Good news. As of Monday morning, the ravens had not yet deserted the Tower of London. They were, in fact, on notably frisky form, hopping and cawing and picking combatively at long-dead scraps of meaty-looking detritus as only ravens can.
Their slightly ghoulish cheerfulness seems to match the public mood, or at very least my own. Having recently despaired of the present general election as tiresome beyond words — see here — I’ve now decided that it’s actually quite entertaining.
The thing that changed my mind was, of course, last Thursday’s debate, to which my responses were uncharacteristically mainstream. Which is to say, once I’d stopped distracting myself by trying to figure out which shade of Farrow & Ball Estate® Emulsion most closely matched the strangely immobile surface of David Cameron’s face — in the end I plumped for Ointment Pink®, although admittedly this is a point upon which reasonable bloggers might, with honour, differ — I fell in with the general view that Gordon Brown looked old and tired, Cameron stiff and anxious, while Nick Clegg — hands in his pockets, eye-contact firmly established, making at least some of us wish that we were called ‘Jacqueline’ — positively shone, at least in relative terms.
Of course, television is an intrinsically stupid medium. Televised debates are, at best, an acceptable test of how well someone performs in a televised debate — nothing more. Most people who are really good on television couldn’t be trusted to run to the shops for a pint of milk, let alone tasked with negotiating the trackless and hazardous landscape of coalition government. So to that extent, the debate shouldn’t have mattered much at all.
And yet it’s transformed the mood of campaign. Where once there was the joyless run-up to a cheerless coronation, now, at least as far as CCHQ is concerned, we must surely be enjoying the beginnings of a bloodbath. Continue reading
Samuel Palmer, 'The Herdsman's Cottage' (1850)
“The ricks burnt around Shoreham, within sight of Palmer‘s house, under the moons that he had painted broad and full. The moons charmed away neither fire nor reform, and on June 4th, 1832, the Reform Bill was passed the House of Lords. The anti-Reformers still saw some last hope in the General Election which followed in December, and while purple banners were being stitched for the Tory candidate in West Kent with the arms of the county, St. George and the Dragon and ‘King and Constitution’, Palmer left painting to gesticulate in print against the change and the future. Continue reading
Who’d be a proper, MSM-grade journalist, forever digging through the muck for a tiny shred of straw around which to shape something that might plausibly resemble an actual, payment-worthy brick?
As the party of enterprise, at any rate, Conservatives really ought to applaud the efforts of the Sun hack who managed to extract from a speech by Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport Jeremy Hunt MP a story entirely worthy of being set alongside, last time I looked, articles discussing people having a shower in the Big Brother House, the Army’s discovery of UFOs flitting high above Shropshire, and the vexed issue of whether tennis shorts are ‘sexy’ (this latter complete with expository photos, to aid the uncommitted in their deliberations).
Admittedly, in this company the Hunt story suffers marginally from lack of colour. Titled Tory: Graffiti is so passionate (but Hunt enthusiasts needn’t worry, the usual ‘top Tory’ formula kicks in very soon thereafter), the point of the article — file under ‘Tory Gaffe’ — is to flag up an entirely unremarkable reference to the ‘thought provoking’ nature of at least some graffiti. The reference, in turn, was made in the course of Mr Hunt’s recent speech at the invitation of what ConHome described (only slightly breathless in its wishful boosterism) as ‘Peter Whittle’s increasing influential New Culture Forum‘, on the subject of Conservative cultural policy.
It’s a rich, if in some ways invariably depressing topic. Still, let’s get graffiti out of the way first. Continue reading
In London this morning, something’s definitely changed. One can feel it in the air. For the first time in weeks, the sky is bright blue beneath the softest veil of clouds and the sun is shining fearlessly, while the slightly damp air is warm enough, just, to presage the onset of our much-delayed spring.
The peaceful transfer of political power is, I suppose, so basically counterintuitive as to drive any susceptible observer, from time to time, into the arms of the pathetic fallacy. Why is it, though, that the weather on the day of any significant British election result is always beautiful? So incandescently bright and sunny, for instance, was the morning of New Labour’s apotheosis on 2 May 1997 — a sort of public holiday declared by Nature herself, apparently, to mark the long-awaited climacteric — that even Alastair Campbell, not given to gratuitous scene-setting, fought free of his own self-imposed rhetorical mode long enough to confess to his diary that this was ‘another lovely sunny day’, as indeed it was. For the losers, on the other hand, for the Tories as we wandered through that magnificent morning, bewildered and outraged and heartbroken, the sunshine only added to the air of disorientation. ‘It was not a thing done in a corner,’ the regicides said of the judicial murder of Charles I; in 1997, it was as if the consummation of New Labour’s various ambitions, more and less obvious, could only take place in very bright daylight indeed. Continue reading
We’ve seen the future, fellow Londoners, and we’re bored already. Yes, with the dawn of 2008 comes the unveiling of another set of proposals for artefacts with which to adorn the world’s most famous empty plinth. But although the coming weeks will, one may confidently predict, see earnest if laboured attempts to generate some requisite minimum of outrage over the nature of these proposals — already, we fear, legions of hacks are frantically Googling ‘what is art?’ in search of more dry kindling for their simulated fury — Fugitive Ink stands above all that, knowing, as we do, that outrage, however ersatz, is exactly what ‘art’ of this type seeks, both as validation and vindictation. Continue reading