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Day 16 (2 April): In defence of kindness and liberty

Today’s dipping of a tippytoe into our values as a society and our relationship with high culture represents a break from my usual formless jibberjabber, so pull up a chair and make the least of it.


The Best of Times

“My father only struck me once....but he did use the Volvo"

Bob Monkhouse

Bob was a comedian who was at the height of his powers when I was a youngster. He was a man of his time, and that time was less tolerant, less kind, more violent, more racist and more sexist than today. A clip round the ear for a word out of place was common and socially acceptable, both at home and in school.

That doesn’t fly anymore. Society is progressively more tolerant, inclusive and understanding. And in spite of what we constantly see on all our screens, the world, as a whole, is less violent that at any time in history.

Steven Pinker’s “The Better angels of our Nature” will justify that optimism if you have the time for a good read. And many of us do.

My positive take on the present situation is that in spite of, or perhaps because of, the stresses and strains imposed by confinement we are everywhere witnessing more cooperation, self-sacrifice, community feeling and love for our neighbours than was the case pre-virus. In the worst of times we can be our best selves.


Gosh. Normal service will now be resumed:


The threat to culture, freedom of expression and Fred

If you are not of a certain age, and English, the high cultural references in this next bit might initially be lost on you.So I suggest you look at the video I have thoughtfully linked to here. It is of Bernard Cribbins singing "Right Said Fred".

(This is just like being a 2020 school kid - we are getting an online education).

Pay close attention to the recording as there will be a test on the socio-political implications of the lyrics later.

Why do I bring this cultural treasure to your attention?

Because, dearest blogees, a great injustice has been done.

I recently posted this video to a Facebook Group specialising in music from the sixties, seventies and eighties with the object of making confinement less unpleasant.

The proof that some people are cracking under the strain of confinement is to be found in the fact that it was removed by site administration on the grounds that that this FB group is only for sharing and discussing music videos by professional musicians and artists.


So Fred finds himself judged by a secret court, sitting 'in camera', cast into a tumbril and trundled away to the guillotine. I am here to clear his name and have him reinstated in the eyes of history.

Frankly , you don’t get much more professional than our Bernard. The man was the public voice of the Wombles for goodness sake!

Not only is “Right Said Fred” an outstanding musical oeuvre per se, its very theme is percussion instruments and their translation through space and time.

Fred's humiliation has, of course, provoked distressed reactions from others, and not just any others....

Neil Young has contacted me to say “You can’t keep on rocking in the free world with this level of censorship” and an irate Billy Joel phoned this morning. Although he was more worried about his piano and the state of his ceiling.

You will now be as one with me in maintaining that this song cuts to the heart of the sixties zeitgeist and, not insignificantly, that it was also massively influential on that eponymous monster of the 70’s cultural scene who gave us the chef d’oeuvre “l'm Too Sexy”.

I think I’ll post that on their Face Book site. The revenge of the Freds. Time for a cup of tea.

The Arts and Crafts Corner

The beginners' knitting kit arrived yesterday. Just too late to be included in my blog post.


Knowing your keen interest in keeping your families clothed I stayed up all night under an oil lamp and produced this cardigan.


It wasn’t that difficult. In fact, the only hard part was casting the bronze buttons.You can't see them in the photo - I made a bit of a mess of them.

So keep on being good to each other and spreading that love!



♥️


Neil


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