Reflected Glory

1966 and All That is an appropriate title for an exhibition of photography in St. Leonards-on-Sea, just down the road from Hastings, and it was a chance for me to bask in some reflected glory. It is an exhibition of the photography of an old friend, Graham Keen, whose chronicling of the Sixties of fifty years ago, conjures the atmosphere of a year that refuses to fade into history, a year that is as far away from the young of today as the First World War was to the teens of 1966.


Proof I was there!

1966 and All That is at the Lucy Bell Gallery in St Leonards-on-Sea, featuring the photographs of Keen, who spent some of that decade photographing the up and coming and the already famous of that time. He was there when Yoko Ono went up a ladder and when John Hurt was nowhere near an alien. He was there when Marc Bolan (then Mark Feld) marched with Vanessa Redgrave, Joan Baez and Donovan against the Vietnam War. He was at Ready, Steady, Go! with the Rolling Stones, he photographed Muhammed Ali meeting Michael X (yes Michael X, Black Power in Britain), the Kinks, The Who  and many more. That was the year of rock and revolution!


See if you can spot Marc Bolan

Alongside the photos of rock and rollers such Jagger and Daltrey, are haunting photographs of artist Alberto Giacometti, pictured both solo and in conversation with Francis Bacon – perhaps they were talking beer perhaps art, but the photos are compelling, iconic. John Hurt and Jonathan Miller look on, Ginsberg howls, Ray Davies is wistful and Sixties specialists will remember John “Hoppy” Hopkins co-founder of International Times where Keen also worked and there is William Burroughs who worked with Graham on an adult comic called Cyclops.


Artists in residence


Portrait of the artist as a young man

The Guardian has nominated this exhibition as one of the  “must see” exhibitions of Autumn 2016. If you are in the area take a look, if you are online, images are available to view and purchase from the Lucy Bell Gallery.

Meanwhile the Guardian itself has populated its pages with other retrospective reflections on the glory of 1966 and as I bask in the reflected glory of Graham’s achievements I must point also to the work of another mate (I know, name drop city) Steve Turner, whose biography of Johnny Cash is considered definitive and whose expertise on the music greats and the Beatles is a force to reckon with, Steve is set to offer us another take on 1966: Beatles’66 A Revolutionary Year is to be published in November.

1966 and All That documents the glory and the talent of the time, and is on until 24 October. I guess we all do still bask in a little reflected glory.


Purposes Mistook

It's what he wanted.

Churchill wanted a united Europe.

It was a bright day with no hope, it was the March for Europe and it was the politest march I have ever been on and I’ve been on a few – even the teachers were more rowdy. There was the sense of Hamlet about it. The desperate need to do something about it, followed by the indecision that dogs the decent. It may be that betrayal “most foul” had taken place but how do the 48% sweep to their revenge? Do they even want to? Not really, the young people on the march in London this week, understood, perhaps better than anyone in this debate so far the damage of division, and yet for the second time in a few years this generation has been sold down the river, first tuition fees, now this.

The problem for the 48% is that they did not fall for the deceit by Leave and they understand that a call to violence will destroy more than it maintains, and yet Rome burns while leaders do little more than watch. In 1979 Margaret Thatcher came in on a wave of change and one of her catch phrases was that she did not want to listen to what she called the “chattering classes” people who wanted to discuss the implications of action before actions took place. Michael Gove perpetuated that opinion in the Leave campaign, by proclaiming that we were all fed up with “experts”, it was probably the only honest thing he did say. The push for direct action is understandable, the push against bureaucracy is also understandable, but thinking things through has its benefits.

Perhaps a little more thought about how to run a referendum, set a decent majority – a super majority as they have for referendums elsewhere might have given us the flexibility to manoeuvre in this situation without destabilising the country, the economy and the future. Perhaps there is a legal case for Parliament to vote this down, Professor Michael Dougan of Liverpool University is both vocal and dispassionate as he discusses the dismal decline of the UK into obscurity and decay.

Perhaps, as some suggested on the march yesterday,  perhaps Britain deserves this. The British Empire was cruel, our relationship with Europe was always obstreperous, the former Empire and the people of Europe will do a whole lot better without the interference of a self important country, that bases its authority on a history we all need to refute. Trevor Noah, now of The Daily Show, reminds us that we may overestimate our reputation.

On the March for Europe the conversation was about loss, about where to now, literally, in some cases, about where to? Out of the UK, find a job away from here, before it gets locked down, chivvy up that dual nationality and use it. The struggle for a path in this leaderless vacuum leads only one way for many of this generation, out of the country. Young people with their science degrees and doctorates, their creativity and entrepreneurship will leave in their droves because they can – and the people who voted them out will be left in poverty struggling to divide up ever smaller spoils. The 1% will indulge in some quick profiteering of the back of disaster and then ensure their assets are protected elsewhere.Lies Big Ben

Yesterday the speakers exhorted the crowd to be careful of stereotypes, to reach out to the Leave voters and try to persuade and to reconcile; to be aware that there is not the huge division between old and young that is perpetuated by the talk of division in the country; many in the crowd sported their years with pride. Clever placards and a wry sense of humour demonstrated above all that the Remain voters were quintessentially British along with their stiff upper lip. But the prospects are bleak, Hamlet’s call to “sweet revenge” ended in disaster. The poisoned chalice and the poisoned dagger (sword) made victims of all, including Hamlet and as Europe looks on the fallen politicians on all sides, they are met with the same dismal sight.

…….And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall’n on the inventors’ heads. (Hamlet, by Shakespeare)