“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Can the old firm pull it off again?

Have any of you been watching the Channel 4 adaptation of William Boyd' pot boiler Any Human Heart ? It's an entertaining enough romp through the latter two thirds of the 20th century with the central character playing a cameo role in the major historical events and being on nodding terms with everyone from Hemingway to the Baader Meinhof. What caught my eye was the accurate portrayal of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor as the two thoroughly unpleasant little people that they were in real life. But I got to thinking, 1936 and in Spain the workers are locked in a life and death struggle with Franco's forces. Europe is about to descend into the abyss. At home there seems no end to the crippling poverty and unemployment faced by many. Yet the nation thrills to a tale that could be straight out of a Hollywood scriptwriters wastepaper bin - the King who gave up a crown for the woman he loved. I am old enough to remember as a kid people still talking about it. Such is the power of Windsor Street, the longest running soap in history. In the 80s and against a background of the rise of neo-conservatism, the miners strike, riots and all the rest of it the thing that seemed to tax the minds of so many was not which way now for the working class but rather "who is best, Di or Fergie? Fergie or Di?" It remains to be seen if, when the reality of the cuts starts to become obvious, Kate and Wills, the latest in a long line of old troupers,, will be able to astound the punters with their deft mastery of the art of illusion; or will we file out half way through the show and demand our money back?

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