Friday, 22 February 2013

A Blackfriars day out in London, comics at the Tate, comics running the country, Kate Middleton and Dexter Dymoke's new sculpture

Off to Blackfriars on a bitterly cold day, down the Blackfriars Road, out of Southwark tube station - what a mess the German bombers made of this part of London, but our town planners have built on their work of destruction, destroying all sense of community to create a cold higgledy piggledy discombobulation from Blackfriars Bridge  out to Canary Wharfe and then down to the bottom of the Blackfriars Road.
Astride the Thames, crabbed looking monsters that once lived in the deepest ocean trenches hunch, sipping from old Father Thames and wondering how they got so lost. 

Occasionally, a shiny new alien being arrives, such as the Shard, which intended to land in Dubai, but an onboard navigation problem forced it to settle in Southwark, where it stands bemused, looking down and around at the midgets and dwarfs it has for company, glancing across at the few other lost souls that tower over London in the City.

But the tenacious history of London thwarts the best laid plans of planners and alongside modern monstrosities lie brilliant incongruities from former ages : the Palastra building, a multi- coloured glazed block eleven stories high with a protuberance, some kind of outgrowth, perhaps a cancer, staring down from the top three floors, has abutting into it a graceful arching bridge from a more sensitive time. 

As we push against the cold down Blackfriars road we pass a proud and lonely sentinel which still guards against our pleasant vices : The Sons of Temperance building, which must have represented the savings of a generation of abstemious Victorians who aimed at saving their souls and heading soberly into heaven.

Talking of heaven, much later that same day, we passed the Headquarters of The Salvation Army, which is housed in a new glass and steel tent on the walk up to St Pauls from the river.
On the window are the words of Jesus : “I am the light of the world.......etc.
We are both always vulnerable to words, and again wonder at our atheism.
But consider these words : “ All that you are, you are through me; all that I am, I am through you alone”
Comparably compelling.
These are the words of one A. Hitler, spoken to his S.A, the Nazi militia.

Beware of words, especially when they are spoken by men seeking leadership positions.

At the bottom of Blackfriars Road we arrive at the ASC gallery, where we will see the new sculpture of Dexter Dymoke, an artist who represents new ideas in London that he expresses in ingenious and incongruous materials which adopt bizarre, sensuous and sexy shapes.

The gallery is housed in a building as ugly as Socrates, but we are intrigued and absorbed by the sculpture on display, which compels attention and asks to be bought and taken home. The shapes and materials defy explanation, but so does life itself, so there is a mysterious attraction at work.

From this cutting edge gallery we are off back up Blackfriars Road to the Tate Modern to see the Roy Lichenstein exhibition.

This is entertaining art. It makes you smile. It is therefore serious and important. But eventually one stops reading comics and starts reading novels and that’s how you feel by the time you get to the end of this show - it’s time for more substance. Roy fills you up like a Chinese meal, half an  hour later you are hungry again.

We are grateful for the Tate though, it really is an asset the country.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party and very likely to be the next Prime Minister, have announced that Kate Middleton is a ‘ huge asset’ to the country’, this in response to a novelist who had described her as a ‘ plastic princess designed to breed.’
What creeps our politicians are sometimes - ever so ‘umble.
If Kate Middleton is a huge asset, what are Tim Berners-Lee or James Dyson or the many others who do useful work that pays the country’s bills?
Words are one of the currencies of politics (pictures are the other and more important) and politicians should be masters of them, but our comedy duo are debasing their currency in their rush to flatter our monarchic mannequin.

We decide to take refuge in drink and head for the Black Friar pub on Queen Victoria Street, just down from St Pauls. It’s the only art nouveau pub in London and dates from about 1870.

If Dave and Ed pop in for a pint we’ll have a go at them, and sort out a few other things that need sorting out, but politicians don’t do pubs, too risky, they might find out what’s going on in the country.
The atmosphere in the Black Friar is warm and inviting. It reminds me of the brilliant TV ad for Courage that my old agency once made. It was written by the late John Webster - an advertising genius.

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