Thursday, August 5, 2010

8/5 - A Mixed Bag

While bracing for the Proposition 8 backlash (and it will be mighty), I might try to draw inspiration from Bernhard Langer. Not having won either the British Open or the U.S. Open during his PGA tour run, he has won the Senior version of both titles in consecutive weeks. The U.S. Senior Open win was particularly impressive, not just beating Fred Couples on his home turf but coping with perhaps the most partisan golf crowd of the year.

This week seems rather banal. I think I shall stick with a few loose mystery parallels.

L1: What on earth is the Prudecutor smoking? There must be a lot that got edited out of this letter to justify all these assumptions that LW1 is just dying to cannonball right into this ridiculous mess after the recent fiasco. Why on earth should she have kept tabs on a possible bio-pop all these years when she had a husband and a more plausible bio-pop on hold? One could, if the case were on Legal Aid, spin out the proceedings by going into whether LW1's keeping tabs on all her old lovers was a prime motivating factor in the divorce, but for now I shall let it go.

This is very nearly a third party letter, and third party letters always irritate me. If LW1 has been so forthcoming as to provide her daughter with Tom's name and contact information (if she had it, and unless he happened to have stayed in the same place for twenty years, it seems far from a given that she would), she's basically done her part. She had options. She could have told her daughter that she'd only had one anonymous encounter that might have been responsible. She could have told her daughter more truthfully that (and of course we are assuming LW1 to be truthful in her evidence that she only slept with Tom and Mike during the possible period of time) the only other candidate for bio-pop reacted strongly, violently and, whether consciously or not, untruthfully to an original suggestion of his status. Which of the two might be preferable may depend on how irritating the daughter is. She certainly sounds like a first-class pill. How has she treated Mike since the bad news broke, one wonders? Probably not terribly well, if her eagerness just to close the book on Candidate A and immediately go plunk herself on the doorstep of Candidate B is anything by which to go. She appears to be the sort of person to whom people are interchangeable and disposable as they suit or don't suit her own needs.

At this point, I am almost tempted to decide that LW1, her daughter and Tom all deserve each other to such an extent that it would be tempting to endorse the Prudecutor's advice, but that never does unless there is no reasonable alternative. One could perhaps say that LW1 going all out to marry Tom might be going sufficiently farther than the the Prudecutor that it would not count, but it's uncomfortably close. It seems reasonable to warn the daughter that the only remaining possible bio-pop isn't going to play nice and then stay out of the whole thing.

Interestingly, I want to bring up two Christie cases here that both involve mothers instead of fathers. The letter actually reminded me more of *Sleeping Murder* (the filmed version with Joan Hickson) than of *Mamma Mia*. When Gwenda pieces together that as a small child she saw her stepmother murdered and Miss Marple tries to warn Gwenda and Giles that it might be unwise to investigate, she advances the case of Freddie Cartwright, who, after his mother's death tried to find the certificate she'd won for the best chrysanthemums, of which she'd always been so proud. When Miss Marple tells them what a sad mistake that proved, Gwenda and Giles guess that he found out she hadn't won, but it turns out that he learned she wasn't his mother.

My other example I offer as an example of a circumstance in which bio-parentage is of the greatest signficance, as in this case Who Cares? seems to be such an instinctive reaction to Daughter's quest. Given that she treats fathers as interchangeable, it's hard to get up any sense of it making any difference. In opposition, I offer up *N or M?* in which bio-parentage solves the whole case. Tommy and Tuppence, trying to ferret out a German spy installed in an ordinary-appearing boarding house, suspect everyone expect Mrs Sprot, mother of the engaging toddler Betty. Early on, Tommy supposes that even a secret agent might have a child, but Tuppence immediately replies that a mother would never bring her child into such a situation. When Betty is later kidnapped unaccountably by Vanda Polonska and the men in the rescue party dare not shoot because a missed shot could hit the child, Mrs Sprot shoots the kidnapper dead. Tuppence keeps thinking of Solomon from time to time but can't quite piece it together until she's confronting the other German spy, when she realizes that it was the two putative mothers all over again and that, like the mother willing to let the child be cut into halves, Mrs Sprot wasn't Betty's real mother (and that Vanda Polonska was, which was why she had to be killed before she could reveal the fact). If a question of bio-parentage is going to make a difference, that is the sort of difference it ought to make.

Moral: "About that child - shall we?" "Betty? Oh, Tommy, I'm so glad you've thought of it too! I thought it was just me being maternal. You really mean it?" "That we should adopt her? Why not? She's had a raw deal, and it will be fun for us to have something young growing up."

L2: Why is it that almost every young woman who goes to work for a law firm wants to pick up some easy money out of the situation? Perhaps the profession does attract or even evoke the less sympathetic characteristics of its male practitioners, but really! Every time we turn around we have a young woman who wants to blackmail or sue somebody. Now they're even venturing outside of their own firms and going after the neighbours. I hate to say this, but I suspect that the offence which LW2 takes at the anti-gay comments she keeps hearing is in direct proportion to the dollar amount she thinks they might add to a settlement.

As we all know that any decent cross-examiner leaves actual Knowledge of the Law to his solicitor and his learned junior, I am not in position to pronounce with definitive air on the subject, but I would certainly make a learned guess that LW2 will have to say something to someone before she can just go off and sue someone - she doesn't seem to care whether it's Jerry, his firm or her firm. Perhaps to cover all her bases she should send a formal letter to Jerry and CC it to the heads of both firms. That seems to be the sort of thing that Mizz Liz Probert might do. At any rate, there is surely standard legal protocol to establish a foundation for a potential suit in the future. LW2 ought to be familiar with the protocol involved and should follow it.

By the way, could we please, where appropriate, replace the word HOMOPHOBIC with the word HETEROSEXIST in those situations when it is the more accurate description? I can just imagine the posters trying to compare homophobes to racists. It cheapens the concept of homophobia to use it too broadly. Heterosexist is a perfectly good word, as good as sexist or racist, and equally applicable, but it seems nearly always shelved in favour of homophobic. Correspondingly, cases of real homophobia get watered down.

As for coping with the heterosexist pigs in Jerry's firm, perhaps LW2 can manage to get a couple of the worst offenders and Jerry off her plate at the same time - assuming of course, that she fails in a campaign to get her own firm to undertake the monumental venture of actually changing her location. If she can get a time when Jerry and a couple of the worst offenders are near her, she might request their assistance in putting up her Lesbian Avengers poster (this entails acquiring a Lesbian Avengers poster) or some suitable equivalent which will make them regard her with the same trepidation shown by half the staff of *Clue* once Mrs White reveals that her last husband had been found dead in bed and his head had been cut off, as well as his - "you know".

But I can think of an even more devious solution, one reminisicent of *Clue* when Wadsworth explains to the victims why Mr Boddy chose blackmail over turning them in to the police for being un-American. Perhaps there is money to be made out of this situation. There may be a chance that LW2's firm can turn the knowledge of their neighbour's heterosexist staff to advantage in a case. That might even further LW2's career. Or she can play for even bigger game and get a gay friend installed in the neighbouring firm. If LW2 thinks she can get some sort of settlement out of her situation, someone actually working for the heterosexist pigs can get at least ten times more, and they split the pool.

Moral: "He decided to turn his information to good use and make a little money out of it. What could be more American than that?"

L3: Oh, good grief. Someone really needs a pair of Big Girl Panties. But (and I imagine Mr Messy would approve of this) people should have two social networking accounts anyway if they are going to have any - one suitable to be viewed by parents and businesses, and a real one. The various measures to make certain information available only to certain people are outside my ken, but I always think it's just as wellto do a thing properly and put up a second account that will appear to be as complete as the real thing.

There are those who will suggest that LW3 actually have A Conversation with Pappa. This is not a good idea at all. No adult should ever have An Adult Conversation with either or both of his or her parents on any personal topic whatsoever - one runs the terrible risk of Being Told Things that one will Definitely Not Want to Hear. Discuss politics or finances or a variety of other topics, but don't let the topic of conversation turn personal.

It reminds me loosely of *Third Girl* the other way around. LW3 should just create a portrait of herself for her father and let him think it's his real daughter. In the book, Norma Restarick's father Andrew returns to England from South Africa. He seems vastly different from the father Norma remembers, but his portrait looks exactly like how he'd have been twenty years ago. Of course, it turns out that he's an imposter and had a copy of the real portrait painted by a skilled forger.

Moral: "After tailing a man she doesn't like to an area of London she doesn't know to find herself surrounded by people she doesn't trust, she admits to herself that she may be in danger. Isolated, trapped, but concerned that she may have misjudged these people, the ever-creative Mrs Oliver buys some time by placidly reaching up and pulling out her hairpins. Rolls of false hair tumble to the floor, amazing everyone, while she prattles away, escaping down the stairs. Poirot never thought so fast."

L4: Oh, good double grief. Some couples fight. Some couples don't. Is that so hard? What interests me is that LW4 is practically ready to throw over her entire engagement simply because of the concern of her "dear friend". Well, all I can say in reply to this is that LW4 is bringing out my usually dormant entrepreneurial spirit. I suspect a number of posters would be only too thrilled to know how to become LW4's dearest friend, and, after eliminating from her life a vairety of supernumerary people, letting her in on a glorious opportunity to invest in some real estate which is certain to quadruple her fortune. Yes, LW4 reminds me of the great Joan Plumleigh Bruce herself, just waiting for some kind poster to drop into her life and play the role of Ralph Gorse. She even has a Donald Stimpson fiance.

But I promised a mystery parallel, and there's a nice one in *Five Little Pigs*. Caroline and Amyas Crale fought like cat and dog for years. Most of the people who knew them took this as a sign of their marriage being not what it ought. This viewpoint was assisted by Amyas' frequent affairs with his models. With two witnesses overhearing a conversation in which Caroline said, "You and your women! I'd like to kill you. Some day I will kill you," to Amyas the day after Amyas had been forced to admit that he'd agreed to leave Caroline for Elsa Greer, with Caroline admitting to taking the poison that killed Amyas, and with Caroline's flat courtroom denial of the charge that was completely unconvincing, she was convicted of his murder. Caroline died in prison, after claiming in a letter to her daughter Carla to be innocent and in a letter to her sister Angela to be happy. The solution half hinged on Caroline being seen faking Amyas' fingerprints on a bottle that never contained the poison instead of the glass that did. The other half was that the phrase, "You and your women!" meant that his current affair was on a par with Amyas' past escapades, and that he didn't really intend to leave her for Elsa at all. Caroline had died happy, mistakenly believing Angela to have killed Amyas, and thinking that she was atoning to Angela for having scarred her for life. Angela, who told Poirot that violence in langauge was the way Caroline later safeguarded herself from physical outbursts, proved later to be the only innocent suspect who was quite certain that Caroline hadn't been guilty.

I suppose it's more important to be on, if not the same page, at least similar pages, than to meet but not exceed any particular quota.

Moral: "What nobody appreciates is that they enjoyed quarreling. But they did! Amyas enjoyed it, too. They were that kind of couple. They both of them liked drama and emotional scenes. Most men don't. They like peace. But Amyas was an artist. He liked shouting and threatening and generally being outrageous. It was like letting off steam to him. He was the kind of man who when he loses his collar stud bellows the house down. It sounds very odd, I know, but living that way with continual rows and makings up was Amyas' and Caroline's idea of fun!"


  1. *big grin, all Mr. Green as the cop is saying that it's perfectly legal-style*
    Well done, hrumpole!

  2. Ah, yes - when Wadsworth didn't know the country was that free. Mrs Peacock seems to get the worst out of that one. Thank you.

    I still have not gotten over the poster under the column who asserted that ALL men use "gay" as an insult - "my husband does and he's not homophobic". I'd like to see Rosie Jones chasing after her with a 2-iron. I'm glad I saw that comment after I'd posted, or it might have made me ill again in that special way unrecognized and unrepentant heterosexism has that is all its own.

  3. "heterosexism"-- good choice of word. It does make me feel sick too, but the world is changing.....