The Horror of Discovery


No, this isn’t one of those click-bait things on the side of your Facebook page that leads you off into an endless maze of advertisements. I’m selling nothing, despite what your screen may have come up with on the bottom. That’s you, not me.

The horror referred to in the title is the emotion you suffer when you discover:

  1. The public figures held up to you for admiration in your childhood had feet of clay – clay if you are lucky…worse substances in many cases.
  2. The public figures held up to you for scorn in your childhood have turned out to be pretty good normal people.

In both cases you accepted the judgement of others based upon information to which you were not privy. That’s excusable in the very young as they have not developed critical thinking, but part of the horror you feel is when you realise that you were toeing the party line, so to speak, well after that. If you saw it in the paper, heard it on the radio, or read it in the Australasian Post it must have been true…

Thus we thought Bing Crosby a kindly family man, and Gene Barry a cowboy hero, and John Kennedy a pillar of morality. And have since come to realise that we were merely reading the press releases from their studios. I got my wake-up call in the 50’s when Barry visited Calgary for the Stampede celebrations. We kids mobbed him in adulation – after all, he was Bat Masterson on the television! I think they transposed the letters of his name as Matt Bastardson would better describe his attitude to us, his fans. He lasted a very short period of time in Calgary.

Of course, Bing was biographed by one of his children, and like Joan Crawford, the image that came out in the end stuck to him like a campaign promise to a blanket, to coin a phrase. Not just that bio – the facts the studio never let out about other aspects of his approach to marriage and morality. One thing certain – now that we know a great many of us will not be going his way…

But what of the equally disturbing discovery that the people you thought were rotters are actually solid citizens. This year we are to get a visit from a chap known as Prince, etc. and while we might have formed bad opinions of him over the years, it all seems to have been based upon studio lawyers’ doings. He would appear to be a fairly good guy. Who will give good value to his fans when he sings. Well there ya go, eh?

I’ve taken instruction from these occurrences. If there are guilty or innocent secrets to be uncovered with such public figures, there is a good chance that there will be equally good/bad stuff with my own relations. I have no desire to prod a couple of  horrible personal suspicions in case they are confirmed, because I don’t quite know what to do with the final result. Equally, I have no idea what to do with the discovery of a saint in the cupboard either.

I don’t necessarily want my ignorance to make me blissful, but I will settle for cheerful.


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