There’s also plenty who’d rather have needles in their eyes than trot out ancient hurts for everyone to see. Whatever floats your boat, is what I think.
Bolt has publicly refered to Ms Walshe in less than flattering terms, negating the almost six-year slice of life they shared and their engagement, by stating in an interview that he once was a “minder for a belly dancer” who was his “then girlfriend.” It was the belly dancer bit that alerted Ms Walshe to the fact that Bolt was talking about her, as she put herself through college with this employment. The cad later went on to deny there had ever been an engagement, effectively erasing his serious relationship with Ms Walshe from his account of his personal history. Ouch.
“Minder for a belly dancer?” What’s that supposed to mean? He fought off other males?
This just goes to prove, by the by, what I have argued many times to the moralistic furies who want to ban pole dancing, strip shows, belly dancing and the like. There are many young women who choose to support themselves in these occupations while they learn to be doctors, lawyers, academics and a whole host of other vocations. So unless you’re prepared to finance them leave them alone, it’s none of your business if they like to get raunchy.
A series of strangely formal and constrainedly histrionic emails ensued between the two, accusative on the one side, quite grovellingly apologetic on the other. “I am not trying to wipe you from the record of my life.” Bolt protested, even though he wrote on his blog that he couldn’t recall ever being engaged to anybody, except, presumably, he might have been to his wife at some point.
Suzanne fires back with claims of not just an engagement ring but an Irish wedding ring as well that Andrew told her to wear upside down, the custom being that Irish wedding rings are worn upside down during the engagement, then turned right side up after the wedding. The things you learn. Walshe also included in her article a touching note that Andrew sent with the ring (he was apparently in Dublin at the time) as proof positive that she wasn’t making any of this up. Ouch again. That might be a line-crosser, but it’s hard to say.
For myself, I read the personal emails of others made public with a voyeuristic thrill of horror and disbelief. Such communications are almost always cringe-worthy because of their very nature, let alone for what is written in them. I imagine firing off emotive notes intended only for the recipient (which I have done, I admit it, hasn’t everyone?) then waking up one morning to find them splattered across a national daily and I know I’d want to go to outer Mongolia and never, ever come back. Half the nation takes sides about how you’ve conducted your private life, and a good many of those sides are going to be nastily turned against someone, whether the writer or the revealer.
I have some empathy with Ms Walshe’s hurt feelings. It is not pleasant to discover that the man you loved enough to marry (till your common sense kicked in) has turned your six-year relationship into a one-line joke, dismissing it and you as never having been of any importance to him and claiming to have forgotten that he wanted to marry you into the bargain.
If Andrew Bolt is this fast and loose with his own history, where does he get off complaining publicly about how anybody else chooses to recount theirs?
Still, this does happen all the time in people’s accounts of their lives. Things left out, things left in, truths stretched, subjective experience that fails to correlate with the experience of others involved in the events. Family members end up in court charging one another with defamation. Siblings write books about their parents that appear to be written about entirely different mums and dads, and then never speak to one another again. Who owns the story? Whose story is “true?”
There is a considerable body of critical opinion that considers the “facts” of a life always to contain elements of fiction. The nature of memory is enigmatic, as is the question of how facts are remembered by the subject. For example in his autobiographical novel The Facts, Philip Roth states that “…memories of the past…are not memories of facts but memories of your imagining of the facts.”
I wrote that in my Honours thesis.
Luckily Suzanne appears to have kept a written record in the form of Andrew’s letters so he’s stuffed.
It turns out that Ms Walshe broke off the engagement. I’d venture to suggest that people generally attempt to erase or repress memories because they are painful in some way. Likewise people often become dismissive and derogatory about past intensely emotional events for the same reason.
Could it be that Andrew still smarts when he remembers Suzanne’s rejection of him as a husband and potential father of her children? Could publicly pretending to forget be Andrew’s revenge after all this time? Is it an indicator of Bolt’s pathological solipsism that it apparently did not occur to him that the woman he so cruelly dismissed might strike back and show him up for the dorky manipulative tosser he really is? Or was it his intention to draw her out in the hope of instigating fresh dialogue with her? How would Andrew’s wife feel about that, I wonder? Does anybody really care? Does anyone want to read my Honours thesis? Is “pathological solipsism” a tautology? Shall I go out in the kayak this morning? Should I close my Twitter account before I offend more people like I offended Joe Hildebrand the other day by calling him a toothy git, causing him to fire back that I was a troll?
Hoo Haa! Life is marvellous!!
UPDATE!! Andrew strikes back here! Continues to deny engagement! Bemoans Fairfax Press obsession with his private life!
- No appeal in Andrew Bolt case (heraldsun.com.au)
- Herald Sun told to publish Bolt correction (news.theage.com.au)
- I’m an Aborigine: just ask Andrew Bolt (cafewhispers.wordpress.com)
- Andrew Bolt receives Ernie award for 2011 (news.theage.com.au)