Travelling Steerage

My mother spent many years travelling on P & O liners across the Atlantic and into the Indian Ocean. She once told me that the happiest voyage she ever had was on a one class ship. Most of the voyages were on ships that had first, second and steerage classes. True to the norm of having classes trains here in the UK have first class compartments and all over the world planes have ‘business class’. I recall a man who had won the lottery travelling first class on a plane saying he couldn’t believe they gave one gifts.

This whole idea of class troubles me because we have fought an ongoing battle in society as a whole to break down the artificial barriers of class, a fight which now flows over into the way in which people with money are elevated into a different ‘class’. But this is not about the effects of wealth giving one different places to live, different shops to use, different cars to drive, this is about businesses which serve everyone drawing a distinction because it panders to the ego of the first class.

Of course it makes the young want to strive to be first class but it also makes wealthy people feel above other  humans. The terrible speech in The Third Man where Orsen Wells accurately describes his feelings about people as being mere numbers whose only worth to him was for the money he could make from them is just how wealthy people think about other people.

It is a madness.

Art On Disc

Many years ago I was discussing with a painter the longevity of paintings. It was at the same time I was being introduced to the Book Arts and learning how the Book of Kells was dug out of a bog in Ireland and its illuminations still resound throughout Europe after a thousand years. And we both came to the same instant conclusion, that no piece of art anywhere in the world will last forever. That when the Earth crashes into the sun the art we know will have long since decayed.

So we contented ourselves with the idea that everything would be made into holograms and people would venture into space and have their favourite painting on their wall in electronic form, or piece of sculpture and that though original manuscripts might be dust, the teaching of music and reading would mean they could still read Hugo and play Mendelssohn.

And would that change anything? If you cannot touch a painting or a piece of sculpture do you lose something? If you can see the writing of the author but never feel the paper is something lost? Well yes something is, but whether that is important or not is a mute point as most of these things are cordoned off from the public even today.

Perhaps the truth lies in the fact that we will always know, as long as we care to remember, that all these works of art existed. Perhaps the wistfulness in only having hologramatic copies will itself be a new expression of feeling for our decedents.

And then there was me…

I could say this is all new to me but words are my life and no place where words flow could ever be alien to me. It is more strange to be setting up a weblog that is principally about my work. Advertising has never been my forte but here it is, and here I am, 2010 and starting to publish my work. Telling the world I am here when the world rarely pays attention. It is also strange to be starting this one month before my fiftieth birthday but actually that fits perfectly with the upside down nature of my life. When others are reaching thoughts of retiring I am commencing the great journey we all call ‘a career’, and when the annals are written of my time on Earth they may well say as I do, that I spent my early years in retirement and my later years working. It’s good to be different but strange to be standing on one’s head.

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