Saturday, 26 July 2008
Kultur and the superstarry lamb banana
So Liverpool is the European Capital of Culture ; or so I am told on numerous occasions by the train conduct er as I make my way to Liverpool. At each station stop , and in between. And I now know more than is desirable about Liverpool's footballing triumphs. All this and a detailed breakdown of the refreshments available. I am thinking of forming a new charity to offer therapy to train conductors who feel the urge to grab the microphone and blab . And what with the 2 babies exercising the Right ot Wail ( did Herod have a point ? )my train journey was not of the most relaxing .
Now quite what being a Capital of Culture means is not immediately apparent when I arrive in Liverpool.Does it have something to do with the scores of sculptures of what appear to be mutant cows that one sees littering the streets and squares? On closer inspection I discover these are in fact " superstarry lamb bananas ". So that's clear then .Not mutant . Just Culture.
I am in Liverpool for an acevo north meeting of members. We have lunch and talk of the state of the sector .When I worked for 7 years for the Association of Metropolitan Authorities I got to know the great Northern cities well .Indeed I can bore for England on the glories of the metropolitan Town Halls ; underrated stars of our English landscape .Liverpool is a particularly fine city . The Georgian terraces and the monuments to our glorious seafaring Empire are uplifting . I had a Great Uncle x4, Dr William Somervillle Limrick who had his practice here in the 1850s . He had settled here from Union Hall in Ireland , land of my forefathers. The Church in Waterloo ,where he married , is a glorious Anglican treasure.
So my days with the AMA have made me understand the importance of a strong regional presence for acevo . Ever since I was appointed we have been holding events and conferences outside London and this culminated last year in the establishment of acevo north . And Jenny Berry , our Director , is already making her mark . It was good to see that ncvo are also holding their first conference outside London , in Manchester in fact and doing so in cooperation with active acevo member Alex Whinnon , who runs the Manchester CVS. I hope it goes well. The sector needs a strong presence across the UK . And the infrastructure bodies need to be connected .It is all too easy to get closeted in London and miss the importance of regional developments. The meeting goes well and it is great to see Bert Massie there as well. he takes an application form off for a colleague who is a sector CEO and who needs our support and comfort.
I do in fact end up having a day of culture . I manage to get into the exhibition dedicated to Gustav Klimt at Tate North . Ever since I saw the Klimts in Vienna when I was 18 and on one of those interail month holidays I have been an admirer . And the exhibition , small but packed with marvellous works is a real treat. A major disappointment though is that I discover a rather brilliant tie with a Klimt design in the exhibition shop . But I have not brought my wallet . Disaster.
And before I catch the train back I get a snatched half hour in the Walker Art Gallery . There is a picture there i have always loved ,of Dante and Beatrice by the Pont Vecchio , painted by Halliday . i even have an old Victorian copy I gave recently to my poet nephew to hang in his rooms at Christ Church ( he was studying Dante ) .
On my return to London I meet up with Thierry Weisphaut , the President of Euclid .We are having dinner at my Club. As a Frenchman he knows his wine . So we treat ourselves to a Chateau Giscours 1988 . It is stunning . And we have Beef Wellington .It seems inappropriate to remind him of the marvels of that glorious battle of Waterloo. I tell him I had a forebear who fought with Wellington in India to soften the blow. I discover that Thierry has never eaten Stilton , so we finish of the remains of our amazing claret with the round of Stilton , and I tell Theirry where to go for some to take back to his home in Alsace. We have a great evening. We are both keen to ensure euclid grows and flourishes . It will , with an English Secretary General and a French President . Vive L'Entente Cordialle.
As I blog Sparkles sits on my lap in the Charlbury Library . She has just had her microchip injected . She behaved impeccably . The vet prounced her a " confident dog".But now its time for lunch in our unusual sun .Thinking of holidays soon to come.