Ian D Smith:
Story Sales: Big Pulp, summer 2012 and summer 2014.
Ian D Smith:
Story Sales: Big Pulp, summer 2012 and summer 2014.
In May 2013, my 83 year old dad was perfectly well, except that he suddenly turned yellow.
He had jaundice, and the cause of his blocked bile duct was pancreatic cancer.
Given six months to live, or 12 with chemo, Dad chose weekly chemo straightaway, and in September a CT scan revealed the tumour was unchanged which was considered to be good news.
On Sunday 29th September 2013, still on weekly chemo, he set out from Nelstrop Road, Stockport on the Manchester Cycleway on his mountain bike
He cycled to Debdale Park for the first time since the diagnosis.
On the return leg he didn’t feel so good, so he walked the bike home. On Tuesday he couldn’t get warm, and on Wednesday he was taken to Stepping Hill hospital with a high temperature.
On Friday night 4th October 2013 he died with all his family around him. His final words to me were “Don’t stay. I’ll pull through. Go and have a pint.”
He’d never been an old man, and he’d never had to be helped anywhere. He was determined to cycle again, and I’m very lucky to have had him as a dad. I’m missing him terribly.
So what went wrong in Windsor land? He was supposed to be a girl.
After all the fuss the BBC made about the law change that ensured equality for women should one find herself in line to the throne, She turns out to be a He.
But it was a nice thought anyway: equality for privileged people everywhere.
Anyway, the BBC are now working hard to catch up, but the damage is done. Last night, they were still bleating what-if-it-had-been speculation “after all there was no need to change the law but what if it had been a girl”.
Sorry, that story is dead, and will be for about a hundred years, but don’t feel obliged to bury it just yet.
You had to feel sorry for the Beeb. These were stories they’d lined up years in advance desperate to fill the hours, and you could sense their disappointment in having to handle yet another non-story (cf Mickleson Wins the Golf (long pause), and in other news a cat with no tail beats the heatwave … ).
They’d worked so hard on the girl theme that I fear the great British public are going to be convinced He’s actually a girl forever.
It will take some undoing. I’m reminded of Mike Leigh’s brilliant film Life is Sweet and the mother of the boy in the Bunnikins kiddie’s clothes shop who has to tell Wendy (Alison Steadman) the incontrovertible fact several times:
Wendy: “He’s not a girly boy is he?”
Mother: “No he’s a boy!”
Wendy: “He’s a boy’s boy.”
Mother “Yes he’s a boy.”
Russell Brand’s My Booky Wook describes the English working class phenomena of infant gender denial. This happens when a much-yearned-for girl turns out to be a boy, and is subsequently brought up as a girl anyway. It happens all the time and is well-documented in literature. Cf, the flowing golden locks of the boy in DH Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers.
But what a blow for Britain. No girl baby! I feel mass infant gender denial setting in.
Brand was brought up as a girl and has clearly suffered no obvious ill effects … AND maybe the new royal He could be the first Nan Boy to be made king, nurtured tirelessly by a BBC desperate for pretty girl feelgood stories.
BBC female interviewer: “He’s not a girly prince is he?”
Kate: “No, he’s a prince!”
BBC female interviewer: “He’s really a prince’s prince.”
Kate: “Yes he’s a prince!”
Expect the BBC to slide into endless footage, not of the childhood Wills doing boy things, but of the childhood Princess Anne doing girl things.
After all, female royals are far more interesting regardless of the fact that the new royal is actually male when you have to justify an expensive state-owned rolling news channel.
Tate Britain’s Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life wrestled the well-known matchstick men out of the comfort zone of the provincial, conservative art lover into a harsher contemporary modernist light, full of relentless ruin, violence, destitution, debt, alienation and exploitation.
There’s no sign of people working in Lowry’s vision of the natural order of things. You never go in the factories, nor do you go in the houses. Life, pre-TV, happens on the street on well-trodden white earth.
It really is completely overwhelming, and once you’ve seen The Removal, and the Cripples, people knowing their places at the edge of society, you see a vision of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cap.
Lowry too, had no optimism for the future. His devil will always take the hindmost.
Put into the “the battle of life” art genre context alongside Vincent van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat and Maurice Utrillo, he is the unswerving documenter of an era that some still regard fondly as the Golden Age before the Labour government of ’45. And here is where Lowry comes unstuck.
Lowry was a rent collector with a huge ambition and a non-judgemental eye. He told it like it is, but he never suggested change. This is the danger with artists who never suggest a future beyond their own success. Once they have the success they crave, they turn in the breeze like sunflowers.
Lowry condemned the Labour government of ’45 for making the working class less identifiable as a mass. It had been very convenient for him. He’d been able to draw them fighting, staring, being unemployed and generally standing in line waiting for something better to come along. But the game was up for Lowry.
Labour gave him a chance to produce an optimistic new vision for the Festival of Britain, but he just constructed more lines and took the masses out of his work. If he’d taken the buildings out and amplified the people he could have been Beryl Cook. You wonder whether he really hated the working class all along.
However, he is the greatest artist of fin-de-siecle, post-Victorian Britain, the one that drove working people into the well-trodden ground. Quite literally.
I overheard one visitor ask if there’s any green grass up north, to which one well-informed passer-by said, No, just well-trodden earth. I overheard so many who couldn’t come to terms with his white backgrounds, his artistic impression. If only he’d cheered it up a bit he could have been famous.
Diamo il giusto peso alla nostra Cultura!
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