Those That Can Do

Years ago I heard the phrase, (I’m looking at you Mr Blackburn;)) “Those that can: do. Those that can’t: teach. And those that can’t teach: teach teachers” As the adoring child of a teacher, I was understandably upset. Probably because it was right. As a child I couldn’t reply. As a parent I’d retort “In some ways the teacher is more important than the parent. The parent brings a life, the teacher brings a good life.” As the son of an Ambulanceman (An under-rated comedy job title) in a parents’ body I’d reply “Those that can: do. Those that can’t: teach. And those that can’t teach: Sell”

However, what struck me listening to this extract from an interview with Henry Miller

Interviewer: Why do you feel that that kind of hunted, perilous, fear ridden life was preferable to the life of the salesman with the briefcase?

*Long pause*

Henry Miller: Well, perhaps the only answer I can give….is its’ your own life, it’s your own misery, your own misfortune. The other way, one doesn’t feel, himself. D’you see?

was that I realised just how childish and undignified this squabbling over professions must seem to “Those That Do”.  How the creator, the artist, the manufacturer, has a dignity of their own. Why the wreck of a body, abused by its’ owner, can move us to tears. The demolished ego of the homeless junkie with shit in his pants, looks down on us. The tragedy that Shane can sing, Bukowski could write, Freud could paint and Sid Vicious could, well, be Sid.

Indeed: if there is something that “Those That Can” do. It’s probably not coming up with witty put-downs.


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