I heard Miriam Margolyes on Woman’s hour this morning. She appeared as a guest on one of those ‘chain’ interviews, where one speaker links to another (like a chain.)
I’m just a little uncomfortable with her constant need to push too much information at us, (“This is Radio 4!” warned a wary Jenni Murray) but I can sort of understand why she feels compelled to recount detailed toilet related and sexual anecdotes. It’s almost defensive. Or preemptive.
I can also understand why a Jewish, only-child of an overbearing mother and an unassertive father, who describes herself as “fat and a show-off” might have been attracted and flattered at being accepted by a large academic, strongly Arabist family, that of her university friend Elizabeth Hodgkin.
If I am right in assuming this was the opposite of her own family, it all sounds slightly self-hating and self-denying, but I’m sure the therapist and his fat, show-offy, provocatively lavatorially-mouthed, lesbian, thespian client would have explored all that in depth.
You’d think having a distinctive, honey-toned voice with the precise and cultured enunciation of a kind one rarely gets to hear nowadays would be enough of a professional asset for anyone without having to test how many insinuations and rude utterances she can get away with.
Whenever you hear Miriam Margoyles speaking about herself (My autocorrect, rather aptly, keeps changing the ‘M’ to a ‘G’) you’re always waiting to see how long till she mentions Israel.
She duly did so at the end of her interview - introducing the aforementioned university friend, her choice for the upcoming link in the chain, saying proudly that this family and this friendship showed her how to be “Not a Zionist” and citing the Tonge-like phrase “the way the Israelis treat the Palestinians”.
I don’t think she has given much thought to the way the Palestinians treat the Israelis, not to mention what they would do with them if only they could.
I happen to know some academic, aristocratic and (temporarily) military Arabists who had spent time hobnobbing with “Johnny Arab” in the old days. I must say I was alarmed at their tendency to laugh affectionately at the superstitious, volatile and unpredictable nature of some of the gun-toting characters they encountered back then in some Godforsaken area of the Maghreb.
Although Miriam’s friend’s family may not be anything like that, I would imagine that they would know enough to advise Miriam that the Palestinians they’re so fond of might not approve of the homosexuality she talks so incontinently and openly about.