‘I like to write about books that give me pleasure,’ Angela Carter wrote in her preface to Expletives Deleted, the collection of her journalism published posthumously in 1992. ‘I also like to argue,’ she said. ‘A day without argument is like an egg without salt.’ Between 1980 and 1991, Carter wrote some of her finest literary tributes for the LRB: Grace Paley, Colette, Christina Stead, Iain Sinclair. But the pieces that really leap at you from the archive are three from the middle 1980s about food and foodies or, as Carter called it, ‘conspicuous gluttony’ and ‘piggery triumphant’, and how ‘genuinely decadent’ she found the foodie search for the perfect melon, ‘as if it were a piece of the True Cross’.
Not many adults will know about the Tobuscus riot of September 2012, by the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, but it makes for one of the best sequences in Beeban Kidron’s documentary film about teens and the internet, InRealLife. Tobuscus, the hideously hyper, pretty-as-a-pony YouTube performer, tweeted his followers to suggest a ‘meetup’ when he was visiting from LA. About a thousand turned up and lots of them got hysterical. Tobuscus had to escape over iron railings, impaling his hand as he did so. ‘Did you die for our sins, man?’ a follower wrote on Instagram. Police came and broke it up. ‘YouTube is a beast,’ Tobuscus says in Kidron’s movie, mugging and sniggering in a way that makes it difficult to tell if he’s upset or only acting, which is what he’s always like. He films himself so much and so often, he probably doesn’t know for sure himself.
At a certain age, apparently, it’s well known that women give up on trying to beautify their bodies and get to work on improving their houses instead. No longer is it Vogue and Grazia cluttering the coffee table, but Living Etc and Elle Decor, laid out in a tidy fan. No longer does one venture out in body-con dresses, but nests instead at home, in an animal-look onesie, snuggled on the sofa with this or that box set. All that effort that used to go on fretting about one’s outfit has to go somewhere. So is it the quality of the writing that’s the best thing about Danish television at the moment, or is it the interior design? I wrote here about the utopian symbolism – as I saw it – of all those beautiful, glowing and planetary Danish light-fittings in The Killing, my previous box-set project. And I’ve been delighted to see all the classics – the Artichoke, the Enigma, the Henningsen PH4 – out in force in my new favourite, Borgen, the second run of which begins this evening on BBC4. This is the one in which Birgitte Nyborg, the middle-aged and middle-class leader of the exceedingly middle-of-the-road 'Moderate Party', unexpectedly finds herself the first female prime minister of Denmark. The stirring credit sequence shows her bounding off her bike from her domestic life and into the public sphere, leaving her kids behind in her elegant house with her handsome husband to stride the corridors of the Folketinget, smiling her captivatingly crinkle-nostrilled smile. 'It’s a chess game, if you like,' the veteran correspondent Hanne Holm says about Danish electoral politics at the beginning of the first episode. Certainly one of the programme’s many pleasures is second-guessing Nyborg on her increasingly raptor-like calculations as she fires people and forms various weird-looking and fragile coalitions.
We didn’t start watching The Killing in my house until long after everybody else did – at the beginning of this year, I think, when somebody gave us the box set of the first series. By that time I was a bit bored of Sara Lund and her famous jumper – she wears it far too small and clingy, in my view. The trophy knit of the moment should hang from the shoulders, big and square. But I did love the women’s hairdos, mouse-brown and tied back on a good day, left out lank and mournful on the many bad. I couldn’t even tell who was who to begin with, they were all so ordinary in their jeans and parkas, groping through tears and the Danish darkness, nodding and saying hej and tak.
Three-quarters of the energy sold by Scottish and Southern Energy comes from burning fossil fuels, but its portfolio also incorporates the dams and reservoirs of the former North of Scotland Hydro Board, not to mention the shiny plate-glass greenwash of the Scottish Hydro Centre for Renewable Excellence in Hope Street, Glasgow, just across the road from Glasgow Central station, where we were going to catch our train. We didn’t get to test-drive the electric car, unfortunately, because it was a Sunday and the centre was closed. But we did admire the bit on the window about Scotland being in the vanguard of ‘a new renewable industrial revolution’ – as romantic, almost, as the Neart nan Gleann motto of the old Hydro Electric. They should put it in an ad for Tennent’s lager, or for the SNP.
‘There are some of my colleagues in the coalition who are very sceptical of the benefits of profit,’ Michael Gove told the Leveson Inquiry last week. ‘I have an open mind. I believe that it may be the case that we can augment the quality of state education by extending the range of people involved in its provision.’ In Southwark, we’ve got used to seeing local schools be taken over by the Harris Federation, the chain set up by the Carpetright mogul Baron Harris of Peckham, responsible at the moment for 13 academies and with a couple of free schools on the way.
‘Politics, media, police,’ said the young man with the jagged haircut. ‘Is this the first institutional failure of post-devolution Scotland?’ The panellists, squeezed round the desks of Committee Room One in the Scottish Parliament, wriggled a bit and looked pained. It’s too soon, one said, to know what’s going to happen in the long run. This story has a lot further still to go. But there must have been what he called ‘a failing of institutional Scotland’ when the Trump Organisation started building ‘the world’s greatest golf course’ on the dunes and marram grass of Menie, just up the coast from Aberdeen.
I wasn’t sure about the Jeremy Deller show at the Hayward before I got there: Joy in People, he’s called it, ugh, and my friend had been complaining about the installation that re-creates his bedroom at his parents’ house, and the one that’s done as a market-traders’ café and gives you a free cup of tea. ‘They just can’t bloody resist it, can they,’ she said sadly. Like me, she’s a Deller fan of many years’ standing; I remember us both admiring the Folk Archive when it first appeared at Tate Britain in 2000. She was disappointed, I think, in the autobiographical aspect of these installations, which were a bit too close to Tracey Emin’s bed and hut.
The Peckham Peace Wall was established on the morning of Tuesday 9 August by members of the Peckham Shed theatre group on temporary hoardings protecting the broken windows of Poundland on Rye Lane, between the Card Factory – a greetings-cards shop - and the entrance to the Aylesham Centre, just across the road from a clothing store called – to the delight of tweeters - Loot. All available space was filled by Friday 12 August, when the hoardings were removed and put on display at Peckham Library. But Poundland professed itself so 'touched by the community’s work' that new boards were put over the windows and the Post-its began filling up again. Here are some of the messages that were up at 5 p.m. on Saturday 13 August.
WHATEVER WE WEAR, WHEREVER WE GOYES MEANS YES AND NO MEANS NO! The main chant of Saturday afternoon. Also: THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKING, especially from the impressively ambulatory stiletto-heeled contingent. HIJABSHOODIESHOTPANTSOUR BODIES OUR CHOICE THIS VIRGIN-WHORE DICHOTOMY IS GETTING PRETTY FUCKING OLD