Friday, July 29, 2011

South West, cultural desert?

Have just tried to book tickets at the Picturehouse in Exeter.  Not for a film, but a play.  A play screened live from London.  That 'Two Guvnors one with James Cordon.  The only seats left were in the neck-cricking front row. I bought them anyway.

Also have tickets to see operas ana bolena and la traviata, beamed by satellite to aforementioned cinema from New York.  Again am in eye-boggling seats beneath the screen, despite booking a day after tickets became available and said performances being months and months away.

Well you don't get to see much cult-cha down here in Devon, not of the performing arts type anyhow. The best we can do is watch it on a big telly taking place somewhere else.

Exeter, cathedral/red brick university city doesn't have a theatre or a performing venue to speak of.  The theatre it had, has had all its funding cut.  Repeat, all.  Not so much a cut as a thorough mincing.

The Phoenix Centre makes an attempt at being a cultural centre but with little in the way of funding falls some considerable way short its hub potential.  The bar is like a student refectory, the food borders on dreadful, and everything you touch is sticky.

The city boasts no substantial library, no decent-sized bookshop with decent coffee shop, no decent large gallery, no music venue beyond the cathedral - the cathedral I should note is spectacular, and spectacularly under-exploited.   As a result there is no cafe society, no 'latin quarter' dotted with decent wine bars or cafes charged with cultural buzz. In Exeter City there is no 'scene', just shopping malls and a depressing provincial high street.

With no decent venues, no decent artists/performers/performances come.  Check out the weekend supplements' backcovers showing the endless array of stand ups on a nationwide tour at any one time.  Run your finger down the list of venues they're scheduled to appear at and you'll notice they don't go west of Cardiff.  Never to Exeter. Very, very rarely are they dragged kicking and screaming to Plymouth.  

Yet as the scramble for Picturehouse tickets will attest that there is a thirst down here amongst us deprived Devonians, such that we get our fix where we can.   The Telegraph's Way with Words festival at Dartington had every speaker pretty much sold out.  The Dartmoor Arts week held in the tiny village of Drewsteignton sees around three hundred people squeezed into the pub's back room to listen to the evening's talks (headlined this year by such eminents as Margaret Drabble, Bill Woodrow, Peter Randall-Page and nueroscientist Semir Zeki), and art exhibitions, of which there are a lot given the disproportionate density of visual artists living down here, are all well attended.  Stuff happens.  But on a small scale. And that pretty much extends across the region.

So where is our lottery investment? Why is this corner left off the map and pretty much overlooked by anyone who's anyone?  It's not just Londoners and home county dwellers that like a bit of a show.  Is it perhaps because we don't make enough of a noise about it.  'You've got your rugged moors and your endless beaches, what more do you want for god's sake?'

Isn't the government aware that the exodus from London is accelerating as more and more of us, aided by the Internet, work remotely; are they not aware that living in London is prohibitive for most and that population-wise they need to spread the load, or that all those well-heeled types, who tend to like a bit of thay-ter, are spilling further and further westward to set up home, be it sumptuous home number 2.

A decent, attractive, sizeable venue is all we ask.  If all those central govt purse holders can't be bothered to regenerate this beautiful but culturally bereft corner of the UK now, perhaps they might consider the long, thumb-dwiddling evenings of their retirement? 

There is some hope.  John Lewis is coming.  Apparently.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Murdoch - Tit for Tat...?

Ok, with today's developments am sensing we're into tit-for-tat police vs news international...?

This is my take on stuff...:
Rebekah Brooks/Les Hinton resign in all the hoo-ha
Murdoch in rage at seeing ship sinking and a mass manning of lifeboats, unleashes wrath and (first of?) the dirt he holds on the police (front page news Sunday Times)
Police retaliate by promptly arresting, that's right arresting, Rebekah Brooks on grounds of... not entirely sure, 'intercepting communications'.. or something, and suspicion of corruption.

Tomorrow who knows...? Will there be further police revelations on The Times and Sun front pages...?

And then what?  Will the police start arresting Murdoch family members...?

Frankly, anything seems possible.  This one could go right to the top.  Am beginning to imagine that as the house of cards starts to topple, Cameron will get drawn in.  And if he does wade in to placate police and papers won't the immediate response be, just what have they got on him..?
This is better than The Wire.

New URL -

Enthused by my new name for this blog - Rhubarb Rhubarb (much more reflective of tone and content) I decided to change the URL accordingly

This of course was somewhat short-sighted, as anyone who had logged the previous URL or clicks on posts under the url received a rather ominous This Blog No Longer Exists message. It is not libel police, copyright infringement forces, or parliamentary committees shutting me down but just lil ol me, who'd failed to see the consequences of tampering with her own blogspot.

Therefore I have reverted back to old URL to warn anyone out there who may be listenng, reading, paying the vaguest bit of attention that I will be switching the url to the above in the next few days.

Please look me up there and if you've registered to receive email updates please re register.

Am hoping i'll be able to cling on to a smattering of followers...

In case you're wondering, I couldn't get rhubarb rhubarb.blogspot. You would be right to question whether all this halabalooh was really worth it. I too am asking myself the same question.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rhubarb Murdoch

So, there I was thinking...'well that's encouraging, I've had a little spike in my stats since jotting down my thoughts yesterday on the news international saga (refer to previous blog). And so soon after I posted it! Maybe I have finally hit the blogger zeitgeist, maybe my scribblings are catching people's eyes with their immense insightfulness, maybe I'll have arianna emailing any moment to lure me to the huffty post uk... Maybe it's all that, plus the fact that I changed the name of my blog to 'rhubarb rhubarb', which frankly I am much happier with.'

So, intrigued, I thought i'd just check to see what key words those well-informed international intellectuals had googled to find me.

To my disappointment I discovered that my spike was down to a simple phonetic (and spelling) error on the part of a those wishing to get up to speed on matters affecting news corp. In hunting for information relating to the uk's biggest newspaper baron they'd tapped in the words...
'Rhubarb murdock' then after that attempt, 'Rhubarb murdoch'...

Sigh. In true Rupert Murdoch style I plan to continue unabashed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Murdoch - the titillation tables have turned...

Have been watching bemused, buoyed, yes, even titillated as Saga Murdoch plays out like some kind of fat, fabulous Aesop fable.  

Retribution this sweet I thought only happened in the most formulaic of Hollywood plot lines. 

The supposedly invincible media mogul with police and politicians in his pocket scurries around floundering and shooting from the hip as the global big guns round on his crumbling fortress.  There is something quite delicious watching someone who's made an immense business peddling other people's misery now in the stocks themselves.  Yes, indeed, hoist by his own petard. Well, it's all in the slavering public interest innit? 
What's interesting is that you'd have thought that for someone so commercially astute there'd have been a contingency plan afoot.  Surely they weren't so arrogant as to think that the underhand journalistic practices clearly rife, and seemingly endorsed at the highest possible level at wapping towers would never be exposed? Stories of a scramble to delete thousands of emails, bumbling to parliamentary committees 'oh, yeah, we've paid the police.... within the law, erm. What? When?  Oh, did I say that, can't remember...'.  Plus of course there was, allegedly, the deliberate withholding of documents from The Enquiry that proved widespread, salaried, hacking, but the apparent accidental submitting of emails to The Enquiry revealing the signing off of four figure payouts to police....  Fortress Wapping, Fawlty Towers, Phenomenal Fuck-up.  What were they thinking? 

And then as the worms start to put on a pace out of that can and the whole cloud of stench starts to rise, the powers that be clearly have no idea when it comes to damage limitation. You can imagine the scene..... 

'Fuck, share price is tumbling, BSkyB looks shakey.  A scalp, a scalp! My kingdom for a scalp!  But not the curly auburn one, she knows too much.  Nor the specky, stubble one.  He's family.  I know, what about the rag itself??  Yeah, let's give them hundreds of scalps.  Worthless hacks, marketing, production heads, ad sales staff, printers, yeah yeah, all of them.  What?  what do you mean innocent scalps aren't really scalps at all?  Scalp-goat, scapegoat, it's all the same.  Just do it, and quick!  Oh, and whatever you do, keep smiling.  FOR FUCK'S SAKE, KEEP FUCKING SMILING.'

Several days later....'Ok, that didn't work.  What now?'

And so, there you have it.  In keeping with all the best tabloid stories, the subjects of this coup, the biggest the media world has seen, those big cheese barons who thought they ruled the world and our tawdry minds, are being stripped bare, bent over and right royally spanked with canes in real time.

Hubris. Humbug. Humiliation.  You couldn't make it up. Who knows where it will all end, but, when it does, will the last person to leave News International please turn the lights out. 


Name change...

Have changed the name of my blog to something that I feel more accurately reflects its content.