The Internationale

One thing about doing the job I (and many people I know) do is that you never know when you’re going to be asked a question that you can’t answer. “What is the correct third person pronoun for blah-blah-blah” or “What’s the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs?” Occasionally you get asked about idioms and phrasal verbs (generally easier to answer but maybe harder for the student to get the context etc) and of course, the meaning of words that they’ve picked up from an outside source (book, movie, tv show and so on).

This past semester I was asked what does “Chutzpah” mean? It’s a great sounding word, and of course if you didn’t know or can’t get to your cellphone or PC to look it up it means  ‘ extremely self–confident or audacity’. I told the students as much as I knew of the definition, then went and had a look online for her to see if we could gain any more insight. I came across this and we talked about it for a minute or so with the rest of the class. Not a bad way to interact with your students I think as it’s using slightly more ‘everyday English’ and not the formal stuff they sometimes have in their books.

I just wish the student had asked me the same question last week when this brouhaha had taken place. It’s big news back in the UK, Scotland particularly, and it would have been the perfect time to put ‘Chutzpah’ into context for her.

“That Sheridan has chutzpah. Bring a libel case, lie to the court and then complain about the cost. Respect.  I think Tommy Sheridan’s big problem was trying to get a jury to believe that the whole world was somehow in cahoots against him. Oh, and his insane determination to lie about his inability to keep it in his trousers.”

I’m sure she would have gotten the gist of it from my mild rant?

So, another politician’s career bites the dust. Normally, we’d not give it much thought (it’s usually some in-bred, horse-faced Tory anyway), and things would be back to normal in no time (like they’d ever changed?).

Sheridan, however, I admired. The general consensus of opinion from people I know  is that nobody really likes politicians. We think there are too many of them, and that if we were stood next to them at the bar we wouldn’t buy them a drink, let alone vote for them. Sheridan was different. In a period where the left  failed to find a widespread hearing, he alone proved capable of building a substantial electoral base for basic class struggle ideas.  Tommy, however, went a step too far.

Another charismatic yet egotistical politician has been caught with his trousers down. He thought he was above the law, smarter and cockier than the rest of us. Thought that he could beat the system and he’d be lauded as the ‘People’s Man’ all over again. His supporters also believed that it was the elementary responsibility of socialists to defend other socialists against the Murdoch press (in theory not a bad idea), at all times and in all circumstances, and at any degree of jeopardy. Tommy had no doubt made more enemies than friends in Socialist politics in Scotland?

Tommy, it’s like this. You’ve let a lot of people down and acted incredibly stupidly. In fact, so stupid, you couldn’t beat Susan Boyle at Scrabble.  That stupid.

Just because you own Trivial Pursuit, a few cardigans and every Echo and The Bunnymen record ever made, does not make you smart, clever, or intellectual. Especially if you’re going to be caught telling huge porky pies.

I’m sure we’ll all read about it in the memoirs you’ll be writing from jail.

Good luck Comrade.


Author: From a Late Night Train

Teacher. Musician. Ponderer. Had lived in Seoul, South Korea since 2000. Moved back to Glasgow, Scotland in May 2017.

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