Tag Archives: arts

Bristolians rise against austerity with ‘Fund our city!’ call

On the march: The Rally for Bristol.

As I write this, the people of Bristol are staging a rally against austerity-driven Tory cuts to funding and services for their city.

The event was called by city mayor Marvin Rees – and This Writer (a former Bristolian) agrees with his reasons.

Only today, I had to write about funding cuts to another local authority that have endangered Women’s Aid services there – putting lives at risk.

Tories don’t care. They think money is more important than human lives.

The event’s Facebook page states:

“Mayor Marvin Rees has called a march and rally on Saturday September 9th … to demand the Conservative government gives Bristol and other cities the funding we need for our public services and stops the cuts that are damaging the lives of so many.

“The general election and polls since have shown that austerity is now opposed by the great majority of the public. But despite its weak position this government is handing £70 billion to the wealthy in tax breaks over five years, even as it burdens Bristol City Council with cuts to bare-bones essential services totalling £104 million (10% cut each year).

“On September 9th, three days before the Mayor is set to lobby ministers at Westminster, let’s send a powerful message by marching in our thousands in Bristol and other cities: we won’t take any more cuts – not to our social care and NHS, our children’s services, our housing, our libraries, our arts, our community centres, our parks, our schools, our children’s crossing patrols…

“We’ve had enough of closures, privatisation and job losses, and we’re uniting – as workers, service users and citizens – to fight all the way for the investment we need in the public services and the living standards of our communities!”


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Mass resignation from Trump’s arts and humanities committee contains a hidden message

Donald Trump [Image: Reuters].

I think it’s long enough after the events for This Writer to admit that I used to put acrostics into some of the stories I wrote in newspapers.

An acrostic is a hidden message in a larger text, in which some letters are used to form words – most commonly the first letter in each paragraph.

I wrote acrostics into my stories as an act of rebellion if I was being asked to produce what are known as “puff” pieces – publicity for third parties that have no news value – or if an editor had asked me to obscure the real news value in favour of an angle that was not appropriate. Some of the words I used were very salty indeed but I knew that very few people would realise what I was doing.

Check out the word spelt out by the first letters in each paragraph of the following letter, in which multiple members of Donald Trump’s arts and humanities committee walk out on him:

“Resist.”

Please do, America.


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Class divide in the arts – are they just for the toffs?

Charley's War: Top-flight comic-book drama that wouldn't be seen today - too working-class.

Charley’s War: Top-flight comic-book drama that wouldn’t be seen today – too working-class.

How many of you were on James Blunt’s side in his very public spat with Chris Bryant MP?

And now that Julie Walters has weighed in, saying Mr Bryant was right? What do you think now?

The Labour MP had claimed British culture was dominated by stars like Blunt and Eddie Redmayne, who benefited from a privileged background. Blunt took offence and they had a highly-publicised row about it.

But top actress Julie Walters agrees. Quoted in The Guardian‘s Weekend magazine, she said: “People like me wouldn’t have been able to go to college today. I could because I got a full grant. I don’t know how you get into it now. Kids write to me all the time and I think: I don’t know what to tell you.”

She said the problem extends to writers as well: “Working-class kids aren’t represented. Working-class life is not referred to. It’s really sad. I think it means we’re going to get loads more middle-class drama. It will be middle-class people playing working-class people, like it used to be.”

With Downton Abbey, written by the extremely plummy Julian Fellowes – otherwise known as Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, winning a National Television Award for Best Drama last week, she has a point.

The prejudice also seems to extend to all areas of the arts – even comics, as veteran writer Pat Mills explained in his own blog.

“Many people in our industry regard Charley’s War – featuring a working class hero, produced by working class-oriented creators with a strong anti-establishment agenda – as the greatest British comic strip. Middle Class comic aficionados would be far happier if it was a strip more oriented to their tastes, and – sadly – I have come across plenty of evidence to bear this out.

“Thus today it would be hard for a new Charley’s War to be originated in any format. The middle classes now dominate all media.

“But it’s some comfort to me that it secretly chokes them that a working class, not very bright, and very British hero, comes out way ahead of the icons they prefer. It’s a victory for mainstream comics, and mainstream readers, which I know many of them secretly despise.”

When the working classes are even prohibited from comics, you know there’s a problem. What are you going to do about it?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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