August 5, 2010 — Leave a comment

I want to be a true GRIT. Thoughts fly to the one-eyed drunken marshal “Rooster” Cogburn, played by that giant of the western genre, John Wayne, who won an Oscar for his role in True Grit in 1969. No, it’s not that sort of grit I want to be.

After dismissing John Wayne the mind curdles to the revolting, to me, concoction of mushy maize served with breakfast in the southern United States; sometimes with eggs and bacon or pancakes or even waffles, and on the east coast with shrimp. Apparently above the Mason-Dixon line it is occasionally also served, but the northerners tend to just add sugar. Anyway I don’t like it. And before you shout, well what about porridge in Britain, I don’t like that either!

“A grit?” you ask. “What the hell is a grit then?

The type of GRIT I want to be is the ‘Girl Raised In Texas’ kind. And to my chagrin there is no hope for me. I was raised all over the world but only arrived here, the first time, at the advanced age of 40. Texas, and more particularly Houston, keeps drawing me. I prised myself away after the first five years, but decided three years later I just had to get back. There’s a bumper sticker that describes me, “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could”.

Why do I dream of being a GRIT? Because my dears, it allows the most wonderful freedom of speech. A right so ingrained in the American psyche it is even written into the Constitution, along with the right to bear arms which isn’t something I heartily adhere to. But for a true Texan woman it is an art form, that freedom of speech thing.

To be a GRIT must be so marvellously liberating. You can say what the hell you like just as long as you preface a comment with the words ‘bless her (or his) heart’. Let me give you an example, and these are not my words, although I wish they were. So here goes, a taste of true GRIT, bless his heart, if they put his brain on the head of a pin, it’d roll around like a BB on a 6-lane. Now how much more insulting can you be? But it sounds rather funny, and almost affectionate. And a GRIT can get away with it.

Another example, and these are my words though I have never had the courage to say them out loud would be, have you seen Martha lately, isn’t she the sweetest thing? But, bless her heart, I swear her hips will spill right over her saddle very soon! How wonderful to be able to say that and not be labelled a downright bitch.

Of course there are some instances in Texas when the right to speak is frowned upon. One such occasion resulted in the execution a couple of years ago of Jose Medellin, a Mexican sentenced to death for a heinous crime for which he undoubtedly deserved to be punished. But, and it is a big but, he was not offered his consular rights as a foreign national.

Rick Perry, who took on the mantle of Governor of Texas, after his then boss George W. Bush was upgraded to President, does not believe in commuting the death sentence very often. In the case of Medellin he announced through his spokesman Robert Black, even after the urgings of many august institutions such as Amnesty International and the International Court of Justice, While Governor Perry respects the world court to have its opinion, the fact remains that the court has no jurisdiction or standing in Texas. So much for the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights. I wonder what will happen when a Texan is detained across that long border, the one that runs between Texas and Mexico, and is denied his, or her, consular rights? Maybe Texans will take up arms in True Grit fashion.

Texas holds gubernatorial elections in November this year and the esteemed Governor Perry, after ten years in office, is standing for re-election – again. Running against him is Bill White, former mayor of Houston, and a man proven to have sensible bipartisan solutions, economic acumen and an understanding that there is a world outside Texas.

But back to Perry. It’s odd really. Governor Perry is married to a GRIT and all GRITs know the three deadly sins; bad hair, bad blind dates and bad manners. I wouldn’t deem it correct to comment on the first two, but I would have thought executing someone was the height of bad manners. I am surprised Anita Perry did not warn her husband of this transgression.

However, ignoring Perry’s lack of manners, I do still want to be a GRIT. I know some of the other rules as well. The three Rs are most important though I’m probably a bit late in achieving them – Rich, Richer, Richest.

It is also very handy knowing everyone’s name. It makes life so much easier when they are reduced to a choice of hunny, darlin’ and shuger! I’m sure John Wayne used all three.

But honestly my favourite, and I think probably most useful GRIT term is “bless her/his heart, did you see ……!”

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