Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Lumpy Bumpy Pudding

I read the obituary of Jocelyn Stevens today. I never met the man, nor came into contact with him so I cannot offer an opinion as to his character. I was not one of the 700 people whose jobs he cut when he was chairman of English Heritage, nor was I one of the people he sacked when he was in charge of the Royal College of Arts. I was not one of the people who claimed he was, as reported in today's Times "a monstrous bully" or whom he apparently humiliated, abused or regularly shouted at. I did not see the sign on his door that read "The floggings will continue until morale improves" and I did not give him the nickname 'Piranha Teeth' (that was, by all accounts, Private Eye). In short, therefore, I have nothing really to add concerning his life, reputation and legacy....

....except, one thing that every obituary or remembrance failed to recall, amongst the many sayings, comments and outbursts recited in the press, was his very public dismissal, whilst chairman of English Heritage (an appointment that one person at the time, in 1992, commented was "Like putting King Herod in charge of child care") of the UK archaeological resource as "just lumps and bumps in the ground".

Now I like lumps and bumps (especially in Lumpy Bumpy Pudding), but this wholesale dissing of the cultural heritage which he, as chairman, was supposed to be protecting and fighting to preserve, conserve and celebrate, has curiously stayed with me to this day. It's a reflection of the mind-set that all members of the Thatcher / Major regime adhered to and it is, sadly, one that still appears to infect the minds of politicians of whatever hue.

Amazing what things stay with you; what things that you can never, ever forgive.

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