Four good news stories from the last few days:
From Monday it is possible for gay couples to register Civil Partnerships in the UK, which give them equivalent rights to married people. The British are so good at getting round this stuff; only the press, and then only the most sensationalist press actually used the phrase “gay marriage”. And indeed, from everybody I have spoken to abou this, it was not as if the British gay community were ever particularly wedded (!) to the term or concept of marriage as it exists within our culture.
This is great news as far as I am concerned. I would say ‘long overdue’ but I think perhaps we needed to wait; the backlash would have been far greater and more dangerous ten, let alone twenty years ago.
To me, civil partnership and marriage is about defining next of kin, property rights and children. Romantic partnerships are things which happen inside individuals and communities; no rings or sheets of paper could make [...] and I stronger and he is as much part of our family as Adrian, my actual factual brother-in-law – at least to those members of the family whose opinions and support matter. Religion only enters into marriage in so far as religion enters into every aspect of the lives of someone who is religious - such a person could not conceive of marriage outside the institution of church (or whatever), but then they couldn't conceive of spending Sunday mornings (or whenever) outside the church either, or eating forbidden foods, or wearing clothes which aren't consistant with their beliefs.
The Turner prize was awarded to Simon Starling on Monday. I used to defend it, I am not opposed to conceptualism or installation art; some of that stuff is very interesting. Perhaps I am getting old, but I am decidedly unimpressed by someone telling me that they merely did something. To me, art has to be about an interaction between the artist and the audience – and as, Oscar Wilde said, art’s role is to conceal the artist from view and act like a mirror on the audience. Recent Turner winners have been all about the artist, not the art. The way we respond to art – in the widest sense of the word – should tell us something about ourselves on some level. I look at Shedboatshed and sense that someone is trying to bullshit me.
However, the BBC News website did a Mock Turner Prize, the winner of which was this very interesting photograph (tin foil falling into a pan of water). I really like this. I have to say none of the other shortlisted pictures were outstanding, but there was some interesting stuff in there. I certainly think our own Pete Mentalas ought to enter if they run it next year.
Also on Monday, people with progressive health conditions including MS, cancer and HIV have been awarded protection under the Disability Discrimination Act from the point of diagnosis. As I understand it, previously they were only protected one impairment had manifested itself, so if you were sacked once word got out you were ill, you would have little or no protection. So that’s great.
And yesterday David Cameron has been elected leader of the Conservative Party. I am really pleased about this and was impressed by his speech. I cannot imagine that his politics will ever seduce me, but we desperately need a viable opposition and he sounds like he might actually achieve it. Least of all, he described as scandalous the under-representation of women and ethnic minorities in the party. In the last election there were more Conservative parliamentary candidates called Philip than there were female candidates...