The Other Martha

martha-gellhorn

I just finished listening to an archived interview with hard-boiled wartime writer and activist Martha Gellhorn on the radio and hearing her cultured, richly intellectual way of speaking casually expand on the exciting yet pugilistic life she led has made me feel  equal parts impressed, intrigued and unsettled.

Impressed and intrigued because she led such a fascinating, unpredictable and often dangerous life and unsettled because this is a heady cocktail of everything I am not.

I have none of her wanderlust, her confidence or that driving need to be combative (most recently I couldn’t even play a competitive board game at Christmas lest I offend the land occupiers who were good friends!)  yet I continue to pretend that had my life turned out differently, I might have been a kick-arse journalist.

Really. Really?  I need to shut this fantasy down and resolve to confine myself to writing at least half-way regularly at my middle-class desk where I can safely blog to an audience that rarely exceeds 2 digits … what the heck would Martha say about that …?

I cannot bear to think of it.

Strangely, it’s a truism about myself that I’m often extremely attracted to clever outspokenness as a trait in other people – Noel Gallagher,  Denis Leary, Richard Dawkins, The General – but I abhor it in myself; of course, I should also clarify that boorish, uncalled for outspokenness can veer very closely to let’s just say something else, and I have never found someone being a complete asshole even remotely attractive. Continue reading