Tag Archives: history

Robert Hughes: What democracy is for…

Robert Hughes died recently. I liked reading his work.

This is what he said about democracy and art – from an editorial in the Guardian newspaper:

The late Robert Hughes wrote his own epitaph in his 1993 polemic Culture of Complaint, where he inveighed against the banal politicisation of art and championed instead the importance of quality.

“Some things do strike us as better than others – more articulate, more radiant with consciousness,” Hughes insisted. “We may have difficulty saying why, but the experience remains.”

Democracy’s task, in the field of art, he believed, was to make the world safe for elitism, not to outlaw it. He believed passionately – in Hughes’s case the adverb is redundant – in an elitism that was not based on class, wealth or race, but on skill, imagination, high ability and intense vision Continue reading

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Filed under art, history

So that’s what happened to the KGB

The KGB? They haven’t gone away you know.

But they’ve ended up in the most unexpected places. You’ll never guess Continue reading

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Filed under politics

The missing slaves of Belfast

Olaudah Equiano - one of Belfast's more famous visitors.

Question: What have Liverpool, Bristol and all sorts of other places got that Belfast hasn’t?

Answer: A corporate history of slave trading.

Hurrah! One shameful pursuit into which we did not dive. Continue reading

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Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, friends, history, life, Music

Titanic Town fever

It must be catching, this Titanic fever. There’s no escaping it on telly or in the news. Here’s my contribution…

In other words – enough already. We built it. It crashed. It sank. Continue reading

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Filed under history, life

Bye bye BBC Bush House

After 70-odd years, the BBC has begun to leave Bush House, home of BBC World Service radio. Some buildings have character. BBC Bush House has… had. This gives a flavour of it.
Video about Bush House and the World Service

For a while I worked, drank and watched the fish inside Bush House.

I was particularly fond of the Outlook programme – partly because they paid me for stories from Africa. But also because you could climb out a window from their office to a flat roof with satellite dishes. From there a metal ladder led up to another roof level. Then a second set of rungs provided a route to the very top and views over most of the rooftops between Bush House and the Thames.

I sometimes wandered past the rooftop water tanks to the front of the building and out onto the canopy over the grand entrance. In my mind’s eye we sat and contemplated our eyrie above the throng. I lay back and surveyed the clouds. Maybe one of us smoked. I remember the roof as curving – with the slight risk of sliding off to plummet to street level, but it looks more angular in the slide show. Memories can be tricky.

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Filed under media

Huh! Kids those days…

Young people theose days… Out of control… No respect… Not like when I was a lad/lass… And here’s the evidence!

Your roving reporter met* a specially selected cross section of the population** who shared their own experience and opinions from the sharp end.

  1. “We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They hang around pubs and have no self control.”
  2. “When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of our elders, but young people today are disrespectful and out of control.”
  3. “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets… Their morals are decaying.”
  4. “The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behaviour and dress.” 

I blame the parents – the great great great great great …etc… grandparents, that is.

So what’s with this sudden display of concern for society going to hell in a handcart? Just a pretext really, to show you these clever drawings by Hark, a vagrant – and her lovely, clever, zany blog and book. History as it really/never was.

Continue reading

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Filed under art, blogs, history

Thank you Culture Northern Ireland

Thank you Culture Northern Ireland for giving me a £100 Amazon voucher (for winning a writing competition completing a survey). And thank you Gerry Anderson and politician Gregory Campbell for helping me spend it. Well, to be more precise – they had a row. But Continue reading

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Filed under art, media, Music, What I'm Reading