Geoffrey Mather



Who knows the truth?


It this muddled world, what are we to make of Caroline Flack, Prince Harry, Boris Johnson, President Trump - or for that matter, Tom, Dick or any Harry? For the truth of who we are and who others really are is corrupted all the way, and without intention, by those who judge.

Perception - something we might admire in ourselves - comes from our own minds, with its inevitable background of prejudice.

Do we ever know people to the point where we can describe their inner nature and background? Or are we to continue to judge them, unintentionally, by means of our background? A headline this morning: "Elton in tears after illness forces him off stage." In New Zealand.

He lost his voice. He revealed himself. Those who judge him on anything have secret backgrounds of their own. So they say their piece, or write their piece, and out comes that inner voice. Elton John can be - according to the viewer - a genius, an imposter, too rich for his own good, too close to some of high status to be acceptable, an enviable chap who doesn't deserve to be envied.

Anything goes according to individual perception. But what is he to himself? That's what matters to him. He cries when he can't sing on stage. He holds what talent he has with voice and presentation to be the true mark of his real self. And he may be right. Or wrong, according to HIS own prejudices.

President Trump? A menace to civilisation for his unpredictable moods, manners and torments? Or a leader born to the task of seeing what needs to be done, and doing it? Saint or ogre?

Whatever he is to himself, he is master of the high winds of unpredictability and all the more alarming to other leaders more accustomed to smooth talk in public and good dinners behind the scenes.

Boris Johnson? Very similar. A go-er, man of action, self-believer, everything on offer, nothing guaranteed, a day to day torrent of problems and changes, with hope as its highest ingredient. He has judged himself and found himself satisfactory. But really, he's on trial as never before in his life. And the jury is vast in numbers and every single one with a strong view that conflicts with that of the next man’s view.

So that's high office stuff and every day, in newspapers, it has due prominence. The journalist who writes about it might, in his own mind, believe that he is practised and dedicated in telling the truth, but you can bet your life that a torrent of people Out There will be saying he is totally prejudiced if he does not mirror what they believe. So what's the point in writing it or reading it in the first place, they will say?

We have people such as Caroline Flack, who kills herself after being arrested for attacking her boy friend. A Times writer. "Rumours of a former relationship with Prince Harry set the tone for public perception of Flack as sexy, defiant, wayward and a fair target, the kind of woman it's OK to rubbish, online, in print, wherever suits you. She was - oh, we were so sure of it! - hard-nosed, brass-necked, swaggering enough to take it.

"Of course, she was none of these things.. I liked her... Upbeat, sweet, desperate for me to approve of her... younger and softer looking than I'd thought."

Caroline Flack's death through hopelessness affected me deeply; more deeply than anything Trump or Boris or Putin ever did or said. Because in her case you sense somebody suffering and dying for it.

Famous in the end. And one of the loneliest people alive. I wanted to drag her back and say, "Look. You got it wrong. Let's take another look at the problem." That other look could focus on the system that put her where she was - in a flat, destroying herself, and, I would imagine, saying to herself in the process: "NOW will they believe me?"

She knew Prince Harry, then, and there's another human who has gone out with the high tide with hope for himself and belief in his future. There are those, no doubt, and many very close to him in Royal palaces, who go day to day wondering, worrying, torn by conflicting opinions, and bearing all that in as much silence as they can achieve. Who's right? Him or Them?

Life! Who can judge it? Success, they say, is what people are seeking when they are born. Well, in Western society, success is being better than the next man at something. And it is this accepted first Western aim of new birth that brings about a Trump, a Boris, a Harry, a painter, a carpenter, a businessman, and the sleeper in a shop doorway who gave up the contest.

The ego, the I in man, is a terrible enemy. Descartes (1596-1650), father of modern philosophy, declared "I think, therefore I am." That might mean a lot to the West, but there is a further thought, and it comes from the East: "Thought thinks. There is no thinker behind the thought."

Descartes was wrong, in my not all that humble opinion.

The East had it right, but you need more than one book to explain the complexity of it. The feeling of separation in humans is the trap that causes inevitable contest and confrontation.

There are vast numbers of people who believe that all of us are, in reality, One, and, as such, should live with understanding of that; and as part of nature, not superior to it.

We all, when desperately trying to be honest, can end up with figments - things that someone believes to be real but that exist only in the imagination.


Jack (Lord) Ashley

Sir John Barbirolli

Sir Osbert Sitwell

The Queen and me

Bryson: the words that smile

The boy in Aleppo

The Queen's Speech that never was

Lord Bragg

Donald Campbell

Sir Neville Cardus and John Arlott

Ronald Carter, blacksmith

Violet Carson (Ena Sharples)

"The magic of Shakespeare swept me off my feet. Then I'm back to 'Ee, by gum' in the Street. It trapped me. It made me, if you like: it has gone all over the world. But it has destroyed me, because nobody sees me or anything about me."

Dame Catherine Cookson,

Earls, Dukes and Godly Men

Dame Gracie Fields & me

Ronald Fraser

Dame Thora Hird

Lionel Jeffries

(Railway Children)

Russell Harty

L S Lowry (above)




"You're not getting your ball back," she used to shout. "You'll kill somebody, you lot."

The crucible (climbing)




Grannie Morshead

Pubs and landlords

Wing and a prayer


Genius Family

Lancashire pride

Is democracy dead?

The best of whimsical fiction

North-South divide

The pleasures and agonies of Spring,

George Best at 20


Summer of 2006


Buddhism + life (Manjushri, Lake District) Life and Living 1 Life and Living 2 Life and Living 3

Rant: rumbles and grumbles. Lancashire affairs. Snippets: Bits and pieces.

copyright: Geoffrey Mather 2017

  • Retrospective

  • (collected in one spot)
  • On growing old
  • So there they were - Hollywood dominating the world with its Clark Gables, Jean Harlows, Spencer Tracys, Garbos and Bogarts, tears in its eyes, inventive, vulnerable, blessed by climate, limos and money but tormented, insecure and edgy as fledglings in nests.
  • Bennett's art is to take the apparently trivial - his mother's views of "her betters" and so on - and make them meaningful in much larger ways. Miss Shepherd tested all his beliefs and inhibitions one by one. The two of them existed together, but in worlds apart, like aliens. And yet, I suspect, it was the sameness that reached furthest into the writer's psyche. His long essay on Miss Shepherd is superb. Even on the second reading, I was laughing out loud, to the disgust of the dog,, and in the next sentence feeling for Bennett's own agony. So you have this magic formula, where the relationship between two people over 20 years can match the life experiences of us all. 

  • .

    "I am all for the unusual on Page One. I do not read stories of the type headed ' Bandits gag, tie up woman' very much nowadays because people are always gagging and tying up women. Such incidents are as common as gas-oven suicides." 

    Arthur Christiansen

    became editor of the Daily Express in October, 1933, a position he held for 24 years until 1957. During his editorship sales peaked at two million in 1935, over three million in 1944 and four million in 1949. Each day he wrote a bulletin. It was compulsory reading for members of editorial staff. Here are many of those bulletins.

    The Beaverbrook Saga

    The newspaper crisis


    + Molloy of the Mirror + Clive James + Churchill + Big-ego words + Vanishing language + Noam Chomsky's words + Great words of great events

  • In spite of his own eccentricities, he wanted the world to behave as he expected it to. Big companies, shops, waiters and hotel managers were his normal fodder. He terrorised them. When he snagged a coat on something protruding in Woolworth's, he said to the manager, "This is an expensive coat." "I can see it is," said the manager. "I noticed it when you came in." "Right," said Brian Duff, "I expect you to pay for it. And I don't want it invisibly mended because you can see it."
  • Ian Skidmore

    Sir James Scott Douglas (gossip columnist)

    When an editor complained of his booking into an expensive London hotel - the Dorchester as I recall - at the firm's expense, James merely said, "Where else can one entertain one's proprietor?" and the matter was hurriedly concluded, since no-one was prepared to phone (the late) Sir Max Aitken, who bossed the place at the time.

    I asked Jim (I always called him Jim, to be perverse, though it was obvious that he was entitled to James) to find out something one day - on the phone, I emphasised - and he said, "Oh yes, I shall ring" - go on, guess - "...Uncle Essex." It made me wish I had an Uncle Oswaldtwistle

    James had a habit of living extravagantly and encountering hard times, which is how he came to be a journalist. Both conditions were once almost fundamental to the job.

    Pub Talk with Peter Thomas

    Accrington Observer Observed

    Peter Stringfellow

    Edna the Traveller

    The pearl hunter

    Blaster Bates

    RSM Lord

    Concert Secretary

    Champion eater

    Witch woman

    Railway Children

    Mathers of Salem

    Crown and Kettled

    Railway Children

    Billiards halls


    Holy fizz


    TV to do



    St George's Day

    Selwyn Lloyd

    Lt Gen Sir Oliver Leese

    Theodore Major

    Sir John Moores

    Albert Modley

    Beatrix Potter

    Frank Randle

    Bill Shankly

    Les Dawson,

    Fred Dibnah,

    Dudley Doolittle (comic),

    Lady Anne Clifford

    Maureen Lipman

    The Immortal Griffin


    Soccer language