faustus: (Default)
( Jul. 2nd, 2013 04:05 pm)
Saturday I got up at daft o'clock to celebrate the 25th anniversary of my driving test - I caught the 6.00am train to Victoria, breakfasted in the Regency Cafe and was the first person through the doors of the Lowry exhibition. Imagine! Having the whole exhibition to yourself! After doing something similar for Lichtenstein and Hirst, I'd imagine crowds, but I had the place largely to myself - there were no more than four people in the same room as me at any time. A fantastic show, although light on biographical context.

And I am still pondering whether his liking of Pirandello might explain him somehow.

You could buy flat caps in the shop. But not, as far as I could see, whippets.

I also did Caulfield and Hume - shows rather light on explanation, and I rather bounced off.

I'd planned to do the Psycho show at Pace, but ambled first to the Pace at the rear of the RAA where I saw a Robert Irwin show (presumably not the same Robert Irwin...).

At this point I ran into and - against a certain degree of cynicism - watched half an hour or so of Pride. I confess and would like to risk expressing mixed feelings. It's the first one I've seen.

The theme this year seemed to be marriage and I can see the if-it-quacks-like-a-duck argument for extending civil partnerships, enshrining equal rights, clarity of medical decisions and access, inheritance of property etc. On the other hand, I have reservations about marriage as an institution for anyone. I'm also torn between the seashift of corporate attitudes that means people can now march as workers with Tesco and on the other hand the question of whether, say, BP and Barclays are in a position to gain positive PR from this. (I realise Apartheid is over now. I still have a distrust of Barclay's). I was all for the scattered placards complaining about the commercialisation of Pride, but on the other hand these were branded Socialist Worker.

On the other hand, it is good to see public displays of commitment, across the QUILTBAG spectrum.

On the other hand, whistles still annoy me...

Were there people marching for themselves or with partners who weren't under a brand? Or do you have to be part of a gang? (I suppose I should have been marching with my colleagues, had I chosen to, although I didn't recognise anyone there.) Was there a group of miscellaneous marchers at the back? If so I moved on before I saw them. The old visibility problem, perhaps. Where are the banners for people with no banners save their own visibility on the march?

Several of the crowd didn't remember - pace the placards - Lucy Meadows. I'm ashamed it took a couple of minutes to place the context.

It was hot in the sun. I was beginning to dehydrate. It was all rather moving.

It took a bit of wandering to locate Pace, proper, and it required an entryphone to be negotiated. I passed, for now.

Then a long wander up to a pub I like in Finsbury. On the other hand, I've twice been when Whitstable IPA was one of the choices and I can get that locally. Not all the beers taste great. And there was only one choice this time. I rapidly moved onto Clerkenwell and the Craft Beer Co, where there was only one beer at 4%. The rest was 7% plus. I settled for a 7% Thornbridge/Dark Star collaboration and a Sirens at 11.4%, but only a half. £10.50. Ouch. On several levels.

That left a stagger down to Temple, and the train home from Victoria.
Stonewall have just released a survey of British universities [http://www.gaybydegree.org.uk/index.html], measuring how well these institutions cover LGBT issues as follows:

* Stonewall Diversity Champion
* A policy that protects lesbian, gay and bisexual students from bullying
* Compulsory staff training on lesbian, gay and bisexual issues
* Lesbian, gay and bisexual staff network ("Is there a network group for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff which is supported by the university? Is this publicised so prospective students will know about it?" Do students need to know about a staff network?)
* Student lesbian, gay and bisexual society
* Info for students on lesbian, gay and bisexual issues
* Events for lesbian, gay and bisexual students
* Explicit Welfare Provision for lesbian, gay and bisexual students
["Does the university or the Student Union offer specific welfare support for lesbian, gay and bisexual students. This may be in the form of counsellors who are specifically trained in lesbian, gay and bisexual issues or in the form of LGBT society welfare reps."]
* Consultation with lesbian, gay and bisexual students
* Specific Career Advice for lesbian, gay and bisexual students:
["Does the University actively promote lesbian, gay and bisexual recruitment guides such as Stonewalls Starting Out? Or does it offer specific career advice for lesbian, gay and bisexual students either on their websites or through promotional events?" Ponders if this differs from advice offered to straight students - I guess careers in the armed forces or the church might be a problem, otherwise I suspect this falls under bullying policies. Maybe I'm missing something. Advice on becoming a hair dresser, interior designer or chat show host??]

Whilst in general I think this is a good idea - if a blunt instrument - there is a but, which I gather is typical of Stonewall. Let's pass over Diversity Champions (which is mainly the university signing up to agree not to be a shit to LGBT staff and student) with the minimum of sniggers and visions of masked avengers in lycra.

I cannot help but notice an absent presence here. On the one hand, "Stonewall’s University Guide is for all lesbian, gay and bisexual students; and all those in-between" and "You would probably like to go to a university that makes an effort to include lesbian, gay and bisexual people too", but on the other hand, "We’ve made this guide for LGBT students thinking about applying to university so you can find out how gay-friendly each of the 150 UK universities really are and what they have to offer you". In the jargon zone, they define Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT and Queer, and yet, and yet, there's surely a definition missing here.

The accuracy of the information may be gauged, perhaps, by the location they give for the Secret Campus, which is rather closer to Brisingamen and Peake than to me.

And I pause to wince at "Universities come in two types, town universities where the university is mixed in with the town and campus universities where the university has it's own designated space a ‘campus” usually outside of the town."
Have you ever assumed that "gay" means a liking for showtunes and a peculiar affinity with small girls from Kansas? Do you mourn the hijacking of the word "gay" from its earlier, innocent* meaning?

Fear no more: I intend to track the contemporary meaning of the word to spare your social blushes.

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 Endnote )



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