There’s merit in this

On cultural matters, Dicks was known to his wife as Phil, short for philistine. He believed that opera and ballet should be stripped of their subsidies, describing their practitioners as “the arty-farty crowd who walk around with their hands in somebody else’s back pocket”. He also demanded that the Prince of Wales “dip into his own pocket [or] get a loan from his mum” to save Antonio Canova’s sculpture The Three Graces for the nation and declared that “my pensioners could have two weeks in Eastbourne for a quarter of what it costs to send some [art] curator poncing off to Venice”.

18 thoughts on “There’s merit in this”

  1. It is so straightforward to crowdfund, patronise and deseminate now arts all the demi legitimate arguments for state funding of the arts don’t hold up now.

  2. The Meissen Bison

    He contested Bristol South for the Conservatives in 1979, losing to Michael Cocks, the Labour incumbent, by more than 11,000 votes, but not before trotting out the immortal line: “Cocks or Dicks — whoever you vote for, you will elect a prick.”

  3. Bbbbut nobody wants to fund my all LGBTsperm whale sequined dance group’s production of Transgender Robin Hood and Xe’s merry non binarys.

  4. Philip Scott Thomas

    A man of clear views but narrow horizons, Dicks was never one to dwell on both sides of an argument. Nor was he much troubled by self-doubt.

    Some of the most wonderfully English writing is to be found in obits.

    This is like a literary version of Bastiat: That which is said and that which is not said but we all understand regardless.

  5. allthegoodnamesaretaken

    Another of his passions was to improve standards of dress in the Commons, which had relaxed somewhat in the 1980s. Dicks urged the Speaker not to call MPs who did not reach certain basic standards. Characteristically, he did not shirk from naming the “scruffiest” Labour MPs.

    Of Dave Nellist he said: “If he wants to go around dressed like a slob off a barrow, he should go off and be a barrow boy.” Jeremy Corbyn – who reckoned Dicks to be “scurrilous and racist” – “sometimes wears a scruffy polo-neck sweater. It is appalling.” When Harriet Harman appeared in sweater and jeans, Dicks said “any resemblance between her and a lady was entirely coincidental.”

  6. “He believed that opera and ballet should be stripped of their subsidies”

    Most of it gets wasted anyway. Opera subsidies don’t go on things like La Boheme and Carmen. They can fill the Royal Opera House every night at £100+ a ticket. It’s the wanky modern productions by people like Harrison Birtwistle that aren’t even half full, and the boost to management salaries.

    Plenty of private companies out there like Glyndebourne and Garsington that don’t receive any subsidy.

  7. I’d be delighted to patronise the costs, if the government didn’t dip into my pocket to subsidise 34,927 things I don’t consume. Once we’ve dealt with some of those, then we can discuss the subsidies for the one subsidised thing I do consume!

  8. BiG,

    During lockdown, I’ve become even more of a libertarian. The amount of volunteering going on, and not big name charity stuff, but simple things like giving their old PCs to kids that need them, has been huge. In the absence of government, people step in (and it works better than government). If you cancelled opera subsidies, a lot of people would help opera companies with the extra money they have.

  9. TMB & PST

    Yes, well worth a full read – an interesting chap…

    “Maverick Conservative MP whose direct approach and absolute moral certainties shocked even some on the right of his party”

    Or what the Times would call the right.

    Some regarded his views as beyond the pale; others praised his straight-talking. “Nowadays he’d be in prison,” said one friend.

    And which says it all.

  10. Much as I enjoy the opera, and much as it’s better live, I can’t justify the subsidies. Especially as even after the subsidies it’s still expensive for many.

    Consequently we’ve not been to one in years except for a splendid student production of the Magic Flute. (If you don’t know it, it’s packed with good tunes and it will be attractive to the Panto-goer in your soul.)

    P.S. As BOM4 said, Carmen is wonderful: it should appeal to the beginner. I also recommend the fine Zeffirelli film of La Traviata.

    Correction: we have been to the opera in Berlin in recent years but that’s OK because it was Kraut subsidies we were enjoying. In fact the opera was so cheap it paid for a long weekend in Berlin. Once everyone’s flying again it’s a wheeze more people should enjoy.

  11. Dennis, A Very White Cultural Appropriator

    It’s the wanky modern productions by people like Harrison Birtwistle that aren’t even half full, and the boost to management salaries.

    One of the most excruciating experiences of my college days was having to sit through the first 20 minutes of a recording of Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy in a creative writing class. The professor had come to the conclusion that some of my classmates were a bit full of themselves. He played the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 9th first, then the Birtwistle. God bless him, after ending Punch and Judy he looked at us and said, “There’s art, and there’s shit. Now you know the difference. Class dismissed.”

  12. If you’re going to pay money to the ROH to watch Carmen, wait ’til they’ve junked the execrable Barry Kosky production that they’ve run for the last couple of years. Not only has he got rid of the sets and costumes, (par for the course for modern productions), but the Aussie bastard has dumped the plot as well.

    Good productions to watch at Covent Garden are Verdi’s La Traviata, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Puccini’s Tosca. They have great tunes and the current productions are pretty good. The latest Boheme isn’t bad either. though it took me a few goes to get used to the current Don Giovanni and the setting of Cosi fan Tutte in the modern world to make it ‘relevant’ just makes parts of it incomprehensible.

  13. Brilliant by Philip Scott Thomas
    I liked the implication that the dead tree press still do some things well and the lead into Bastiat and the hidden.

  14. @jgh.. PTerry was being polite there…

    The most damning remarks he made about Opera ( and “High Culture”) were through Vetinari…

    Well… and Nobbie/Colon,, But who ever would pay attention to two “comic relief” characters… 😉

  15. The “Arts” should be stripped of their subsidies, describing their practitioners as “the arty-farty crowd who walk around with their hands in somebody else’s back pocket”

    Fixed. Yes, abolish DCMS and all arts subsidies. I should not be forced to pay for something I don’t want to attend

    DCMS’s S bit don’t subsidise F1, BTCC etc, but do subsidise sports few interested in. Bin all subsidies from state sector

  16. Dennis, he of the US of A, is absolutely right. I’ve heard of Harrison Birtwistle, but never heard his “music” until five minutes ago. I’ve just listened to, or rather skimmed through his “Punch and Judy” on YT.
    His music, if such it can be called, is as ridiculous as his name.

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