For many years I used to be a member of the Labour European Safeguards Committee, which at the time I naïvely imagined represented a left-critical perspective on the EU that sought reform of the EU from that perspective. I left when I discovered it was being funded non-transparently and was actually just a vehicle for pulling out. A leading light was Austin Mitchell, then MP for Grimsby. Now, in a Guardian article he is criticising Labour for not focusing on the real agenda, which is standing up for the ‘left behind,’ Labour he claims has ‘no clear proposals to repair a failing economy.’
I wonder if Austin has noticed that the party is now led by Jeremy Corbyn? The ex-MP, who clearly delighted in his role as a maverick has now been out-mavericked. He must feel a little out of sorts, and perhaps hasn’t heard that Labour would end the failed policy of austerity, which is even making Tory-run councils go bust, or that Labour would renationalise natural monopolies (water, energy, rail, etc) that have squeezed the ‘left behind’ with inflation busting price rises.
As an early proponent of Brexit, Mitchell now accuses the party of being distracted by it. He should pay more attention.
I spent a pleasant day in Whitby on Friday. Sometimes the town is best seen at this time of the year, when rain and sleet and cold winds blow around the semi deserted streets. And that's the point: Whitby now doesn't seem to have an 'out of season' period. The place can be so jam packed it's hard to move. Hardly anybody was struggling through the weather to visit the excellent Pannett Art Gallery, which has a rich collection of marine art, much of it produced by the Weatherill family. In the Whitby Independent Bookshop I bought a book on the artist Eric Ravilious, which had a (very) slightly damaged cover. Without asking for a discount I was offered one. All hail the independent bookshop!
It occurred to me today, listening to the news that the five star hotel used to house corrupt Saudi royals, etc. has now been emptied after the inmates had fessed up to £100 billion of corruptly gotten gains, that we in the UK should adopt the same approach. Let's round up those against whom similar charges could be laid, and lock them up in one of those failing Trump golf resorts in Scotland. After a while, they too might admit the error of their ways.
To what extent should one trust online reviews? By way of comparison, would you go up to a complete stranger in the street and ask them for their opinion about a certain product? And then trust the response? Throw in the possibility that your random stranger actually works for the product’s manufacturer or their chief competitor and the expectation of hearing a totally non-detached opinion diminishes. I only ask because I just happened to come across one bad review of Garners Original Pickled Onions. Having been brought up on Mrs Triffitt’s* genuinely original pickled onions, I can only say that Garners negative reviewer must have been brought up on something from a taste-free moulded plastics processing factory.
*Mrs Triffitt ran a grocery shop in Norton (East Riding) before the age of supermarkets.
I borrowed a copy of Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning from friends the other day. A slim in size but substantial in wisdom volume. Apparently it has sold over nine million copies but I had never come across Frankl before, nor indeed the ‘third school of psychology’ which he founded. Frankl, who died in 1997 aged 92 was a survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau and learnt from his experiences a great deal about overcoming suffering, without resorting automatically to some other worldly manifestation of, e.g. religious belief. His approach, which he called Logotherapy has at its core an existential form of positivism (apologies to any terminological purists here). Meaning, and the value of having meaning are not prescribed by rote but are to be found in the will to meaning, to identify it in oneself. It would be as valid to find that meaning in yearning for a season ticket to Elland Road as it would be to wish for the everlasting life (for some of course this might amount to the same thing). Frankl does not set out a hierarchy of meaning, wherein some things are deemed more important than others. The search for The (capital ‘T’) meaning of life cannot be a search for a single, ‘correct’ answer. His approach is therefore humanist and tolerant and acknowledges that religion can be as valid a response as any other to the human need to fill the existentialist vacuum. Whether any religion is ‘correct’ is perhaps as useful a query as to whether Leeds United is more or less meaningful than Manchester United. Not that such an issue is without contention amongst rival fans of course.
Friday night was the opening night of the Scagglethorpe International Art Biennale 2018, surely a night to remember. Well, I can remember some of it. Openings are, after all, the best part of art exhibitions.
This one showed works (apart from my own) of Richard Barnes, Peter Coates, Tina Davy, Catriona Stewart and Simon Thackray. The theme 'Farmyard Animals' was scrupulously ignored in most of the works - another characteristic copied from our companion biennale, Venice. I did an interview on Radio York on Saturday morning (8.45 on the Julia Lewis show) and am still wondering if that was wise. It may have kept people away. Will there ever be another Scagglethorpe International Art Biennale? Some of my exhibits will appear on this website shortly.