Saturday, 12 September 2015

St Mary's University, Twickenham: Centre for Law and Culture conference

The theme is change. There's a rip in the red and gold wallpaper which needs restoration. Not too much change, please.

We're attached to the fantasy building which gave its name to Strawberry Hill Gothic for this year's conference at the Centre for Law and Culture.

I missed day one; this is day two.

Dr Kim Barker, Wolverhampton University: 'Changing legal #culture one tweet at a time.'

Claudia Carr, Hertfordshire University: 'Organ donation and presumed consent in Wales.'

Dr Dawn Moore, Carleton University, Canada: 'What the police saw: images changing the prosecution of domestic violence.'

Kelly Ann Cannon, Derby University: 'The condition of change' (about graffiti).

Finola Farrant, Roehampton University: 'Shapeshifting: the demand for "change" in ex-prisoners' identities.'

Professor Chris Harding, Aberystwyth University: 'Cartooning cartels: changing modes of attacking business cartels in early 20th century political cartoons and early 21st century cinema.'

Professor Fiona Macmillan, Birkbeck, mops up the proceedings after a sandwich lunch: 'Locating the cultural turn in law.' What is law in the context of culture? Or vice versa?

This perplexing cultural turn defies location. I think the most satisfactory answer lies with W. H. Auden:

Law, Like Love

Law, say the gardeners, is the sun,
Law is the one
All gardeners obey
To-morrow, yesterday, to-day.

Law is the wisdom of the old,
The impotent grandfathers feebly scold;
The grandchildren put out a treble tongue,
Law is the senses of the young.

Law, says the priest with a priestly look,
Expounding to an unpriestly people,
Law is the words in my priestly book,
Law is my pulpit and my steeple.

Law, says the judge as he looks down his nose,
Speaking clearly and most severely,
Law is as I've told you before,
Law is as you know I suppose,
Law is but let me explain it once more,
Law is The Law.

Yet law-abiding scholars write:
Law is neither wrong nor right,
Law is only crimes
Punished by places and by times,
Law is the clothes men wear
Anytime, anywhere,
Law is Good morning and Good night.

Others say, Law is our Fate;
Others say, Law is our State;
Others say, others say
Law is no more,
Law has gone away.

And always the loud angry crowd,
Very angry and very loud,
Law is We,
And always the soft idiot softly Me.

If we, dear, know we know no more
Than they about the Law,
If I no more than you
Know what we should and should not do
Except that all agree
Gladly or miserably
That the Law is
And that all know this
If therefore thinking it absurd
To identify Law with some other word,
Unlike so many men
I cannot say Law is again,

No more than they can we suppress
The universal wish to guess
Or slip out of our own position
Into an unconcerned condition.
Although I can at least confine
Your vanity and mine
To stating timidly
A timid similarity,
We shall boast anyway:
Like love I say.

Like love we don't know where or why,
Like love we can't compel or fly,
Like love we often weep,
Like love we seldom keep.

Hot faces and Charlotte Proudman

@crproudman poked a peacock on LinkedIn. Then it fanned its tail in response to her face.

I'd like to show you the face concerned but I can't because its photo (right) is heavily masked - by a studied pose, fashion (it may not seem like that to you now, but in 20 years' time it will), make-up, hair grooming/colouring products, and a thick veil of Photoshop which might as well be a burqa.

Touching up photos is not new, of course. Here are some examples, chosen entirely at random:

Louise Brooks

Bettie Page

Amanda Barrie in 'Carry On Cleo'
Mandy Rice-Davies

@crproudman and I have three connections in common on LinkedIn. One of them was a legal adviser to Occupy London. And here's a related tip: if responses to your LinkedIn photo are causing you stress, draw your own picture. My own LinkedIn image is of an Occupy protester with his V for Victory mask at the Finsbury Square camp. Spyro, I hear you're doing OK. Ring your mum.

Some have suggested to @crproudman that she should get on her pole. That is unfair. The ID pictures on my twitter accounts are drawings of a pole dancer. And not just any pole dancer, but Ayumi LaNoire, pole performer (and winner of some serious awards for same), fire-eater, model, actress (she has a beautiful low-pitched voice, which you can't see in her pictures).

Unfortunately for the peacock, who says that @crproudman's photo is the best he has ever seen on LinkedIn, Ayumi doesn't feel the need to be on that distressing site.


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Notting Hill Carnival 2015

'Is there a toilet on this bus?'
Nadine Read, founder of The Makeup Hut
'Not yet.'
I'm ambivalent about the carnival but you've got to hand it to Elimu Mas Resurrection and Paddington Arts. They've teamed up to focus on the carnival as a serious business and this year their professionalism delivers stunning costumes, a flood of beautiful people of all ages, and Trinidad's Carnival Queen who can walk on stilts in the rain.

Exquisite, wistful, remote, she floats like a poem on trails of blue-green fabric, a golden ship on her head. She is the ocean. Beside her is the designer, a cadaver wearing fruit.

'We wanted to improve the carnival experience,' says the director, and they certainly deserve that massive ad from British Airways on the side of their lorry, plus their tours of China.

Rain-spattered picture

Outside is a centrifuge of noise.

'I just turn off my hearing aid,' says the costume director Annie, who's wearing a gold sunray-pleated cloak.

I keep pace along Westbourne Grove with the St Michael and All Angels Steel Orchestra playing a clever arrangement of For Once in My Life: like all competent steel bands it makes me cry.

'I was pissin an she drew me. Sick man. Can I buy it? Are you police? D'you want my name? She's in the zone man. She's English. Look, I was pissin an she drew me. Sick.'
If you're the person doomed to live in the absurd Havona House, with its pool, ballroom and ludicrous bas-reliefs (as yet untagged by our local artists, but just be patient), being built smack bang on the zebra crossing at the end of Portobello Road, here's what it looks like during the carnival - I've left out the tide of people so as not to put you off because we could all do with a laugh and at the moment, here in London W11, you're it. Can't wait to see the reaction when you visit The Sun In Splendour.

Here's a secret. If you want people to come up to you and be nice, go out and draw. 'I just want to say that I like that you are drawing when most people say art is shit.'

My friend says that his front basement area is a sea of excrement and condoms. The council will clean up for free in the first week after the carnival. As I said, I'm ambivalent.

More pictures if you scroll down.