David Tennant was recently asked why his American TV pilot did not go ahead as a full series. Our dashing ex-Doctor replied,
“It’s such a political minefield over here. You have to be careful about what you say about what you knew, because everybody tells you things that they’re not supposed to and you don’t know what’s true and what isn’t.”
In other words he was frightened to put his foot in it. Expressing his deep inner feelings further he revealed:
“… I learnt a lot about how that network works and how I feel about that.”
Ouch. One pictures the clenched teeth, the wounded puppy eyes and the bubbling of bitter sadness with which this might be said. The fact is Tennant is too bright to burn any bridges. He knows how quickly a quotable quote flies round the internet… sometimes coming back to bite you.
All over, people in the public eye are finding it harder to speak their minds for fear of controversy or litigation.
Recently ex-Liverpool football club manager Rafa Benitez was asked to comment on the dramatic events at the club since he departed. He astonished the UK media with his sage reply:
“White liquid in a bottle has to be milk.”
This remark was ridiculed, but it cleverly answered the question without actually saying anything.
Then Man Utd boss Alex Ferguson was asked to comment on his player Wayne Rooney apparently wanting to leave the club. He came up with:
“Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in your own field…”
Using the Rafa technique, Fergy managed to answer the question without mentioning – or offending -any of the parties involved at all.
It reminds me of Seamus Heaney’s famous quote about the Irish troubles: ‘Whatever you say, say nothing.’
Perhaps this is why the ancient Chinese philosophers coined their enigmatic proverbs, like:
“Paper cannot wrap up a fire.”
They probably had a touchy local warlord monitoring their every word for any signs of a slagging off, and the wise men were as keen to avoid a sword in the ribs as anyone else.
I notice that Facebook has become largely an arena for sharing appreciation and supportive words between friends. I don’t think I’ve ever hit that ‘dislike’ button – which is so unlike my approach to actual conversation – because face to face you can challenge, question, criticise and make fun of people , because there is that element of trust among close friends behind closed doors.
Now we have the greatest machinery every invented for communications, and a world of people unable to say what they really think.
But perhaps I speak too soon. After all:
“Do not despise the snake for having no horns, for who is to say it will not become a dragon?!!!!”