Thursday, 19 July 2007


We need some heroes these days. Hugh Cornwell and the boys (how sad I was to see the new singer standing next to the other 3 there) got it right, all those years (30!) ago, didn't they? And rock heroes are even rarer now than they were then.

I have been pondering the concept of the hero recently, and this has (rather excitingly) led to my first ever Wikipedia update!

It all started with Ned Kelly when I read Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang and was astounded to discover that the man had a voice. He had written his story down and passed on his history to future generations - even if the writing was suppressed for many years. I had a vague recollection of the Jagger movie from when I was a kid, but the memories were almost exclusively about the iron suits and the shoot-out at the end. I'm not sure about the movie (though I have read that it caused a good deal of controversy) but I was certainly not of an age to take in any socio-historical messages it may or may not have contained. Peter Carey changed all that, with an excellent story, which captures the flavour of Kelly's true voice very well. I went on to read the Jerilderie Letter and I have a favourite quotation from it:

“…not to be pitied also who has no alternative only to put up with the brutal and cowardly conduct of a parcel of big ugly fat-necked wombat headed big bellied magpie legged narrow hipped splaw-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or english landlords which is better known as Officers of Justice or Victorian Police who some calls honest gentlemen but I would like to know what business an honest man would have in the Police as it is an old saying It takes a rogue to catch a rogue and a man that knows nothing about roguery would never enter the force an take an oath to arrest brother sister father or mother if required and to have a case and conviction if possible.”

It sums up, for me, the continuous struggle of the poor against the rich, of the dispossessed against the oppressors, and of freedom against slavery.

And it seemed vital to me that it had been written by the man himself. Later, I read the history of Geronimo again in his own words. It is a truly tragic story - to my mind emblematic of the destruction of the native American way of life.

There have been many other heroes of course, and too many of them are not listed in Wikipedia's list, or are not mentioned anywhere. I would heartily welcome any commendations, but simply ask that if you find the time, read the words of Ned and Geronimo before you make any judgments on them.

1 comment:

cigale2007 said...

What about this Cheyenne Chief who went to see U. Grant( Ulysses not Hugh, saussage)and asked him to exchange 1000 white women against 1000 horses so to mix blood and make peace? Hero? Idiot? The other accepted of course and started emptying prisons and psychiatric homes. it didn't make any difference in the end: they all got killed: white - sorry, .. women ..- and Cheyennes.