’s no better than tackling the problem by saying “I’m sorry you feel that way”. Priti by name, but not it seems, by nature. Fortunately, we haven’t sunk so low in our political landscape to afford a major cabinet role to a bully. Oh, hold on. I’m told that Priti Patel is extremely popular amongst certain sections of the Tory party, but then we mustn’t forget that certain sections (in some cases quite large sections) of the Tory party are inhabited by first class wankers, and so that kind of support should not be considered worthy of any much credit at all. I further suspect that some of those supporters are just living a fantasy; a fantasy they dream may one day reach a climax whereby they burst into Priti’s office and bury themselves between her sturdy thighs. Of course Priti is above all that. She’s got better, or worse, things to do.
It appears to me that the brush she has been tarnished with is held by her anyway and will always be there to deliver another slap. You just need to look at Priti Patel and you can start to imagine the bully lurking not too far beneath the surface. The power of suggestion or the power of fact, it doesn’t matter much now. You can almost start to see what she would have been like at school, but it would be wholly unfair to make too many historic assumptions. Perhaps she herself was bullied and then decided to turn the tables once she had put herself back together again; but then this does seem unlikely because the sort of people that need to put themselves back together again are rarely the same as the sort with the drive and ambition to become Home Secretary. No, it’s highly likely that she is just as much of a bully as her critics suggest, and if you’re still in doubt then remember that she has the full support of Boris Johnson, a man whose judgement is nothing if not highly questionable. So they stick together, politicians like this, because they all know what bullying is and what it looks like and, frankly, they know that in their world it kind of works for them, so if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Very refreshing.
We all have unhelpful traits which we’ve carried over from childhood; let’s face it, none of us are perfect. And that’s handy, because no one asks us to be perfect. We don’t even expect our politicians to be perfect but it would be nice if once in a while one came along that had just a few standards worthy of admiration. Priti Patel won’t be the last politician to come under fire for taking a power trip and throwing her not inconsiderable weight (political, in this case) around, but for those that she has mistreated or “upset” or, most accurately, bullied this latest farce must come as a bitter pill to swallow. I’ve never met her and I doubt I ever will but there certainly seems to be something of the grinning wolf about her. Adult bullies of any nature are not to be admired, and I’d like to think that political karma will pay her a visit sooner or later. That said we’re leaving the EU, we might not get a Christmas and Dominic Cummings is suddenly out of the picture. If we’re not careful we might even have a Prime Minister called Priti Patel at some point, because clearly anything can happen these days. Can I interest you in a joke to lighten the mood?
G B Hewitt. 21.11.2020