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Friday, 16 July 2010

Pictures at an Exhibition

I don't ever expect much. Of people, of institutions or of myself. However I do expect that if someone is paid to paint white lines on a road the lines should be continuous. So it was with a genuine sense of  disappointment that I learnt that a Hampshire (a county in England) workman painted round a dead (and extremely squashed) badger. 

If you were of  a charitable frame of mind, keen to think the best of your fellow man, you might say that the council worker, respecting the dead mammal, left it undisturbed.  However, this was not the case. The worker was paid to paint lines down the middle of the road, not to remove road kill. That was someone else job.

This story, for me at least, throws into sharp contrast the sorry state of our nation. We've completely lost the plot, or Hampshire County Council has. They go to extreme lengths to "justify" this nonsense. I quote:

"Mel Kendal, county council environment chief, said: "We would usually liaise with our colleagues at the district council who dispose of animal carcasses on the highways to ensure the badger was removed before the white line painting crew did this stretch of road.

"This appears not to have happened in this case and the white line painting crew did what they thought was best until arrangements could be made to dispose of the carcass.

"These arrangements have now been made and the gap in the white lines will be filled in, at no extra cost to the council tax payer."

Council contractor Amey said the staff from sub-contractor Bellstan were not "licensed or trained" to remove road kill."

Total Bollocks.

I don't know where to start.... But, let me try. A sure as eggs is eggs, I bet the workman (or his mate) had a mobile phone on him. So why didn't the alien phone home? Or maybe he did and his boss said "No, you can't remove it - you're not licenced or trained to remove road kill." Or more likely " Ah, we haven't priced that into the job, so leave it".

It gets worse. Hampshire County Council have form. In 2007 "Road safety chiefs have told contractors to re-paint a busy village road after they put in wobbly white lines while working in the dark." I'm tempted to look up the road accident statistics for the County because in 2004 "The reason why a village road was painted with bizarre wobbly lines has been revealed - a crease in a map".

Again a Council spokesperson is rolled out to explain the inexplicable. "Hampshire County Council has admitted a crease in the plans confused a worker who read 4.8m as 4.3m.... Council spokeswoman Kirsty Gunner told BBC News Online: "We believe the map was folded and that caused a problem with an eight being read as a three." 

What you should have explained dear Kirsty is why you employ idiots. But then if everything is contracted out at the lowest price what can you expect. If you pay peanuts you'll get monkeys.

Yesterday my wife and I did something we rarely do. We deliberately went into the centre of London. To Piccadilly and the Royal Academy's 2010 Summer Exhibition

I'm not a great gallery goer; I'm not that great at art appreciation. So it was quite an occasion for me to be standing in a large room surrounded by hundreds of people, looking at hundreds of paintings stuck on white walls. 

The exhibition contained nearly 1300 works..I'd like to add (of art), but since most of them appeared to be the scratchings of the demented and the criminally insane...I can't. Certainly you'd have to be certifiable to pay the prices some of the works commanded. 

However, some of the stuff was well worth seeing. A series of etchings by Norman Ackroyd: in particular "St Kilda in Sunlight -Stac Lee" were good; as was "Westminster Dog Show: 2010". Ros Rixon's paper sculptures were exquisite and I fell in love with "Cowboy Joe from Mexico" a painting of lovely cat in cowboy garb.
But what blew us both away was "Silver Streak" . It was a sculpture of a gorilla made of coat hangers! Yes, coat hangers!!

Using this simplest of  articles the artist David Mach has created a wonderful beast. Standing over-life size it roared, beating its chest and baring its teeth, telling you in no uncertain terms who was in charge of the gallery. To see that was worth the agony of viewing masses of  other tosh. 

Come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if one of next year's entry is "White Line Interrupted by Badger".



The Sagittarian said...

So, is it illegal to boot a dead badger out of the way in order to paint continuous white lines? Do you get free counselling if you do it without authority??

Barry Coidan said...

They screwed up and have come up with a nonsense rationalisation to explain their cock-up.

The gap between that and the gorilla is, I'm afraid, unbridgeable.

Selina Kingston said...

I know someone who lives Hampshire way who often sends her husband out to to pick up road kill for the freezer. Mainly venison it has to be said but she tells me she has had badger before now!! If only she had known .....

Barry Coidan said...

Selina, I know times are hard and getting harder but road kill for the freezer. It makes you wonder what's in Waitrose's venison sausages.

thedailyg said...

I don't think the worker is to blame. He is just adapted to the bureaucratic culture. Either we live with the pro and cons of bureaucracy or change the system. I think we should change the system.

The SAS would rarely be given 'orders' - they would be given 'tasks' and left to figure out how to get the task done. Members were selected from an elite, yes, but this ethos helps to create the elite: being steered around like a remote controlled car does not develop one's faculties.

We need to work in small accountable units where everyone knows everyone personally and common sense is encouraged.

Barry Coidan said...

Dear Dailyg, I don't disagree. All I can say is that these apparent stupidities do spice up life. Even if, at times, I want to give up in despair!

ChickPea said...

What a very fine gorilla he is too, Barry. Thank you for introducing us. (Tho he wouldn't fit in my wardrobe)

Sometimes I miss London.

Thank You, too, for visiting, and for linking. I shall be back.
All best wishes, x

Barry Coidan said...

Did I mention his price. £265,000. A real bargain; so it's a shame you haven't room for him. Also, it's rumoured he's not house trained!!!