Friday, November 25, 2011

Election update #6, final edition

To the village this morning to see Prime Minister John Key and local MP Louise Upston in action. About a hundred people showed up, not quite half of them media. Bonus: Steven Joyce was there too, taking photos. Can the Nats not afford a professional photographer? I wanted to ask Louise why they bothered with this stopover since everyone in Cambridge votes National anyway, but I guess it was on the way from Taupo to Auckland and would have been light relief after Tokoroa. No cups of tea as far as I could see, though my friend Rachael did a good job of promoting her cupcake business Bite Me – she even got Patrick Gower to interview her, but sadly the clip did not make the 6pm news.

Enough election coverage already. The Spectator has a regular Diary column with contributors ranging from Barry Humphries to Joan Collins to… well, check this one out from the 19 November issue:
London now has a new semi-permanent protest, an anti-bank tent village outside St Paul’s Cathedral, to match the anti-war tents across the road from the Houses of Parliament. It’s one of the incongruities of contemporary London: policemen carrying submachine guns on one side of the street; people breaking the law with impunity on the other. Still, the protestors don't seem to be impeding worshippers on their way to evensong, even those dressed like bankers.
There has been some progress over the past year. Twelve months ago, you had to register to use the bikes installed by London Mayor Boris Johnson. Now, a credit card is enough to give you the extra mobility they provide. Riding a “Boris bike” from the Brompton Oratory to my hotel, I felt I was keeping alive Orwell’s vision of the England of old maids cycling to their parish church.
Who is this benign observer of Occupy St Paul’s who is happy to keep alive Orwell’s vision? None other than Australia’s Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott.

Staying with Oz, here is Quadrant editor Keith Windschuttle on occasional contributor Clive James:
If you did a blindfold test on a random passage from Jane Austen you could tell straight away it was written by a woman from Georgian England, and you could almost certainly name the author. It is the same with Clive James. His writing comes across immediately as the work of an Australian of our time. Yet it is also distinctively his own. Despite living most of his adult life in England, he has kept his Australian accent in both speech and prose. His two essays for Quadrant this year, on poet James McAuley and artist Margaret Olley, dwell on their Australian tone of voice. Clive knows this topic well since he has long been master of the art.
His tone of voice comes from the 1950s state high school system — not from the teachers but the other boys, mostly from battler families. The prevailing ethos was egalitarianism, though not the chip on the shoulder kind. At the time, you admired people of obvious ability — Clive has written memorably about rugby league centre Reg Gasnier — but you developed a sharp eye for poseurs, self-promoters, time servers and salesmen, and had fun sending them up and putting them down. These were the essential skills for literary criticism and Clive made the most of them when he went to London. They still serve him well today.
Indeed, he gets better as he gets older. In August, when I asked him to write about Margaret Olley, I received a great piece of 2500 words just three days later, composed under chemotherapy and sent from his bed in a Cambridge hospital. What a trouper!
That James piece on Olley is here.

My old late friend Andrew Mason has been fittingly memorialised, if that is the word, by the Whitireia publishing course’s Andrew Mason Prize for Most Promising Editor. The winner of the inaugural prize is  Kylie Sutcliffe.

In the current NZ fiction bestseller list, eight of the top 10 are literary fiction and some of them have been up there for weeks if not months. Probably sold more than 300 copies. Just saying.

Another list, this time Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest guitarists. Lists appeal to boys, but it’s a dumb concept because music is not a competition – and how can they put Jeff Beck at only #5 and Ry Cooder at only #31? Richard Thompson at #69 and John Lennon at #55? Etc. No Roy Buchanan, Amos Garrett, Cornell Dupree or Danny Gatton. No one from jazz. But many of the comments are good because they are by other guitarists rather than journalists – Andy Summers on Pete Townshend is an ear-opener.

Prince is rated at #33: the entry cites his wonderful solo on “Purple Rain” and mentions this version of George Harrison’s dirgy “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” which electrifies it. I love the way he grins while doing it – he so knows he is fantastic. He manages to channel Albert Collins (#56) and Robbie Robertson (#59) at the same time and showboat shamelessly throughout. Glorious.

Don’t forget to vote.

Meant to say re Steven Joyce acting as some stranger’s photographer that I couldn’t imagine this happening in the US, the UK, France, Germany – any country where politicians take themselves seriously. Australia, for sure. Ireland, maybe. But where else?

1 comment:

Phil said...

Whoo-hoo! Never knew a Telecaster could sound that good.