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July 15, 2024

The Grim Reaper

By KK Brown

'Death', when it ruffles the feathers of life's pleasant existence, is something upon which one should almost always frown.

'Death' should, in fact -- in most circumstances, at least -- be most studiously avoided. And this is more particularly so, when that Death relates to one's own person.

Although ultimately inevitable, Death should, as I have already expounded, be delayed to the utmost of one's ability -- or at least shuffled to the backmost burner (as our American cousins might say).

But that is not to concede that Death is, necessarily, in any way ignoble.

For certainly, it need not be.

Death, when it eventually invades one's privacy, may actually have been drawn, or at least encouraged, by any of many worthy or noble causes.

Search for examples, and some of the most notable amongst them immediately spring to mind.

Alcohol obviously would be one.

Tobacco, in the form of superior Havana cigars or Bond Street 'Jamana' pipe tobacco, would be another, as would, of course, regular intakes of the richer and fattier foods such as 'eisbein', or roast duck. In enlightened company it would, obviously be unnecessary to follow the meandering stream of similar physical contentment, toward any mention of jealous husbands with .38 special revolvers.

And there are, of course, many other possible causes of honourable, and pleasurably induced, demise.

Should you disbelieve me, then simply cast your mind back to some of the cinematographic absurdities that have been pumped out by that curious American institution known as 'Hollywood' over the past one hundred years. Can you even begin to imagine how many perfectly innocent 'Indians' were despatched by John Wayne? Or how many splendid Germans finally met their maker at the hands of Errol Flynn or Kirk Douglas? Or those horrid Vietnamese, even, whom John Wayne so efficiently despatched when he had run out of 'wagon burners' to shoot ?

Did these good gentlefolk die in vain ? I tend toward the belief that they did not. Their collective death still holds that sort of ethereal dignity which Messrs Goldwin and Meyer had probably never envisaged, but which, nevertheless, is profoundly understood by many amongst the more intelligent sectors of the world's cinema frequenting public; and, possibly (albeit to a lesser degree), even by some Americans.

But with all this talk of 'Americans', I have permitted myself to be diverted from my original train of thought, and when I remember what that was, I shall return to it.

In the meantime, I feel that I should mention the occasion when I was privileged to witness a golf match between players representing the United States of America, and those drawn from the cream of the golfing population of Europe.

Being an horseman, myself, I even remember that this particular competition was called the "Rider Cup", but that is unimportant in the context of the point that I now intend to make.

And that, is this.

Amongst the large crowd of golfing aficionados by whom I was accompanied around that large expanse of wasted grass, were a few of our Transatlantic cousins, who had obviously expended enormous amounts of money in order to rub shoulders with their betters whilst supporting their own local heroes.

And it was these festive gentlemen (the American supporters, not the players) who immediately attracted my attention.

For when a particularly splendid golfing 'shot' had been played which aroused the appreciation of those Englishmen who understood the game, they (the FogLand supporters) responded with the odd well-considered nod, and a little very genteel clapping.

The difference in the reaction of the Americans in the gallery to a similar 'shot' from one of their own (curiously attired) representatives, could not have been more pronounced.

There were, immediately, raucous shouts of "You the man" or "Get in the hole", accompanied by screeching whistles, and much unseemly physical jubilation. I would hate to be perceived as a 'killjoy', but it all seemed so unnatural to we normal human beings, who would, of course, rather have died than to be observed participating in such ungentlemanly behaviour.

But that has jogged my memory, and reminded me of the original topic of this discussion, which was, of course: 'Death'.

For it was with 'Death' that my Good Wife threatened me when I returned to the matrimonial manor at four o'clock the next morning, with three very confused, unwell (and unannounced) Americans, so many hours after the end of that silly game of golf had finished.

And the 'Yanks' let me down again, of course, when not one of them could remember whether the match had been won by the Americans, or by the Humans; or where I had parked the car, even, which was -- at least to a certain extent -- why we had returned home so late.

The fact that I am still alive, and also still married to the same good lady, may only be put down to an extraordinary element of good fortune upon my part, or an equal measure of stupidity upon hers; or to some death defying survival instinct that nature has instilled in me.


(P.S. Please do not consider me to be anti-American. I have long ago forgiven you all for the 10 pounds that I once wagered upon your country winning that unpleasant little misunderstanding in Vietnam.)

Article © KK Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2006-11-06
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