Blasting & Blessing: a vernal edition

Blast:
The Diana Inquest. Did we need to spend nearly £7 million in order to be told that, no, really, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh didn’t actually order the late Princess’s execution? And yet conspiracy enthusiasts will doubtless continue to reassure each other that the inquest was an establishment stitch-up, while that arch-delusionalist Fayed, no stranger to making up unhelpful tales that ruin lives, will only have had his pitiable fantasies encouraged by this whole costly pageant. The unfortunate bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, though, really ought to sue Fayed for some of his madder accusations, if only to show him — and perhaps even the rest of us — that there really are limits to all this nonsense.

Bless:
Carla Sarkozy, not only for that charming curtsey, but also for making the case for flat shoes, simple lines, shares of darkish grey and, perhaps most significantly, the importance of impeccable manners, even for the extremely beautiful. What does it portend, though, that this startlingly successful ambassador for all things tres chic is in fact the product of northern Italy, not France?

Blast:
The Olympics. No, it’s not just track-record regarding evil totalitarian regimes, the drugging or the monopolisation of media coverage for weeks at a time. The basic concept’s wrong. Let’s scrap the present format and get back to basics: aristocratic young men, naked and glistening with oil, declaiming hymns and engaging in a bit of light sport on an enchanting hillside in Greece.

Bless:
This truly brilliant exhibition at the British Library. Breaking the Rules: The Printed Face of the European Avant-Garde 1900-1937 has now closed, but the catalogue is still available. The exhibition design was dramatic and sleekly functional in equal measure, the content dense yet accessible, while I don’t think I’ve ever seen better display labels anywhere, ever.

Blast:
The sad reality of this, which — although, I think, genuinely inevitable, because holding back the sea simply never works forever — will change a peaceful and pleasant corner of England beyond all recognition.

Bless:
The Tower of London. Having avoided the place for approximately three decades, I recently had occasion to visit in a small-boy-escorting capacity. We were both impressed: he by the plentiful guns, smartly turned-out Yeoman Warders, child-friendly staff and vertiginous stone stairs, while I found the atmosphere (especially before the crowds arrived) soothingly similar to that of one of the larger Oxbridge colleges outside of term time. The cafe is as notable for its genuinely nice food as it is for the complete lack of exploitative pricing. Highly recommended, even though (admittedly for perfectly legitimate reasons) one can’t sigh over Strafford‘s tomb without taking part in an organised, and hence marginally sigh-repressive tour.

Blast:
The dirty looks one gets in some shops these days (Soho’s own Fresh & Wild, take note) after indicating that a plastic bag might be a helpful adjunct to the many items one has, a moment previously, gamely purchased. For those of us who were recycling carrier bags long before the ‘environment’ had become a full-scale fetishistic belief-system, simply because we were brought up by a war-time generation which was easily distressed by waste, those glares are tiresome. Really, shop people, you are there to sell things, not to open up windows into men’s souls, or even matters as deep as the morality of their plastic-bag usage. And don’t even start about the bottled mineral water.

Bless:
The possibility that Mugabe is on his way out — although it’s an indictment of South Africa’s ANC that they propped this monster up for as long as they did.

Blast:
The possibility that Londoners may end up swapping the terrorist-friendly, venal Ken Livingstone for the spoilt, adulterous buffoon Boris Johnson. London doesn’t need an elected mayor. London certainly doesn’t need either of these two, either.

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