Don't Speak Ill Of The Dead

Well we all know that opinions on Thatcher are divided but there has been a lot of talk regarding how we behave after someone has died and, if we did not like the person, that we are nonetheless expected to guard our tongues.

This reminds me of a funeral I attended in France for a good client of mine who was disliked by a lot of people in the village.

Firstly I remarked that the church was packed not only with his family and friends but also his sworn enemies.

When it got to the eulogy our local priest stood up and for 25 minutes talked about not just the good but also how horrible this man could be. Words used included spiteful, rude and cruel.

Afterwards I asked him why he spent so much time on the negative when we are always taught to respect the dead.

He replied that eulogies reflect a person's life and that providing the speaker tells the truth, there is nothing wrong in being honest

No one else to whom I spoke found this shocking (his friends included) but I left the funeral feeling uncomfortable.

I am, as I write this, watching iTele and they are talking about the reaction to Thatcher's death and their surprise that The Witch is Dead has reached No 1 on the iTunes download chart and celebration parties are being held. Both presenters find it shocking that people are being so vocal.

It may that they have never lived under the rule of a divisive leader so cannot understand?

But it certainly got me thinking about what is acceptable post-death behaviour. I was not a Thatcher fan and voted against her. I will go so far as to say I despised the woman. But I am not going to be dancing in the streets and apart from posting a couple of particularly funny Spitting Image sketches have pretty much 'gardée ma langue'

What do you think?

David. That is not what a political stance dictates. The tutor was his own victim.

Jane, I too feel terribly disenfranchised. I believe that internationalism is the saving of humanity, not the narrow sighted nationalism of those so inclined. Greed has driven the world to its present position and a large part of our human race deserves better. The mouthpieces of selfish wealth like Cameron do not represent those people.

In my architectural college one left wing tutor refused to sit on a jury to discuss one of my projects on the grounds that I was a known fascist- that is I was known as a member of The Royal Naval Reserve! I was quite rude to him! We were never given instruction on putting down socialists, but rather the intracacies of mine sweeping.

Talking of being disenfranchised, that is just how I feel at the moment. We will have to wait and see how David Cameron gets on with his plan to change the workings of Europe, which is being aided by the problems with the euro. I could never vote Labour, unless it was for Frank Field and he has his own constituency and the dreaded UKIP, which is so narrow minded when it comes to Europe is anathema to me.

In the early 1970's my parents hosted a garden fete for the local conservative party. The party mantra then was that people should stand on their own two feet. My brother and I argued that therefore there should be no seating at all in the garden. This was vetoed.

Years ago my parents went to a fund raiser chaired by the local conservative MP. It was fairly benign but that did not stop some protesters gathering outside to heckle attendees as they left. As my father stepped out the small crowd shouted "fascist!" Although having fought against that ideal he rather enjoyed being called one. I think he felt that the protesters did not know what the word really meant as they were too young to have lived under one & it was their ignorance he found amusing.

Yes the obsession with political branding and image building produces clones who differ very little in order not to offend, and thus elections are won or lost by increasingly small margins dictated by very small groups of electors who thus exercise power well above their weight. This has been seen recently in the UK, USA etc etc etc. Thee is a huge risk of the main body of the electorate feeling disenfranchised, and there's lots of recent evidence of this penetrating surprising parts of society. Now I would be considered far too left of centre to be a conservative candidate, although I was a potential candidate, a member of the Bow Group, member of the Carlton Club. chair and vice chair of this and that!

I was the same but of the left. I very carefully explained to Joan Lestor, who was a fairly good friend, that despite her left wing position she was moderate compared to me, indeed I to this day consider most Marxists to be product of simple ideology rather than a true political position. As I say, I am a long way to the left of Dr Marx in his time or by interpretation since, indeed have much of the excluded Proudhonism that balances class dichotomy. Therefore, I see Miliband as perhaps a couple of steps out of line from Thatcher and only rhetorically differentiated from Cameron. The point Jane draws attention to is something I feel strongly about and is precisely the reason when my life ends it will be as poor as I came into this world because I would rather die with a clean conscience than wealth. I would never have been palatable to the political classes because I would have constantly reminded them they are there in the service of and for others, the world does not OWE me anything.

I know that you like I have had an active interest in politics throughout your life and seen quite a lot at work. I had an early interest in the left but was shocked when I saw the activities of the hard left who were in those days intent on destroying British society (early sixties) and that drove me the other way. I was "spotted" and it was eventually suggested that I became a candidate for parliament (natch conservatives but always a wet, pro europe etc). I went through all the vetting procedures and quickly passed. I was then catapaulted into real life selection committees and I immediately had enormous doubts that I could be sufficiently "exemplary" to become an MP. In other words I funked it, although I had the good excuse that I had just started a business on which I had to concentrate. You are right that the modern world demands quite extraordinary standards, through over exposure to the media, but does that find the right people to lead a country? On the basis of recent evidence one has to doubt it. I am sure that I made the right decision in not trying to foist myself by smoke and mirrors on an unsuspecting electorate!

They broadcast Maggies speech on The Sunday programme this morning and nobody seems to remember what she said about being responsible for our own actions. Karma!
It is this attitude that the world owes me a living and I don’t have any responsibility to those who will provide it for me, that is causing a lot of the problems during her time and today.
If you can provide for yourself and have some over, then you are in a position to help others. If you cannot genuinely provide for yourself, then society helps you.

David, modernity sets high standards for human qualities but is far less forgiving of faults. Therefore, we have the weird contradiction of looking at characters in the past who were total pigs by present standards but who we praise in their place in history. To stand, speak or act against people is not always seen as part of the mechanism for keeping some kind of check on that person but has become a kind of form of resistance that is simply a slur on the character of people public enough to be vulnerable to 'attack'. Hence, at present people who are of an age that we were actively engaged in resisting the Conservative government, including but not exclusively Thatcher, are being somewhat ignored and attention turned on the young protesters. The UK being a democracy, those people are perfectly entitled to hold whatever views they do and yet the de mortuis nihil nisi bonum principle is being thrust on them on grounds of their age and political experience. What is being overlooked is perhaps their protest against the legacy of Thatcherism, quite legitimate cause in reality. Exemplary members of our race would offer perfect solutions to such dilemmas, something well beyond the ken of most of us.

Brian, as our resident classical oracle, has wisely referred us to these quotations. Can any of us, of whatever religion or, as they say, none, claim to be exemplary members of the human race? To be fallible is not a sin, but to waste your talents, or to make scant, if any, contribution to the well being of others, surely is.

It is a Greek aphorism τὸν τεθνηκóτα μὴ κακολογεῖν (Don’t badmouth a dead man) that is better known in its Latin form De mortuis nihil nisi bonum (Of the dead, nothing unless good). It has been picked up in modern literature a bit such as The Lonely Road by Neville Shute in the 1930s.

Where does this, don't speak ill of the dead, come from?

A fear that they will haunt us maybe?

A person's bad behaviour doesn't suddenly become erased the moment they shed their mortal coil.

And isn't hypocrisy a bad thing?

As to celebrating their death, well, some cultures do, as they see it as part of a journey onto the next life.

Of course if karma exists then we need not worry about others, just ourselves.

Do as you would be done by, has always been my motto.

And one the most wonderful things about living in 'my' French village (it exits in parts of the UK too) is the sense of camaraderie; you could call it the spirit of society. It DOES still exist, despite the me, me,me culture that grew up in 80's.

Surely a warm heart is favourable to greed? Non?

Sarah I am still laughing at your the foot on the head.....a real gem!

She did display manic tendencies...and that must have been exacerbated by her 4 hours a night sleep regime which would exhaust anyone.

A point for lovers of French literature that I have not seen mentioned in anything about Lady T is the fact that the other person who spent much of his last few months at the Ritz (albeit in Paris) was Marcel Proust. Not easy to find other connections, though some of the comments about those who have died are consistent with Proust's relentless attempts to understand the true complexity of human relationships.

Well the charts were bought in London, too close perhaps for GCHQ,


it is very simple and a basic mantra in business, and to keep it short and to the point - hiring Consultants simply shifts the blame.

It must have been (if that was the only ship in the area). I heard that the UK never believed Argentinia would invade and by removing this 'deterrent' it implied that the UK was either incapable or unwilling to defend the islands

To hear that the charts were bought up by the Argentines is astonishing! Makes me wonder what GCHQ were doing at the time - surely they had ears over there?