Boris Johnson – another politician that simply doesn’t “get it“.
So what do you think, eh?” I turned to the BBC’s art critic, the brilliant, bulging Professor Branestawm lookalike Will Gompertz. We were standing on the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit in Stratford; London was spread beneath us like a land of dreams – was that France I could see in the distance? – and yet I was nervous.
London is a land of dreams but only in the la-la sense. Ground zero being centred on Westminster, of course.
This sculpture is a masterpiece, far better and more rewarding up close than it appears at a distance. The steel loops are an arterial red, writhing and shifting against each other beneath the blue sky. Anish Kapoor already has many fans, but he has excelled himself with this vast fallopian ampersand, this enigmatic hubble bubble, this proud vertical invitation to London 2012.
This blessed plot, this, earth, this realm, this England? Give me a break! That heap of junk would have the Bard himself frothing into his beard. Let’s hope that it gets nicked, weighed in and shipped off to China. It would be a mercy.
The Orbit is a decisive assertion of the city’s status as the world capital of culture and the arts. That’s my view, anyway, and I am sticking to it, though I am conscious that not everyone agrees.
First we get that ridiculous Olympic 2012 logo foisted upon the event and now this? Do you really want to associate London’s credibility status in the cultural arts on that tortured miscreation, Boris? The only way that “sculpture” could be worse is if Tracey Emin had been commissioned to tie used femidoms all over it.
There are plenty of people who absolutely hate the thing, just as most Parisians initially despised the Eiffel Tower (and didn’t Charles Dickens campaign against the building of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster?).
Boris, Boris, Boris. You can’t go around comparing architectural wonders with a high rise scrap yard. It just isn’t the done thing, old bean.
I have heard it compared to a catastrophic collision between two cranes, a mutant helter-skelter, a mangled trombone, and worse. So of course I waited with bated breath for the verdict of the BBC.
Why? Haven’t you got something better to do with your time? Like mayoral stuff or riding your bike or something?
Did Gompertz like it as much as I did?
Who gives a flying fig?
My friends, he did not.
Or at least, he liked it, but he had two complaints. “It’s not big enough,” he said, “and surely it should be free.” Not big enough! Free! There you have everything that is wrong with the BBC and with this country.
At which point Boris departs from this reality and signs up as a jockey for the Megalodon Steeplechase.
The thing is already colossal – about twice the height of Nelson’s column. If we went much higher we would have to re-route the planes out of City airport. And yes, it costs something to go up – though less than it costs to go up the London Eye – but what is the alternative? The alternative is that the whole operation would have to be subsidised by the taxpayer when it is one of the (many) saving graces of this structure that it has been very largely financed by private sponsorship.
It’s colossal all right. A colossal eyesore. And how largely subsidised by private sponsorship is very largely subsidised? Boris doesn’t say. It goes without saying that the rest of the money was wrested from the public purse. So let’s set Boris’ semantics aside and be truthful. Joe and Joan public have picked up part of the tab for this epic tower of cultural mutilation.
In his criticisms, Gompertz was revealing not the instincts of an art critic – but the mentality of the BBC man. Unlike the zany eccentric ArcelorMittal Orbit, the zany eccentric Gompertz is almost entirely publicly funded. It is up to you whether or not to go up the Orbit – though I thoroughly recommend it. You have no choice about funding Gompertz. Everyone who possesses a TV has to pay more than £145 to put him on air.
So the taxpayers who dug into their pockets to make up the lack of 100% private sponsorship were given a choice, were they?
The BBC is unlike any other media organisation in the free world, in that it levies billions from British households whether they want to watch it or not. No wonder its employees have an innocent belief that everything in life should be “free”. No wonder – and I speak as one who has just fought a campaign in which I sometimes felt that my chief opponent was the local BBC news – the prevailing view of Beeb newsrooms is, with honourable exceptions, statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, Europhile and, above all, overwhelmingly biased to the Left.
Of course they are: the whole lot of them are funded by the taxpayer. Eurosceptic views are still treated as if they were vaguely mad and unpleasant, even though the Eurosceptic analysis has been proved overwhelmingly right.
And the different between the Beeboids and post normal Toryism Cameroonism is…?
In all its lavish coverage of Murdoch, hacking and BSkyB, the BBC never properly explains the reasons why other media organisations – including the BBC – want to shaft a free-market competitor (and this basic dishonesty is spotted by the electorate; it’s one of the reasons real people are so apathetic about the Leveson business).
It’s that same dishonesty so prevalent in party politics that has been spotted by the electorate, Boris. People have also grown wearily apathetic to the LibLabCons. Aren’t you aware of the similarities? Or are you willfully blind to them?
Well, folks, we have a potential solution. In a short while we must appoint a new director-general, to succeed Mark Thompson. If we are really going ahead with Lords reform (why?), then the Lib Dems should allow the Government to appoint someone to run the BBC who is free-market, pro-business and understands the depths of the problems this country faces. We need someone who knows about the work ethic, and cutting costs. We need a Tory, and no mucking around. If we can’t change the Beeb, we can’t change the country.
That isn’t a solution, Boris. Labour bias, Tory bias, what’s the difference? We’ll still get bias! The solution is to scrap the telly licence, remove the BBC from the public teet and let market forces prevail. Who then will give two hoots what bias the BBC has because we won’t be paying for it. And who gives a kipper’s dangly bits what the Lib Dems will allow or not. They lost the last election, Boris. L. O. S. T. lost! Stupendously! iDave seems to have sold his soul to Clegg in order to get his greasy mitts on the crowbar of power only to find it was actually a teaspoon, one that only stirs to the left! Was it worth it? Apparently so.
Boris, I like you as a bloke. You are affable and amusing. You make interesting documentaries. However, there is no way, in the seven screaming hells of Wattalottaflanul, I would ever accept you as potential Prime Ministerial material.