The official British government website publishes transcripts of major political speeches. This afternoon our disastrous departing PM, Elizabeth Truss, stood outside 10, Downing Street and gave her arrogant and unapologetic farewell speech. A couple of hours later it appeared on the website.
In this extract with its pseudo-intellectual quotation, they ironed out her bumbling hesitation:-
As the Roman philosopher Seneca wrote: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”
An accurate transcript of her delivery of this piece should have gone something like this:-
As the Roman philosopher Gurr (stumble) Seneg..(momentary pause) ca wrote: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”
I wonder who wrote Ms Truss's last speech? Clearly she is not a student of Roman literature. It would have been advisable to rehearse it with a speech coach in attendance. Then she might have learnt to say Seneca properly, perhaps realising that there is no "g" in the middle.
I guess she wanted to associate herself with classical wisdom which in my view was terribly presumptuous. It would have been more appropriate to liken herself to The Kardashians and to pick one of their most famous quotations. Hence:-
As the American philosopher Kim Kardashian said, "I love the sun but don't have the time to get a good tan and keep it year - round, so I am a huge fan of tanning products."
As the American philosopher Khloe Kardashian said, "I'm proud of myself. I could break and go get all this plastic surgery and get my nose fixed and get lipo or do whatever, but I haven't chosen to do that because I know I'm a great person. I'm pretty damn hot, if you ask me."
I wonder what Seneca himself might have made of Truss's use of his words. He might still be turning restlessly in his grave if he has one.
Seneca was born in present day Spain in 4BC and died in Rome in AD65. He was an influential writer and thinker, contributing significantly to Stoicism. He was also the Emperor Nero's personal tutor in his youth. He wrote numerous plays, letters and essays including my personal favourite "De Brevitate Vitae" which reflects on the nature of time and how we use it. It was probably written to his father-in-law Pompeius Paulinus in 49AD.
Perhaps one day important people will use wise quotes by Elizabeth Truss when they leave office:-
As the British prime-minister Truss said, "I have to admit I don't like pizza. I love it. And I am prepared to do literally anything to get my hands on a slice."