Figures of Fub .
DEAR MR. FRAYN,
1 have just been reading two different collec- tions of pieces which you originally wrote for your Guardian column, 'Miscellany.' Since you seem to hate all the things I hate, and a few more
besides, I was, of course, delighted. Hypocrisy, superstition, Royalty-cant, the British Raj (my- self I'm rather wistful about the Raj, but no matter), leaders of commerce and industry, tele- vision personalities, motorists and even fellow satirists—all of these you have exposed full face and naked to your immaculate sense of the ab- surd. These are two thoughtful, clever and divert- ing books on which I offer you sincere congratulations.
There is, however, just one thing about your work which worries me. In the last resort, you seem to me to share the extraordinary modern
notion that average people (as opposed to the Captains, Kings, Super-Hoggs and Drivelbies) are nice—or at least would be, were they not constantly duped by the Captains, Kings. etc., into whoring after false gods (e.g., Fub). Given enough care and education, you seem to imply, and' given the removal of Drivelby and Co., the natural sweetness and goodness of the common man would flow unperverted and unchecked. At bottom, in fact, you are an optimist : you believe in the possibility, however remote, of the New Jerusalem.
Let me, then, introduce you to a salutary con- cept, which I cannot claim to have invented, only to have renamed: the concept of 'original nastiness.' According to this, man needs must resent the highest when he sees it and pull it down in a hurry before his envy becomes un- bearable (there are several notable instances in history both A and M of which I shall not need to remind you). The highly publicised clowns and pickpockets whom both you and I so detest are where they are, not because they have im- posed themselves on the average man, but be- cause the average man does not want, will not tolerate, anything better—indeed, positively cries out loud for more and more Fub-figures, in whom he may recognise and excuse his own stupidity and greed writ large. So what I am asking of you, for the future, is to leave the big chaps and the bosses alone. You see, much as we loathe, them, it isn't really their fault. It's just that certain accidents of up- bringing and environment have made them even nastier than the average, and that society has wilfully exploited them on this account. What I hope you will do, for a change, is to point your accusing nose at the root cause of the trouble —at the common man who has so selfishly de- graded these unhappy creatures for his own reassurance and pleasure.