Wednesday, 6 January 2010

"My ears are not closed, not to no one, ever."

'It was at Camberwell that Einzig met the person who would be the greatest influence on her life, the charismatic, mercurial illustrator and painter, John Minton, who, along with Keith Vaughan, was also teaching there. "I was quickly drawn into this group," she said. "We all used to meet at weekends and draw each other. We went to the cinema and discovered the films of Jean Renoir, René Clair and Marcel Carné. We jived and jitterbugged to Humphrey Lyttelton's jazz band every Monday evening. We also got sucked into the drinking scene in Soho. It was all over within two or three years, but in my memory it seems to have been much longer."'
(Susan Einzig obituary, The Guardian, 6 January 2010, p.32

'I advanced meself, didn't I? I took every exam that was ever available and I really, really enjoyed it, too. I found education to be not a thing you turn your nose up at and sneer at, but to be an absolute release. But then I always loved books, when I was very, very young I could read and write before I went to school. My mum always got me interested in that'
(John Lydon, John Lydon: A Culture Show Special, BBC4, 5 January 2010)

Somehow this connects in my mind with watching John Lydon's interview on BBC4 recently. Einzig, Lydon; these are considerable people, who have made contributions through defying dominant cultures. 1945-79 Britain offered a route out for people like Lydon - council flat background, rises to achieve an immense amount. 'Religion'. 'Death Disco'. Metal Box per se. The Flowers of Romance too in its one-man thrashing-about spareness.

People like Lydon should be running things, setting the example; a thoughtful, rascally human being, engaged in language and life. Praising Dickens and Shakespeare but 'not as the schools were teaching it' (perhaps emphasising the roots of the demise of the post-WW2 consensus). He embodies a living culture that too many have abandoned: people actually enjoying learning, revelling in it. Not out of snobbery or pecuniary considerations, but making it part of your life, and developing an individual voice. Lydon praised Gandhi's passive resistance and what it achieved; whatever he might have done in the past, the Dickens and the dub remains pulsing through his veins.

'I'll take the furniture
Start all over again...'

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