Posts Tagged ‘David Bowie’

The UK is staying together. But on what terms?

24/02/2014, 09:29:26 AM

by Jonathan Todd

David Bowie has supposedly waded into Scottish politics. How very dare he. He’d only been awarded a Brit. The ensuing furore may have missed this obvious point of context. Bowie may want the UK to stay together, at least in part, so that his award maintains a meaningful title.

What would we call the Brit Awards after Scottish independence? It’s hard to think of something equally snappy that captures the remnants of the UK. “Not even the most devoted unionist would claim” that the clear poll lead enjoyed by the Better Together campaign “is down to any tearful, emotional attachment to Britain and Britishness”, Chris Deerin has observed. Yet Bowie’s intervention underlines the self-evident point that breaking up the UK would be a needless destruction of something whose value, while immense, is sometimes so implicit as to be overlooked.

After Scottish independence, we wouldn’t know what to call the Brit Awards because we wouldn’t know who or what we’d become. To see what is in front of one’s nose, as George Orwell knew, needs a constant struggle. And sometimes it takes a supermodel dressed in the clothes of a 1970s pop star speaking the words of a contemporary cultural icon to remind us. It’s not that Bowie has gone political. It’s certainly not – pace cybernats – that Bowie is inserting himself where he shouldn’t. It’s just that Bowie is retelling us who we are.

The four words related to Scotland spoken by Kate Moss on behalf of Bowie were a concise version of the message of David Cameron’s speech at the Olympic park recently. The British remain a family – albeit, to again recall Orwell, with the wrong members in charge, though, of course, Cameron didn’t present familial relations in quite such terms. Nonetheless, to file for divorce, to metaphorically and almost literally reduce ourselves to arguing over our CD collection, would be a monumental self-harm. An absurd pettiness in a world of incredible opportunity.


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Sir Keith, or not Sir Keith? Actually, just Keith.

21/06/2010, 04:05:20 PM

Keith Hill, who recently stood down as MP for Streatham, and comedian Dawn French are both well known for putting in humorous turns at south London CLP fundraisers.

Now, they have something else in common. Like David Bowie and Philip Larkin, they have both turned down honours. While proud to be considered for a knighthood, the egalitarian Hill explained that he would rather just be “plain old Keith” than a “sir”.

It is rumoured that the star of TV’s the Apprentice insists on being addressed as “Sir Alan“. In contrast, Keith remarked: “I have never had the least desire to have a title”.

Spot the socialist. Well played, Keith. The comrades salute you.

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