And so, I found myself driving to Huntingdon. Which, all things considered, was in completely the wrong direction. To cap it all, there appeared to be no slip roads on the opposite side, the carriageway which carried its cargo in the direction I wished to go. So on I trundled, anger doing more than bubbling to the surface in search of a fault line through which it can burst, a vent through which … until, fairly screaming at the injustice of it all, I swung left, negotiated some country roadage, and found myself travelling (mostly) South. I settled down for a long sunday drive. I made it home without further incident. Kinda. Continue reading
Much is being made of the gradual, or not so gradual, excision of the arts from our schools, not least in today’s Guardian, where Charlotte Higgins’ piece
concentrates on the artistic glitterati (‘arts leaders’, which sounds a bit like ‘community leaders’ to me … at best people with some genuine standing, at worst self-appointed busybodies with axes to grind … kinda like bloggers with louder voices). The article shouts thus:
Arts leaders voice deep concerns over lack of cultural subjects in Ebacc
Government urged to rethink ‘incredibly shortsighted’ policy amid fears about impact on schools and the creative economy
Grayson Perry: sidelining arts makes no sense
Nicholas Serota: Britain’s creative edge is at risk
Now, I don’t buy this arts leader crap, and I also don’t buy the ‘creative edge’ argument, either. There will always be those with drive and passion who follow their muse, often to the detriment of their own circumstances. Being ‘an artist’ is in many ways in direct opposition to having ‘a career’ of a more normal, predictable type. ‘Arts leaders’, by which is plainly meant ‘artists you’ve heard of ‘cos they’re famous, like’, are simply not these people. They are the few who have made it to the top of the heap, whether through talent, luck, dedication, bloody-mindedness or all of the above. They come from everywhere, and appear everywhere, but they aren’t the lifeblood of the arts in this country.
The arts are supported, funded and populated by the hordes who do it because they have to. The musicians who play in covers bands, who do weddings, who teach the next generation, who enjoy none of the fame and the wealth of the top slice. The artists who paint stuff that sometimes gets bought, but is mostly painted for the pleasure of painting, and given to those who enjoy looking. Those who stop on the way to work to photograph a duck. Those who write stories because they can’t keep them in. These are the people who matter. These are the people who consume art, these and the people who sit and drink beer and applaud the drum solo, those who simply say ‘I like that’. These are the people who count.
The arts work from the bottom up, and then the bits that reach the top sink down to the bottom and the whole circular process starts again.
Of the six ‘cultural figureheads’ cited in the Guardian, three have knighthoods. If we are to persuade Gove and his ilk that stripping the arts from the curriculum is dumb (which it is, palpably so), then the voices ought not come from those in bow ties and drag, those who frequent awards ceremonies where they are wined and dined. The voices ought not come from the establishment, but from those who just are.
Gove needs to hear that voters think the arts are important. Next time anyone sees him at a gig, ask him to leave. Better still, stop playing until he does. Refuse to sell him your paintings. Don’t let him have any access to the arts whatsoever. But Gove doesn’t go down the pub. At least, I doubt he does.
Us real people, the artistic bedrock of this country, we can’t deprive Gove of the arts. He, apparently, wants to deprive us.
This is where the ‘arts leaders’ come in, as they can. Boycott Gove. Stop him consuming the arts. Starve him.
I’ll give you one …
London, 1593. A young Ben Jonson bursts into a dark, wood-panelled room. Inside there are several figures, all wearing hooded capes. They sit around a table, heads bowed.
Jonson stops in the centre of the room. Breathless, he removes his cap.
‘Milords’. He utters. ‘There is a problem with Will’.
‘There’s always a problem with Will. What is it this time?’ Continue reading
There is a moment when it happens. It’s often tiny, it’s almost always unexpected: at least, in its particular position. It happens. The moment so small you can step on it and it isn’t harmed. You pass it by, and while you may not spot what it is, you know that everything has changed. You know that it’s over. Continue reading
It is often said that the best way of finding something is by not looking for it, and goodness I found something yesterday. By accident. En passant. While searching for the answer to something else.
I took my trusty camerawoman to a weekday game at Streat and Westmeston Cricket Club, a beautiful little ground nestling in the grounds of Middleton Manor, just outside Ditchling. From the pavilion the views of the Downs and the Beacon are truly beautiful, and the day could not have been a better one: a sharp contrast to last week’s drizzly affair at Sidley, near Bexhill. The camera was there for a clear purpose: to allow me to talk a little about my preparation and how I feel about playing, in the hope that I, or someone, might come up with some ideas about how to mend my head. Continue reading
Now then, I’m all for discussion and that, but sometimes I do wonder what motivates people. Yesterday’s quick blog post on Bob Hoskins and Parkinson’s elicited one comment, which was perhaps in poor taste considering. It went as follows: Continue reading
In that second you feel like the king of infinite space, only that you are Lear, desperate for validation, desperate to feel the love you have returned. As the object of your affections poses the most ambiguous of questions, you know that now is the time for action. You shape your response as the time hangs in the air, the tension palpable as every pair of eyes is upon you, willing you to take one of the many paths open to you. It is then that the internal battle commences. Is this the right time? Will you get the response you desire? How will you cope if you make the wrong decision?
Do you want, as they say, to die wondering? Continue reading
[first published May 2012]
After all the moaning, the cursing, the sheltering under the nearest rainproof canopy, there was finally the promise of some cricket. Top down, I sped through the East Sussex countryside ignoring the fact that it was still a little chilly. Through East Chailey, I slowed along with the car in front and spied the reason. Someone on the road, jacket over their head, two men standing above them. Four cars aligned around the area of the crash. Continue reading
[first published back in May]
There’s a certain type of cricketer, just as there’s a certain type of guitar player, whose financial acumen far outstrips their technical ability. Their story is very often a simple case of played when young, stopped due to kids/work, hit 40. At this age, a man (or woman, naturally, though there’s a less clear trajectory in their case, I find) tends to stop and take stock of his life. Continue reading