Arguments: Britain is Indifferent to Beauty

Destined to be great fodder for the Sunday papers (and it was in both The Times and The Guardian today), I found myself at a debate on Thursday evening on the topic that Britain has become indifferent to beauty. It was a lively and entertaining debate with TV Historian pop star David Starkey and Roger Scruton arguing for the case, and Germaine Greer and Stephen Bayley against.

Greer and Bayley won the debate, and not necessarily on the strengths of their arguments, but probably because Starkey and Scruton came across as fussy old men. A pity really as not only did Greer and Bayley contradict themselves, there was an emerging argument that our busy hectic lives has bumped the pursuit of beauty (in terms of the environment in which we live), down the order of priorities. Starkey and Scruton started to touch upon this, but they lost it amongst their stuffiness. Still it is delightful to hear them all speak, especially Greer. She takes a contrary view so easily that you wouldn't want to engage her in anything other than a formal debate...

It was also an audience of mostly members of the National Trust so I suspect that for Starkey and Scruton, they were always going to have a harder time trying to win the debate. Those National Trust peeps sure love their environment, even if they are a bit detached from the real world. One of the comments from the floor went something like: "Oh yoo ohnly halve to look at what the young people are wearing on Kings Road to know that beauty is long gone in this country". What rubbish. Some people need to get out more. And thanks to Google's Street View launched this week, you can see for yourself. In terms of a street scene, it could be a lot worse. I should know. I was rehearsing in Haringey today. Now there's a part of London that is not only proof of indifference to Beauty, but proof there are some places that just make you want to slash up...

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