… and go and see Bonnard at Tate Modern, Viola at the RA – the first is fascinating, the second unmissable: makes you wonder what Picasso, Goya or Rembrandt might have done if video had been available to them. Also went to a brilliant Ka’ta Kabanova at the ROH and today to the new Linbury Theatre there, which has (for a new theatre) a few hiccups auditorium-wise (unstaggered seats so that leaners in the first row can impede the sightline of people in the second; and a nasty gap between the 2nd row walkway and the backs of the first row seats [in the Circle, anyway] which could cost someone an ankle one day) but otherwise is a terrific space – to see a sextuple bill of new short ballets to new music. So one escapes for a while the impending suicide of the UK, the gun held to its head by a handful of intemperate extremists who fly in the face of the fact that certainly 50% at least of the UK’s population don’t want to commit self-annihilation. Meanwhile, how interesting that books and some movies glorifying Our Finest Hour etc etc are appearing and flourishing: someone has a canny eye for a potential markets among the entrenched – before that market dies off, leaving ruin in its wake.
Having spent about £2bn to get the DUP onside and about £4bn to cover contingencies in the case of a No-Deal Brexit, and now further funds will go (at least this time with more justification, but not of course the right reason) to invest in marginalised provincial towns which tended to vote Leave in order to win their scared MPs over, shouldn’t the Government think about accountability to the taxpayer for these vast disbursements? After all, the taxpayer might have preferred to see the money spent on the NHS or the Police, and taxpayers in Northern Ireland and Scotland didn’t vote for Brexit in any case. One scarcely wants ones taxes to be spent on shoring up a spent Government, a mortgaged and by now deeply unpopular idea and a fragmented, outmoded political party.
Meanwhile the deaths of the homeless on the streets have increased tenfold.
And one shouldn’t forget that all this isn’t even the Will of the People. It’s the Will of just over half of those people who voted in 2016. And most of them live in England and Wales. So much for a United Kingdom.
This Government isn’t going to stop pushing further into the lobster-trap it’s been in for nearly three years. It will drag us all down with it, and this because of a pusillanimous PM, a raucous and unreflectingly chauvinistic minority and a feeble Opposition. Time to wipe the slate clean of all these people.
Interesting that Rees-Mogg admires Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell. The first brought the country to the brink of ruin in pursuit of disastrous wars and then refilled his coffers by pillaging the Church under the guise of supporting the Reformation. The second ran an oppressive regime and also has the distinction of being the most cackhanded administrator of the economy GB has known.
Meanwhile we’re held to ransom by the minute minority which is the ERG and the DUP. RIP Democracy!
More stuff relevant to THE DEATH OF TRUTH. The EU is alas in any case in danger of fracturing. Poland and Hungary have what are getting on to be totalitarian regimes (the former Eastern Bloc in general hasn’t adapted tp democratic systems since the dissolution of the USSR in any case); Germany (and Austria) have high-level extreme right-wing parties; Italy is turning towards its own version of Farage; Macron is losing credibility by the day, and only Spain has (for the moment) thrown out its own dictatorial prime minister (who was acting without a full mandate, like our our Mrs May and like Mr Trump). In the meantime leaders arrogate to themselves the right to tell us what to think and how to think. Thus it is than a handful of men and women, representing an even smaller percentage of the UK population than the one they risibly claim to stand for the majority view of this country and ‘the will of the people’ (in itself a chillingly Orwellian phrase) continue to manipulate us into thinking that Brexit will work. It will work for them, but least of all will it work for their most ardent followers among the dispossessed, uninformed and increasingly unemployed members of society who are most prone to follow leaders. When I was working on recent German history, I used to be amazed at how Hitler got away with it; now I am beginning to see how at first hand.
And (not that I want to get biblical about anything) take a look at world weather systems in the 1930s!
THE DEATH OF TRUTH by Michiko Kakutani is just out and I think everyone should read it – it’s an analysis of the culture of lies in the service of government which has rushed up on us since the black year of 2016. Of course this culture is nothing new; but it’s the first time most of us have had direct experience of it, and perhaps the first time that such a culture has been seriously able to affect the entire world.
I’m pleased to see that Kakutani borrows her title from Goya, because I used THE SLEEP OF REASON as my title for my novel about the Nazis. My publisher made me change it since he didn’t think it was ‘approachable’ enough, so it became INTO DARKNESS. But at least even then I was able to nod to Hannah Arendt.
As I’m here, I must tell you that I’ve just read an article in LE CANARD about Eritrea’s leader, Isaias Afwerki, in charge for the last 25 years and as brutal a dictator as Kim Jong-Un, if not actually worse. Ethiopia’s GDP has soared to double figures and hence the peace agreement with Eritrea – Ethiopia needs access to the sea in order to trade more easily and Eritrea has a wrecked economy. Afwerki has now started a charm offensive, notably in the USA, promoting Eritrea and going so far as to suggest it as a tourist resort.
Do read about him since no doubt he’s seen DOTTIE as a golden opportunity. I wonder if DOTTIE will go and visit him. If there were any money in it, of course we’d all be beating a path to his door – and the dear old UK will need all the markets it can get after 29 March. Perhaps the Three Brexiteers are already dabbling there.
Really glad to read about Kengo Kuma’s new V&A in Dundee. Really all major museums should follow V&A and Tate and liberate what’s in their storerooms to put them on show in new museums and galleries in all provincial cities – they could use old factories or schools or churches if there wasn’t enough money for new buildings – and all this could be at a fraction of the cost of, say, Brexit, or farming out already-existing facilities to private contractors, s the National Gallery seems to be doing most shamefully at the moment with its education department. The NG has a poor employment record and unless it does a u-turn on current policy I am cancelling my Friends Of subscription since I’d feel uncomfortable supporting such a cruel and stupid organisation. In the end however the fault lies with Government for not providing anything like sufficient arts funding – why can’t they see what a massive boost to the economy this would be in terms of increased tourism, quite apart from anything else? Why do we put up with such fools and knaves running things for us?