We’ll always have Jeremy Bentham to kick around

Wednesday 21 September 2005

Apart from the lovely and talented Julie Dawn Kemp, the tireless champion of filler on this website is the Great Utilitarian, Jeremy Bentham. Despite his many achievements, his greatest legacy remains in supplying cheap gags with middlebrow pretensions to erudition to unimaginative pseuds like me.
Now that a new semester has begun, I paid a return visit to his modest abode to convince myself that Wikipedia is wrong and he is in fact on permanent display, and not just wheeled out for special occasions when conferences are held. Because the real journalists have fled the internets I felt I had to step in and put the hard questions to the Big Stiff:
Me: Hello? Coo-ee!
Bentham: Stop tapping on my glass! I’m not a bloody goldfish.
Me: Sorry. I guess you have people coming up and bothering you all the time.
Bentham: (sighs) No.
Me: So, were you affected by the bombs going off down the street back in July?
Bentham: That was a bomb? They told me someone upstairs had dropped a particularly heavy difference engine.
Me: I guess they didn’t want you to panic and…
Bentham: Lose my head. Very fucking funny. First time I’ve heard that gag – today. Security! Evict this jackanape and wheel me over to the Natural History wing!
Me: Doesn’t look like anyone’s coming. I thought you Victorians were more well-spoken than that, you know, “Good DAY Sir!!”
Bentham: I’m not a Victorian! I’m a William…ian… Whatever.
Me: What sort of positive example do you think you have set to the youth of today by sitting in a rosewood portaloo for the last 170 years?
Bentham: I’d like to think I’ve played my small part in keeping the “Great” in Great Britain.
Me: Did you know they’ve named a pub after you around the corner?
Bentham: Yes. I’d love to visit it someday – I could murder a pint.
Me: A common complaint among the enbalmed. You don’t get about much, do you? When was the last time you travelled?
Bentham: Last year. A new cleaning woman started and she wanted to vacuum under me. They haven’t even oiled my casters for years. The squeaking nearly drove me potty.
Me: You know, putting yourself on public display all these years, your invention of the panopticon, do you regard yourself as the inspiration for Big Brother? It’s a TV show where…
Bentham: I’ve seen Big Brother. A repulsive display by depraved lowlife.
Me: I guessed you wouldn’t be impressed.
Bentham: I was over the moon when Makosi got the arse. Girlfriend had no business being horrible to Kemal like that.
Me: Well, I think we’ve trawled all the most obvious jokes now, and I feel a bit dirty having looked up a Big Brother forum to put in that tidbit of gossip, so I’ll finish now and thank you for your time.
Bentham: You still here? Security! etc.