April 3rd, 2013


Beyond Satire

In the same week that the benefit cuts come into effect they've announced that the Queen is getting a rise of £5 million to help her maintain the Royal Household.

Defining Modernism

I've been flicking through Cyril Connolly's The Modern Movement (1968) in search of a working definition of Modernism. It's a delightful- and very quotable- little book in which Connolly- the great flaneur- ambles through the decades, scattering apercus, separating the cool from the uncool and constructing a sort of a canon (or list of greatest hits) beginning with Baudelaire and ending with Orwell- than whom I can think of no two writers with less in common.  If both are Modernists then Modernism means whatever you want it mean.

Bloody Do-Gooders

A.N. Wilson (in the Mail, where else?) blames the Philpotts on The Welfare State. Apparently no-one lived fecklessly or killed their children before that well-meaning but naive Lord Beveridge loused things up....

He Fooled Me Too

Towards the end of the 1960s a confluence of hippie chic, good vibrations and the revival of interest in High Victorian art produced the wave that carried Graham Ovenden- a not very good artist with a thing about young girls- into celebrity, riches and cultural esteem. He invented a pre-Raphaelite knock-off called The Brotherhood of Ruralists and got the Beatles' very own Peter Blake involved.  Prepubescent maidens with limber limbs and lots of lovely Victorian hair ran wild and unencumbered through the beechwoods.  It was innocent, it was mystical- and only a nasty-minded prude could have thought otherwise.

Get outta here, man, you're oppressing me.

Ovenden's time came and went but he kept on keeping out of prison by reminding us how high-minded he was. Artists are, you know. If Renoir had told us he had no sexual feelings for the blowsy blondes he kept on painting we'd have laughed at him- but for some reason we were willing to suspend our disbelief in Ovenden's chastity. I guess the alternative was just too awful.

The Tate owns 34 Ovendens. Last time I looked a number of them were visible on its web-site. I wonder what they're going to do with them now.