Thursday, 27 October 2011

Good Causes

I am occasionally roused to write to the newspapers, and yesterday wrote to protest about the camp outside St Paul's. This is the latest in a series of mysterious failures by the police to enforce 'law and order', which it is in all our interests (including the protesters) to maintain. No sooner had I bunged the letter off (in the shape of an email) than the cathedral authorities declared that they will finally be taking steps to unbar the way into the cathedral. The dome and upper gallery will remain closed, apparently for fear that some nutter will set them on fire or cause some other damage in pursuance of their grudge against 'the City'. All this is against a background of which I would have thought the protesters would heartily approve, namely the imminent collapse of the world's financial system. Nearer to home, in the aftermath of the collapse of dgArts, moves are afoot to position Moffat as a deserving focus for arts support. A meeting tomorrow convened by Dumfries and Galloway Council, with Creative Scotland in attendance, in Dalbeattie will take soundings from an invited audience, which will include a representative of Moffat Book Events. Book events nowadays have spread their wings beyond the covers of bound volumes full of printed pages. Books about walks, for instance, are promoted by open air activity in company with the author. Matters of public interest such as the war in Afghanistan or the Arab spring are debated by expert platform groups, quizzed by a well-informed audience. All change is disturbing, but opportunities for clearing out those dusty corners of our habits of thought. What rights do we have to 'the arts'? What right, for instance, for individuals or events to be sustained by the public purse? (Within the generally accepted proposition that the arts are an indispensable part of a civilised society). My thoughts about the future of books was concentrated yesterday by downloading my first book (Any Human Heart by William Boyd) for £3.49 onto my new Kindle via my 'one click' account on Amazon. My first reaction is that the text alone does not fully replicate the physical book. My library is like my autobiography. I can remember where and when book was bought or read. Why did I want to read it? Perhaps a friend recommended it. I started to read nearly 65 years ago, and I need my library not for the information it contains - that is available now on Wikipedia or some other online resource. No, it is like a photograph album (another vanished artefact), it is my memories.

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