No smoke without fire

Being in the spotlight of accusation is not a state that anybody relishes. There’s always some suspicion of guilt, even in the mind of the genuinely innocent. It occurred to me that I’ve been accused of many things -and I’ve only been guilty of a few. Perhaps the things that we get accused of provide a certain insight into our real character…

I have had to sit various psychometric tests: the kind of thing that employers who are lazy or poor judges of character inflict on job candidates. You have to make a large number of choices between statements such as ‘I like working hard’ or ‘I love my family’ under pressure of time. It’s a bit like the replicant test in Bladerunner, but with a less friendly ambiance. As a result of my first such ordeal, they accused me of being ‘clever but with my head in the clouds’. I told them it was quite true but that I didn’t regard it as the insult they thought it was. So: Guilty.

Sick of reading ignorant letters about how people in the UK should be happy to deal with terrorists, I made the mistake of writing to my local rag describing why appeasement was a strategy which had never worked in the past. This led to a flurry of responses accusing me of Fascist tendencies. More worryingly, I started receiving mysterious fanmail from the BNP, a sad group of recreational racists who make the Ku Klux Klan look intelligent. Not guilty.

Later that same year I was offered the chance to stand as Liberal Party candidate (presumably the selection committee doesn’t read any newspapers). It was the then prime minister’s home constituency, you know, whatsisname, the guy with the grey personality and the standard parliamentary adultery habit. The seat was marginally safer than a fireproof box of heavyweight condoms in a nuclear bunker. I’d have been less a stalking horse, more a ritual sacrifice. As a protest against organised politics, I voted Christian Democrat. Not guilty.

It’s common practice to make courtroom accusations of all sorts, if you’re an employer who casually sacks people. You know you won’t be censured and it’s a good idea to get your playground bullying in first. A particular evil associated with the court process is that it’s so inefficient that anyone who is accused has to walk around bearing that tag for ages before they get to defend themselves. By that time, the individual is already branded in his own mind as ‘the accused’.

I found it particularly unpleasant, when I was illegally dumped, that homosexuality can, even these days, be used as an accusation. It’s just another cynical tactic to unsettle legal opponents and raise doubts in the “mind” of the automatically homophobic employment tribunal. I won my case and I’m not allowed to discuss the massive amount of cash those characters had to pay me. No case to answer.

If you have a cushy job as an academic, especially an Oxbridge academic, you get to live your life entirely on the strength of your exam results when you were 21. All the vintage wine you can quaff and a pangalactic superiority complex. Your career is solely concerned with self aggrandisement at the expense of your intellectual rivals. It’s particularly galling to be accused therefore of being a cheat by one such freeloader. Not guilty.

The divorce papers referred to me as ‘ruling my family with a rod of iron’ and of scaring my children. They regard the idea of me being able to rule them as risible. On a good day, they listen carefully and then ignore me. Case dismissed, for lack of any evidence (but the accusation still exists, unchallengeable, on the official record).

Bloody fool
This was my father’s standing accusation. That I listened to him for 40 years and didn’t take the opportunity to tell him to fuck off is, sadly, indicative that he may have been right. Guilty.

Money launderer
A member of the legal profession recently accused me, out of the blue, of being a money launderer. Does the concept of slander mean anything to these people? I wish I had enough money to pay for the laundromat. Not guilty.

“Strange Irish chap”
An old Republican saying goes ‘Innocent until proven Irish’. I’m no big fan of the Irish Republic, because I’m not keen on terrorism, but I do understand where this kind of comment comes from. It’s sometimes tough to make it with an accent (and an attitude) like mine. People assume I’m Irish and therefore a thief, vagrant, terrorist, etc. I should perhaps have turned up and given the BNP a lecture on what it REALLY means to be British. Guilty.

Me, “obsessive”, me, me ? Really, how can anyone accuse me of that, how? How? My then doctor, a run-of-the-mill almost-failed medical student, once actually wrote this down on my records. Later, when they were made public, I found myself labeled as suffering from some kind of obsessive-compulsive, attention deficit psychosomatic syndrome. Thank goodness I don’t have to keep revisiting all those petty insults made against me; and justifying myself…ok then, Guilty.

Idiot Optimist
It’s a fair cop.