Friday, March 02, 2007

Portraying the Kicked Canine

Charles Ryder competes for the attention of Lord Sebastian Flyte with a Teddy Bear.

How the other half live.

I have a confession to make, my fair-minded yeomen. I have never read "Brideshead Revisited" by Evelyn Waugh. I cannot recall the television series when it was originally broadcast way back in 1981.(Note 1)

Despite Brideshead Revisited making Time Magazine's all-time greatest novels list and the British Film Institute's 100 Greatest Television Programmes, until today I didn't realise how the two main characters met. (Note 2)

The character of Lord Sebastian Flyte came from a wealthy and privileged background and in the TV series, was portrayed wearing the garb of the Bullingdon Club when he introduced himself in his rather unique and unconventional style to Charles Ryder.

I was surprised to discover that the Bullingdon Club survives to this day at Oxford. According to the Wikipedia entry, it is famed for its members' wealth and destructive binges. However, that fame had failed to impress itself on my consciousness, despite exploits occasionally finding their way into the media. (Note 3)

I'm pretty sure that most undergraduates, independent of university and means tend to indulge themselves to excess from time to time. Only it isn't quite so newsworthy when the students are at a 'lesser' university and from a less privileged background. It all goes to show that us Brits are still hung up over the class thing and tend to jerk knees when presented with such things.

The Bullingdon Dining Club of the 1980s. Back Row, 2nd Left is David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party.

The picture above is an 'artists impression' of a photograph that seems to have been mysteriously withdrawn by the copyright owners, Gillman and Soame (Note 4). Apparently, this has nothing to do with rumours that the Labour Party planned to use it in an election poster. Sadly for David Cameron and the Conservative Party, the BBC Newsnight program decided to let the cat out of the bag.

Interestingly, David Cameron isn't the only current Conservative high profile politician who, in those precious moments between studies, let of steam with the Bullingdon Dining Club. Apparently, Boris Johnson was also a member. I'll leave you to decide if images like this are going to play a bigger part in any election than the discussion of policy, but I think you can guess my cynical view.

Anything that David can do…. Back Row, 3rd Right is Tony Blair apparently making a rude gesture.

In the interests of political balance (and to be fair to the BBC they wrote a story about this photo too), I post the above picture of our current Prime Minister showing an equally unflattering pose. (Note 5)

For the more astute yeomen among my readership, I better point out that I do realise that it could be argued that I am perpetuating the current political trend towards image over substance.

I did consider that when I started out on the blog entry. Yet in the end, I couldn’t help but think that if someone from a council estate belonged to a gang which trashed each others houses and the local pub, they would be called a thug and there would be a baying (especially amongst Conservatives) that they be locked up and the key conveniently lost – even if it couldn’t be proved that he was actually involved in the mayhem. Besides, the way that the photograph became conveniently ‘unavailable’ smacks of cover up.

From 14th June 2006, the industry standard Crozzy Standard has been applied to footnotes.

NOTE 1: Way back in 1981 I had much better things to do than watch television. Well, that’s what I like to think. There I was a young, virile male in my early twenties – so life offered up a huge variety of temptations that would keep me away from the TV set. Yet, if I was honest, I probably decided that I wasn't prepared to watch a bunch of upper class twits poncing about and vegetated on the sofa as some alternative 'chewing gum for the mind' washed over me. Click to return

NOTE 2: For those of you who really need to know, Charles Ryder met Lord Sebastian Flyte when Sebastian vomited through an open window into Charle's room at Oxford University. Not having had the benefit of attending Oxford University, I would look upon this as a huge plot hole. I suppose this goes to prove I'm an uneducated peasant. Click to return

NOTE 3: Of course, I should find the whole idea of such excesses to be totally immoral. I should take the view that any student lucky enough to find themselves at Oxford University should realise how lucky they are and spend their entire time studying. However, I have to admit that when I was that age, I would have enjoyed such a lifestyle given half a chance. Click to return

NOTE 4: I've noticed there has been a trend towards publishing old school photographs amongst those on my friends list. For those of us who are steadfastly refusing to join in it is encouraging to know that it is possible to persuade our old school photographer from being persuaded to do so on our behalf. Click to return

NOTE 5: Sadly, I was unable to find a picture of Sir Menzies Campbell from his university days. It could be that back in those days photography was in its infancy and photographs tended to be formal portraits. Click to return

Boris demonstrating his contempt for Jamie Oliver by eating bread and dripping in front of a school dinner lady convention.

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1 comment:

Nobody said...

Yes, us Britons can be a little class, erm, sensitive. But in politics there is this annoying little PR phrase "representative."

And, of course, Cameron's Conservatives, wish to be as representative as anyone - Cameron has made much of that ambition.

One has to wonder, therefore, why out of the shadow team 15 of them are old etonians..