On feet of clay.

You’ve always had a bit of a problem with heroes.

This is mainly because you were disappointed in your youth by reading a number of interviews with people you admired who contrived to say some astonishingly stupid things. Which meant that you couldn’t properly appreciate whatever it was that you admired them for any more.

Admittedly, it being your youth, a lot of these people were in rock bands. And quite why you were expecting someone who is only relatively good at noodling around on a guitar to have profound and useful things to say about life, the universe and everything is a moot point. Of course, quite why some scruffy 21 year old who is mostly famous for being able to stick two drumsticks up his nose is being asked about his views on anything more weighty than whether bamboo hurts more up there than oak is also a bit of a mystery. Quite why he feels the need to actually answer is also something which could do with looking into too, although, to be fair, if someone put on a dictaphone and invited you in all seriousness to pontificate, well, we all know what the outcome of that would be, don’t we?

To make matters worse, the few (very few) people who manage to be both witty and interesting on a wide range of subjects have turned out to be unsatisfactory in other ways. This is hardly their fault. Well, presumably their defects are, actually, their fault, but what you mean is, they are not to blame for the fact that you simaultaneously want to think they are a demi-god and are disappointed to find that they aren’t. Particularly if all they every set out to do was be spectacular basket weavers (or something).

So in general, you have found that the less you know about someone outside their relevant field, the better it is for everyone’s piece of mind. So you positively avoid all interviews, biographies, appearances on chat-shows and columns in newspapers. 

The relevance of all this? Michael Schumacher, a man about whom you know practically nothing other than the fact the he is extremely good at driving formula one cars, has just announced his retirement.

And now you find yourself torn between gratefulness at the man for getting out while he’s still hot and thus preserving your illusions, and the need to wallow in nostalgia by reading everything that’s about to be written about him, which will almost certainly result in your finding out something that makes him appear merely human after all.

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3 comments

  1. Oh, look, you’ve been QUOTED. How cool!

    *Tries to think of something clever to say about Formula 1. Fails.*

    I always feel heart-sick when I find out someone-or-other that I admire is actually a bit of a tit. I remember feeling deeply soured by a biography of George Eliot, of all things, which presented her as a humourless neurotic. But I loved her books! How could she be humourless in real life? So I stupidly avoided reading any other biographies for years, big mistake, as other people seem to think that she was indeed neurotic, but also warm and hard-working and caring and spangly. Not that I can remember who wrote which biography off-hand. So now, if I find out something bad about a hero of mine, I go on a memoir spree just to be absolutely sure. Current obsession, Thomas More.

    Which is probably why I can’t think of anything clever to say about F1.

  2. Cool, isn’t it? I’m so proud.

    Actually, that’s a good idea – to avoid irretrivable damage. The trouble is, I get marginally depressed when The Glorious One’s image is tarnished even a little bit. Otherwise known as revealing they have warts and foibles like the rest of us.

    Mostly these days this consists of the not very startling discovery that a lot of the writers I like are more dysfunctional than I’d wish them to be.

    What’s the dirt on Thomas Moore then?

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