Early June Roundup

–The New Statesman reports the confused results of the controversial Oxford Union appearance of Prof. Kathleen Stock, described as a “gender-critical feminist philosopher”. After the Union invited her to speak, a protest arose against her appearance as being unfair to the rights of trans gender people. After much debate on the debate, that included the Prime Minister (who urged she be allowed to appear), the Union proceeded with the project. Protesters against gathered at the Oxford Union on the day, and admission to the debate was monitored by security forces. The story in the New Statesman by Will Lloyd describes the event in some detail. After one of the protesters self-glued him/herself to the floor and others were removed, the somewhat subdued debate proceeded. According to Lloyd:

Stock said she didn’t mind the protest. She said that it was possible (still) to disagree reasonably with each other and remain friends. “They want me to be evil,” she said. “They want a baddie. I’m afraid I am a very shit baddie.” Before she disappeared in a scrum of security guards, she warned against institutions becoming “propaganda machines”. Wasn’t that what they always had been though? Perhaps this was one of those sticky moments when the values being propogandised by places like Oxford were shifting. From the “effortless superiority” of “Balliol men” to the “No dead trans kids” placards of Balliol they/thems.

This was the other side of Oxford. Yes, it had been the “anvil” that [Jan] Morris wrote about, where national consensus was forged. But there was also the Oxford that inspired fantasies. The secret nonsensical garden worlds of Lewis Carroll. The heady wonderlands of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis and Evelyn Waugh. “We’re all mad here,” the Cheshire cat says at one point. Sometimes, as events at the union yesterday proved, the line between Oxford politics and Oxford fantasy blur…

One disturbing message in the article is that the protest (prefiguring others in the future) may threaten the continued existence of the Oxford Union. Waugh would not be pleased with that result.

–More information is posted on the Dutch-language stage production of Brideshead Revisited, scheduled to open on Monday. This is presented as part of this year’s Holland Festival in Amsterdam:

Though this masterpiece enjoyed cult status among queers and conservatives alike in the last century, nowadays this novel seems consigned to obscurity. While this is perhaps the most romantic and Anglophile book that literature has ever yielded….

Trapped in a bitter worldview himself, for Evelyn Waugh writing this novel was an attempt to recover the happiness of his younger years. Inspired by this soul-searching, De Warm Winkel exploits Brideshead Revisited as a vehicle for an autopsy of love and an unfolding of our (sexual) identity. With live music composed by Rik Elstgeest and the memories and fantasies of Florian and Abke as the beating heart, they finally resuscitate the epic love story Waugh so longed for.

Details of venue and booking are available at this link.

–The Daily Telegraph in a recent “Peterborough” column refers to life peer and Labour frontbencher Lord Ponsonby:

…Ponsonby’s coat of arms carries the words Pro Rege, Lege, Grege (For the King, the Law, and the People).

In a Lord’s debate, the peer admitted he was not always terribly good at the Lege bit. “I was stopped more times than I can remember by the police in Notting Hill and expect my experience with the police force 50 years ago was very different from the one displayed in Dixon of Dock Green,” he said.

Ponsonby was maintaining a family tradition. His grandfather, the 2nd baron, was arrested in 1925 when he and his friend Evelyn Waugh drove the wrong way down London’s Oxford Street while on a pub crawl. Lege-breaking must run in the family.

The article is headed “‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello, Lord Ponsonby.”

–The journal Chronicles: An American Magazine of Culture includes in its latest issue “A Letter from Australia”. It is written by R G Stove and opens with this:

In 1956, Anthony Eden found himself graced with the porcine presence of the visiting Nikita Khrushchev. Many hoped that Evelyn Waugh—who, after all, had subjected Marshal Tito to one of the most murderous philippics that 20th-century English literature can boast—would unleash similar invective against the Soviet Union’s strongman. Waugh rejected all newspaper entreaties to unleash it. He justified his refusal by emphasizing an obvious difference between Tito and Khrushchev: that whereas the former hypocritically pretended to be a gallant ally of the West, the latter pretended no such thing. As Waugh himself put it: “There [is] nothing unchivalrous about dining with open enemies.”

So should Australian conservatives, if they have any sense, judge the prime ministerial tenure of Anthony Albanese, as the first anniversary of his May 21 electoral victory approaches. He has never presumed to think like a conservative or to talk like one. What conceivable purpose would be served by denouncing him for not being Germany’s Konrad Adenauer or Italy’s Alcide De Gasperi?…


This entry was posted in Brideshead Revisited, Festivals, Newspapers, Oxford and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.