Monday, 7 March 2016


I was thinking that we’ve all become a bit querulous. I blame the referendum. Rage is in the air. Chris Patten and I, as well as being Europhile, are at one on this. Here’s what he said:

"I think referendums are awful... Julian Critchley used to say that—not very surprisingly—they were the favourite form of plebiscitary democracy of Mussolini and Hitler.

I trudged (uncharacteristically for me) to the station on Friday - have you noticed by the way trudging and lumbering have become the default mode for walking in 2016 - whatever happened to sauntering? I got on the grubby train. I read the gloomy paper. I thought I’d have a grumpy snooze. And then (oh no not a busker!) an African with a guitar walked into the carriage and started singing an African song (think African Cat Stevens) and it was fabulous. He did another. We all applauded and everyone, yes everyone in the carriage gave him some money.

The sun had come out.

And it came out again when 71 year old Phyllida Barlow was appointed to represent Britain at the 2017 Venice Biennale. I loved her enthusiastic response to the news:

"I am astonished, thrilled and hugely excited …I cannot imagine a more invigorating and wonderful challenge… a unique and stimulating creative opportunity beyond my wildest dreams."

Adele singing “Hello” and scooping the Brits was another recent OK moment especially as she has a house in Brighton. Smart girl that Adele.

Am I just a cockeyed optimist? Am I mindlessly cheerful and unfair about the tight-lipped discontent I see?
I’ve reading Raymond Tallis’ “Reflections of a Metaphysical Flaneur” which as you might guess from its title is slightly heavy going. “Flaneur” means a man who saunters around looking at society. It originated as a term in 19th century Paris and defined the man of leisure who observed and thought about the city and how it and its people related to each other. “Flaneur” and “Dilettante” are lunch companions. At an alumni dinner I was once asked what I did. I was surrounded by eminent judges, senior civil servants, investment bankers, bishops and CEOs. I told them I was a “dilettante” and to a person they replied “wow! I should love to be a dilettante”. Yes. It is great.

As a blogger I am certainly a flaneur. And I do saunter; I do not lumber or trudge. I also passionately believe in the power of conversation and of “entente”. The more we talk and the more we listen the less likely we are to become bellicose and prickly.  Vladimir, can you hear me?

Here’s part of a poem by William Blake that Penny Hunt, a friend of mine, recalled -  “A Poison Tree”
I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow”.
Tweet this to those Brexit chaps. It’s really why the EU works.

1 comment:

Nick Fitzherbert said...

The older I get the more I believe that positive and negative energy lie at the roots of so much in life.