JANUARY 2016 entry on the subject of…..LEGEND



Bon Jovi Menzies-Campbell, (pronounced Ming-Campbell) interviewer extraordinaire, adjusts his tight leather trousers from the back, swings his cashmere jacket open and tucks a thumb into his soft calf belt for a casual effect.

“Hair OK?” he mumbles to Jenna, the makeup girl, running his fingers through it and giving her the side view for the thumbs up. The cameraman, Dave, moves around to his best side.

“This is quite risky you know….” BJ’s nervous.

Dave is realistic to the point of being aggressive.

“Listen, mate, Kate just can’t make it so we’re going to have to wing it. We’re live in five. Jenna, pick someone off the street to be interviewed, will ya?“


Jenna sees Dave’s expression, then risks death to leap across Kensington High Street to do as she’s bid.

A chunky lady pensioner now been accosted out of the small crowd, and looks across in an inscrutable manner at BJ. She’s dressed in a green tweed suit, her horn rimmed glasses glinting in the sunlight. The same can’t be said of her suede brogues.

“O, Jesus, not her – of all the passing proles, why’d she choose THAT one! The bloody clothes….it’s too much, I just cannot,” hisses BJ hysterically, depressed beyond measure at the image he’s about to be filmed with.

Dave ‘s now in a rage.

“Get normal – speak to someone real for a change!”

Jenna’s crossing the road again, holding the lady’s arm.

“ Mrs Grant.”

BJ turns his back, giving the manicured finger violently to Dave before he swivels back.

“Cameras roll!” Dave yells.

BJ’s face is zoomed in on, his mega smile sincere and entrancing, since the effects of last night’s cocaine have not entirely departed.

“Good morning, world! This week FAMOUS TALENT cannot interview a star, as all the fantabulous celebs we tried were in rehab, or under the surgeon’s knife. As a one-off, we’ve picked a random stranger, who we know  will be just as riveting!”

“Good morning,” he oils, as the lady approaches him.

“Let’s begin at the beginning, dear lady. Where are you from?”

“Way up north, Aberdeen,” she says in a beautifully low voice.

“How IS Aberdeen, these days?”

“Och, we were recently judged the worst city in Scotland, they gave us something called the Carbuncle Prize, but there you go,” she’s laughing.

“We love the Scots!” shouts BJ jubilantly, arm waving and trying to focus his eyes on her face.

“What do you do, up in those chilly climes?”

He looks into her eyes for the first time, then promptly begins to sweat.

“Well, laddie, I’m a teacher, have been all my life. I’ve taught 14-17 yr olds, English is my subject, though I’ve retired.”

“ Then you’re one of the pillars of society, educating the nation’s youngsters!” he manages, fear gripping his tiny heart.

“Where I’m from they won’t be educated unless they want to be…. and most of them don’t. They can leave school at 16 which is criminal. What chance does anyone have if they leave without qualifications – none. It’s been my life’s work to see young people get hooked on education.”

Luckily, the camera does not capture the deep scarlet blush creeping over BJ’s face, neck and navel.

“Tell us of your life, your partner, children…”

“Och, let’s stick to education, it’s more interesting. May I ask a question?”

“ Certainly….ask away!”

BJ’s face has taken on a deathly pallor in the last minute, his hands are shaking.

“You’ve done well, laddie, taken the opportunities you’ve been given, worked hard to get where you are. ”

“Yes, indeed, I’ve been…….fortunate,” he says, looking away over Mrs Grant’s tight grey perm.

“What were your best subjects at school?”

He has nowhere to run, and keeps his eyes in the middle distance, while the scarlet blush moves on down to his knees.

“Strangely, English, but I also liked…..well, particularly, philosophy.”

“Yes, well, those two are often coupled – using the word in it’s proper connotation.”

Coupled….suddenly he remembers the joke about Torry girls : “What do they use for protection when having sex? Answer – a bus shelter.”

He snaps out of it, tells himself to calm down. He’s running the show, stay cool. His curriculum vitae says he was born in Edinburgh, he’s famously shy away from the camera, nobody asks questions, nobody knows.

“Oh, philosophy….anyone in particular? Kant? Socrates? Schopenhauer?”

“Wittgenstein, I don’t think anyone can touch him.”   Did he really say that?

“You’re with Bertrand Russell on that one then, although Wittgenstein was so brilliant he almost destroyed Russell’s own philosophical confidence,” she laughs.

“He explains things, ordinary things, as though we’ve never heard of them….”

“Yes, it’s about everyday language. He said there are no philosophical problems, only philosophical muddles, brought about by lack of care in the proper use of linguistic expressions.”

“Nothing is as handy as philosophy to illuminate life, is it? I was knocked for six by how he explains that moral seeming situations can be deeply immoral, and that things that seem completely wrong at first glance, are in fact morally sound. Have you read Tractatus?”

“No, though I now think I should have. I actually came across the Blue & Brown Books in a charity shop, that’s what got me started. Then I read Philosophical Investigations.”

“I started with Tractatus, it seemed logical to start at the beginning, since he repudiated a lot of his assumptions later on. It gave a fuller picture.”

BJ’s forgotten the camera, the world.

“The very name put me off, it would be a huge commitment to read that,” Mrs Grant says.

“It’s tiny, about 75 pages, you’d do it in a day,” BJ laughs.

He looks into her eyes. They’re kind, yet with that message, still, saying ‘make something of yourself’.

The United Fish Products factory, bellowing out that noxious stink, fills his head. Their flat – Mum’s, that is – is as close as you can get. The dreaded envelope with the Higher Still results has finally arrived, addressed to James Muir. He’s alone, and has been for a long time, sure the slagging off from everyone he knows is correct and he’s failed…… English A, Physics A, Mathematics A, German A, English A, History A.

All because this lady in front of him said he must go to university, regardless of Mum saying it was a load of bollocks and get a job, or sod off. So he did – to London, where he scraped a living, learned from other people, became what he could. University was out, but it was his life he was living, and the 11 years since had brought a neutral accent, sharper wits, some confidence.

“Twenty seconds, wrap it up,” yells Dave.

BJ folds Mrs Grant into his arms holding her for a long time. She smells of mothballs. They clasp each other, wordlessly. Dave opens his mouth to scream but shuts it again, fades the camera.


Four years pass…….

BBC News today:

Radio 4’s international prize- winning programme ‘Back Then’, about philosophy’s role in shaping world events, will be chaired permanently by James Muir, who followed the path of Ludwig Wittgenstein, gaining a Ph.D. in philosophy from Cambridge University. He was formerly Bon Jovi Menzies-Campbell, the legendary celebrity interviewer who decided philosophy was his true calling. His first interview tonight will be with Mrs Helen Grant, the teacher who inspired him.



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