Forgive the radio silence, I’ve been contemplating the burning issues of the day such as what we should make of Theresa May holding President Trump’s hand as she led him down the White House steps like a PG Tips chimpanzee. Trump has already proved that his premiership will be no laughing matter but it is times like this when laughing matters most of all.
I don’t know what to make of Tresemme as she is known on Gogglebox. Britain thrives under a strong female leadership but one does wonder whether winning the race to be first to press the Presidential flesh might not backfire. If the Illuminati did exist you could imagine their high council rubbing their hands in glee at the mischief that President Trump might unleash on the world.
God only knows how The Queen will endure Trump’s State Visit. I am sure the Duke of Edinburgh will charm Milania and don’t doubt that HM will be at her diplomatic best. But will climate change ambassador Prince Charles resist stabbing Trump’s palm with a fruit knife over dinner at Buckingham Palace?
Speaking of the royalty, I was rather touched to hear that the Princes William and Harry have commissioned a statue of their late mother Diana, Princess of Wales to stand outside Kensington Palace. Statues of ladies are terribly hazardous, don’t you find? A long skirt is the sculptor’s friend as the countless statues of Queen Victoria dotted around London prove.
Less successful was the looming bronze of Lady Thatcher that now points accusingly in the corridors of power at the Palace of Westminster. Lady Thatcher is a sculptor’s dream and yet her coquettish bronze looks as though the Lady has been caught mid-Macarena at a Conservative party fundraiser. Cilla Black didn’t fare much better with the bronze erected outside the Cavern Club in Liverpool this month. Quite liked the mini skirt and the backcombed hair but the open mouth is an open goal for mischief making Scoursers.
Diana Princess of Wales was a gift to the camera. I wonder if her beauty and her elegance can be captured by a statue. I would recommend a figure-hugging Catherine Walker evening gown and The Queen’s Lover’s Knot tiara as a terribly good start for a statue. I would also think about echoing the gleaming white marble Coronation statue of Queen Victoria that sits outside Kensington Palace that was sculpted by her daughter Princess Louise.
Whatever the committee employed to commission the Diana statue decides one sincerely hopes that it is a million times better than the Dodi and Diana statue commissioned by Mr Al Fayed that still wafts around the basement of Harrods. It could be cast out of solid gold but for all the world looks like one of those plaster of Paris efforts that decorated the palaces of Saddam Hussein and his ilk: for all the world waiting to be smashed by a revolutionary rifle butt.
I happen to be a great fan of Diana’s and thought the Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park that resembled TellyTubby land was not an appropriate commemoration of a remarkable woman. Like Madonna and Lady Thatcher, Diana was a strong woman at large in my formative years. Her death was a profound shock that left us as a nation wondering what magic and havoc she might have weaved had she lived.
Another formative grand dame of my youth died this week: John Hurt. I recall vividly going upstairs to my bedroom in Derbyshire to watch The Naked Civil Servant in which Hurt gave a devastatingly honest and poignant performance as Quentin Crisp. Why there isn’t a statue to Quentin Crisp on Old Compton Street is anybody’s guess. Crisp was a gay, fey young creature with lavender hair and painted nails in an era when such behaviour was vilified. How a man could be so true to himself contra mundum was an inspiration to me as a teenager.
It won’t be mentioned that much in the obituaries but John Hurt was a hero to homos because of his performance as Quentin. He specialised in roles as the outsider be that the pitiful Elephant Man or the despicable Emperor Caligula in I Claudius. John Hurt was a truly sensitive actor who brought out the best in the worst and seemed to act on the edge of his nerves. So it is sad to see another one gone when so many boring, untalented people seem to show a remarkable talent for endurance.
What do you think will be our achievement that makes people sculpt statues to us? I am a great believer that ‘what do you do?’ is not the question. No, the fundamental question is ‘what are we for?’ Over the years I have found crusades that made me feel worthwhile as a writer. I have taken-up causes and believed I could do good things for, say, Savile Row, London, English heritage or local politics in Bloomsbury.
At present I don’t have a cause. I am not entirely sure what I am for. Hopefully a point will manifest itself before the why overwhelms the why not. There has to be a reason to live in the absence of a nearest and dearest who makes every morning a reassuring happiness. Anyway, maudlin thoughts aside I am determined to live for love as well as for work. The real question might be ‘what am I for?’ but it is also ‘who am I for?’ Until next time…