WORKING CLASS HERO

And much of what I’ve forgotten
Has taken vengeance by forgetting me.

Yevtushenko

__________

John Lennon once sung his ode to the working class hero. He is ‘something to be’.

Lennon himself seems to have been such a man, this in the double sense of the words. He came from a working class family, with a sailor as a father and an usherette as his mother. And he truly became a hero of the working class.

For such proletarian performance the Brits elevate a man to the peerage.

As soon as you’re born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
A working class hero is something to be

Sir Mick Jagger, by contrast, only performed the act of a working class hero. His father was a teacher, his mother an active member of the Conservatives. No two ways about it – genetically middle class.

Bowie told that same working class that each one of them could be a hero, just for one day. Perhaps at least for one day, taking the careers of Bowie and Lennon as a cue. A bit like Warhol, although he was less generous and gave everyone a mere fifteen minutes of world fame.

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be Heroes, just for one day

Lennon’s heroism lasted a lot less long than Bowie’s or Jagger’s. Then again, Jagger also became Sir. Bowie, the true hero, turned such offer down.

Now we have once more a typical English hero, Bradley Wiggins – this time son of a father who was as a working class hero, a cyclist who was also a drunkard and what not. Actually his dad was Australian, but this time England went Yiddish, ascribing the mother’s nationality to her son.

Could it be that, if Bradley would not have grown into the world-famous cyclist, England might still consider him an Australian? More or less like the changing fate of Murray, who is British if he wins, a Scotsman when he looses a match.

Sad it is, but even when Wiggins won his Tour de France it was no reason for the BBC to broadcast the celebration on the Parisian Champs Élysées. Could it be that such program is only in store for us on the British telly, when the good man, now a Sir like Jagger, could win the Tour de France on England’s soil…

So, unfortunately, Wiggins did not become a working class hero in his homeland. My doctor, himself a great cyclist, stayed over there for his holidays. ‘Wonderfully quiet’, he told me. ‘But I have not been allowed to see anything of the Tour de France on the telly’.

Oh yes, indeed: ‘Fog in the Channel, the continent is isolated’.

Sierksma

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Author: rjsiersk

contact: rjsiersk@xs4all.nl Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats. He would not ind being a cat.

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