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Manchester. Murderous hatred of girls having fun.

May 23, 2017


This has been my earworm ever since I heard the hideous news from Manchester.  I have nothing very profound or “useful” to say in the face of atrocities that are, quite literally, “unspeakable”.  There’s no form of words that can be adequate, and nothing more offensive than a smug second-hand form of words that sounds as though it thinks it is adequate.

But silence is no good either.  Silence doesn’t comfort.  Better than silence and better than sententia are half-formed, inchoate, well-intentioned stuttered efforts to connect.

Instead of some biblical quote, or some postered nugget of wisdom from an acknowledged saint and martyr, I’ve just had Cyndi Lauper playing in my head.  Over and over again.   Presumably because last night was supposed to be just about girls having fun.  That’s all, that’s all, that’s all.

And these young people ran into the path of someone for whom the prospect of so many girls coming together to have fun had seemed so monstrous that he determined to kill himself just so that he could slaughter as many of them as possible.

He will not have stopped girls in general having fun.  He has destroyed life and ruined life but the breathtakingly simple chorus to this Cyndi Lauper song won’t be silenced.  Because it was playing in my head all the way as I took my kid to school and playing in my head on my way to the office, I found Cyndi Lauper’s 1984 Top of the Pops appearance on Youtube and played it in the office.  I was in the office early.  Nobody else was around.  And before long I found myself sobbing.  Lauper’s chorus managed to liberate tears that had been clogged inside me ever since I heard the vicious news early this morning.

It’s actually one of the great performances in TOTP’s history.  She mocks the fact that the performance isn’t really “live” in a variety of inventive but good humoured ways.  She’s all over the set and the camera has trouble keeping up with her.  She’s singing about girls who are older than the girls who came to Manchester Arena to have fun, but the girls around her, the girls she’s meeting and greeting, aren’t so very different in age.  Cyndi Lauper was the definitive statement of girls having fun when I was myself young.

Oddly enough, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was used as a sort off leitmotif by John Updike for his 1984 theological novel Roger’s Version.  The novel, which illustrates the challenge posed to a tired and jaded liberal theologian by an annoying young man who feels that he can proved the existence of God as an empirical certainty, is all about the search for absolutes and whether or not such a search is possible or desirable and whether or not trying to deter people from such a quest is possible or desirable.  And all through the novel, Lauper’s chorus floats, because in its repetitive simplicity it is a statement of something that is timelessly and unambiguously true.

I suppose there will be a “necessary” attempt to comprehend the demented processes of someone who worships a Moloch that delights in the blood of children.  There are people out there who hate girls, hate fun, and hate the confluence of girls and fun with a murderous rage that they think of as their version of righteousness.  Which is why right now, numbed by the horror, I have nothing more profound and nothing more certain than Cyndi Lauper in my head.

This is offensive.  This is in poor taste.  This is all I can think of.


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