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Archive for May, 2021

Nero – From Zero to Hero

May 27th, 2021 No comments

Nero – one of the few statues to survive that didn’t get remodelled after his fall and disgrace – showing his fringed hairstyle that was even more influential than the Beatles

Another week, another fabulous British Museum show – they have been queueing up like buses during lockdown to arrive all at once.

There are similarities between the Nero show and the Becket show which they also asked me to review ahead of its opening.

Both deal with the rewriting of history. In Nero’s case, the argument cogently expressed by the curators goes, the history was written by his senatorial opponents, so blackened his image.

Nero did not fiddle while Rome burned – indeed helped rebuild itRead more…

‘Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace’

May 17th, 2021 No comments

The Thomas Becket exhibition at the British Museum

There are two interesting revelations at this intelligently curated show marking the 900th anniversary of Thomas Becket’s birth – well it would have been the 900th anniversary last year but the show got delayed due to corona. And it’s the death that gets all the attention.

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Scotland leaving Britain – or Britain leaving Scotland?

May 6th, 2021 No comments

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Why the rest of Britain might want to leave Scotland

I was at dinner recently with a distinguished Fellow of All Souls who had served as a politician and is known for his incisive analysis. The conversation turned to Scotland and their forthcoming elections.

With some relish, my companion, English like me, listed the multiple reasons why the Scots should not want to leave the Union.

They would have problems with their currency. The Europeans would not want them back. Under current arrangements, they were considerable nett gainers from Westminster; independence would see their trade and incomes diminish.  And would Shetland or Orkney then want to secede from Scotland? Or for that matter would some of the border constituencies reconstitute themselves, like the six counties of Northern Ireland, and want to reattach to the United Kingdom, with all the attendant tensions that have occurred in Ulster?

As much to stop him in his tracks as anything else, I asked him if he had ever turned the issue on its head. If the Scots enjoyed so many advantages by being part of the Union, what exactly did the rest of Britain gain by keeping them? If they wanted to go, and certainly if they voted to go, wouldn’t we be better off by just cutting them loose? Surely there was no logical or rational reason for wanting to keep Scotland in the Union, other than the very debatable merits of maintaining a nuclear base at Faslane? Read more…