SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Bloody-mindedness and its master practitioner, the late Ginger Baker.


Ginger Baker made it to 80 hard-lived years of age, so it can’t be said that he died too young; seven years ago in his review of the documentary Beware of Mr. Baker, David Fricke referred to the bloody-minded drummer’s improbably long life.

‘Beware of Mr. Baker’: A Documentary about the Genius and Terror of Drummer Ginger Baker, by David Fricke (Rolling Stone; December 4, 2012)

The second-best rock documentary of the year, after the poignant comeback story Searching for Sugar Man, is that film’s wild opposite: a stranger-than-fiction portrait of the heroically talented, thoroughly misanthropic drummer Ginger Baker. Beware of Mr. Baker – directed by Jay Bulger and now playing at Film Forum in New York – covers the genius, terror and improbably long life of a man who hit the jackpot early, with Cream and Blind Faith, then repeatedly sabotaged his success, reputation and personal life with a hair-trigger temper, poor financial choices and a preference for drugs and exile over attachment and responsibility. The consequences dog him to this day.

Baker’s musical legacy is astonishing, so rather than dwell on the obvious merits, let’s have a glance at this very British term, bloody-minded(ness).

bloody-mindedness (noun)

The behaviour of someone who is very determined and makes things difficult for others, often by opposing their views for no good reason:

  • “He was losing patience with her bloody-mindedness.”
  • “Our neighbour refused to chop down the tree out of sheer bloody-mindedness.”
  • “His bloody-mindedness meant that he was never going to be a team player.”
  • “She doesn’t care what anyone thinks and her success is due to her sheer bloody-mindedness.”
  • “A mixture of courage and bloody-mindedness has carried him to this point.”

It is with considerable relief that I decree the non-applicability of this phrase to my own person, since my bloody-mindedness always comes equipped with plenty of good reasons.