Monday, 30 November 2015


The questioner here is trying to establish the authenticity or otherwise of whatever “it” is. When I was younger (so much younger than today) and in advertising, earnest executives used to say “people don’t drink the beer they drink the advertising.”  So a piece of advertising could change a sow’s ear into a silk purse. As if. Even then a few of us knew this was nonsense.
Now in the post-credulous world of 2015 the search for authenticity is intense. The worst you can say of someone or a product is that they, or it, are ersatz.

Last week Ian Duke, with whom I used to work, took me to Daquise. It’s a Polish restaurant in South Kensington which is wonderfully real (or so it seemed). Here’s what it says on its website:
During the height of the Profumo affair, we played host to Christine Keeler and Yevgeni Ivanov, the naval attaché of the Soviet Embassy and KGB spy. Roman Polanski regularly stopped by for dumplings and goulash

Dishes included “Pieczen cieleca w sosie smietanowym” (Roast Veal in a cream sauce) and the atmosphere was good humoured and warm. Like La Bitta in Venice,  my favourite restaurant because of its family feel and uncomplicated food.

And for books try Daunts or for meat try Archers the Butcher in Brighton. Authentic, all of them, true to their beliefs.

Advertising has a lot of good but some bad to answer for. Richard French, one time star of the business, asked what he did once said “I’m a professional liar” which in a dazzlingly ironic way was completely authentic. Rather like a spy saying “I’m a spy”. But I loved what an entrepreneur in a small start-up said recently. On being asked about her advertising she laughed uproariously “But I am the advertising.” She might have said “I am authentic”.

Comedians Jack Dee and Miles Jupp because they’re authentic reach truths that others wouldn’t dare tackle. They make the utterly mundane interesting. As does Mark Rylance of whom a friend of his said “he is a quite extraordinary ordinary man.” The greatest actor of his generation is completely real and true to his feelings.

In the week of the ISIS crisis the true test of authenticity surrounds the increasingly isolated Jeremy Corbyn. He’s beginning to resemble Richard II acting out the truth that “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” Yet his popularity seems to grow out there with labour voters - up another 7% points whilst most of his MPs are becoming increasingly speechless about this “chaos” (or as some call it “new normal.”)  Corbyn clearly
believes bombing Syria is wrong and to his own surprise Tory Matthew Parris agrees.

We are lucky to be watching alleged authenticity in conflict with power politics.

Interesting that for some being what we are and true to our own  beliefs seems so hard. It’s especially so in politics where arguing for the unarguable is still seen as the real skill.

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