Does shared hatred bring us together more than shared enthusiasm?
A character in Reginald Hill‘s book Pictures of Perfection suggests “that when a politician wants to really unite the electorate, he looks for a common hatred rather than a common enthusiasm.” Is he right?
I go through three stages with Reginald Hill’s writing. I begin by finding it a bit contrived, then some flash of humour trips me up into enjoyment and by the end I find myself relishing the surprises and satisfaction he offers. So I commend Pictures of Perfection to you – though I think The Reckoning would have been a better title.
But back to the hating. Two characters – police officer Wield and bookseller Digweed – overcome their initial antipathy through shared whisky and a discussion about what they hate. It’s a pretty good list.
“Snobs. I don’t like snobs. How’s that for starters?”
“Excellent. No quarrel there. My turn. Little Hitlers. People who turn a molehill of authority into a mountain of obstructionism.”
“Fair enough. Politicians.”
“Spot on. Undertakers.
“They’re only doing a job,” said Wield defensively.
“Of course. But do you like them?”
“No,” admitted Wield. “Beer that’s too cold.”
“Beer that’s too warm.”
“People that don’t care about beer.”
“People that go on too much about beer.”
“Motorway service stations.”
Wield sipped his bourbon thoughtfully, and queried, “No exceptions?”
“Well, I used to be quite taken with EastEnders. And of course, being of everyday country folk, I adore the Archers,” admitted Digweed anxiously.
“That’s fine then,” grinned Wield, who suddenly found he was enjoying himself immensely. “People who, when you’re out walking, know the names of all the hills and insist on telling you.”
“People who send family newsletters at Christmas.”
“Drivers who open doors in front of motorcyclists.”
“Drivers who park where they shouldn’t,” said Digweed, one eyebrow raised quizzically.
“People who turn down book pages.” [Oops, that’s me.]
“People who think they’re right all the time.”
“People who persecute minorities.”
“People who leave heel-taps,” said Digweed, leaning over to fill up Wield’s glass.
Have they missed anything?
I’ll add a few: Stupidity (my own), unkindness (again, my own), running out of milk, most coleslaw, mayonnaise… And then there are some I both hate and love – the doorbell, distractions…
Which bonds better? Shared enthusiasms or common hates? And can you add to the list?