Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Thursday 2 October 2014

Holding up the mirror

(LONDON, 1751, about tea-time...)

"'Ere, are you Mr 'Ogarth?"

"Yes, I am. What can I do for you?"

"'S about that picture you got in your window."

"Ah yes, 'Gin Lane'. A satirical portrayal of modern society. I'm rather proud of it, actually; in fact, I'm planning to make a print of it to sell."

"It'll 'ave to go, squire."


"It's a bad influence, see? All that drunkenness and so on; it's offensive, like. The Beadle's on 'is way and 'e wants you to get rid of it; it's all part of 'is new plans for a sober October. Burning's best - it'd go up lovely on the fire!"

"You can't do that - it's a work of art!"

"Don't matter, squire; can't have a picture like that where people might see it and get the idea they wants a strong drink."

"But... but... the whole thing is meant to show the evils of drinking cheap spirits instead of good honest beer. It's satire!"

"Couldn't say anything to that, squire; Beadle's against beer too, he is. In fact, 'e's dead set against all that sort of thing. Now 'and it over before 'e gets 'ere and we'll be on our way. I'm sure you don't want any trouble now. After all, it's 'ardly as if it's a loss to future generations, is it?"

(Inspired, of course, by recent events in Clacton.)


  1. Sometimes I get the feeling that we are going mad. Not in a rhetorical sense, but genuinely bonkers.

  2. AKH, I'm inclined to agree.

    Still, we're in good company...

  3. Gin Lane, Gin Lane - is that where the expression Gino'clock, which I see Julia uses more often not, originated from?

  4. And the Barbican, one assumes...

  5. Apparently they now agree that they are beyond satire

  6. Recent events in Clacton and events about to happen this week.

  7. JH not sure - but it's a staple of my sister-in-law's vocabulary too; always welcome words for a house-guest to hear.

    LR, it's several decades since I moved away from London; it's quite a shock to see how pleased with itself the Barbican is now.

    TP - is it a sign of the end of days, when it becomes completely impossible to satirise current events?

    JH again - it's a bit like the asteroids; my obscure little blog happily chronicles an assortment of trivial events at the outermost edge of Essex for years and then suddenly everyone's crawling all over the place - with the added irony that I've been far too busy this week to extract any mileage out of it at all.


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