In his gushing review of The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, George Orwell said that what he most enjoyed about the book was that the great artist had so obviously bullshitted his way through the writing of it. It was, Orwell thought, a collection of stories about what Dali would have liked to have happened as much as a recounting of what did, and the writer of 1984 thought that made it more honest and insightful than even Dali was aware.
Orwell did not normally like books of that kind.
In the review he wrote one of his most famous observances.
“Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful,” he said. “A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.”
I have always loved that, for the way it cuts right to the heart of the matter.
And it’s impossible to deny the hard core of truth in that single sentence. Even the most gilded life, the most pampered, the most successful, comes to an end after all and at the last moment, even if we go with a modicum of dignity, is a realisation that the final battle is one we can’t win.
I think of that a lot when I consider Dave King, and the way the media fawns over this man who some of them think of as a genius. If he dared write an autobiography I would buy it without reservation because it would be even more lurid than Dali’s and even more prone to flights of fancy and spectacular levels of self-absorption.
It would also be paranoid, delusional and breathtakingly brazen.
It would be the ultimate work of fiction, masquerading as a factual account.
I wonder if he would see the pattern Orwell saw so clearly; that series of defeats, one after the other, rendering the whole of it a wasted mess. Because although King is able to continually pull the wool over the eyes of the gullible, this is a blow-hard who, as I’ve said before, continually pushes his luck as far as it will go before there’s push-back.
And then he retreats like a whipped dog.
King is a loser, although he sits in a multi-million-pound house.
He is a loser because all he has was the product of cheating and lying, and he gambles with it all every day, compulsively, unable to help himself.
He didn’t earn his position, and everyone knows it. He will never have the social acceptance and position that’s enjoyed by the likes of David Murray; his own crimes were on a much grander scale and even more brazen, but he got himself a knighthood and is still respected in polite society where there are even bigger crooks than him. But nobody is inviting King to dine at the Palace or in the high strata of the society he calls home. He is a pariah in those circles, where he’s seen for exactly what he is; a cheap huckster with the morals of an alley rat. He’s an egotist too, but thankfully without the IQ that could have made him a megalomaniac.
The African tax authorities only got onto him in the first place because he stupidly bought an expensive painting that was in no way consonant with his declared tax return. Unable to help it, he courted the attention that threatened all of it, and he gave up much that he valued and once thought he could hang onto.
But he was beaten by the taxman at every turn, and when they levelled even heavier criminal charges against him he backed down, and not for the first time in his life, and certainly not for the last. When the football club on who’s board he sat was going down the toilet he didn’t step in to save it, but threatened to sue Murray, a man with greater resources in his pockets than King was able to muster by selling everything he owned.
Needless to say, that threat never went anywhere.
Even King’s “successful” takeover of Sevco was conducted in a ludicrously reckless, self-defeating, manner.
He was warned not to purchase a number of shares that would put he and his concert party over the 30% threshold and chose to ignore it. He tried to back off the Takeover Panel when they caught him and every act since has ended badly.
His leadership of Sevco has steered them from one disaster to another. The financial position of the club has deteriorated. Ashley, who he thought he could beat, has run rings round him, and in a day at Hampden that has become notorious the men he thought were suitable to be directors of a Scottish football club behaved so appallingly that another billionaire left furious and determined for revenge, which led Celtic to appoint Brendan Rodgers.
In the last week, he suffered two major reversals, the first when the Takeover Panel threatened him with a contempt of court charge that looks certain to end with his arrest should he set foot in the UK again before those issues are resolved. He ran to the press bleating about being the victim. Just days later he was humiliated by the revelation that Ashley had secured an injunction against him and the club, and was in pole position to entrench himself at Ibrox for years to come.
In response, he turned the guns on the SPFL and demanded the resignation of Murdoch MacLennan, who he’s conducted a vicious briefing campaign against for weeks now. And that, too, ended in another defeat when the SPFL issued a statement today which was the diplomatic equivalent of telling a tantrum throwing kid to go and sit in the next room until he can behave.
The whining and wailing and angry ranting out of Ibrox is reminiscent of the moment in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest when the late, great, Sydney Lassick’s memorable character Charlie Cheswick angrily demands that the cold Nurse Ratched give him back his cigarettes.
His blazing fury comes in no small part from his realisation that his demands are without teeth and that she will not even entertain the notion of doing as he asks. He is helpless and he knows it and everyone else in the room knows it and that’s what infuriates him most.
King knows he is powerless and that his club is powerless, and rather than sit down and keep his mouth shut he is compelled to draw attention to it over and over again. I can’t believe the number of people in the media and at our governing bodies who still seem to be afraid of them.
When everything is said and done, what are they going to do?
They’re not going to do anything, that’s what.
Their angry statement yesterday was a demand for a resignation.
That’s not going to happen. So now what?
Silence, that’s what.
The silence of a bully who’s finally been challenged and has to walk through a sniggering playground of kids who know what a loser looks like.