Saturday, 9 December 2017

Star status and sexual exploitation

This was written about opera and paedophilia, but, changing some of the terms, it could have been about the pop world, theatre or even politics and any variety of sexual abuse:

The cult of interpretive genius in which a single man can come to be seen as so gifted and important that institutions and systems will protect him for 40 years is connected to a view of sexual abuse that sees perpetrators as uniquely perverted predators rather than as the horribly predictable outcomes of the accumulation of power. In order to make and hear music in healthy ways, and think about sex in healthy ways, we must destroy and replace the insular star system and the dysfunctional and unjust accumulations of power it enables.

Friday, 8 December 2017

We are heading for permanent transition status with the EU

In other words, a messy typical British compromise which will please no one. The UK will be giving up its right to influence EU decisions, both in the Council and the European Parliament, which is what members of the European Movement (such as myself) have been fighting against. On the other hand, the UK will not be able to break free of the customs union so long as the Irish border problem remains, i.e., indefinitely. This will displease those who expected Cameron and May to keep their promises to take us out of the EU altogether.

It would be a Norway-style relationship in all but name. If I remember correctly, I predicted this outcome in a Web debate organised by the Evening Post during the general election campaign - I certainly remember saying that nobody would be happy with the outcome of the negotiations.

Of course, Vince Cable could be right in his assessment that her own party will tear Mrs May's accord with the DUP and the EU27 to shreds, in which case we will be back to square one.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The Sack-Damian-Green-at-all-costs camp should beware of what they wish for

It is very tempting to use any pretext to drive a minister in a government you hate out of office and out of parliament. However, consider the precedent which would be set. Any member with iffy (including politically dubious as well as sexual material) images on his office computer could be scapegoated. It could lead to vigilante groups organised by opposing whips, barging into suspects' offices in the hope of seeing something they could feed to the media.

The history of the Green affair as laid out in this Guardian article.

Two senior police officers have now condemned the retired policemen and even suggested they could be prosecuted.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The protean Brian O'Nolan

It was good to hear celebrated the life of the wonderful Irish writer Flann O'Brien. The Great Lives programme on Radio 4 had time only to concentrate on the books and just touched on the other personae of a man who was brought up as an Irish speaker ("before it became fashionable") in Ulster - before the partition, of course - but made a living as a civil servant and writer in Dublin.

So there was no space for Myles na gCopaleen's (his identity as a columnist in the Irish Times) weakness for puns. A running gag comprised supposed dialogues between Keats and Chapman which concluded with a pun by Keats. This is the one I remember best: (There is a representative sample of Myles at'Brien)  Myles was an obvious influence on the late, great, Miles Kington and to a lesser extent on other writers of humorous newspaper columns.

The classic Brian O'Nolan pun was surely the one which terminated a brave piece contributed to the Guardian newspaper in the early 1960s, and the one which introduced me to Flann O'Brien. It was a history of episodes in his writing life and his ambiguous relationship with organised religion, relating how each public criticism he made of the latter was followed by some seemingly divine punishment. It was funny and touching at the same time, culminating in a description of the facial cancer which was to kill him. The pay-off was that he supposed that the article had been his "agony in the Guardian".

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The railway in Cardiff

There is news of developments in Cardiff, gleaned from Rail Wales, the magazine of Railfuture in Wales.

Approval has been given for the restoration of the building at Cardiff Bay (formerly Bute Street) station. It is rather more imposing than a mere station building and I suspect it may have housed the offices of one of the many local railway companies which were eventually absorbed by the Great Western. One cheer for preserving the existing structure (and hopefully what remains of the Victorian interior), but none for the unsympathetic extension which has also been given approval.

No cheers for Cardiff city council and its chosen developer for yet again postponing a decent replacement for the bus stands which used to be so convenient for travellers to the capital via Cardiff Central station. It now looks as if there will be no new Cardiff bus station before 2020.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Railfuture Cymru tweets

Tweets on topical news affecting rails in Wales, plus links to items of interest outside the nation, can be found @RailfutureWales.

Railfuture Wales is always looking to widen its membership. We have too few women (whereas our Scottish cousin has a woman in the chair!) and we could do with more members under retiring age. If you are a Welsh-speaker, you would be especially welcome; please click on the Railfuture logo in the side-bar to take yourself to the Web site.

Et in Arcadia ego

It should not have come as a surprise, but sexual harassment is as common in the orchestras playing the sublime music of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms as it was back-stage in the Young Vic. Perhaps the situation is worse in orchestras because they have been virtually male preserves (apart from the occasional lady harpist) until the 1960s. It also took some time before the policy of integration which started in provincial orchestras like the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic reached the London orchestras, something which was not achieved until the 1980s. However, it seems that the worst excesses affect freelance players.

The Music Matters programme which exposed the extent is repeated this evening at 22:00.

[Later: Jessica Duchen has written an extensive piece about misuse of power in the world of music]