Mary Beard: My kind of Roman and AA Gill’s wrong kind of Blonde
MARY Beard tweets: “
@Madame_Arcati going to print out your blog and keep it for when I might be feeling low!”
This blog, about Sunday Times TV critic AA Gill calling Mary Beard too ugly for the telly:
I LEARN that a middle-aged man, who resembles a homophobe’s idea of what a homosexual man looks like, has been very rude about Prof Mary Beard – the writer and presenter of BBC2’s Meet The Romans. If you’ve given up on TV and have an interest in Roman antiquity then I strongly advise you to re-new your TV licence just to watch this series.
Ingeniously, Beard has discovered the voices of the Ancient Roman dead – not of the emperors or their spin doctors – but of the ordinary people: the butchers, the ex-slaves, the woman who loved wine, the shitters and the bathers, the parents of the boy brained by a falling roof tile, and so on. She channels their words to us from their stone memorials chiselled in Latin which lay about under other historians’ noses for two millennia; awaiting Mary Beard’s exquisite TV seances. These dead people were like us live people, desperate to be heard and remembered. Just like the TV critic with his funny matchstick legs, his ageing male model face, his dyslexia and other sob story details (a mother complex, for instance, and a love life I cannot repeat here).
Mary Beard is – but, no; let’s leave it there. The TV critic drew attention to Beard’s appearance. She’s not his kind of blonde, or Blonde even. She fails to remind him that he’s cast himself as a cock-cunter for professional (and perhaps personal) purposes. Beard is the Beeb’s finest jewel right now – as smart as smart can be, learned, humane, empathetic. She animates the past because I suspect she understands the present: she understands how arbitrary are time’s divisions. She does not write joke columns for a fading Sunday newspaper; she does not make her readers feel better by mocking a collective third party.
She has no need of schtick.
Mary Beard reminds me of why I want to have a TV in the house. Just in case.