Tuesday 25th October
And the second Deadly Sin which Anna and her sister Anna encounter is Pride; for some reason Bertolt Brecht, who wrote the lyrics, set this in Memphis. Famous now, of course, as the home of Elvis Presley and Graceland, but when this was written, in the thirties – well, who knows why Pride was chosen as its’ particular sin.
So why is Pride such a deadly sin? Surely a little bit of self-praise is harmless enough – and we all take pride in our appearance, making the most of ourselves, is that really so harmful? What about pride in our country, except when this descends into football hooliganism, is it so awful to cheer on our runners or cyclists in the Olympics, or the hapless Andy Murray, following in the runner-up footsteps of our very own Tim Henman at Wimbledon. But at least we in Britain do not descend to the ludicrous flag-saluting that ensues in American schools, so maybe we can also excuse a modicum of pride in ones’ country, so what does that leave?
I think that the reason that Pride is considered a deadly sin is where pride overtakes one to the point that one looks down on all those who do not inhabit one’s own social class or milieu, and this is not restricted solely to those at the top of the social ladder either. Working class pride is just as offensive; I first encountered this with Adrian, back in Hackney, where he would forgive the worst excesses of the lower working classes simply because they were ‘real people’, as he termed them. I might have been inclined to forgive their lack of manners and filth as ignorance or lack of education and enlightenment, but Adrian saw them as somehow more honest and true than his own family or especially mine. And this was a corrosive pride that burned like acid into our relationship; I could hardly help the background I came from, and I have always striven to understand people who have not had such a fortunate upbringing as I, though we had precious little money, so it was never about that. And of course as I rose in the world after marrying Edward, I saw the other side of the coin, and came across the pride of the wealthy, and those who assume they had some god-given right to lord it over the rest of us; just as despicable and ignorant too I can assure you.
And where does it come from, this stupid pride; especially as it would seem that we are inevitably hurtling towards some sort of egalitarian middle-classness, where it really doesn’t matter where you started out, or who your parents were, or what your upbringing was. So, pride, though a relatively old-fashioned concept should be confined to the rubbish bin of history, no longer a deadly sin, but an irritating, self-defeating and pointless pursuit.