Good evening my revolutionary reekers, don't either of you think of trying to topple No1 Lum.
The Spring Revolution Season is upon us.
All over the Middle east the common man is waking up to the years of democratic slumber and shaking out
the sheets of oppression.
Like military coups, a good revolution has been a rare find these last few years, a few courageous efforts, like Burma, but by comparison to the 70s, a very poor offering. A true revolutionary golden age, fuelled mostly by the Cold War and the plans for world domination hatched in the anonymous offices of Washington and Moscow. But every cloud has a silver lining, it did marshall in some stunning uniforms.
I noticed a picture of Gaddafi this week, in a giant square shouldered be-medalled military jacket. Big glittery stars, cummerbunds and sashes, those brush like shoulder adornments, he had it all going on. The Rock star sunglasses he has a thing for jarred a little, and detracted from the overall look he was trying for, unless it was for a kind of General Jim Morrison theme but still, a Sterling effort. Mussolini is the contemporary inspiration I think, he did for uniforms what Chanel did for the little black dress.
The King of undeserved baubles must be Idi Amin, the Kampala cannibal, he must have awarded himself a gong every time he climbed some stairs. The African Dictators generally also liked to give themselves titles to go with them, not the regal and dignified Grand Master and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath as our own privileged mob might, and in fact do, give themselves, but the vulgar and comedic His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC,[C] DSO, MC, Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular". I don't even think he ever was a Doctor you know.
Or Zaire's Mobutu who impressed the girls and frightened the boys of the Congo with "the earthy, the peppery, all-powerful warrior who, by his endurance and will to win, goes from contest to contest leaving fire in his wake" and "the cock that covers all the chickens in the coop". Though strictly not a title, more a translation of his name apparently.
The personality cult, learned from 2000 years of successful religionism, is something else they embrace. At one point in Mobutu's regime, every television broadcast was preceded with images of him, transcending through the clouds above, and no other person was allowed to be mentioned by name, only the position they held in society. I shouldn't be too critical though, we have our own Kate and Wills personality cult going on.
I got into conversation with an old CIA man once, no, honest I did, you meet some interesting folk in my job. Anyway he said, while working in Zaire in the 70’s he was at an ambassadors reception where he met the countries minister for transport. While making polite chat, the minister explained that he was quite new in the job, my American acquaintance asked him what he did previous to being the Minister for Transport, and without irony or any sense of the abnormal he said, I was the driver to the Minister of Transport. Right place, right time and in Zaire, right tribal background.
The communist revolutionaries were much less ostentatious in their choice of uniform. Unmistakeably inspired by the military, but taking the cue from Castro. Khakis, functional and plain, you’ll see Chavez in this get up nowadays. More religious parallels there, just as Protestantism adopted black and itchy hair shirts as opposed to the silk and bling of the established Catholic order so the Communist revolutionary didn't want to associate themselves with the aristocracy or wasteful order of undeserved wealth that they had just shot up against a wall.
The problem a lot of these dictators have is that they are often in charge for so long, surrounded by yes men and toady's, they begin to believe their own cultish hype. They begin to think they are chosen, regal and born rightfully to rule, then they try and create a dynasty, with son following father, in effect, creating what they destroyed 30 or 40 years before, no wonder the people get upset. Even if it takes a bit of a while for it to bubble to the surface.
A bit like Chlamydia, and to tug the analogy just a little further, Gaddafis probably wondering how the hell that happened, one minute things are ticketyboo, next minute he’s getting bad news from the Dr. Sure, he’ll say, I did a few things in my younger days, but I've been a good boy for years and years, ever since Ronald Reagan bombed by bollocks off.
Chlamydia sounds like Victorian parlour plant, I expect Alan Titchmarsh to get enthused telling me of its fragrant blooms and whether it favours sun or shade. Syphilis isn’t a word, it’s a sound you make when trying to get the attention of a cat. That’s not right. Such blights should have appropriate names like blisterscratchia or oderousdischargastia. The only one to get it right is gonorrhoea, now that certainly sounds like something that would crawl up your willy and wreck merry hell.
Come the revoltion, Lang may yer lum reek