Saturday, 21 February 2009

Pipeline at the gates of dawn

Apart from some lurking images that would give Freud a field day, this email that I received at work is thoroughly baffling:
'Over the past week, each Directorate has been requested to send the Corporate PMO updates for the Pipeline Tracker tool. This tool ensures visibility of all projects that are expected to pass through the Gateways at any given time.

'This is an ongoing process requiring continual maintenance and review to ensure the Tracker is accurate and reliable.

'The Corporate PMO needs to identify representatives from each Directorate to act as a Pipeline Champion, and this will be initiated next week.

'Please can you nominate these representatives ASAP.

'Thank you for your cooperation.'
I'd love to help (probably), but I really don't have the faintest idea what I am meant to co-operate with.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Burj Babel

A phantasmagorical icon symbolising mankind's folly and hubris...

...and a painting by Breughel.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Nothing can stop them?

It's good to see that Saint Etienne have offered to write a song for London 2012. SE are the quintessential London band, and What Have You Done Today, Mervyn Day? their unsentimentally-filmed elegy for the Lower Lea Valley's vanishing grimescape is well worth watching.

But, based on the evidence to date, their bid to craft a 2012 anthem is doomed to disappointment. From Barcelona to Beijing, understatement has rarely been an Olympic theme. London's bid was buoyed along by mannered M-People caterwhauling, and our contribution to the closing ceremony at Beijing was a faintly embarassing attempt to distill the essence of 'Cool Britannia' (remember that?), while ticking appropriate boxes. Red double-decker bus, as seen in establising shots in every film from Goldfinger to 28 Days Later? Check. Old white man from once-important rock band? Check. Inoffensive young black woman from talent show to counterbalance said rock dinosaur? Check. Global brand/footballer type person? Check.

I hope I'm wrong, and there may still be a lot of suprises before the 2012 opening ceremony, but I am afraid that Saint Etienne's music, while not always my cup of tea (too winsomely Heavenly Records, if you know what I mean), is too subtle, too particular, too crafty and crafted, to fit into the bizarre, homogenised world of Olympic culture and bombast.

Friday, 6 February 2009

World gone wrong

There are all sorts of reasons why I haven't typed anything here for a few weeks. One reason is that I try to write with some basic level of insight or understanding, and things are falling apart in the global system at such a dizzying pace that is hard to see what is happening, let alone make any sense of it all.

There's something else too. Every time I start typing something about the shrill and intolerant outrage that seems to dominate debate at the moment, I realise I am sounding like a Daily Mail writer, protesting about 'political correctness gone mad'. And this is not a good sound. If you sleep with a dog you get fleas, true, but sometimes that's the only place to sleep.

This week has been particularly rich in its craziness. Jonathon Ross making jokes about sex with old people (and the grand-daughters of old people) was merely a warm-up act to Gollygate. Now, Carol Thatcher does not seem like the sort of person I'd like as a neighbour. I can only cringe as I imagine her crass and self-righteous air of martyrdom as she refused to 'kowtow to political correctness', by apologising for her singularly oafish and offensive remarks. But this can't make it right to ban her from the airwaves.

Jeremy Clarkson is another person that I wouldn't want to spend much time with (though Top Gear is a guilty pleasure), but it is hard to see how referring to Gordon Brown as a 'one-eyed Scottish idiot' is so offensive to all partially-sighted people, let alone an entire nation, unless they are embarassed to be associated with the Prime Minister.

This fractious and factitious culture of complaint (to borrow the title of Robert Hughes' prescient book) is reducing a once-great institution to a punch-drunk pulp, incapable of distinguishing morality from manufactured outrage, or helping the hungry from helping Hamas. To mangle another Yeats line, the BBC lacks all conviction; its viewers are full of passionate intensity.

We are all going to hell in a handcart (as I believe is the the traditional closing sentence of such rants).