I’ve never had a massive urge to attend the Glastonbury festival, or any of the other biggies that dominate the summer weekends hereabouts. Maybe it is the idea of standing for hours; maybe it’s the risk of mud topping one’s boots, having heard horrors of people, knee deep in gloop, just about ready to embrace the ‘experience’ when a small yet perfectly formed stool pops to the surface next to one’s wellies; maybe it’s the idea of the communal loos and the state they will inevitably be in by the Sunday. It’s all a little Sub Sherlock – ‘It’s Alimentary, Dr Watson’ – for me. But I enjoy watching the broadcasts, bands and artists old and new.
While the Vet and the Pest Controller are there, telling one and all how great it is, I’m entirely happy to be an armchair critic – Paul McCartney’s voice isn’t as bad as I thought it would be but he really does need to give up on Hey Jude; Billie Eilish’s whispering style doesn’t translate to the small screen; Elbow are a fabulous band; and Diana Ross should be told that taffeta isn’t her thing but while her voice still has the wheels she can wear what she likes; and I do like Sam Fender.
While on the subject to music, how splendid is it that Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill is back in the charts? I remember liking Wuthering Heights in 1978 despite myself. At that time I was a dedicated follower of all things punk, even though my nascent legal career and some genetically indisposed follicles meant I couldn’t carry off the spiky haired punk look. You’d have been more likely to have found me listening to the Ramones, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, the Stranglers, Dr Feelgood, the Pistols, the Jam, the Clash et al. But you couldn’t ignore that extraordinary debut. What I hadn’t realised until this latest moment in the sun for La Bush was how she broke so many glass ceilings in her career to date. I shall have to go to her back catalogue and remind myself of her skills.
For the purposes of balance, I should remind readers that my career as a follower of the modern music genre didn’t start high on the cool spectrum with my first two albums being by, respectively, Gilbert O’Sullivan and the Carpenters. The only way is up, or so they say.
The news that the SCOTUS has repealed Roe v Wade is depressing. I have no affinity for or truck with religious zealotry which seems to be at the root of this change and it is just so regressive. I have early memories of my (Conservative leaning) father moaning about the Labour government that lasted from 1964 to 1970, and naturally assumed he must know a thing or two. But as I look back on the extraordinary achievements during that period, I have to wonder if any government, before or since was as reforming. They didn’t get it all right – their attempts to control rents for private tenants effectively destroyed the private rented sector over the next twenty years. But amongst the legislation that started then we have: Equal Pay, Equality in Race Relations and banning sex discrimination in work, legalising homosexual relationships and Abortion, the ending of the death penalty, criminalising drunk driving and a Prime Minister who defied convention and the Special Relationship and refused to join the US in Vietnam. Harold Wilson may seem like a grey man, more civil servant that dynamic political leader but, in truth, couldn’t we do with some of that clear sighted insightful government right now? All I can say of the current administration is that it shows no signs of trying to reverse any of this hard won progress. That, at least, is something.
The garden continues to be be splendid though we have competition. I was walking Dog back from our morning’s perambulation on Sunday and passed the grand vista that encompasses Dulwich College, one of three large, well endowed and successful private schools hereabout. Around the edge of their playing fields that are overlooked by the stunning Victorian buildings there was this, one part of several strips of wildflowers they have planted.
I may not have the backdrop of a significant gothic pile, but I still think mine are better…