Talking of Earls or Lords of anything, how awful it was to see Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber on the Pre-Raphaelites. Much as we have a sneaking love of any musical, and putting on a show here and now, but usually written by Sondheim, Rogers and Hammerstein or Bernstein, Sir Andrew’s attempt to step into the spotlight of serious art historian was just a gawping embarrassment. Trying to adopt the tonal stride of Jeremy Paxman, with a bit of grave World War I throw away history chucked in, to twang the thrumming heart-strings, he led us into a wonderland of sentiment and mawkishness, only worthy of some of the worst blogs at Phoenix Ark Press, in the wounds of love or art! Look, was the subtext, at the lovely Pre-Raphaelite works on my sitting room wall, I now own for my private Nation, as I cool it up playing Rock n Roll on my antique piana, and I will share with you how jolly succesful and rich I am, one of you, though not quite, and what an amazingly sensitive person too.
If there is any lone justification for abolishing the House of Lords, or reforming it radically, it is and was the donning by Lord Webber of the blessed Ermine, the Lord Archer of the minim and octave, and now in danger of becoming the Liberace of his own success. So comes another Simon Cowell style TV stitch up, with Superstar. Jesus Christ! As the money triumph of the ever running musical, in our age of countrywide coach tours to the Mama Mia show, did so much harm to the life blood of real theatre. Ah, perhaps it was just TV and the Global ‘culture’ franchise. For those who absolutely loathe the pompous self aggrandisement of Victorian architecture, Webber can defy anyone to hate Keble college, but we hope it falls on his head.
To be a little kinder, he may have many real talents, may have edged saying something interesting about the Arts and Craft movement, but so much of the Pre Raphaelites were not only a side-show, but the mythification of days of yore, in a Tennyson style love of the antique, but turning so much real art to Victorian kitsch and the island of fey. Yes it has beauty, yes at times it carries the visionary, but the programme was not about that, it was about Sir Andrew Lloyds-Bank’s lovely things, and his desire to be taken to the heart of a Nation, as cultural hero, in preparation for more of his TV stuff. Hence his suddenly ‘noticing’ the Superstar crucifixion on the front of the Lady of Shallot’s barge. The mirror cracked, from side to side! The stage show way he was tutored to speak with gravitas to camera was only as obvious as that naughty schoolboy way he tried to hold the eye, and failed, in a very slight attack on Damien Hurst and his sell-out jewelled skull. Well, if you are going to attack, do so, for the love of God, and do it well, but don’t be naughty about it, Sir Andrew. We forgive you, compassionately, but abolish the House of Lords immediately, its full of Pre-Raphaelite ‘style’, and bring back Brian Sewell!