What is it with M ? The Virgin Mary, Monroe, a child murderer (Peter Lorre in Fritz Lang’s film “M”), Charles Manson and the modern take on it – Maxwell. It is a long time since I read The Family and Helter Skelter, both books about the Manson Family, which contained one insight that has never left me. The crossover of the rich and famous with the savagely disturbed and dissolute was always the same, wrote the author – drugs and sex, and sex and drugs. And you could add, the enabler – m for money.
Quite early the telephone burped and there was a friend of mine who had just discovered that a friend of hers, with a list of difficulties not quite forearm length, had been lying to her for 10 years. She talked a bit and then went off into talking almost to herself, about where they were up to, how it came to light, what it means etc. “But I didn’t know, I just didn’t know” she muttered. “What kind of fool am I ?” And I replied that interaction with any kind of addict is exchange with somebody who wants to conceal what is really happening and is cleverer- said I – than a waggon load of monkeys. M again.
I really have never known much about money. I came from none, earned well and for a long time, made the sort of serious financial mistakes that marked me out as thoughtless and improvident – till I began to realise that some of this was not of my making and that quite a lot of people went through the same disturbance – even if we don’t experience it or respond to it in the same way. It’s a very emotional business, money.
And when you read – and quite a lot of us will, for different reasons – yet another few thousand words on Ghislaine Maxwell – you see what truly dreadful neurotic power the M word money has. As my mother (another m) at her most grimly ironical put it “The body always washes.” In other words, you can escape whatever you did by changing the setting frequently, each time more exotic, more beautiful and further away, in delicious food and wine, choppers and yachts, partypartyparty and wardrobes unending… Or can you ? When I read these articles ( there have been several), they are all background. Not a hard fact between them. You can buy blur with money too, scented mist to soften the edges of who was seen where, with whom, when, what it might have meant, how it looks. Enviable gold standard displacement activity.
The monarchy (M again) knows a lot about miasma in its primary meaning, unpleasant or oppressive, and the sovereign’s “never apologise, never explain” has never looked simultaneously more archaic, desirable and appropriate. Because everybody thinks they know about Meghan (M)
and I am not convinced that anybody does. Watchers have agendas. Mass media (MM) exploits knowingly and unknowingly our hopes and fears and deepest darkest wishes, what is generally important and what is personal. The tentacles of that media would currently give any self respecting octopus a migraine (m again.)
And I should here mention murder and marriage (Ms) which lurk in the background of the stories respectively referred to above. Although different in degree and context, both narratives contain various kinds of sadness, trauma and loss. If you ever wanted to prove that people still believe in fairytales, it is in the idea that suffering ennobles. It rarely does. Suffering makes people indifferent (“I was hurt, why shouldn’t (s)he be ?” Rarely “ I wouldn’t want anybody to go through what I went through”) At worst, it distorts your reality.
Mary was taken from her family to become an icon, the mother of the Messiah(M). Marilyn Monroe had enough family to bother her, and enough fame to drive her mad (a big m word). “M” symbolically kills himself, Manson killed whoever he could reach and when you look at the spurious history of Robert Maxwell, you are brought back to the idea that when people survive the unbearable, they very often become pretty unbearable themselves, unless they decide to become otherwise.