Saturday, 9 July 2016

Painted People

The early news from the UK Saturday 9th July 2016 was dominated by two threads. Conservative Premier hopefuls Leadsom and May in a tussle led by the former about whether motherhood gave her an added edge over May A most ill advised tack to take in my judgement. I set this beside listening to Simon and Garfunkel The boxer and moved to the next story, thousands of naked blue painted people parading through Hull to create art . I do not warm to Leadsom (the cruel part of me thinks Lead Baloon (no more cruel than denigrating the childless May)) but I did warm to the strippers in Hull. Hull might seem a tad unlikely, with the backdrops of the muddy River Hull (think Struncheon Hill Lock), elderly commercial shipping and caverns of brick warehouses. One part of the pose involved swinging a bridge full of nudes.
We have always been an eccentric nation - us Brits - never particularly wanting to bear the burden of conformity and a European super state. The blue was meant to symbolise the river and seas that surround our islands and in their own way join us to the continent. The blue also reminded me though of two more disparate groups, the Tories whose bizarre politicing over Europe has boiled over these last weeks and shows no signs of bating. And the other group was much older, the painted people, the Celts of these islands whom the Romans reported on.
It is not difficult to see the Euro referendum as a judgement on our willingness to conform, I do not want to be part of a European super state, nor have I ever sought to be part of the European Church. Globalisation and corporatism give me the heeby jeebies. The thousands of painted nudes expressed both rebellion and a different deeper conformity. The conformity of shared humanity stripped of the suits, a return to the waters of the womb, a humble conformity. And certainly not one where the body beautiful, a particular shape, was to be praised. All bodies were present, all ages, all genders. 

This was not some weird celebration of motherhood in pursuit of political ambition. This was a humble statement in the context of one of Britain’s cities where the past and its decline still remain very present. So many ships and crews have left the Hull and the Humber. So many memories of the deep sea trawlers heading north west. The packet ships of Associated Humber Lines like the Kirkham Abbey heading to the Low Countries . The barges sailing and motor heading into the Yorkshire hinterland and up the Trent. The amorphous water world of the Humber expressed in its citizens on a dull July morning far from Westminster.
None of us know what the future holds. By a narrow majority we have said that the bureaucracy of the European Union is not “us”. But I doubt “us” is really blue suited Tory ladies “experienced” in London’s money markets point scoring about motherhood. Somehow I have more faith that “us” is about blue painted nudity and I should be pleased to join in such an installation one day and not care too much over Westminster shennagins.

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