You just can’t beat a bit of passion.
No, I’m not referring to the passion associated with, say, John Terry or Tiger Woods, but I’m talking about people who really care about something that interests them and can carry you along even if you don’t necessarily support their view.
I have seen two great examples of such passion this week during the Bath Literature Festival. The events I’ve attended so far have all been excellent and I really feel this festival has been a tour-de-force but it was the passion of two people that left the biggest impression on me.
The first was possibly from a somewhat unlikely source. I’ve often read columns by Daily Mail writer Peter Hitchens or seen him on television and thought I had very little in common with a man who seemed to the right of Atilla the Hun. I genuinely thought he hammed up his views for the benefit of the paper and the camera – but I saw him in action in the flesh on Tuesday and really saw his absolute commitment and belief. And my respect for him grew enormously.
Basically, Mr Hitchens believes that there is very little in modern politics to tempt the majority of British people to get excited. He believes that the idea that we are all ‘centrist now’ and we live in the land of consensus politics is completely wrong and he says that there is no credible outlet for millions of ordinary Brits.
Given the opportunity to explain this view, Mr Hitchens came alive and although there were still moments that made me wince, I saw a man who truly believed in what he said, said it with humour, fervour and honesty and refused to play to the gallery. He just truly believed in his words – and I really rather liked that.
Fast-forward just a few hours and I witnessed another man who exudes the passion that comes from delighting in his chosen field.
Mark Kermode has long been the best film critic in this country because he is sharp, funny, intelligent, unpredictable and above all, totally committed to the medium of film. He doesn’t suck up to stars (Jonathan Ross’s fatal flaw in his film work I’m afraid), he just says what he feels and says it with aplomb and a conviction that makes you smile even if you don’t always agree with what he says.
Take 3D for example.
Mr Kermode is virtually alone at the moment in the movie industry in saying that this is actually a bad thing and we are just being conned into believing we are getting more for our money. He showed us his personal ‘3D rectifier glasses’ which takes movies back to 2D and he passionately argued even when challenged that films such as Up and Avatar are better just as plain old films than as ‘3D experiences’.
In my opinion the people who most inspire and excite are those like Mr Hitchens and Mr Kermode (and yes, I do admit, that’s the only way you’ll get those two in the same sentence), who speak from the heart but have the head and intelligence to give substance to their words.
Oh, if only John Terry had concentrated on such ‘head passion’ instead...