Tuesday 27 May 2014

The best lack all conviction

while the worst are full of...well, probably not passionate intensity, but the impression of it is enough for some. The fact remains that Farage, loathsome as he may be, is A Personality and journos seem to love him, while they still turn down factual pieces about the EU's essential nature. Oh dear, Cameron, Clegg, Miliband...is it surprising that Ukip got away with murder? The main parties should have been spelling out messages like this

and, on a smaller scale, this

instead of which we heard little, as usual, about the calm, sane facts which would highlight an imperfect but well-meaning institution. Let's put it into perspective: a majority in this country WANTS the European project to continue, as do 75 per cent of the French. This is not a wipeout, it's a warning to get the message out there. And it might not be a bad thing if, given far right and left wingers now in some of the seats, the complacent elements were forced to limited compromises which would show the Greeks, for example, that they mean good and not harm.

In the meantime, after all the unsavoury facts about Ukip's representatives emerging in the papers over the past month, people still vote for it. Which means they're either disenfranchised old codgers, bigots, covert racists, hatemongers who think their day has come and it's time to have a bonfire of 'all that political correctness', or just plain stupid. Wake up, people! Would I be quite so rude to my Tory confreres? Absolutely not. Just check out what Ukip stands for, set grinning Farage aside for a moment and take a careful look at its spokesmen down in the cesspit. Farceurs like John Lydon Sullivan, who tweeted 'I rather often wonder if we shot one "poofter" (GBLT, whatevers), whether the next 99 would decide on balance, that they weren't after-all' (sic). There's an inspired rejoinder to this from my blogpal Jon Dryden Taylor here.

I'll leave you with the superb Stewart Lee* whose act was sent to me by friend Peter. For some reason the YouTube clip isn't downloadable so watch it here. The deliciously orchestrated wind-back-history 'they come over 'ere' rhetoric which is the heart of this genius turn starts around 2'57.

Bloody Latvian, coming over 'ere, knocking a national treasure into best-ever shape (Andris Nelsons pictured above by Richard Battye); bloody Finn, bloody Austrian, stealing plum Strauss roles from our girls and boys. Read my Arts Desk review of the Birmingham concert Rosenkavalier. Perfect it wasn't, but when it delivered, it was the tops. More anon on the preceding German Opera Discovery Day in the classy CBSO Centre: a palpable hit, I think I can say, with Dame Harriet Walter and other superb actors (plus two fine singers and pianist) saying they learned from the lecturers, said lecturers stunned and moved (to tears, in my case) by the performers.

*I think I love this man. From his Wiki entry:

'Lee caused controversy on his If You Prefer a Milder Comedian tour with a routine about Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond. Referring to Hammond's accident while filming in 2006, in which he was almost killed, Lee joked, "I wish he had been decapitated and that his head had rolled off in front of his wife". The Daily Mail termed this an "extraordinary attack" and, having been doorstepped by a Mail journalist, Lee quoted the routine by replying "It's a joke, just like on Top Gear when they do their jokes".

'Lee subsequently explained the joke:

' "The idea of what's acceptable and what's shocking, that's where I investigate. I mean, you can't be on Top Gear, where your only argument is that it's all just a joke and anyone who takes offence is an example of political correctness gone mad, and then not accept the counterbalance to that. Put simply, if Clarkson can say the prime minister is a one-eyed Scottish idiot, then I can say that I hope his children go blind." '

Watch the 'it's only a joke, just like on Top Gear' sequence here - because this one is downloadable. If you don't have the patience for the full works, zoom in at 6mins to see bully and sidekick impersonated.


Roger Neill said...

The main reasons that Opera Australia has remained resolutely mediocre over the last two decades are: 1. The fact that the best Aussie singers perform primarily in Europe and North America, and 2. The union agreement locally effectively barring the company from hiring top singers who are not Aussies. Double whammy!

David said...

Strewth, Roger, how extraordinary. Meant to say, by the way, that your clip of Harriet as Lady M is indeed spine-chilling - and filmed this year, presumably. You know she has the ambition to play the Thane himself. That and her Brutus were partly why I thought she would make a good Moses. But in fact she was a superlative everything...

Anonymous said...

The reason for Ukip's success in England(in Scotland they didn't achieve much) has little to do with Europe but everything to do with high levels of immigration, on a scale unprecedented in British history. Previous waves of immigration of Jews, Poles, Caribbean, Italians were very small in comparison. The fact that recent immigrants, particularly from Pakistan and Bangladesh, have a high birthrate and different cultural norms have made their assimilation much more gradual than previous waves. This has quite simply made them unpopular. The very anti-EU tone of much of the English press as well as the huge publicity surrounding Farage gave him his votes. But he will lose badly in a Westminster election because then people will have priorities other than immigration.

David said...

I can actually see how elsewhere, ie in Denmark and Holland, there is a real concern that immigrant communities with different cultural values may threaten liberal interests (remember the politician who was assassinated, who did have a point that if Rotterdam was 50 per cent Muslim, then the Dutch tolerance could well be threatened if there wasn't proper assimilation).

But here, if we're talking about Poles, Bulgarians, Romanians, it's just scare tactics. As for bloody Pakistanis and Indians, they came over 'ere and gave us a national cuisine (cf our comedian friend).

Integration is the question, not numbers.

Laurent said...

It seems that the Conservative elements and the right wing is having a bit of an upswing these days. I too do not understand why people in Canada want to vote again for Mayor (on Crack) Ford, a man who is a bigot and a racist but oh so popular. Then we have Stephen Harper our PM, a man who despises Parliament and the Judiciary and has no time for democracy because it interferes with his dictatorial powers. But many people love him and he still could be re-elected in 2015, me think the people are asleep and don't care. Sad really.

David Damant said...

There may be some deep tides in all this. The map of UKIP's main areas of success ( page 17 of the Daily Telegraph for 27th May but probably elsewhere also)shows (roughly) greater strength in the West, Wales, North and North East. Similar to the areas which supported the King in the Civil War ( Parliament in the South and South East) and the House of York in the Wars of the Roses ( Lancastrians in the South and South East). Bearing in mind that on the vast majority of current issues the vast majority of people ( including me) have not enough information to make a sensible decision, the determining factor may be subconscious ( or indeed conscious) emotion. Over the centuries it seems that those not at the centre can - in today's language - feel under-rated by the urban elite. And to an extent they are, and a degree of resentment is understandable

David said...

Yes, Laurent, it amazes the outside world about the Mayor of Toronto - could that possibly happen here, we ask? And yet, as with Ukip, the staggering information pours out, and still people don't care. Or maybe they secretly admire that sort of behaviour and it plays to a bigotry that's gone underground.

I thought, though, that in forthcoming general elections young Trudeau was the favourite? Charismatic, dynamic - the sort of figure we lack in any of the viable opposition here.

David, surprised to find you foundering here. But, yes, the disenfranchised are part of it, especially the older population in those abandoned seaside towns in Suffolk and Norfolk, for instance.

Must repeat a reminder in Christopher Potter's wonderful science v humanism new book How to Make a Human Being of a useful generalisation in 1066 and All That: cavaliers - 'wrong but romantic'; roundheads - 'right but repulsive'.

David Damant said...

My earlier point can be elaborated by adding that the same geographical split is seen in the fact that Conservative strength is concentrated in the South and South East [ the South West and East Anglia, where one might have expected the Tory strength to continue, have for generations had a strong Liberal tradition.] So there seems to be a geographical reason for this split, not connected with whether one is in favour of having a King, or not, or in favour of having close links with the EU, or not - etc. Very odd, and significant - though what the significance is I cannot fathom,

David said...

Indeed - just a fact. Now, does anyone like Stewart Lee as much as I do?

Susan Scheid said...

As most of the players are not known to me, it's hard to weigh in, though I certainly "get the drift." I never understand, I mean truly understand, the fondness of "ordinary voters" (as opposed to those with vested pecuniary and political interests) for what I'll call wrong-minded politicians. So often, it's a vote directly against self-interest, yet it happens over and over again. I do think fear is often at the root of these bad decisions by voters—FDR was completely right when he said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—but I remain incredulous at the difficulty so many have in correctly relating cause and effect. I'm afraid this is a bit opaque, the way I've written it, but perhaps something of what I'm meaning will come through.

Susan Scheid said...

Wholly unrelated, but I thought of you immediately when I read Anne Carson's The Albertine Workout in the LRB here. I think you'll particularly appreciate #7.

wanderer said...

David Damant hones in on salient issues: lack of information and decisions made on emotion. That is how it works: suppress or subvert the truth and stir up emotion by provoking prejudice and fear. Down here we defund education and dismantle race hate laws. And, and, and - delegitimize science.

Memorable links David - that delicious rebuttal and the CBSO Rosenkavalier in all your expressive detail.

Anonymous said...

Listening to radio 3 recently on FM, the music is constantly spoilt by short bursts of loud crackle about half a second long, at five second intervals. Very annoying during Building a Library or Composer of the Week! I do have a digital radio but the quality of sound is poor so I prefer FM, which is far superior apart from this new interference. Has anyone else noticed this on FM radio 3? I do hope it is not some sinister attempt by Whitehall to ruin FM and thereby shift us all to digital radio. John Graham, Edinburgh

Howard Lane said...

No such sonic interferings darn sarf, although our new digital radio has a duller sound than the defunct one it was bought (second hand) to replace. The annoying thing is that we have radios on almost constantly in most rooms and the digital ones, and computer, don't synch with the fm ones.

I like Stewart Lee very much for both his comedy and his music appreciation. Whether I like him as much as you David, I don't know...

We have been to two operas in the last two weeks, Cosi and Thebans. This is a record for me, and now I also want to see Gilliam's Benvenuto Cellini but it may on our local screen rather than in the flesh.

David said...

Not at all opaque, Sue - the 'difficulty...in correctly relating cause and effect' sums it all up depressingly well. And analogies with the Tea Party are strong in many ways. Voters have constantly witnessed candidates exposed as fruitcakes and bigots who'd be laughable if they weren't to wield some power, yet still on they go in their 'protest votes'.

How the Carsen made me laugh. The fact that Albertine spends 20 per cent of her references asleep especially. Mind you, this shows how much work there is to do substituting every reference to Albertine with a pithier passage from Colette in my ideal version of leavened Proust.

Wanderer - pithily put as ever.

John - Howard is in a better position to comment than I, but I do wonder why digital radio and TV break up so much when analogue versions of both rarely did.

Howard - I'd be curious to know what you thought of those two. Despite alluring voices in the cast, I decided to give Cosi a miss since it's all about the six people, and what I saw of production photos made it look as if a lot of showy stuff was being thrown at it. And Ryan - as opposed to superlative Mark - was a terrible conductor when I saw him, so not allured there (actually MW conducted one of the best ever Cosis IMO at ENO, with Susan Gritton, Mary Plazas, Toby Spence etc...)

Would also appeciate my fellow classicists' view on Thebans. Going tonight with no great hopes, so I can only be pleasantly (or shockingly) surprised.