November 30, 2002
Charlie's Greatest Brits
YOU FEEL BRITISH? WHEN DID THAT START?Ian
rightly denounces the grim-faced populism of the BBC's
Greatest Britons series as "complex lives reduced to a handful of celebrity headlines". But collective biography need not be like that. At least, not if we have some idea of the forces and developments that link lives together, with which everyone
struggles, and to which everyone contributes. If we have an idea, for example, of how "Britain" came into existence and became what it is today. Is it a geographical entity, or a government, or an idea? Is it a flag, or a people, or a fiction? What does
it mean to you or me to be British?
And, with the Greatest Gay Britons
in full battle cry
, what does it mean to be gay?
I have managed to inflict the most terrible humiliation on myself. I have locked my work desk with its tiny but complex key and cannot now find it anywhere. And I mean anywhere! I suspect it has long ago been empied from the bag of one of the cleaners' high-powered vacuum cleaners, a momentary and unremarked clink in the nightly industrial cleansing process that descends on the office. Security personnel have tried their skeleton keys to no effect, bravely had a go with their pen-knives no more successfully, and the keys of other desks have been found (not surprisingly) to be no use. Monday will oblige me to implement the only available solution, and that is going to be much more public and expensive.
In the interim I have been imagining a sado-masochistic scenario with a young evil-grinning leather-master gently passing the key from hand to tightly-gloved hand. His desparate victim stares up from his submissive crouch in horror, is given the key, and commanded: "Lock it!" That done, the key is repossessed and dangled to the useless importunings of the victim, until finally it is bent beyond any hint of a useful shape, and thrown with spiteful force from the window.
No it did not
happen like that. I'm just trying vengefully to give people ideas!
THE RISE OF BLATCHERISM
I turned to Polly Toynbee's article
in Wednesay's Guardian
with great reluctance. Entitled "It will be a Tragedy if the Firefighters are crushed", I felt that in the interests of balance I should read what this mascot of liberal-left England had to say about the strike (though I expected it to infuriate me). I was astonished. The title turned out to mean that though the firemen's sound defeat was now inevitable, it would be unfortunate (for all trade unions and Labour too) if they dragged the strike out and ended up being driven down and utterly humiliated.
Ms Toynbee even revealed that she was receiving a substantial e-postbag from firemen far more "appalled at being forced to change their working hours" than concerned about pay rates
especially those who live far from work, some travelling from the south coast to London for their two days' and two nights' work, returning home for a second job or free time in a pleasant place.
The firemen had been betrayed by their adventurist, irresponsible, insincere leaders. If they took all this to heart, firemen would (as I think they should) take 4% now and consider themselves lucky. A new political landscape has been created by the political weather of the last five years. A fusion of Blair and Thatcher, equally barren and unforgiving for militant trade unionists and Conservatives alike, and reminiscent of the "Butskillism" of the 1950s, it might be called Blatcherism. For all the saracastic comparisons of Tony and Margaret over the past few years, only now is the full extent of the fusion apparent -- and it is appropriate that today's Guardian
editorial on the strike ("Labour must take Unions more seriously") has absolutely nothing to say.
November 26, 2002
PAST AND PRESENT
Peter at Naked Blog
has set the "100 Greatest Gay Britons" in motion (so to speak). Nominat-
ions are open until Friday 29th. It's a wonderful opportunity to have a look at exactly what we think "being gay" means today, how we got here, and who we think was/is important. Dis-
putes over inclusion should reveal as much as the unanimous agreements -- and where to put those who fall into the "wishful thinking" category (apart from in a drawer with pictures of other unrequited longings)?
I wonder how many bloggers remember the profoundly depressing 1970s when neanderthal trade unionism dominated this country and public service strikes were the norm. Today's Times
provides too many opportunities for déjà vu
The business section includes a graphic
showing public sector pay awards running well ahead of those in the private sector -- reason for alarm even without the firefighters' guaranteed 4%. An item on the teachers' strikes
reports that the claim for bigger London allowances has been raised from a 33% increase to a 100%
rise (and thereby parity with police). Symbolically, striking teachers are to be addressed today by a member of the Fire Brigades Union [FBU] executive. Meanwhile Michael Gove
discusses the contradictions between the Blair government's fight with the FBU and its relentless attack on personal independence, and a news item details defections
from the FBU by firemen in Devon.All of which reminds me...
Last May I was at a town hall somewhere in the Midlands, watching them count the votes in the General Election. I found myself joking about the whole antiquated business with a chap standing next to me. He turned out to be one of the Socialist Alliance scrutineers, and after establishing our common opposition to the imminently victorious candidate, we chatted about what was in the political pipeline. A full time trade union organiser, he was quite open about what he would be doing: there would be a coordinated onslaught of public service pay claims, industrial chaos, and war on New Labour. Now Derek Simpson
, leader of AMICUS
, has finally said it
out loud. London today is just the start.
reports the death of one of the world's most important thinkers. John Rawls
has died in the US aged 81. All of us, not least gay people, will continue to struggle with the issues he wrote about in books like Political Liberalism
(1993). A few days before Rawls's death George Guest
died in Cambridge. Director of the Choir of St. John's College for 40 years, he exerted a huge influence on British choral music, and helped train outstanding singers like (hunky) Simon Keenlyside
and organists like John Scott
(now in charge at St Paul's Cathedral).
November 25, 2002
MODERNISATION -- BY THE BOOK
Much has been said about "modernisation" in the battle of words over the firemen's dis-
pute. It is worth looking at what kinds of things might be involved in "modernisation", and how the FBU has responded to them. On November 11th the Bain Report
suggested (para. 16) that a new command structure should "reduce the number of management tiers from seventeen
ranks to seven broader roles", and a new reward structure be adopted "which will encourage the acquisition of experience, skills and competencies to enhance performance".
The FBU rejected this
out of hand:
It means that those who benefit from the move to the new [command and] reward structure, and payments for specialist skills, will receive more money than a colleague who has not been able to acquire specialist skills. This is a proposal intended to divide and rule members of the UK fire service.
The idea that it might be just and rational to pay more money to staff who are more skilled and responsible cuts no ice with the FBU. That it might be an incetive to acquire
new skills and abilities is described as an attempt to "divide and rule" -- an attitude that is not so much antedeluvian as bloody-minded.
Just what the FBU thinks is a "united" fire service is laid out in byzantine detail in the National Joint Council for Local Authorities Fire Brigades Scheme of Conditions of Service
commonly referred to as the Grey Book
(the section on work hours
is especially interesting). Promotion (and pay
) are decided exclusively on the basis of examinations from within the ranks, with entry at firefighter level only. Anyone who wonders about the consequences of this national strait-jacket should look at some recent dispute resolutions
The FBU and the local authority employers have a track record of total failure to reform a bureaucratic system set solid since the 1950s (the main rules were laid down in 1947 under a system established in 1916 -- as the FBU states
with pride). The 16% "offer" made not a single specific commitment to reform - and defined "modernisation" as whatever either side decided it was. As the editorial in today's Financial Times
says: "Ministers must not only scorn Friday's compromise, but ensure that it is torn up and forgotten."
HARRY HAY, GAY PIONEER 1912-2002Vince's
blog, November 24th:
The world said goodbye to Harry Hay yesterday. Okay, not the world, but San Francisco. What a beautiful, fitting, exclectic, strange mix of people. The Sisters decided to make Harry and John honorary sisters. Sister Radical Faerie Nun of the Above and Sister Radical Faerie Glory Holey Hallelujah. The memorial service was moving, and wonderful.
Harry Hay's life was remembered semi-officially by the Lesbian and Gay Wisconsin InStep
, as well as many many other publications gay and mainstream, including the New York Times
. I want to add my tribute to the man who was born in England and lived a pioneering gay life in the USA. Hay was wrong
about many things -- radical path-breakers often are -- and always difficult and controversial
. But his inspiration and courage set a standard to which gay people can aspire, and his historical contribution is something every
gay person, whatever their age, wherever they live, should know about.
Great Brits No.8
JOSEPH WRIGHT OF DERBY (1734-1797)
was a talented portrait painter whose identity was formed, and most of whose life was spent, in the English Midlands, home to the early industrial revolution. Wright's subjects and his treatment of them was an innovative response to the forces with which scientists and inventors were transforming nature. His most famous works, The Orrery
* (1766, Derby Museum & Art Gallery) and An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump
(1768, Tate Gallery, London) use light effects to dramatise the human responses to the impersonal world of applied knowledge, but also as a clear visual metaphor for enlightenment, progress and destiny.
Wright is a fine artist, but I have chosen him as a "great" Briton because of his part in a network of "progressive" contem-
poraries, rational religious dissenters and at the end of the eighteenth century, supporters of the French Revolution. Wright's depiction of scenes where scientific advance meets
traditional manners captures the philosophical posture of a generation of highly talented practical innovators who were also, in a variety of ways, social, political and religious radicals.
Meeting regularly in regional clubs with intersecting member-
ships Wright was part of a circle that included Joseph Priestly
(1733-1804) one of the founders of modern chemistry; James Watt
(1736-1819) and his partner Matthew Boulton
(1728-1809) developers of the steam engine; Josiah Wedgewood
technological and aesthetic skill founded a great ceramics manufacturing enterprise, who provided funds for Priestley's work; Erasmus Darwin
(1731-1802), naturalist, physician and poet (and grandfather of Charles Darwin); and Richard Price
(1723-1791) the leading political-religious radical. Wright was not the "greatest" of them, but his practice as an representational artist allowed him to distill the energy and symbolise the multi-dimensionality of the first generation of industrial entrepreneurs, professional scientists, and political and religious free-thinkers.
*The full title is A Philosopher Giving that Lecture on the Orrery in which a Lamp is put in place of the Sun
November 24, 2002
HAIR AND MILK
Yesterday W. and I finally got round to watching a video of David Atten-
borough's Life of Mammals
cast on Wednesday. As always with his series, it was charming, amazing, educative, unique.
Much of the first programme was spent in Australia (which we would really love to visit), and there were wonderful scenes of kangaroos and rock wallabees and the extraordinary duck-billed platypus. It is the most enjoyable and most humbling television there is -- how ironic that when we switched the TV on to run the video, we caught part of Blind Date
. Afterwards we recorded the first episode of the new Daniel Deronda
dramatisation with Hugh Darcy as Deronda, for viewing later. I wonder what we'll catch when we watch that -- Celebrity Big Brother
November 23, 2002
Great Brits No.7
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
An individual and unmistakeable voice of England, recognised internationally as one of the world's great composers: Vaughan Williams
expresses the deepest and subtlest meanings of national identity, yet does so with such profound musicianship that they become expressions of universal emotions. As a composer, a personal influence and a national personality there are few who more completely expressed what was distinctive and good about Britain, or spoke across national boundaries more effectively.
VW's work collecting (and rescuing) English folk song remained an enduring influence
, as did his work as editor of the English Hymnal
(1906). For me there are few symphonies more majestic and exciting than his first, A Sea Symphony
, setting words by Walt Whitman, but all of his nine symphonies are works of enormous power and originality, and his fourth is one of the very greatest twentieth-century symphonies. Vaughan Williams was the inspiration for a flowering of English music and composition that rejected the heavy, German-Brahmsian world of Elgar for the sweetness and simplicity of English folk song and the pureness of the sixteenth century -- composers like Gerald Finzi
, George Butterworth
and Ivor Gurney
There are works by Vaughan Williams to which I am deeply attached in every form and genre
, from his opera The Pilgrims Progress
to the ballet Job, A Masque for Dancing
, from the wonderful song-cycle On Wenlock Edge
to poems by Housman, to his etherially beautiful version Greensleeves
for string orchestra. Perhaps the lovely hymn tune Down Ampney [MIDI
] named after the Gloucestershire village where VW was born and died, is a perfect representative of VW's music.
(Excepts from many of VW's major works can be sampled from this
page. Songs by Vaughan Williams, Finzi, Butterworth and Gurney will be in a recital on BBC Radio 3 on Weds 27th
starting at 1.00 pm.)
Marxist-Trotskyite interest in the firemen's strike is not limited to infantile gesturing from the sidelines. The Socalist Alliance
(an collaborative front of Marxist parties, including Socialist Workers Party, Workers Power, International Socialist, and the Communist Party) has made deep inroads into the Fire Brigades Union [FBU]. They are using it as a springboard to attack the government, drive Labour back to its old socialist mission of class conflict, and create national conditions of strike-bound political instability.
At the 2001 General Election FBU activists stood as parlia-
mentary candidates for the Socialist Alliance in four
seats (Luton South, Basildon, Birmingham Erdington and St Helens South). Socialist Alliance members in the FBU led the successful move to break
the union's financial link with the Labour Party, and use the FBU's official journal to promote
the Socialist Allicance and demand official union backing.
The firemen's strike is not just about pay. Much of its internal momentum comes from Marxist political activists on whom the union's General Secretary Andy Gilchrist has depended for his successful capture of the union's top job. They are the most reactionary and backward-looking force in Britain today.
This week has been incredibly heavy, and I was hardly in any shape to enjoy John Adams conducting the London Symphony Orchestra on tour
last night, even though the performance of Adam's Harmonielehre
that was so brilliant it brought the whole audience to its feet cheering.
This morning I have woken up with a fucking sickening headache - if all past experience is a guide, a sure signal that my Saturaday will be completely wiped out. Which means the shopping will have to be done while the washing is on tomorrow, at a supermarket where those shelves not given over to "seasonal" liquor promotions have been stripped bare by hysterical housewives stock-piling for Christmas. That is, if I can get anywhere near the shops for road closures made necessary by the incompetence of local authority bureaucrat leaders -- the same bunch who, with thier "uncosted, half-baked" cave-in
to the FBU have shown they've got less integrity and honesty than the toilet paper they've wiped their arses with.
Any wonder most British people seem to spend all their time getting drunk, anticipating getting drunk, getting over being drunk, or talking about one of those.
November 22, 2002
CUTTING UP AND CARRYING ON
The first public autopsy
in Britain for 170 years took place on Wednesday. It was conducted by Dr Gunter von Hagens whose Bodyworlds
exists to restore the educational/scientific, philosophical, aesthetic, theological, and existential value of public dissection.
Out came the heart, lungs and liver, and then, with the help of another pair of hands given its size and slipperiness, the abdominal block - including the intestines, kidneys, spleen and pancreas. With a little difficulty and the aid of a hacksaw, the brain was finally presented.Little Miss Bitch
(Tales from the Mad Side
's blogger) was there, and posted a first hand account
- and a very low-key affair it all is (though nothing is said about the souvenir items
avilable). So why all the fuss? Channel 4 said it would broadcast edited footage, which ensured a media circus, and Prof von Hagens wanted to publicise what he is doing.
But what made all the difference was the usual British Establishment attempt to squash any expression of openness, freedom and independence, with the Queen's Inspector of Anatomy threatening prosecution under the Anatomy Act
. But the ploy failed. And the more often we can call the bluff of such patronising restrictiveness, the better. More power to Dr von Hagen's elbow.
November 21, 2002
MAD, BAD, DANGEROUS AND HOMOSEXUAL
Conventional married life prompted Byron to behave badly with a thoroughness only he could have achieved - shooting the tops off his soda-water bottles while his wife was in labour in the room upstairs
A new exhibition
at the National Portrait Gallery includes material about Byron's homosexual life, and coincides with the appearance of a brilliant new biography by Fiona MacCarthy. A recent article
by MacCarthy based on her book is a must read, providing an absolutely fascinating picture of Byron's mental state, and of the legal and popular sexual attitudes of his times.
One of Byron's main motives in setting out on extended travels in 1809-10 was his hope of homosexual experience. In Greece and Turkey, sex with boys was more or less accepted as the norm and he found willing partners. There was Eusthathius Georgiou, the volatile Greek boy with "ambrosial curls" whose parasol, carried to protect his complexion from the sun, made Byron's valet cringe. There was the Franco-Greek Nicolo Giraud, with his limpid eyes, who taught Byron Italian in Athens, taking a whole day to conjugate the verb "to embrace". By the end of Byron's stay in Greece he was boasting to his friends that he had achieved more than 200 "pl and opt Cs", their code for unlimited sexual intercourse, taken from Petronius's Satyricon "coitum plenum et optabilem".
But by 1816 his travels were involuntary, hounded from England by the law, popular anti-homosexual sentiment and threats of violence to his person. Today, as the government proposes new sexual offences legislation
, it is worth reflecting what Byron's tastes, actions and experiences tell us about the enduring nature of sexuality, and attitudes to it.
FREEDOM OF PREJUDICE
Harvard English Department has decided to re-invite
the odious Tom Paulin to give a reading there, claiming the issue is one of freedom of speech. It is nothing of the kind. Nobody is obliged to inflict offensiveness on themselves. Individuals and organisations (including university departments) are free to invite whomsoever they please. If there are objections, they are free to reconsider their invitation. That is exactly what happened with Paulin. They have now reconsidered again. No official decision was taken, or policy passed, "banning" him, now or in the future, nor was any demanded, and if Paulin was
invited and attracted protests it would be the University's responsibility to ensure he was not prevented from speaking.
Once again the anti-Semitic Left has warped the very meaning of free speech, this time to promote a man who has encouraged terrorism against Jews. But there is an amusing side: it means they're now going to have to sit and listen to him -- a grim fate.
LA BALLADE DE LA GEOLE DE READINGListening to:
The new recording
by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg of music by Jacques Ibert (1890-1962). The absolutely delightful short opera Persée et Andromède
(Ravel meets Puccini on a hot day) is coupled with Ibert's impressive symphonic suite of 1920, inspired by Oscar Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol
November 20, 2002
Great Brits Nos. 5 and 6
Anyone who remembers The First Churchills
on BBC in the early 1970s will know the kind of world these two figures moved in -- and the central role of Sarah Churchill, played with such outrageously camp hamminess by Susan Hampshire that she became a minor gay icon (a status confirmed by her role as Lady Glencora in The Pallisers
a few years later).JOHN CHURCHILL, 1st DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH (1650-1722)
The astounding progress of Her Majesty's arms under the Earl of Marlborough has brilliantly restored the honour of the English nation. (House of Commons in 1709)Marlborough
was a military genius who has been compared with Caesar, Alexander and Napoleon. Marlborough held command for a decade in a complex and shifting theatre of war on the European mainland, and delivered a cumulative series of military and strategic victories that assured lasting British supremacy. Churchill's triumph in the War of Spanish Succession
-- victories such as Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), and Oudenaarde (1708) -- was achieved despite disadvantage in men and equipment, and the tactical unpredictability of his adversaries. His command required continuous diplomacy to maintain the alliance of anti-French powers as military, political and dynastic developments constantly threatened to dissipate it.
Marlborough's frustration of the French bid for European supremacy and relegation of Franco-Spanish ambitions coincided with the steep climb of Britain's economic transformation - agricultural output boomed into permanent surplus; urbanisation gathered pace; the imperial trading system created huge mercantile fortunes in England, and the Caribbean and North American colonies; and soon industrial enterprises would make their first appearance. Without the space and security created by Marlborough there can be no certaintly that British economic and imperial expansion would have been possible.
Marlborough's battles were some of the last between major powers before the revolutions in America and France rewrote the meaning and method of warfare -- placing war at the centre of ideological and social change, and mobilising whole populations under arms. We now live in an era of "total war", engaging whole peoples, employing vast armies of men and resources, driven forward by scientific and technological innovation. It is not surprising, perhaps, that Marlborough's genius has been overshadowed by the romantic engagements of Wellington during the Napoleonic era, or of Montgomery's dashing desert campaigns in the Second World War. Yet both of those generals operated within a clear-cut diplomatic system, fought battles that were only part of much larger wars, and were in command at a crucial juncture for quite short periods.
Or is it that Marlborough does not look
sufficiently like a modern military hero. The long curls of his Restoration-period wig cascade over his armour
in a distinctly feminine fashion - he looks urbane, civilised, cultivated. Compare this with the tough, short-haired, democratic demeanour of Wellington and Monty
-- or even the mythologised medieval macho of Henry V -- and Marlborough's ineligibilty for modern imitation is evident. Do gay people have more reason than most to restore the reputation of our greatest general?ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER, 1st EARL OF SHAFTESBURY (1621-83)Shaftesbury
stands out as the most brilliant politician of Britain's extraordinary transition from an absolute monarchy with religion at the centre of life, to a parliamentary system with commerce at its centre. Although he died six years before the so-called Glorious Revolution
it enshrined most of the objectives for which he had worked. A liberal, tolerant religious sceptic, and a noted intellectual (and patron of the great political philospher John Locke), his efforts were devoted to removing from English life the forces which had continually threatened civil war since the early 1600s. This did not require consistency of policies, but the courage to balance disruptive forces and protect freedom of speech. In this process Shaftesbury's efforts gave rise to the stable party system, which though widely denounced at the time as "faction", has served as the bedrock of popular electoral government in Britain and the United States.
November 19, 2002
THE SADDEST SIGHT
A bird lies covered in oil on the coast near the town of Arteixo, after the leaking oil tanker Prestige sank today
off Spain's north-western coast, taking more than 70,000 tonnes of fuel into the Atlantic with it.
November 18, 2002
The extreme left are working hard to create chaos "in support" of the firemen (which is hardly surprising given that the politically motivated firemen's union leadership are exploiting their members to confront the government in the first place). Here is some useful advice from Socialist Worker
Demand now that your employers come up with a risk assessment. But don't trust what they say.
As for the strike itself, it is a scandal that the current offer remains open while the army has to be used. The 11% offer should be withdrawn immediately, with negotiations for its restoration dependent on a complete return to work.
November 17, 2002
THE ORGAN FOR ORGANIC
After the complete disaster
of Clairol's "Urge to Herbal" shampoo advertisement campaign, rival advertisers are considering using a "real-life" sequence starring Charlie. Just days after changing to a new shampoo, he received these comments from work colleagues and friends:
-- Wow, your hair's looking fantastic!
-- Have you had a special haircut or something?
-- You've changed you hair. It looks so much better!
-- Your hair looks so good. What have you done?
And the shampoo in question? This one
- the organic shampoo with rosemary or lavendar.
November 16, 2002
GREAT BRITS NEXT...
To most of us he was the man who had built a great stately home
outside Oxford. But to those of us whose TV costume drama memories go back 30 years, he's John Neville and above all her
husband. Who is it?
PLANNING OUR ESCAPES
W. and I have just arranged for a holiday in Barcelona
for 10 days at the start of January 2003. I was amazed to be able to find flights at £50 each, return. Our self-catering apartment in Barcelona (located about equal distance from the Cathedral and the Parc de la Ciutadella) was a bit more costly, but I'm greatly looking forward to shopping in the local supermarket. Never having been to Barcelona before, we're hoping we'll have long enough to explore some of the more distant sections
of the City in the Sants-Montjuic, Eixample and Sant Marti districts, as well as the more famous parts of the Ciutat Vella (Old Town).
Meanwhile (and from the sublime to the ridiculous) W. has (just about) persuaded me that we should go to see the new Bond film (Die Another Day
- so it's obvious what the story is all about) when it opens. His argument? That I like Toby Stephens
(which I certainly do - his Orsino
in the film of Twelfth Night
was gorgeous, and his Coriolanus
on the stage at Stratford was hot
). But still... And W's reason for wanting to see it? I really can't imagine, but it had better be good.
Great Brit No.4
JAMES GEORGE FRAZER (1854-1941)Frazer
was the founding father of modern social anthropology -- another way of saying that he established our way of looking at primtive peoples, ritual, magic, myth and religion, and their relation to ancient culture (like that of the Greeks) and modern belief (such as Judaeo-Christianity). While many of the specific analyses in Frazer's monumental multi-volume book The Golden Bough
have been corrected by later work, its influence on the most important writers of the twentieth century (from Freud and Jung to T.S.Eliot, D.H.Lawrence and James Joyce) was profound, and still speaks powerfully
to us. (The publishing history of The Golden Bough
has been problematical
. An e-text version of the author's own 1922 single-volume version
was made by Project Gutenberg in January 2003, and numerous condensed versions exist elsewhere on the web.)
November 15, 2002
Top 50 Number 1s has had the most fantastic climax
-- one of the best results of any survey recently (and the Chig-readers' Top 10 and Top 50 knock the national BBC results
out of sight). In another
tells us 25 Strange Things
he believes - but they're not so strange and (with the odd caveat provided by readers) they add up to a distinctinctly sane and sceptical outlook...
Which is something you cannot say about Tom Paulin, TV's most loquacious ignoramus
, whom Peter
, with remarkable forbearance, described as "that tedious Northern Irish guy I always want to strangle". So it's splendid to learn that Harvard English Department withdrew its speaking invitation
to Paulin when they discovered some of the things he's said. Like his April 2002 interview
with Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram
(Brooklyn-born Jewish settlers "should be shot dead. I think they are Nazis, racists, I feel nothing but hatred for them") and his poem in the Observer in 2001 ("As another little Palestinian boy / In trainers jeans and a white teeshirt / Is gunned down by the Zionist SS").
November 14, 2002
"THERE IS NO MATTEL LINE OF S&M BARBIE"
Mattel, manufacturer of the Barbie Doll is not making much progress in its law suit
against the Britsh manufacturer of a Dungeon-Mistress Barbie. Mattel said it infringed its copyright. But Judge Laura Taylor Swain ruled in favour of the S&M doll because she found it wasn't a market substitute for Barbie dolls
: "To the court's knowledge, there is no Mattel line of S&M Barbie," the Judge said. Court.com
The judge, citing an advertisement describing the doll as wearing lederhosen-style Bavarian bondage dress and helmet in rubber with PVC-mask, wrote in her ruling that the doll is "quite different from that typically appearing on Mattel's products for children," and that "the sale or display of 'adult' dolls does not appear to be a use Mattel would likely develop or license others to develop."
Anyone got any ideas for an S&M Action Man
MRS ISABELLA BEETON (1836-1865)Isabella Beeton
lived a short and hectic life (she died after giving birth to her fourth child, at the age of 28). At its centre was her understanding of the modern family and social mobility. She began writing articles for her publisher husband's highly successful Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine
, but soon recognised the need for a systematic exposition of the subjects its readers were so thirsty for. Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management
appeared in 1861 and was a huge success, commercially and sociologically. A manual of the private, it is concerned with far more than cooking: "Early rising is one of the most essential qualities which enter into good Household Management" she advised, and lest the inward looking nature of the task should lead to misapprehensions, "Hospitality is a most excellent virtue".
Mrs Beeton definitively created the notion of the household as an object of creative management, and of a woman's role in it. While the culinary preferences (and available
ingredients) of mid-Victorians no longer prevail, Elizabeth David, Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver are no more than successors to Mrs Beeton's precise and practical construction of the recipe, while all the innumerable design magazines and TV programmes are just updates of Mrs Beeton's configuration of the home as the centre of individualism, consumption and socialisation.
November 13, 2002
"We are genetically programmed to dislike the anal smells of others." (David Attenborough, Radio Times
). Oh really? Then I think some people I know have not been genetically programmed properly.
ISRAEL: DEMOCRACY AND HOMOSEXUALITY
The first openly gay M.K.
(Member of the Knesset), 61-year old Uzi Even, has been sworn in to the Israeli parliament -- and though a left-winger, conservative Prime Minister Ariel Sharon congratulated him on his election. In the mid-1990s Mr Even was the army officer whose case led to the major legal changes giving gay people full equality in the Israeli armed forces. Not surprisingly ultra-Orthodox M.K.s voiced anti-gay opinions, but despite predictions
in the Guardian
, have not targetted Mr Even or tried to block parliamentary benefits for his partner
Gay people are making rapid strides in Israeli society. Tel Aviv has an openly lesbian councillor, Michal Eden - whose exciting personal website
is well worth a visit, and the city has recently granted same-sex couples some of the same municipal benefits
as married couples, such as discounts and shared benefits at cultural functions, recreational facilities and city-sponsored events. Meanwhile, Jerusalem
has just got its first gay councillor.
Such advances certainly stimulate opposition and anti-gay propaganda from Orthodox groups. But to put this all in context, it's worth taking a look at the extent of political freedoms and diversity
in Israel, and set it alongside how gay people are treated by the Palestinian Authority -- official persecution
, violent abuse and torture that right now are driving many gay Palestinians to flee to a precarious existence in Israel.
W. and I have won a prize in a national competition! Our entry to BBC Music Magazine
identifying the 20 or so composers in an imaginary cartoon orchestra was one of the ten runners-up, and we'll be getting 5 DVDs -- J.S. Bach, St Matthew Passion
; Mahler, Symphony No 2 (Resurrection
); Beethoven, Symphony No 9 (Choral
); Orff, Carmina Burana
; and a disc of "verismo" operatic extracts -- all we need now is a DVD player!FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO CARE
I have posted the answers to the (almost completely ignored) quiz about European leaders in the comments for that post
November 12, 2002
JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (1883-1946)Keynes
was an extraordinarily talented, and even more extraordinarily self-confident product of British elite academic life before the First World War --- a time when the established certainties of European life were breaking down. In one area after another radically new ideas (and their proponents) appeared, although it was often not until after the Second World War that they thoroughly took hold. No changes were more wide-ranging or profound than those in economic life, and it was Keynes who offered explanations of what was going on, and suggested methods of controlling it. His influence was global, affecting the wealth and power of individuals, businesses and countries; and enduring - whatever economic policies governments have followed, right up to today, they have been understood and applied through political systems arising from Keynes's ideas.
Keynes's most important work
was a response to mass unemployement, which dominated national and international politics between the world wars. In The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
(1935-6) he insisted that the economic "cycle" was not inevitable, but could be modified by government taxation and expenditure. By planning
these measures, Government could (and should) create conditions in which employment levels were always kept close to maximum. These ideas confirmed the new political claims for (and demands on) governments that gathered force in the 1930s, and became normal in the mass media democracies after World War II.
Keynes's argument, at its most general, and in the form that it has been most influential, was governments could, and should, determine and maintain the overall level of economic activity. The specific policies proposed by Keynes (and his followers, who extended and modified his theories) have achieved varying degrees of success, and their popularity has risen and fallen with changing conditions (not least technological advance and trade competition). But Keynes's basic principle - that governments are responsible for economic conditions - has become ever more deeply embedded in political practice. The necessary mechanisms of Keynesian economic planning (taxation, public expenditure) have inevitably become so fused with social-political objectives (income redistribution, regional and sectoral subsidies, risk management, public sector funding) that the universal state is now the dominant life experience in industrialised countries.
Keynes's ideas were too complex for politicians
, but he exercised decisive authority with the increasingly large and important class of senior bureaucrats, who accorded him leadership in planning for the transition from war to peace. Keynes was the dominant force behind the Bretton Woods
conference in 1944, which set up world financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Again, while Keynes's specific policies were in time overtaken by developments, the intellectual and institutional structure of world financial management and the role of the US, which he established, have not only endured, but like domestic ecomomic direction, are now so central to global life conditions that it is impossible to imagine a world without them.
Keynes is not a charismatic figure. Although part of the Bloomsbury Group
in the early 1900s, this association hasn't conferred on him a romantic image. Despite the importance of Keynes's homosexuality
and his long love-affair with painter Duncan Grant
he hardly figures in the Anglo-American gay consciousness. Like so many other Bloomsbury intellectuals, Keynes can be understood, even admired
, but not loved. [The definitive biography is: Robert Skidelsky: John Maynard Keynes, Vol. 1: Hopes Betrayed 1883-1920
(1983); Vol. 2: The Economist as Saviour, 1920-1937
(1992); Vol. 3: Fighting for Britain 1937-1946
(2000). David Laidler has written a full-length review
Tomorrow's great Brit quoted this opinion approvingly: "The modest virgin, the prudent wife, and the careful matron are much more serviceable in life than philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queans." Suggestions?
November 11, 2002
THERE GOES £8.99 (OR JOHN GIELGUD AND THE URINATING GOAT)
The review of A Moment Towards the End of the Play
, Timothy West's "hugely entertaining" autobiogarphy, in this week's Sunday Times
Supplement) reports that West likes most to be touring with a group of actors: he is, at heart, a "strolling player". After seeing his wonderful portrayal of King Lear on Saturday this might be reason enough to shell out £8.99 for the book. But with infuriating coyness the review clinches it: West writes in "an amusing, down to earth way" and "the story of John Gielgud and the urinating goat is worth the price of the book alone."GREAT BRITONS: NEXT PLEASE
Impatient of those who think everything will work out in the end, the next one of Charlie's Britons said "The long-run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long-run we are all dead." Who could that be?
"NOW GODS, STAND UP FOR BASTARDS"King Lear
was excellent. As might be expected, Timothy West was outstanding, but so were many of the rest of the English Touring Theatre
company. The production did cut the text
to create a tight, fast-moving performing vesion (provided as part of the programme - for £2.50 amazing value), and there was a welcome lack of gimmickry and extra-textual extrusions. And Edmund! In studded black leather and a forceful physical presence, Dominic Rickhards made the male lust for power and the power of lust perfect dramatic balances to their decline in Lear. I'd never seen Lear
before, and this performance immediately convinced me it is Shakespeare's greatest and most profound
WE'RE ALL SMARTER THAN BUSH, RIGHT?
I've come across loads of condescending blogger comments about Pres. Bush's supposed ignorance of foreign affairs, so here's a chance to prove just how superior we all are to the dumbo in the White House. All you need to do (off the top of your head) is give the names of the (1) Presidents, (2) Prime Ministers (Germany - Chancellor) and (3) Foreign Ministers, of France, Italy and Germany. If that's just too easy, also name the U.S. Secretary of State, National Security Adviser, and Ambassador to the United Nations. I'll volunteer that I didn't know them all. But then, I never claimed to be so much smarter than Dubya. Answers on Wednesday.
November 10, 2002
Mark Griffith (a recent visitor) has one of the most engrossing and worthwhile weblog
+ websites you could ever hope to find. You can -- I did -- spend hours following the links. One of the most delightful sites I came across (following animal language links) was about gorillas
to see gorilla for stink
-- pretty clear I think).
November 09, 2002
OCTAVIA HILL (1838-1912)Octavia Hill
was an exemplar of voluntary social action, and a critic of government involvement in social welfare. Her prescription for improving the conditions of the least wealthy, and safeguaring national assets for the enjoyment of all, retain all their force today. Her ideas and methods were studied and adopted across Europe, Australia and the USA, where her name continues to resonate
more strongly today than in the UK.
Octavia Hill was the driving force behind an effective practical response
to urban poverty. Fixing on housing as the key element in lifting people out of destitution, she addressed all aspects
of the supply of suitable affordable properties, the social practices of those to be accommodated, and the source and conduct of intermediaries. Her ideas were matched at all points by methodology and mutual individual commitment, establishing what was in effect a wide-reaching but parochial system of organised social work. This was both revolutionary for its times, but also established an enduring model for imporvement at the lowest economic levels of industrial society. Her identification of housing management as the key variable in successful poverty uplift, and emphasis on the need for direct, honest, non-governmental, and personal involvement, remain true now
, despite modern housing workers' scepticism
and government concern with income and employment.
Late in her life she drove forward the creation
of the National Trust
, one of the most successful
voluntary associations ever, and one widely emulated across the world.
THE CYCLE FASCISTS
Recently I was particularly infuriated by some of the policy statements
coming out of our local county council's so-called transport department, about congestion and alternative transport. They contained policies that people should ride to work by cycle, and "encouraging" people to do so by "redistributing" road space away from motor vehicles. This is justified as creating a "fairer, more inclusive society" as well as a more "sustainable" transport system.
But of course the policy takes no account whatsoever of people's propensity (indeed, ability) to cycle to work in hostile weather conditions -- which for much of the year prevail most of the time. Not only is it dark in the morning and/or evening for a third of the year, but half the time it is also pouring with rain. This week has seen almost continuous heavy rain. One junior work colleague of mine did cycle into work on one of those days, but despite being well clothed, he arrived so physically wrecked by the experience (and the prospect of cycling home) that by his own admission, was never working at more than 50% efficiency for the rest of the day.
That evening I left a message on the website of one of the foremost pro-cycling/anti-car organisations in the UK (based in Leeds), pointing out the sheer impracticality of a policy that would have people cyling several miles each day in severely adverse weather, including torrential rain and sub-zero conditions. I received the following reply from the head of the organisation, and I pass it on now in full:
I sometimes cycle in the pouring rain and climate change may ensure we have even more inclem-
ent days. I do seem to prefer the warmer wet winters to the icy snowy ones we used to have. Nevertheless some of my most interesting cycle rides have taken place during snow blizzards. With the right clothing one can cycle in almost any conditions; I'm no longer afraid of rain and snow.
So now you know. Cyling is easy and fun in even the most dangerous and exhausting conditions, provided you wear the right clothes. So ride to work, or put up with yet futher deliberately engineered congestion for your cars. (And climate-change has brought an end to icy conditions anyway.) End of discussion.
I don't pay a lot of notice to my dreams - certainly not any interpretative efforts. But from time to time, especially when I've been particularly exhausted before going to sleep, I seem to dream very vividly. Long, coherent and loaded with emotions, I remember them in detail on waking, and they remain with me all day. The emotional world of the dream seems to drench everything I think or do, even if its "narrative" can be easily distinuished from reality.
Last night I dreamed that I was at a college graduation ball, with all my friends, male and female. I insisted on dancing in such a violent and unrestrained fashion that I was shunned and condemned. Then, half way through the event I began to weave a light-stepped fantastic, and led everyone into a brilliant, swinging, happy dance. My previous hostility and billigerence were forgotten, and by end the my name figured in a speech of gratitude. Hardly a nightmare, but the vivid emotional juxatposition of physical rejection and joyous inclusion have thoroughly upset me. I feel bitter and vengeful at the same time as generous and celebratory, irrespective of what is now going on -- and I don't feel fit to say anything to anyone. And tonight, of all things, we are going to see Timothy West in an English Touring Theatre production of King Lear
, with a gay couple we are friends with!
November 08, 2002
Charlie's 100 Greatest Britons.
Tomorrow the first spotlight will be on someone who was "tiny, stout, and noticeably badly dressed", has been dubbed the "queen of open spaces", and who wrote:
Before our influence can be human, natural, and helpful, before our elaborate network of organization can be anything but harmful, these widespread masses which form the poor of our towns must be to us again separate human beings, with individual histories, characters, hopes, longings, temptations. It has been ordained that each of us has a distinctive face and form known to those who love us, and which enwraps a soul as distinct... It is not by wide spreading changes, it is not by more legal enactments but face to face and heart to heart that pauperism must be dealt with. It is the friendly help that takes the degradation out of it... It is, of course, true that there are certain great human needs that may be met en bloc and from a distance, but it is curious how few they are, how badly they are met unless it be by those with much individual sympathy, and how curiously little joy or gratitude they bring, and how little self-reliance. It is the gift to the man himself, from a man, which reaches him -- the gift without the giver is bare.
Next time we're in London W. and I have decided we must try Jamie Oliver's Restaurant Fifteen
- though (?because) we didn't see the Channel 4 Series
. It's mainly because I adore everything about cute Jamie -- the best food W.'s ever cooked has come from one of his recipes, or after watching an episode of the Naked Chef
. Mind you, W. has drawn the line at installing a spiral staircase and riding a Vespa, and has threatened to show me just what "whack it" means if I say it again. Jamie has such
a cute website
(the diary's sweet and check out the "Pukkatron II" game) and top-flight credentials
how could anyone hate him? Well, two people do - Mecca Ibrahim
and Tiffany-fan Julia Rockett
(especially tasteful) have put up "I hate Jamie Oliver" sites. Fortunately, these are offset by a very nice list that includes a fantasy of JO (sic
) getting it on with Louis Theroux -- 10 Reasons Why Jamie Oliver Is So My Bitch
I was slightly surpised to learn
(via Chris Bertram
) that "in the US, 30 per cent of men aged 18 to 34 shave their chests", but less surprised (though hitherto ignorant of the fact) that "the word 'cunt' appears more frequently in the Guardian
than in any other newspaper in the world" and that "an average edition of the paper contains at least two articles containing the word 'fuck'."
November 07, 2002
We've just got back from Milton Keynes Theatre
and a triumphant performance by Glyndebourne Touring Opera
of Benjamin Britten's comic opera Albert Herring
However, the whole evening was had nearly been a write-off before we even got there, when we found that the main West-East road across Warwickshire had been closed (for lengthy road maintenance works), and a 20-mile diversion along narrow, unlit country roads sprung on the unsuspecting motorist. It required the exercise of very considerable forbearance not to detonate the charged atmosphere as W.'s temper frayed.
"Here, let me look" -- and the map book was wrenched from my hands. A huge charge of explosives had to be handled with the very greatest care when the diversion signs and permanent road signs totally contradicted one another:
"You want me to turn right? Are you SURE?"
"Yes, I'm quite sure" (chosen over "Of course I'm not fucking sure, how could anybody be sure?)
"Well I can't see a fucking thing"
"It's where that lorry's going" (not adding "The one you are driving up the back of"). Thank god it turned out I was right, and as a 90 mph dash down the M1 made it increasinly likely we would make up a fair amount of lost time, combustible material could be neutralised and fuses removed.
Fortunately, we got into our seats with seconds to spare and Albert Herring
was splendid in every way - singing, staging, direction and costumes were all outstanding, and the production continues the restoration (or elevation) of Albert Herring
to the properly understood and well-regarded
place in Britten's works that was begun with the brilliantly original Opera North realisation
last year. (If you're persuaded by Here Inside
's enthusiasm, there are still performances in Norwich, 14 Nov; Woking, 21 Nov; Stoke-on-Trent, 28 Nov; and Oxford, 5 Dec).
Apparently it is not advisable to get into S/M activities
while moving house (courtesy of Photodude
). Meanwhile we have Peter
to thank for this picture
of accidental highway redesign, which is a natural companion to some Manchester road-signs that challenge
the motorist (thanks to Speedlimit
Yesterday's Court Circular
reported events in which many of us would surely have been happy to stand in for Her Majesty. In the morning
Her Majesty received a representative party from the 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles), who presented The Queen’s Truncheon for Her Majesty’s inspection.
I wonder how long it was since she'd last seen it, and what it had been used for in the interim. The report for November 5 continued:
Members of the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team were received by The Queen this afternoon and remained to Tea.
Meanwhile the poor old Duke of Edinburgh, as Patron of the Caravan Club, was stuck with opening their new site in Abbey Wood, London SE2.
Yesterday brought excellent news
from the courts. The Appeal Court has ruled that a parliamentary decision to confer rights to inherit tenancies on unmarried couples living together cannot be limited to heterosexual cohabitees. It's an important ruling in itself for all gay couples who rent their homes together, bringing essential equality between
them, as well as the same security and support for their union that heterosexual couples enjoy. But it also represents the start of what will probably be a long battle to make the decision permanent and enforce it, resting as it does on use of the Human Rights Act
(1988) to reword an Act of Parliament and revise a decision by the House of Lords.
Even more imporant, it will set off an avalanche of litigation over the unequal treatment of gay couples in all areas of commercial life. Stonewall
(which played an important part in the tenancy case) has set out the agenda, and its human significance, very clearly:
I lived with my partner, Peter, for 35 years. We met as young men and I adored him to the end. At first we were both poor, but Peter became very successful. We had a wonderful life but, a year ago, Peter died. He did make a will but I had to pay 40% [inheritance tax] on everything he left to me, including the half of our own home. I got no benefits from his pension... I feel terribly angry that so much of what we had built together has gone. A heterosexual couple could be married for a week and they would be protected. Why can’t a relationship of 35 years be recognised? John, Yorkshire.
November 06, 2002
The BBC's experiment in "democratic" history has in many ways been a predictable joke. 30,000 people responded to a call to vote for the "greatest Britons"
. The list of those who filled the top 100
places, released a few weeks ago, was (as Roy Hattersley said of Walter Scott's Ivanhoe
) "a farrago of historical nonsense combined with maudlin romance". And that was the sensible half! The rest ranged from relentlessly self-promoting contemporary "celebrities" (including Robbie Williams, David Beckham and the late Princess Diana) to absolute non-entities (Michael Crawford and the Unknown Soldier).
The greatest British minds
- philosophers, economists, architects, churchmen - were completely absent. Our great prose writers, poets and dramatists, composers, and artists were represented by the handful of names that amounted to no more than a dutiful reflex. As if to balance this parade of indifference, a glut of scientists and inventors drew in the positively obscure.
But putting together a list of 100 British individuals who merit the accolade "great", drawn from all walks of national life is a far more challenging task than I imagined. In my spare moments, with the intention of kicking off my return to blogging with it, I've been doodling in the margins of the history of the English-speaking people
... and here is the result.Charlie's Alternative List of the 100 Greatest Britons
. They're listed chronologically by birth date (which is quite interesting in itself), and every day for the next 3 months I shall have a closer look at one of them. A few more comments on the whole exercise will also follow in the next few days, but now let's just get on with the story.
- John Wycliffe (1328-84). Populist divine and biblical translator.
- Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-1400). Author of the Canterbury Tales.
- King Henry VII (1457-1509), reigned 1485-1509.
- Thomas Cromwell (1489-1556). Royal Servant and chief minister, statesman.
- King Henry VIII (1491-1547), reigned 1509-1547.
- Robert Cecil, Lord Burghley (1521-98). Chief minister to Queen Elizabeth I.
- Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634). Lawyer, legal authority and voice of Parliamentary tradition. Opponent of royal power.
- Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618). Politician, adventurer, explorer and discoverer.
- Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626). Philosopher, scientist, Lord Chancellor of England.
- Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury (1563-1612). Chief Minister under Elizabeth I and James I.
- William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Poet, playwright and actor.
- Inigo Jones (1573-1652). Architect and designer.
- Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). Political philosopher of centralised power. Author of Leviathan.
- Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658). Civil War Parliamentary political and military leader. Lord Protector.
- John Milton (1608-74). Intellectual, radical politician, and poet. Author of Paradise Lost.
- Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (1621-83). Restoration politician. Patron of John Locke.
- George Fox (1624-91). Religious radical, founder of Quaker sect.
- John Locke (1632-1704). Theorist of personal freedom and limited government.
- Christopher Wren (1632-1723). Mathematician, inventor, planner and architect.
- Samuel Pepys (1633-1703). Naval administrator and diarist.
- Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Mathematician.
- John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. (1650-1722) Military commander.
- Henry Purcell (1659-95). Composer.
- Daniel Defoe (1660-1731). Author.
- William Hogarth (1697-1764). Artist.
- John Wesley (1703-91). Co-founder of Methodism.
- Samuel Johnson (1709-84). Essayist, editor, lexicographer.
- David Hume (1711-76). Philosopher.
- Lancelot "Capability" Brown (1716-83). Garden designer.
David Garrick (1717-79). Actor, theatrical manager and producer.
- Adam Smith (1723-90). Economic philosopher. Author of Wealth of Nations.
- Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88). Painter.
- Richard Arkwright (1732-92). Inventor and industrialist.
- Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97). Painter.
- Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). Philosopher and legal theorist.
- John Nash (1752-1835). Architect.
- James Gillray (1756-1815). Cartoonist.
- William Blake (1757-1827). Poet, artist, radical.
- Jane Austen (1775-1817). Novelist.
- J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). Painter.
- George Stephenson (1781-1848). Inventor and industrialist.
- Robert Peel (1788-1850). Prime Minister 1841-46.
- Michael Faraday (1791-1867). Chemist, Physicist, Natural Philosopher.
- Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury (1801-85). Politician, social and educational reformer.
- Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81). Novelist. Political party leader and Prime Minister 1874-80.
- Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-59). Engineer and industrial architect.
- John Stuart Mill (1806-73). Individualist political philosopher.
- Charles Darwin (1809-82). Scientist, naturalist theoretician.
- W.E. Gladstone (1809-98). Prime Minister 1868-74, 1880-5.
- Charles Dickens (1812-70). Novelist.
- George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) (1819-80). Novelist.
- Lewis Carroll (Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) (1832-98). Author of Alice in Wonderland.
- William Morris (1834-96). Artist, designer, essayist, socialist.
- Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914). Municipal leader, political reformer, educational promoter, imperialist.
- Mrs (Isabella) Beeton (1836-65). Author of advice on culinary and household management.
- Sir W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911) and Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900). Operatic collaborators.
- Octavia Hill (1838-1912). Social work pioneer and co-founder of the National Trust.
- George Cadbury (1839-1922). Chocolate manufacturer, Quaker philanthropist.
Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932). Garden designer.
- W.G. Grace (1848-1915). Cricketer.
F.W. Maitland (1850-1906). Historian.
- James Frazer (1854-1941). Social anthropologist.
Willie Renshaw (1861-1904). International lawn tennis champion.
- H.G. Wells (1866-1946). Author.
- Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944). Architect.
- Henry Wood (1869-1944). Conductor and founder of the Promenade concerts.
- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). Mathematician, philosopher, radical.
- Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). Composer.
- Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965). Political and wartime leader.
- William Morris, Lord Nuffield (1877-1963). Industrialist, philanthropist.
Alexander Fleming (1881-1955). Nobel prize-winning biochemist.
- A.A. Milne (1882-1956). Children's author.
- John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946). Economist.
- D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930). Novelist and poet.
- Julian Huxley (1887-1975). Scientist and Humanist leader.
- Charles Chaplin (1889-1977). Film actor.
- Noel Coward (1899-1973). Playwright, songwriter, performer.
- Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980). Film director.
- Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900-79). Military commander. Viceroy of India.
- Joseph Needham (1900-95). Historian and Philosopher of Science.
- Paul Dirac (1902-84). Nobel-prize winning Theoretical Physicist.
- Barbara Hepworth (1903-75). Sculptor, artist.
Allen Lane (1903-70). Publisher, founder of Penguin Books.
- Graham Sutherland (1903-80). Artist.
- Frederick Ashton (1904-88). Choreographer.
- Cecil Beaton (1904-1980). Photographer.
- W.H. Auden (1907-73). Poet.
- Laurence Olivier (1907-89). Stage and film actor, director.
- Quentin Crisp (1908-99). Homosexual personality.
- David Lean (1908-91). Film director.
- Peter Scott (1909-88). Naturalist.
- Benjamin Britten (1913-76). Composer.
- Dylan Thomas (1914-53). Poet.
- Stanley Matthews (1915-2000). Footballer.
- Margaret Thatcher (b. 1925). Prime Minister 1979-90.
- Elizabeth Taylor (b. 1932). Actress.
- Henry Cooper (b. 1934). Boxer.
- Shirley Bassey (b. 1937). Singer.
- John Lennon (1940-80) and Paul McCartney (b. 1942). Songwriting collaborators.
- Simon Rattle (b. 1955). Conductor.