At my secondary school, a few years ago, “random” was the thing to be. Overnight, whole swathes of teens became “random” and “kooky“; watched the Mighty Boosh; wore colourful socks, and forced the word “cheese” into ill-fitting contexts. It was a veritable blunderbuss of unconventionalism. (I mock with affection, and not to elevate myself: I was earnestly mimicking Richey Edwards in all ways but one.) There’s a touch of this in Martin Howard’s genial ode to eccentricity. He ends with suggestions for nurturing one’s “eccentric tendencies” – “teaching your dog to talk” – but surely yer true, bonafide oddballs never sought to achieve such a grand distinction? It’s a bit like claiming the mantle of unselfconsciousness! Eccentrics, according to Howard, “tend to be cheerful souls“. We could bicker and argue about the term “tend“, but yer Sellers an’ Milligans, Kubricks and Cooks were hardly alight with good cheer. The glory of mavericks is that they’re so out of place we can’t pen ‘em in. Then again, I’m just bitter ‘cos I’m so pathetically dull-minded. Someone leave a comment, please - I need an act to follow.

An incidental pleasure of reading Baxter’s fine Stanley Kubrick is spotting people’s firmly held but wholly contrariant views of the man. The reclusive genius, we learn, had a “wild sense of humour“, yet also “no sense of humour whatsoever“. He boasted an “ultra-conservative attitude to[wards] things sexual“, somehow combined with a “more than usually active libido“. Each of Kubrick’s judges probably think that they had the guy nailed; just as so many do with us, and we with them.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 200 other followers