Saturday 3 February 2018

Will Self's Great British Bus Journey

I'm surprised that Will Self's Great British Bus Journey on Radio 4 has the title it has. Given Will's eager recourse to the Thesaurus, you'd have thought that  Will Self's Great British Omnibus Peregrination would have been a much better title. 

The series is presented as his attempt, after Brexit, to find the “real” Britain and its workers. 

I gave it a go and all I can say is that Catherine Nixey in The Times does it full justice:
This was billed as exploration, but it was snobbery, pure and simple. When Self and other middle-class Londoners say “real” Britain, what they really mean is “poor” Britain. And they don’t like it much. That’s why they live in Clapham. This was toe-curling to listen to. Self is patronising, crass and, for all his long words, a fool. It wasn’t quite as embarrassing as when he spent a week touring Cern’s Large Hadron Collider and failed to see the point of all that science. But nearly.
Even our old friend Hugh Sykes noticed the tone, tweeting "Will Self just posited on BBC Radio 4 that the high Leave vote in the West Midlands may have been a reflection of: 'the white working class coming out of the woodwork.' sic". Hugh then spotted the underlying metaphor, adding, "Insects?"


  1. I think Will Self embodies an ontological imperative as powerfully overwhelming as his prior addictive servitude to opioid substances, dicating that he tenebrate discourse, forming coalitions of the mind and observed phenomena which knowingly defy the herd instincts of the [sneer tone on] Great British Public. Is that clear enough?

  2. Poor old Will. I confess I have enjoyed some of his books in the past. I can even forgive him his unnatural obsession with the thesaurus. But this has all been a bit too much for him. He is obviously still working off the traumatic discovery that there is a world outside London. I remember him the day after Brexit, standing in front of The House of Commons, waving his arms around his head in the most demented manner imaginable, looking for all the world as if he was about to have a psychotic episode on air.

    1. I don't mind his Thesaurusomania either really - and it makes it so much easier to send him up. Plus some of his 'A Point of View' talks for Radio 4 have been fun to listen to - and I've even found myself agreeing with him from time to time.

      The Brexit vote has had that traumatising effect on a number of people. The rather splendid AC Grayling has seriously lost the plot too, and that nice Lord Adonis has turned from Bruce Banner into The Incredible Hulk.

  3. As a West Midlandian, and one who works (in the doppleganger to John Prescott's nemesis sense), it is ironic that I have just come in for a cuppa having chopped up flotsam logs washed up by the Wye to dry for next winter in the (hopefully still legal) wood burner. Having Hugh on my side is a rare honour.

    Shame Will did not marry a Ms. A.W Areness of Gloucester and decide to go double barrelled.

  4. You lot don't like someone with a bit of an intellect, do you?


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