w/e 24 Sep 2017

A little late this week. Work, Banksy, Mother! and London.

This week, on the work front, I was doing some more Django coding for Hactar, adding features to a previous project.

I was also getting almost unreasonably annoyed by the two pieces of graffiti left by Banksy just downstairs near the Barbican. Leaving aside whether the work is good or not, I’m frustrated with how differently Banksy’s graffiti is treated to any other. We’re very fortunate here that any graffiti is usually removed pretty quickly, but Banksy’s resulted in a 24-hour security guard to keep watch over it and then, five days later, sheets of clear plastic fixed to the walls to protect it.

It’s as if all burglars are pursued by the police except for this one guy who’s really cool, yeah, so whenever he does a job we send him any of the valuables he overlooked. Given that Banksy’s messages are generally “sticking it to The Man” it seems odd for his work that it’s now treated with such veneration by the authorities. He can paint whatever he likes, wherever he likes and people will fall over themselves to uncritically proclaim it as brilliant, and that it must be protected. But anyone else painting the same thing or (shock!) something even better will, rightly, see their work removed. Few other people have so much power to get their message out around London, except George Osborne shouting through the Standard. Yes, Banksy is practically George Osborne.

Grrrr. Anyway. I saw Mother! this week, which I liked, apparently a less-than-common opinion. It’s hard to say much about it without giving anything away, and it’s best seen knowing little about it. I can say that, for me, the biggest problem was that I didn’t believe Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem were a married couple, happily or otherwise. Which didn’t help with suspending disbelief for the madness that follows.

I’ve managed to get through an unusual number of books recently and this week I finished London: A Social History by Roy Porter. Although I’ve lived in the city for over twenty years I don’t think I’ve read a comprehensive history of the place before and this was everything I’d want from one. I got a good sense of the city’s stuttering start and then its peculiar, and quickening, growth, along with what that meant for the people living here. London’s such a strange place.

The final chapter, written in 1994, is peculiar, and interesting, because he summarises the state of London at the time. It’s before Tony Blair as PM, before the internet, before Docklands became properly established, before the Greater London Authority, before the housing “boom”, and long before the 2012 Olympics and Crossrail. Having summarised centuries of change so well it’s odd to read what’s now a humorously patchy assessment of the state of London. It seems like anyone writing a long history of something should resist temptation, and call a halt to their narrative at least twenty years before the present day, before they lose the perspective. A minor oddity though, and still recommended.

That’s it, time to start another week.

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