Greta Thunberg, exporting artworks and why don’t we have a comedian as PM?

28 April 2019

When I took the dogs out one morning last week, I discovered the car was covered in what turned out to be dust the Sahara didn’t need any more and I wondered if it needed a wash.  However, it was put through a car wash sometime in the autumn so I thought this might be a bit excessive.  After all, it’s 12 years old and, during the 11 years we’ve had it, it’s been white-vanned, lightbrown-vanned (!), shopping trolleyed, tow-barred, dented in several places by stray lumps in verges, keyed (in Whimple of all places), hit quite hard in the side by something and it’s covered with those parallel scratches along the near side inflicted by the bushes that grow in the Devon banks.  Luckily, Gaia was on our side and it rained the next day, solving the problem.

Judy’s older daughter’s husband is a petrol head and winces every time he sees our car.  He can’t even turn away because he’d then see it reflected in his own mirror-perfect paintwork.

The annual report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (catchy name that eh?) revealed in their annual report that they allowed artworks worth £58.5m to leave the UK while the export of seven objects worth £3m was barred.  Sir Hayden Phillips, chairman of the advisory committee, said “Those seven objects represent a significant gain for public access to our cultural life”.  I was at school with Hayden but we’ve obviously since taken our interpretations of the significance of 3 / 58.5 (aka 5%) in different directions – perhaps that’s what civil servanting does for you.

Marina Hyde wrote yesterday “the Conservatives … are mostly convinced that Brexit is still a great idea but just hasn’t been done properly yet.  It’s a lot like communism in that respect.”  Nicely put.

And I have another new hero:  a Swedish teenager called Greta Thunberg who is confident (and angry) enough to speak truth to power and tell world leaders that we need to panic, and we need to panic NOW.  She’s inspired schoolchildren to strike – they are, after all, the people who are going to live or die by the action we take now – and the Extinction Rebellion protests have added to the power of her message.

Thunberg met the UK’s major party leaders including Caroline Lucas, Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday to tell them the UK must start doing something.  Theresa May was unfortunately unable to attend due to a subsequent engagement but sent Michael Gove instead (given his resemblance to Janus, some might think this a particularly curious choice).

One result is that Thunberg’s energised Labour into proposing a national environmental and climate change emergency debate next week, perhaps a small step in the right direction.

May was probably busy organising a 3-day state visit by the president of a country that still kills people in the name of justice (another one killed this week) and, following the inspirational lead given by Brunei, is rumoured to be wishing he’d thought of stoning people guilty of homosexuality to death.

(Well, I mean, why on earth should consenting adults be allowed to do what they want in private?  We need to help Trump make America great again and this might just do it, a return visit so that Trump can once again show his superiority by walking in front of the Queen to prove that America won the war while Britain just ate the food they sent over for us, and the baby Trump blimp flies proudly overhead to welcome him.  How could Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon and John Bercow all have refused the Queen’s invitation to join them for supper?)

However, to be fair (well, it’s nice to have a change isn’t it) Trump is the head of one of the world’s most powerful countries and it’s probably necessary for our Government to suck up to honour him by inviting him here now we’ve so thoroughly pissed off 27 of our closest neighbours over the Channel.

In Ukraine, the comedian Volodymyr Zelensky won a landslide victory in the presidential election, giving Ukraine its first Jewish president.  Perhaps we should try the same thing here.  Preferably not Jim Davidson (who apparently describes himself as a comedian though I never get his jokes) but Sarah Millican or Romesh Ranganathan or Andy Hamilton or David Mitchell would do – how tragic that Jeremy Hardy died in February.

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