Sunday, June 10, 2007

Summer Show and Diana's Brother

In The Sunday Times - your blogmeister on the Royal Academy Summer Show. One of the pictures here is a peculiarly unflattering one of me in a Summer Show tee-shirt designed by Michael Craig-Martin, an old friend and, he is the chuckler to the left. Nothing wrong with the tee-shirt, of course, it's the camera angle. Also I interview Earl Spencer, Diana's brother. This piece is remarkable in that it required me to go to Northampton for the first time in my life. Its precise location and meaning had previously escaped my attention.
PS. And look here, guys, you vote for me as follows - go here and click on either or both of the categories Best Post of All Time or Most Consistently Entertaining Blog. Check the box next to mine name on each/either. Even if it means drowning in pork barrel blood, I am determined to fix this election as everybody else seems to be doing just that and there seems to have been some confusion about the procedure. It is, of course, largely meaningless as the great Danny Finkelstein isn't short-listed in the political or best UK blogs.
PPS. Thanks to Frank Wilson, I also have a book review in The Philadelphia Inquirer - Frank Tipler's The Physics of Christianity.

17 comments:

  1. Its precise location and meaning had previously escaped my attention.

    Could you elaborate just a tad for those of us not on your side of the pond? An admittedly cursory search of the internet for "Northampton" revealed little that appeared remarkable (save the fact that it is apparently the largest coherent "non-city" in England).

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  2. Primarily, IR, it is the entirely contingent fact that I have never been there. But also it's location is, somehow, indeterminate. It is not the Midlands, East Anglia or the Home Counties. It is, rather, a place one passes. This may be something to do with its location relative to the M1 motorway. When passing Northampton you know you have left London far behind - Newport Pagnell services are, for me, the decisive moment - but you have yet to arrive anywhere. It is a town in limbo. I have a friend from Northampton and he definitely suffers from the uncertain identity conferred by the place.

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  3. Ah, thanks - that I understand. No doubt failing the attain citihood at the millennium is yet another manifestation of that sense, and perhaps, contributes to your friend's suffering.

    Rather like Oakland, California, perhaps: "There is no there there," as native Gertrude Stein said. In reality, she meant it kindly, but the truth was (and remains) harsher, which is why it still resonates decades later. All in all, a fine place to be from rather than in.

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  4. Bryan, are you wearing the jacket and trousers from a pin-stripe suit, conjoined in unholy matrimony a powder-blue and pink T-shirt? That's not a camera-angle problem!

    And Northampton is a place I used to drive towards in order to get to Silverstone.

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  5. The tee-shirt, Gordon, was designed by the feller I am talking to for the RA exhibition. I was ordered to wear it by the demi-gods that rule the Sunday Times. The suit is, as you say, pin-stripe and made of an odd crepey materual. It was almost the last thing left in an Armani sale.

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  6. It all looks very Alan Yentob to me.

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  7. That, Gordon, is below, well below, the Prada belt.

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  8. Dunno if it's fair but you hear it sometimes said here of places not blessed with renown- "a great place to leave."

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  9. I only came here to comment on the t-shirt. I spent many minutes admiring it over my Alpen this morning and I could immediately see what you were doing: how the inverted light bulb provided a clever commentary on the paucity of ideas in modern art, the shapeless jacket a metaphor for the lack of form in our age, mocking as it did with its slightly outmoded style, the fact that modernism and postmodernism are now passé. Inspiring stuff, Bryan.

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  10. It was Watford Gap in my day (your M1 comment) - yet again I am conscious of my age.

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  11. Ah Watford Gap. There is a dingy little services called London Gateway, used to be Scratchwood. It's not right. Toddington retains some dignity.

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  12. Susan B., ton amie,June 10, 2007 2:33 pm

    Now I've voted for you, in both categories. You are shameless, dear boy, but I hope you win.

    Northampton comes up in John Clare's life, too. I believe it was the nearest market town to Helpston, where he was from. All of it pretty much the middle of nowhere.

    Suits and t-shirts make me shiver -- luckily, you don't have a huge gut or that camera angle would have been fatal.

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  13. Susan B., to clarify,June 10, 2007 2:35 pm

    Shiver in a bad way, I mean. Revulsion, not joyous anticipation.

    And this reminds me of something that we Americans are just horrified by when Europeans visit our warmer regions: Sandals and black socks worn with shorts. Horrible! Nix the sox!

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  14. Having wandered round the London branch of Brooks Brothers, Susan, I don't thin you colonials have anything to teach is sartorially speaking. Socks with sandals? American surely. Shorts on men are a global disgrace but probably quite common in Northampton.

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  15. Well, we agree that sandals with socks are an abomination. But dressing right is an individual, not a national thing. Actually, Bryan, you don't look bad at all in the t-shirt pic.

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  16. Susan B., defenseless,June 10, 2007 9:56 pm

    I think there is nothing more sartorially perfect than a British man in a London, tailored suit (think, Bill Nighy, or Bryan Appleyard), but I have to tell you that masses of Brits visit Florida (where I am from, remember), wearing sandals and socks and shorts. Ditto the Germans. Only the French avoid that fashion faux pas, as they do so many others.

    Il faut souffrir pour etre belle! Admittedly, you won't find many American men or women willing to suffer thus -- we are doubtless the worst dressed nation in the world. Every time a hurricane or tornado gets people on (inter)national news, you see our love of t-shirts and obesity, bad hair and worse shoes.

    Tant pis pour nous.

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  17. Apologies for changing the subject - but, Bryan, I am not convinced that Professor Tipler deserves much of a salary review. Sure, science moves on - but why waste yet another book looking for god in cosmology? Is it so comforting? If the science is so uncertain - and I am not sure if that's true - then waffling on about the deity won't mend any gaps. The poem about Albert and the Lion makes a lot more sense!

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