“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”Groucho Marx
“People born in the 50s were more likely to escape their parents’ class then those born in the 70s, according to a new report by experts at the London School of Economics.
Between the early 1980s and the late 1990s, the proportion of children from the richest quarter or families who had completed a degree by the age of 23 shot up from 20 percent to almost half. Over the same period, the number of graduates among the poorest quarter of families crept up from 6 per cent to just 9 per cent.
In an indictment of New Labour’s education policies, which promise equality of opportunity for children from all backgrounds, the report says: ‘The strength of the relationship between educational attainment and family income, especially for access to higher education, is at the heart of Britain’s low-mobility culture.'”Heather Stewart, The Observer, 16 Jan 2005
It used to be that we had a controller, name of Muggeridge, who was joint controller of Radio 1 and 2, quite a good idea. When the BBC was looking for a man to do this job, quite naturally they chose someone who until that time had been head of the Chinese section of the BBC World Service.
Once he had got the job he interviewed various DJs one after another, and I was last in. I think he thought I would do something unpredictable and startling, like rub heroin into the roots of his hair. He was sitting at his enormous desk, a sort of Dr Strangelove position. At some point in the conversation I mentioned public schools, and he brightened up a little at this idea, as if at some stage in my life I had actually met somebody who had been to a public school.
I said, ‘Actually, I went to one myself.’
He went, ‘Extraordinary! Which one?’ He was assuming it was some minor public school somewhere on the south coast. I said, ‘Shrewsbury.’ He said, ‘Good heavens!’ At this stage he was getting quite elated. ‘Which house were you in?’ I told him and he said, ‘How’s old Brookie?’
It was clear that he thought, whatever he looks like, and whatever sort of unspeakable music he plays on the radio, he is still one of us. I think for a long time it was this factor that sustained me at the BBC.”John Peel, The Observer, 31 October 2004
Greg Dyke revealed the “hideously white” nature of the BBC last year. Expecting to then rapidly recruit ethnic minority staff into a white, male, Oxbridge-dominated culture is, at best, naive.Joy Francis, The Guardian, 13 May 2002
Tony Blair’s pledge to destroy the establishment that controls large swathes of British life has been shattered by research showing that the country’s ‘cultural gatekeepers’ are still older, white men, most often educated at either Oxford or Cambridge.
“If anything, appointments under New Labour have become more male and Oxbridge-dominated” said Damian Tambini, author of the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) report, All Change at the Top?Kamal Ahmed, The Observer, 14 Apr 2002
“When a woman wants me to do anything, I always insist on knowing why. The oftener you make them rummage their own minds for a reason, the more manageable you will find them in all the relations of life. It isn’t their fault (poor wretches) that they act first, and think afterwards; it’s the fault of the fools who humour them.”The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins, 1868
How’s that for good ol’ unreconstructed sexism? No way a writer would get away with that today. Then again, I’m reminded of what Jack Nicholson’s character says in the movie As Good as it Gets when a young female receptionist can’t resist asking him:
Continue reading When a woman wants me to do anything, I always insist on knowing why
Receptionist: How do you write women so well?
Nicholson: I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability.As Good As It Gets
In this scene Jim Nelson, the working class headmaster of a special school played by Michael Palin, sleepwalks out of his holiday caravan during a thunderstorm and crashes into a tree. Waking up on the ground in his pyjamas, soaked to the skin, he finds Grosvenor, the impoverished aristocratic owner of the caravan park played by Daniel Massey, appearing from the bushes wearing an oilskin jacket, miner’s helmet and lamp, sheltering under an umbrella with a half empty bottle of whisky under his arm.Continue reading Why should the dregs of our society act in a caring and decent manner when our self-seeking leaders don’t care about fairness and freedom?
A Town Like New Orleans? BBC2
by W Stephen Gilbert
31 Aug 1981
The BBC Manchester series City was a more random collection of reports on where we’re at. I caught four editions, particularly enjoying Ian McNulty’s well thought-through film on musical life in Leeds. Apart from the diversity of musical styles, the fragmentation of socio-political attitudes also came over.Continue reading Off Air, Broadcast, W Stephen Gilbert
by Clive James
23 Aug 1981
An unintentionally wonderful programme called A Town Like New Orleans (BBC2) showed what happens when people whose proper concerns should be some form of fruitful labour start mucking about with art. Few real artistes despise business – in fact the more original they are, the more they tend to respect the workaday world – but it is a hallmark of the dabbler that he prides himself in being set apart, and so it proved here.
Leeds it appears, is crawling with jazz and pop musicians who have managed to convince themselves that they are contributing to the biggest explosion in their respective art forms since King Oliver met Louis Armstrong or Phil Spector invented the wall of sound.Continue reading Clive James, The Observer
A Town Like New Orleans?
by Dennis Hackett
The Times, 15 Aug 1981
This was the last of an occasional series under the generic title City, “occasional” being a word often applied to something someone is not quite sure about. The town we were invited to compare with New Orleans was Leeds, as unlikely a parallel as one could imagine except that we were concerned with a particular aspect of it: music.
“Leeds is going to expand musically”, a voice told us. “It is going to be like New Orleans.” If that perhaps is not quite the way it is, there is evidence – with more than 200 live groups in the town – that something stirs in what might be thought of infertile ground.Continue reading Something stirring up North