Friday, 13 April 2018

Radiohead and Waiting

Just lying in a bar with my drip feed on Talking to my girlfriend, waiting for something to happen And I wish it was the sixties, I wish I could be happy I wish, I wish, I wish that something would happen 
(the bends, 1995) 
I cannot think of any lyric that better sums up my experience of growing up in the 1990s than the one above, from Radiohead’s the Bends. I had a niggling feeling that nothing was happening. My parents had seen men land on the moon, but the Apollo programme has ended before I was even born. My parents had also see the invention of Concorde, whereas I only saw supersonic passenger flight decommissioned, as it was too expensive. You might argue that I have lived through a communications revolution, witnessing the birth of the internet and mobile phone technology, but this seems a somehow inferior experience to me. My parents could catch a flight out of Heathrow and land in New York before they had even taken off, while I can access Facebook on my phone. Indeed, these technologies, although they were born in the 1990s, didn’t really come into their own until the new millennium.  
I am not really interested in a debate about whether advancements in travel or communications is more exciting. This is only a metaphor for a lingering feeling of disquiet – that nothing was happening in the 1990s. It was not long after the ‘90s ended that things did start to happen though. It started when a man living in a cave orchestrated the largest ever coordinated attack against the USA on its own soil. Using World War Two Kamikaze-style tactics he destroyed icons of American imperial capitalism, military might, but failed to reach his last target in Washington. That a man in a cave in Afghanistan (or a house in Pakistan) could do this seemed unbelievable. What’s more unbelievable is that the most powerful country in the world, with the largest military budget was unable to catch him (or execute and dump him in the sea) for a decade. It was as it we had entered a Bond film.  
The Bond film continued when a computer programmer with white hair founded a global organisation to gather and release the world’s secrets. He even defied the world’s most powerful country at a time when it was run by a cowboy out to avenge the attacks by the man in the cave (house in Pakistan). Kim Jong Un is the most recent Bond baddie threatening to turn the world order upside down.  
Scotland’s near secession from the United Kingdom, Brexit, the election of Donald J. Trump, Catalonia’s vote for independence... things have started to happen and maybe there’s a bit too much happening, as if making up for the lack of activity in the 1990s. 

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Skyfall and Brexit Britain

I watched Skyfall on TV this Christmas (December 2017). I first watched it at the cinema, when it came out in 2012. I was abroad and watched it on my own. I got the last seat in a packed cinema in Amsterdam, suggesting that James Bond still has appeal outside the anglophone world. I was struck by the film's sexism, nostalgia and jingoism then, as I was in 2017, and much more so than in other, recent, James Bond movies. I confess that at times I found the patriotism exhilarating, but in a dirty secret pleasure kind of way. There are constant references to how things were better in the past, or how "the old ways are the best ways". The key motif is the return of the Aston Martin DB5 - symbol of British engineering and design icon, but one might also recall how Bond is issued with a gun and a radio - no fancy new gadgets necessary. Skyfall appears to be a call to return to traditional British values and, writing in 2018, the film seems like an uncanny poster-boy for Brexit. I will elaborate with a few examples.

When the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), sticks his nose into MI6 business his understanding of life "in the field" is brought into question. It is then revealed that he has seen active service in Northern Ireland. Since the Bond films are always set in the present, and given Mallory's age, we might guess that this active service was in the 1970s or 1980s. It is unlikely that M (Judi Dench), who is of a similar age to Mallory would have seen such front-line action. The implication is that she, as a female, could not have the same understanding and experience as either Mallory, or Bond. Indeed, this is confirmed as the film comes to its climax. Bond (Daniel Craig) takes M to Skyfall, not to hide from villain and ex-agent Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), but to fight him on their own terms. There, she does see active service, and she is killed, because she is a stupid girl. Note that, against all odds, Bond and his elderly game keeper (male) both survive. What was Dench thinking when she accepted this role? The look in Bond's eye when he acknowledges Mallory as the new M is one of relief - now we can go back to normal and do things properly. The female M was tolerated for a while, but in her final film she is shown to be weak. When there is an existential threat (MI6 is blown up), the atavistic need for a public school-educated male to fill the role is apparent. The retreat to Skyfall is a reminder that Bond's blood is aristocratic and that he has ties to the landscape: no foreigner would know where it is, or understand about its priest holes and secret tunnels.

Near the beginning of the film, a female agent, Eve, watches Bond fight a villain on the top of a train. She has a partial shot and is ordered to take it by M: she does, but shoots Bond. Dench's M does not lack the metal to make such calls, she just gets it wrong, as she did when sacrificing Silva. The consequences catch her up in this film. When Bond and the female agent later meet in London, Bond ribs her for the miss: "you gave it your best shot". He quips that field work is not for everybody. At the end of the film Bond asks if she is not returning to the field. Eve replies that she is not. She has realised that fieldwork is not for everybody. She then introduces herself as Eve Moneypenny, before taking up the role of secretary (or PA) to M. That's right, she had a go at being the hero, but mucked it up because she is a stupid girl. Realising that she could not cut it, she took up a desk job. Not as an analyst or similar, but as a secretary: she now knows her place. Previously, when in Macau, Moneypenny assumed a submissive role when she shaves Bond. She knows her place.

Mallory is one example of a renewal of the old system. Bond is another. He fails his medical when returning to active service (after having been shot by Moneypenny), but he is reinstated nonetheless. Why? Because M instinctively knows that he is the best. The fact that others might score more highly in tests is irrelevant - Bond must get the job. Dench's M must make way for new male "talent", all that remains of her is her porcelain bulldog with a union flag on its back. Moneypenny must get back behind a desk. From now on, jobs in MI6, we can presume, will be reserved for the old school tie. Public school boys have always comprised the British secret service, as represented in Bond and in real life. The implication is that the only people truly allowed to do the tops jobs are old, public school educated, men. This is made abundantly clear when Bond first encounters the new Q: "you have to be joking... you still have spots". Q fulfills his role with distinction, however. Apparently being a young male need not hold you back after all, but you will still have to put up with prejudiced remarks and no one will take you seriously.Is this the Brexit Britain that we can look forward to?

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Grants not Loans, but Remember to Fund Arts and Humanities Degrees too!

Jeremy Corbyn has gained such ground that even those of a more conservative position are seriously debating the abolition of university tuition fees and reinstating grants. With the abolition of fees comes great emancipatory potential for those from underprivileged backgrounds, but there also comes a great threat to the arts.

The arts at university, despite under funding, are currently somewhat protected. They are protected because people still want to study them and are willing to pay £9,000 a year to do so. A move away from this model to one fully publicly funded has re-opened a debate around how many students we should fund and even how many universities we should have. A sub-set of this debate relates to which subjects we should fund. Those who only see the world in economic terms appear to feel that we have too many students in Higher Education, too many universities and that we do not need so many students of the arts and humanities. Dominic Holland embodied this position today on Channel 5's The Wright Stuff. He claimed that many degrees do not need to be three years long and that humanities degrees could be completed in only one year. This is like a parent telling their child that they will not pay for a year's driving lessons, because you can learn to drive in a month: if you cannot learn in a month, you are not good enough an should not drive! While it is clearly possible to demonstrate every manoeuvre and explain every situation covered by the test in this time frame, it takes time for this information to sink in. I could show Mr Holland how to play a guitar riff in thirty seconds, but would he be able to learn it in one minute? How long does it take to learn to play or compose music? How long does it take to learn to draw? You certainly could learn arts at university in one year - but not to the same level. The same is true of the humanities. Arts and humanities degrees are not about learning a set amount of information in the quickest possible time. Students learn new ways of thinking and seeing the world, but it takes time for these ideas to sink in and become fully formed.

Public funding of Higher Education is socially responsible because it removes financial barriers to education and our graduates benefit the whole of society in uncountable ways. If I get run over by a bus, I want the very best doctor to treat me - not the best who could afford to take on the debt or the best who came from a social background where going to university was an option. If I am falsely accused of a crime I want the State to provide me with the very best possible defence lawyer. I want our brightest and best scientists and engineers working on ways to improve our lives. But I also want critical thinkers who can interpret and challenge the so-called fake news and post-Truth climate we live in. I want creative thinkers who can imagine new ways of living in and running the world. I also want new generations to contribute towards new modes of cultural production. There is a cost to sending people to university, but the benefits are far greater. France has a huge tourist industry based on its historic place as a haven for artists. People visit Monet's garden in Giverny and Aix-en-Provence to see where Van Gogh lived and the Mont Sainte-Victoire that Cezanne painted for about fifteen years. Paris is perhaps even famous as the place where great artists such as Dali, Picasso and the Impressionists once lived. All these reasons for France's art economy have nothing to do with the artists' economic success in their lifetime: France did not invest in and foster these artists for a short term payback. All of my examples had their success (or at least their break through) between the turn of the last century up until around the Second World War, but France continues to reap its reward. However, continuing to view this debate in purely economic terms is misguided. We should fund education so that everybody who gains the entry criteria can study if they want to without the fear of being saddled with £50,000 of debt; a debt that will affect the graduate's ability to buy a home, as Student Loan repayments are considered as outgoings on mortgage applications.

Returning to the target of this article, Dominic Holland stated that he had two degrees and a Masters degree - all of which were "a complete waste of time". This is evident in the lack of sophistication of his argument. Holland simply cannot see that his successful career in comedy and television might be, at least in part, due to his formative years at university. Rather than write off arts and humanities Higher Education for future generations, Holland would do better to ask himself why, when he had access to a great library, a network of peers and expert academics in his chosen field, he considers his time to be a waste. Perhaps it is he who wasted his time, or perhaps he needed a lot longer than three years for the information and experience to sink in, develop and become useful to him.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Reflections on a Visit to a Stately Home: We are all in this Together (but Not in the Way You Thought)

I recently visited a stately home, Doddington Hall near Lincoln. Entrance to the gardens and the hall will set you back £10.50. I was lucky enough to have a tour of both.
Doddington Hall

The house was built in the Elizabethan period and has stayed in the same family ever since, although their surnames have changed through marriage. Having never been sold, the house has never been emptied and the guide explained that the house is littered with treasures. One chair was worth £40,000 - the complete set of four is worth much more. The family did not know this until a delegation of antiques experts from Christie's, Sotherby's, Buckingham Palace and the Swedish royal family arrived to investigate what might be lying around. The delegation found four sets of the chairs I refer to, scattered about the mansion. The family did not know how many they had. The same room had chandeliers made our of Venetian Murano glass (surely the most garish and overrated manufacturers of glass in the world). The guide explained that there were some important and expensive paintings, some by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Example of a Sickening Murano Chandelier

It's nice to know that if this family ever falls on hard times the worst they will have to do is sell a chair or two, a garish chandelier, fell a few trees or... if the worst comes to the worst... a Reynolds. Of course, it doesn't need to come to that if you are rich. While we were there we saw two people restoring the families collection of tapestries. Apparently they have already spent over 80,000 hours working on this. I asked who was paying for the restoration work: a charitable grant. I wonder what my chances are of gaining a charitable grant to upholster a sofa or restore some paintings? I won't hold my breath. On the gardens tour we were told that, since this is not a National Trust property, they have fewer restrictions. One garden was reclaimed from agricultural use - that must have been expensive. Not to worry, it was funded by a National Lottery Heritage Grant. Presumably I am entitled to the same fund to redesign my garden, so long as I open it up to the public for £5 a ticket. I won't hold my breath.
Our Painting, by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Later on the tour we saw a portrait of "the man who saved Doddington Hall". We were told that this great man made the "brave decision" to repair the roof when it was leaking in the 1950s. At this time, just after the war, we were losing stately homes like this at a rate of knots. The landed gentry were struggling to keep up with the cost of running such massive buildings - especially since they rarely had jobs. But what is so "brave" about saving your home? It would have been expensive to repair such a big roof, for sure, but you can either afford the repairs, or you lose your house. He couldn't sell the chairs. Remember, the family were ignorant to their value and even their quantity. Did he bravely did into his own pocket? Not exactly. He bequeathed a Reynolds to the nation in return for the funds. That must have been tough - losing a valuable painting... and one that is of a family member too. Not to worry though, the painting remains in Doddington Hall of course. The guide explained that the painting is the reason that we are able to visit the house - because we paid for the roof (and we own the painting). Fair deal, but why then do we still have to pay £10.50 to see it?

In one way or another we have paid for the upkeep of this house, its grounds and its contents, which are still (with the exception of the Reynolds) privately owned. Our taxes, charitable donations, lottery tickets and entrance fees all prop up this millionaire family. My final observations on the tour of the house were two photographs, presumably of Anthony Jarvis (the previous owner of Doddington Hall, who has now passed it to his daughter). In one he was meeting Margaret Thatcher. In the other David Cameron is pouring champagne for him. Under the photographer there is a caption that reads "More Bollinger? Excellent policy Prime Minister". Seeing Mr Cameron again reminded me of his dictum that "we are all in this together". So I see. Indeed we are all in this together, but not in the way that we thought. We, the 99%, have banded together to support the 1%. We are all on the same team.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Bon hiver: A journey through a Winter Landscape

Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne

1 December 2012 - 3 February 2013

Olafur Eliasson The Forked Forest Path
The proposed theme of this exhibition was, we are told, “a journey through the winter landscape” and superficially this is evident but I cannot help but feel that time is the real subject. Bon Hiver, we are told, is a French greeting meaning “good winter” and it used on the day of the first snowfall. This, in itself, reminds me of the cyclical nature of time in nature, but I also found time recurring throughout the exhibition.
Olafur Eliasson’s excellent, and well know, The Forked Forest Path is made entirely from large sticks (or small branches) which are precariously propping each other up to form a forest in the gallery space through which visitors can walk. It looks as though it may fall over at any moment – and with the volume of visitors it was impossible not to occasionally brush up against some of the spindly twigs. The piece is as ephemeral as it is timeless: timeless in that the material from which it is made cannot be dated (and probably does not age very much either).
The forest path does indeed fork and to the left you are led into a room with a work by Joachim Koester that further evokes the notion of time through his use of antiquated machinery – a slide projector. The slides project images of a timeless landscape covered in snow, devoid of humans or any human intervention. We learn through text projected over the images that this is an expedition to the North Pole. Anecdotes give us glimpses not only of what the adventurers are up to at the time the slide was taken (resting, drinking coffee etc.) but also where we are and who we are with: “the Greenlanders refused to go any further”. I imagine that Greenland is ancient land, but then I recall the temporal nature of the North Pole itself – how it is made of ice, not rock and earth, and how it moves with the currents so that no two expeditions reach the same physical point: a flag mounted at the North Pole will simply drift away on its glacier. Is Greenland “ancient land”? It doesn’t really matter whether it is or not. The point is, the images recall ancient land – a land before humans – and yet at the same time make us think of their precious temporality as icecaps drift or melt.
Walking back through the forked forest path you arrive at a room on the right hand side. The most striking piece of work in the room is, perhaps, Mariele Neudecker’s The Sea of Ice. Neudecker has made a 3D replica of Friedrich’s painting of the same name and immersed it in a fish tank. The opaque walls of the tank (or perhaps the murky liquid that fills it) evoke mist: a mist that recalls Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog. While instantly reminiscent of Friedrich’s The Sea of Ice (also called The Wreck of Hope) the opaqueness makes it somewhat difficult to get a good view. You walk around the tank peering in to get the best angle and as you do so you begin to appreciate the curious light that Neudecker has achieved and the optical illusions that you get with tanks of water – where as you turn a corner the image disappears for a second, only to reappear anew from a distinctly different angle. This reminded me of viewing a moving hologram. In this way you “enter” Friedrich’s painting, but you are able to walk around it too. Neudecker has created not only a 3D version, but also a sensory experience, in the same way that Eliasson created a sensory experience by creating a forest out of branches in the gallery space through which you walk. In a similar way, Koester created a sensory experience through his “full wall” projections and the noise of the clicking slides. The projector itself becomes part of the work and recalls expedition briefings (which might use such imagery, or such equipment). In this sense, in a way, you enter the work.
On the wall opposite The Sea of Ice hang two photographs by Kelly Richardson. In these works Richardson has taken Polaroid snapshots, scanned them and enlarged them to the point that the image breaks down. This creates something dreamlike out of something disposable something ephemeral, something fleeting? Is time also a factor in this work? By scanning the analogue prints Richardson digitises them, creating a sort of time travel: she takes a now antiquated medium and drags it into the 21st Century. In doing so she also pixelates the image which now mimics CCTV or grainy film stills but also looks like cyanotypes (perhaps a reference to photography’s relationship with nature or to its roots?).
To the left there is another piece by Richardson, a shaky handheld film of the moon. The image is distorted, we find out from the wall text, by “vapours”. The rustling, crackling sound makes us aware of ourselves and humans are made “visible” in yet another unpopulated “landscape” in much the same manner as Koester’s slide projector. The wall text goes on to explain that the sound is of popcorn cracking on a campfire (also the source of heat and the “vapours” that distort the image as they pass by the lens).
There is one more (back)room to this exhibition but this time we encounter older artworks: paintings by artists such as Eric Ravilious (whose picture is included in the gallery publicity for this exhibition). This room failed to achieve the sensory experience felt before it and left the whole exhibition somewhat flat. If you didn’t know better you could be mistaken for thinking you had finished the exhibition and entered the permanent collection (ironically it is Eliasson’s The Forked Forest Path is owned by the Towner). Curiously, time is still evident, but not in a good way. You feel a clash of eras as you drift from a contemporary art exhibition into something older.
Kelly Richardson’s photographs were part of her Supernatural Series. Supernatural etymologically means above or beyond nature. The clash of times in Bon Hiver is augmented as you literally go above nature (above this exhibition) to Kelly Richardson’s solo show upstairs (2 February – 14 April 2013 Richardson’s HD films are digitally projected and incorporate animation. Sci-Fi trees made out of light appear and disappear on a lunar-esque landscape arousing the notion of the hologram felt when viewing Neudecker’s Sea of Ice. Richardson’s landscapes are hyper-real, videogame-like and yet recall timeless mythology in their subject matter (the stag and the forest for example). Through her work we imagine a world run out of nature, a world increasingly digitised and reliant on new technologies. We do not encounter the dystopia that the press release tells us to expect, but rather an uneasy and ambiguous balance between the familiar landscape and the unknown future.
Richardson’s films point to an uncertain future but in doing so also look back to the Romantic sublime of Friedrich. The uncertainty of what’s beyond the frontier, the limit of man’s endurance for extreme nature, was for the Romantic adventurer, the source of excitement and terror that the technological future holds for us today. With no new lands left to discover, cyberspace is our final frontier. Rather than replacing nature, it is technology’s future relationship with nature that is explored in Richardson’s films and with this in mind Bon Hiver also elicits questions about how we can understand a future where the once seemingly timeless and unchanging “nature” (represented by the landscape) is called into question. Will “technology” be its saviour or help facilitate its demise?

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Carl Andre: Mass & Matter//Rosa Barba: Subject to Constant Change

Turner Contemporary, Margate
1 February - 6 May 2013

Rosa Barba, Subject to Constant Change

Fans of Minimalism will want to take a trip to the Turner Contemporary in Margate. The gallery currently has two exhibitions: Mass and Matter by Carl Andre and Subject to Constant Change by Rosa Barba (both 1 February 2013 – 6 May 2013).
What can I say about Carl Andre that hasn’t already been said? More importantly, what can Turner Contemporary (TC) say about Carl Andre that hasn’t already been said? TC focus as much on his poems as his sculpture – which is refreshing. They also point out that he barely made any sculpture while working on the railways, turning instead to hand written and, latterly, typewritten poems. Andre is quoted as saying that he does not aim to express him self through words when doing so, but instead he rearranges the words of poems into columns and rows in much the same fashion as Jack does in The Shining.
In focusing on this period in Andre’s career we draw parallels between his industrial labour (and that of his father, the ship yard where he grew up and so forth) and his sculptural works. It is my understanding that the point of minimalism is, through reducing the artwork to its bare bones, to make the viewer aware of their own bodies and their physical relationship with material (with mass and matter as it were). The problem with this show is that there are simply too many sculptures crammed into one relatively small room. Works are not allowed to breath, you cannot “experience” one material without another lingering in the periphery.
Andre famously remarked that as Tuner severed colour from depiction, so he wanted to sever material from form. And yet, responding to a question (in a video about the exhibition on the TC website) about his choice of materials Andre confesses that economics is the main fact as “there’s usually a budget involved”. What was a tediously forced link with Turner (because the gallery bears his name, because of a tenuous link between the artist and Margate…sigh) turns out to expose a major inconsistency in Andre’s oeuvre. Are the materials important or does he just go with what is available? Is the space around the artworks important, or does he just cram in as much work as possible?
Rosa Barba is not a minimalist but she is an excellent example of Andre’s legacy in contemporary art. At first glance we can instantly identify her show as having all the ingredients of a first rate contemporary art exhibition. It is well laid out with plenty of space between works, just as Andre’s should have been. In fact, it is puzzling that so much space was given over to Barba at the expense of the better-known Andre. The exhibition can broadly be described as sculptural video installation. Sculptures are made out of celluloid film, sometimes moving, run by small motors. There is a nostalgic cool about old film projectors and I am often surprised by how this continually captures the imagination of my students. In their case, it is a cheap medium to play with: old, broken, projectors and used or out of date film can easily be found at car boot fayres or from Freecycle. Barba does seem to be operating in the same way “playing” with the medium but she goes beyond this simply in terms of display. Everything is exquisitely made – the fittings, the “vitrines” that house some sculptures. Her three largest pieces – a floor to ceiling laser cut text with a movie projector casting a beautiful shadow onto the wall behind it and, in the other room, text on several moving celluloid moving films and a large projected film – are all installed in a manner that would make Donald Judd proud. The back projected film falls on a large screen set in the centre of the room which reeks of minimalist cool.
But what about the content of the film? We are told that it was filmed in Manchester and Kent because…it will be exhibited in Manchester and Kent (sigh…). The propensity for linking everything to TC’s geographical location, or through this to Turner himself, is becoming evermore disappointing and unoriginal. It seems that artists are forced to make connections that seem, well… forced. Carl Andre’s only connection was through the quotation about Turner but one has to wonder about his commitment to a show in which he is in included (because of a sound-bite nod to Turner?) only to be crammed into one room. Perhaps the allure of his first UK solo exhibition in a public gallery for 10 years was too much? As with Andre, it’s all about the display to the detriment of the content for Barba. In the same film about the exhibition I mentioned above, Barba dodges a question from a kind of focus group about the show (a way of engaging with the “locals” and to prove that TC has value through social and economic regeneration) by admitting that she doesn’t have all the answers. Why? Because there are no answers. As with Carl Andre, Barba is “not a conceptual artist” and there are certainly no mysteries (mathematical of otherwise) behind her work at all. Simply, what you see is what you get.
Barba deconstructs the physical elements of film, but to what end? We are supposed to consider the end of the industrial age and the transition to the digital age and Barba’s film refers to Manchester as being the first industrial metropolis (debatable) and Margate as being emblematic of the seaside holiday industry that sprung up as a result. I see Barba’s deconstructed use of celluloid and light as being vacuous. Intrigue with antiquated machinery allows for curious play, for a while, but ultimately reveals nothing. A nostalgic reflection on our transition through the industrial age maybe, but nothing more.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Boris Johnson on why salaries are a luxury

"Young Londoners will now have to do 13 weeks unpaid work for their £56 a week dole money". 

Guest Blogger Boris Johnson explains the benefits of unpaid work.

Reactive from the left wing press has been predicable in response to my new scheme.  In fact, this is excellent news for young Londoners as they will now be able to gain valuable experience that the country could not otherwise afford to give them. Those who claim that this is 'work', and as such should be paid,  are just bleeding heart liberals who don't understand economics. People focus too much on money these days. What's important is that, today, I can unveil a plan to create 200,000 jobs over the next four years.

Labour's introduction of the minimum wage has been disastrous for this country - I mean, what business can afford to pay £6.08 per hour in the current climate? That's £228 a week, £912 per month or potentially a massive £10,000 per year for a full time temp! We're just not competitive any more. 

(Chris) Grayling took a swipe at the Labour party and those campaigning against "workfare". "The usual suspects will cry 'slave labour''. They always do. But they are the people who believe that young claimants have the right to sit at home playing computer games. I simply disagree."

I agree with Chris Grayling - we must end this "something for nothing" culture. It's long overdue for good, honest, businesses to be able to employ these people - without having to pay them. The rise in tuition fees and repeal of EMA should ensure there are plenty of young people available for the new 'workfare' scheme.

Working Class 'pride' now seems laughable. Unless you are generating wealth for the economy, you are a drag on the economy. Thank God we deregulated the City in the 80s - the bankers are the only ones who contribute anything nowadays.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is the Mayor of London. He was born in New York and educated at the European School in Brussels before attending Eton and Oxford University.  His father is employed by the World Bank.