I'm on a train heading up to Leeds. Is it just me, or are the spaces between the seats getting smaller and smaller?
I was awoken this morning by the sound of fluttering. A beautiful wood pigeon had flown into the bedroom. It gave me the shock of my life, particularly when it started panicking and throwing itself against the bedroom window. My immediate response was to hide under the bed clothes but it struck me that it was far more important for me to stay calm. I started talking to the bird, soothing words, and he immediately stopped throwing himself at the window and stood on the carpet watching me curiously. The romantic in me assumed he was listening to me and understanding every word. I'm sure I managed to convey the fact that I wasn't going to hurt him. I told him I was going to help him by opening the window, but that it was important for him to stay calm and not to be frightened. He sat perfectly still as I walked across to him and opened the window. I then held out my hand, and was shocked when he actually stepped on, and allowed me to lift him to the window. He flew out onto the roof and sat staring at me for some time. I could swear he was saying thank you.
I took the tube to the train station and was astonished to see a young lady, holding a new born child in a little sling, standing up and offering her seat to an elderly gentleman. It's moments like this that I realise just what goodness there is in the world. What was it that Desmond Tutu said? Small things overwhelm the world.
I had a little cry this morning when I read an article about heaps of funding cuts in the arts. I do hope we don't need to lose the arts in this country to realise they are one of our most important exports.
That said, I do subscribe to the argument that a lot of art in its broadest sense, gets funded cynically. I worry that the cuts will not affect on this particular tendency, and if anything will make it more obvious. I worry that we're not tackling the right forms of inequality. Even the BBC's equal opportunities monitoring is unfairly balanced towards racial background. I think it's far more valid to ask what sort of school someone went to. Is it more important to employ a black ex-public school boy than a white lad who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and had to haul his way through the education system?
The sad truth is - and what I write WILL be controversial - the two most incompetent people I've worked with, I suspect were employed by the BBC as a box-ticking exercise. Both did things that badly affected my work, and both got away without being disciplined. It is impossible, however, to have this debate without feeling like a crypto-fascist. It's an established fact that the two worst performances in Frankenstein at the National come curtesy of the process of "colour-blind casting." This form of tokenism is surely insulting to all the highly gifted black actors out there who can't get lead roles in this country for love nor money. Sticking two black actors in the chorus does not address the problem in the same way that employing two rubbish Asians at the BBC won't help us to get a Bengali director general in 30 years.
We need to look at other forms of prejudice. How many offices do we walk into to be confronted by vapidly beautiful posh young girls sitting at computer screens talking about doing lunch? Surely we should be looking at the fact that an attractive person is FAR more likely to be employed than an ugly one. How about we start to address the little-known fact that something like 90% of company directors are above average height? Why does no one insist that every football team should feature an openly gay player, when so much is made about racism in the game? The double standards astonish me...
350 years ago, Pepys didn't offer us any particular little gems. He was a busy man; pottering as usual around London running various errands for Sandwich, and sorting out the finer detail regarding the fleet of ships that was being sent to the East Indies.