+Another day, another art junket, this time to Manchester where the International Festival is on. I went to see the heavily praised Tao of Glass, a paean to the great minimalist composer Philip Glass. This was written, co-produced and starred Phelim McDermott who has been a Glass fan ever since Glassworks came out in 1982. McDermott went on to produce several of Glass’s operas and sought his collaboration for this piece. It is, to coin a phrase, an examination in memory and loss, but also an extended reverie on the mystical side of life, if using the word ‘mystical’ is not a misrepresentation of the Tao te Ching and other Eastern works of philosophy much referred to in the performance, which is to say those that confirm that true wisdom lies in the knowledge that we haven't really got that great thing called wisdom. McDermott explained this through the three rings of sense (which literally hung in the air), which range from the common sense world of everyday understanding, to deeper perhaps emotional understanding to what’s at the base of it all, true essence. I rather got the impression that the best way to enter essence is to lie in a coma – but don’t let me give the game away. A brilliant piece.
+Over in the Manchester Art Gallery an interactive piece called School of Integration gave me the opportunity to fill in a citizenship questionnaire, comprising 24 questions taken from the UK’s very own test for overseas aspirants who wish to join the English Madness. I got 19 out of 24 right, a poor result which I largely ascribe to a non-existent (I couldn't care less)knowledge of the order in which Henry VIII married and dispatched his wives, and indeed whoever it was who introduced the art of shampooing to the UK (Sake Dean Mahomed). The pass mark by the way is 18, so I only just scraped through. The person who introduced shampoo to the UK must not be confused with Henry VIII’s first wife (who wasn’t rewarded for washing his hair since that was before the days of shampoo. And feminism. I think).
+Manchester city centre is swamped with Jehovah’s Witnesses, with their little mobile bookstalls advertising the possibility of home visits. They are all so smartly dressed, but I didn’t see anyone talking to them. I guess they weren’t in town for Tao of Glass. It’s curious how these things co-exist.
+Reading the Guardian (oh no!) on the way to Manchester yesterday, I noticed the full page advert attacking Corbyn placed by 67 Labour peers. It averred that he had failed the leadership test. Apparently this is because – well, you know the story – so had little more to say than ‘there’s a crisis because we keep talking it up.’ These people would have no truck with President Roosevelt’s comment ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself.’ They are the very epitome of Dad’s Army’s Corporal Jones: ‘Don’t panic! Don’t panic!’ (i.e. DO panic) I was very disappointed to see Peter Hain attaching his name to this advert. I thought he might have known better. I would have sent him an e-mail, but his website seems rather difficult to get hold of as is an e-mail address. Indeed, if you follow the link to Peter's website from the parliamentary House of Lords website, you will arrive at a site which lists Peter's supposed publications. This includes the Ford Sierra Air Conditioning Instruction Manual. I'm not sure Peter wrote this. Just as I'm not at all sure that everything posted by supposed Corbyn supporters are genuine either. Peter must know by now that the link on the House of Lords website is wrong, but he hasn't done anything about it (as of 19.05 on the 18th July 2019). So much for tackling the falsehoods which are rife on the web. Oh, the delights of being an unelected member of the legislature!
+The peers’ advert’s only reference to anything faintly anti-semitic referred to Corbyn’s reaction to the alleged anti-semitic mural in London, which he was asked to defend and did so apparently but later claimed that he hadn’t studied it enough. The mural is assumed to be anti-semitic because the fat cat businessmen portrayed in it have large noses, which is indeed a recognised anti-semitic trope. I’m not making excuses for Corbyn, but if you were brought up in a world of Ralph Steadman and Gerald Scarfe, and god knows how many other cartoonists, there were big noses, hooked noses, noses that defied description and no-one to my knowledge ever invoked the trope connection – what’s the thinking behind that?
+In the same Guardian, its birthday column placed ‘HRH Duchess of Cornwall’ first, ahead of the alphabetical list. What might happen if the Guardian buried this or any other royal birthday amongst the commoners? Would they be taken off the list of newspapers who are told when royal birthdays are?
+Talking of falling out, it appears Steve Bell has fallen foul of the Guardian's 'Get behind Tom Watson' campaign. I think we'll hear more about this soon. His cartoon strip didn't appear today.
+A review of David Lynch’s retrospective exhibition in Manchester will appear in Perambulations, under HOME. (shortly)