Living In The Past

I had *written before* of my love for “Mad Men”, the ongoing television serial about men and ladies working in a large advertising agency in America (New York) during the 1960s. I myself lived in America in the 1960s, not in New York though, but in Washington DC, where I was posted as British military attache. However, I used to visit New York often. So, whenever I watch “Mad Men” I’m transported back to the New York of my memories.

I’m still only on “Mad Men’s” fourth season (I have the DVDs). I’m stretching the time between its episodes, for I fear my life won’t be worth living once “Mad Men” ends. Can there be other Generals like me, over whom “Mad Men” has cast such a spell?

Feeling more and more removed from today’s world with each passing day, I live more and more in the past. Hence, in the “New Age” parlance, “Mad Men” is a “safe place” for me to be. I also like “Mad Men” because its ladies are as important and as powerful as its men. This seems to me quite rare in American television, as well as in American films.

I was happy, then, to see my perception confirmed in this *newspaper piece*. It says in so many words that in your average American film of today, seventy percent of the speaking roles are male, and that this state of affairs has hardly changed in more than seventy years.

While this piece talks of American films, I feel sure this includes American television films, to which genre “Mad Men” belongs.

Since you know I’m a General, albeit a retired one, you may find it surprising that I like films in which the ladies are as important and as  powerful as the men. Generals, after all, are supposed to like films dominated by strong manly men. If these films do of necessity have ladies, they should be weak and compliant, although of course pretty.

Well, were I still an active General, with aspirations to be a Field Marshal, I of course would proclaim that I like the sorts of films that Generals are supposed to like. But, being now retired, I’m free to say what I feel.

Getting back to “Mad Men”, its lead character, Don Draper, is the paradigmatic ladies man with lots of “conquests”. Your average General would therefore normally approve of Don, except that he seems particularly attracted to ladies of the strong independent type. They are hence the more difficult to conquer, and when they do at last surrender, it’s all the more satisfying for Don, and no doubt for the conquered ladies too.

I’m attributing these feelings to Don, for they’ve been mine whenever I myself have conquered – or was conquered by – strong, independent and consequently fascinating ladies. I’m thinking now of………*Dolores*. Why now? Why Dolores? Is it because I’ll always associate her with the ‘sixties – when I was in Washington, and Don Draper was on Madison Avenue………?

Mad Men

I’ve not spoken about film for a long time because the films coming out nowadays are rubbish. With their juvenile humour and the supererogatory “special effects” that draw attention away from the plot or story, films today seem targeted to teenaged boys.

These rubbish films are English-language films. It’s entirely possible, then, that foreign-language films of today are not rubbish films. My attention was incidentally drawn the other day to a foreign-language film – in this case, Italian – that’s just come out, called *La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)*. The promotional trailer and reviews bespeak that La Grande Bellezza will be my cup of tea should I see it.

When I spoke of rubbish English-language films, I might as appropriately have said “rubbish American films”, for most English-language films are American, and therefore rubbish. While there are still English-made English-language films, they’ll necessarily be rubbish too, because they must conform to American tastes if their makers wish to make any money. In fact, most viewers of English English-language films will be American because there are now six times more American men than Englishmen.

Consider also that most of today’s big stars in English cinema act in American films. So adept are they in doing American accents, you don’t even know they’re English if you see them in these rubbish American films.

So pervasive is American culture generally in the English-speaking world, your average young Englishman of today is little more than an imitation American. In 1895 when I was born – when the sun never set on the British Empire, when the Englishman was still an Englishman – you would have been laughed at, or better still beaten up, had you even murmured that the Englishman would one day become an imitation American.

While American films of today are rubbish, this cannot be said of many of the long-running television serials that you see on those speciality American TV channels. I confess to have become an addict of one of these long running serials. It’s called “Mad Men”, and has been running so far for six years. I have a DVD boxed set of it that I got just recently, and I can hardly wait to play the next episode.

If you don’t know of “Mad Men”, it’s about the goings-on in a large American advertising agency, situated on New York’s Madison Avenue. It’s set in the very early 1960’s, and its lead character, Don Draper, is a man who lives under a false identity. Don must therefore be most careful what he says about himself to anyone – even to his wife and children, who don’t know who he really is. I suspect he may also be wanted by the police, although I don’t absolutely know this yet because I’m still only on Mad Men’s third season.

Why my fascination for “Mad Men”, and particularly for Don Draper? No doubt in part, it’s because I myself live under a false identity, and was, (and may still be) wanted by the police everywhere. Should my identity be discovered and I be caught, I face the gallows because I killed several men, although I feel I had good reason to. However, the Law would likely see this otherwise should I be brought to trial.

So, like Don Draper, I must always be careful what I say of myself to anyone. I must always be on guard and can never be truly myself except when I’m alone. My only means of heartfelt expression, albeit epistolary, is through the anonymity of this blog. Without it I would go mad.

As careful as I am on those few occasions today when I’m in the company of others, I can never know if whoever I’m speaking with isn’t an undercover policemen – or an undercover policewoman. For all I know, the beautiful blonde waitress *at the sports bar* I like to drink in – whom I’m contemplating asking to my little home for a night of love – could be an undercover policewoman sent to entrap me.