One summer, when I was a student, I rented a room in the attic of a vicarage. Answering my own sense of isolation, this seemed a grim outpost of the empire of bleak.
When I first came to enquire, the landlord, an ex-naval chaplain, refused to receive me until the end of Banns Hour. We sat in silence, for there were no couples seeking their banns to be read. In that joyless place, I doubt there were ever couples attending during Banns Hour.
The atrium of that building held an ornamental table on which sat a very large ornamental pot. It was filled to the brim with rubber bands.
From the train, this part of London appeared still as it had after being re-modeled by the Luftwaffe. Grey narrow streets were surmounted by a huge residential block with sparse slit windows like loopholes in the walls of a fortress. This image stayed with me over many years.
Recently, I tried to capture this, setting the weight of the opaque paint against the grey transparent watercolour. However, the balance I saw in my mind’s eye was only achieved by digitally manipulating the brightness and contrast.
Here is a further attempt, now setting the distant tower blocks against a dark sky.
I had been brought back to this, strangely, by a recent news item.
That summer, I resolved my loneliness by rejoining the Labour Party. There was a by-election and we fought against the odds against a bitterly homophobic campaign. Three decades on, I read that the winner of that election and now long-serving parliamentarian was wishing a happy 60th birthday to our unsuccessful candidate. A few years ago, he had apologised publicly for the tone of his winning campaign.
Why is this of interest? I read with increasing amazement the way in which the Republican primaries appear to being fought over narrowly defined sexual politics. In the UK, I think and I hope that electoral polarisation over such issues is confined to the dustbin of history.
mmm … on reflection this sounds smug, like I’m suggesting UK politics is somehow better than democracy in the USA. That’s not my point – both systems are much more complex than this. It is simply a narrative – the coverage of the Republican Primaries made me reflect on changes in UK politics over my own lifetime. Along with a picture that had some distant relevance.
Its just a blog, right …