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New Minister of Culture


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Although there is a marked reluctance here to discuss anything of a vaguely political nature, I would say the appointment of a new 'culture' minister (we never use that archaic word Arts any more) deserves a mention.

 

The new encumbent is a former banker with no discernable interest in the arts at all, which in political terms means he is perfect for the job.

 

Here is the news from The Guardian, read it and weep.  At least the readers comments underneath show that I'm not alone in wishing it had been someone who actually had a qualification for doing the job i.e. fondness for something - anything, of an artistic nature.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/09/sajid-javid-replaces-maria-miller-cabinet-culture

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Has there, in living memory, been a Culture Minister who did have some interest in culture? And, if so, did it make any difference?

 

Jennie Lee ticked all the boxes and David Mellor had a keen interest too, though fewer achievements apart from coining the phrase 'Ministry of Fun'.  Saw Tessa Jowell at the first night of Lest We Forget last week, so although more associated with sport, maybe she does appreciate the arts too.  On the whole politicians are a philistine bunch but Harold Wilson liked the ballet and Ted Heath was a keen amateur musician.  I've seen Michael Portillo at both the opera and at modern dance events, as the son of a poet I imagine he might have an inbred artistic leaning.

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Well, if you live in the North and fancy starting up a vineyard...  Back in the middle ages the monks were making wine from grapes grown in Yorkshire.

 

We're still making very potable wine in Yorkshire. See  "Holmfirth Wine".

 

I am not sure we need a Minister of Culture. It has a sort of Orwellian ring. We used to make fun of countries that went in for that sort of thing.  

Not having an interest in the subject matter of his portfolio is probably a good qualification for ministerial office. Such a minister is less likely to go native and more likely to accept departmental budget cuts. Chris Grayling is a case in point.   He's the first Lord Chancellor in centuries not to be legally qualified and look what he is doing to criminal legal aid.

 

I think the last Secretary of State for DCMS bar one did quite a good job with rolling out super-fast broadband and managing the Olympics.

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We're still making very potable wine in Yorkshire. See  "Holmfirth Wine".

 

That's amazing but I wish I'd known about it before.  I spent 2 lovely summers working in York but they would have been even better had I known about (and could sample) the local vintage.

 

Oh well, another good reason to make a return trip.

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According to English Wine Producers (the trade association of our national wine industry) there are 18 vineyards in the North (mainly in Yorkshire but a few in Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire) including some that are very much closer to York than Holmfirth.  There are even 4 vineyards in Scotland.

 

I took a bottle of our Holmfirth wine to some lawyer friends in Alsace which I thought was very like the Bouzy wines from Rheims but they showed typical Gallic disdain. Something to the effect of "Il faut cultiver son jardin,"

 

Never mind. They can't make whisky.

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Never mind. They can't make whisky.

I beg to differ, one of the best whiskies I've had recently was actually French (called Jurassic). So there.

It may have been accidental on the maker's part though, had I read the label first I probaly wouldn't have tried it, it made me wonder if they knew the meaning of the words they were using.

 

I haven't tried an English wine that didn't taste like feet, though I am regularly told there are good ones, I'll try those you mention if I get a chance.

 

I was however very pleasantly surprised by English bubbly, in a blind taste at work a few years ago, Ridgeview won universal praise against Pol Roger.

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Waitrose always sell some English wines, usually from Kent and Sussex, and all of those I have tried have been very drinkable (and no bouquet of feet!).  Next time I'm in my local branch I must ask them about wines from north of the capital.  Nyetimber makes the best bubbly and has won a load of international awards.  it's also frequently served on Royal occasions as the Price of Wales is a firm supporter of our home-grown vintages.

 

I don't know much about whisky but I hear the Japanese brand, Suntory, is pretty good.  I once saw it as an offering in a shrine in Kyoto :)

 

Apologies to the moderators for taking this so far off topic but it's a subject much closer to my heart than politics.

 

Ed for typo.

Edited by loveclassics
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I beg to differ, one of the best whiskies I've had recently was actually French (called Jurassic). So there.

.........................

 

I was however very pleasantly surprised by English bubbly, in a blind taste at work a few years ago, Ridgeview won universal praise against Pol Roger.

 

You whetted my curiosity so I did a Google search but this is what came up:

 

"Le whisky Jurassic est un blended scotch whisky distillé en Ecosse. Il y est vieilli en fûts de chêne pendant 3 ans, puis est ramené dans le Jura où il est conservé dans des ex fûts de vin jaune du Jura ou dans des ex fûts d'eau de vie du Jura." (http://www.francewhisky.fr/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=1719)

 

 

I am not altogether sure of which Jura they are referring to: the Isle of Jura in Scotland which is well known for its whiskies or the department in Eastern France not far from Geneva.  

 

Je suis d'accord en ce qui concerne les vins. A mon avis la plupart des vins anglais rassemblent les chausettes.

 

PS But you are right to believe that there are French whiskies.   I have just found France Whisky which explains on its home page

 

Du whisky Français ?

Le whisky est un produit de plus en plus cadré, qui est surtout connu à travers les productions écossaises, irlandaises, américaines voire japonaises. Il existe aussi d'autres initiatives canadiennes, anglaises, suédoises, néozélandaises, indiennes, thailandaises, même suisses et belges.

 

More Gallic contempt "even Swiss and Belgian".

 

But it continues:

 

"Bienvenue donc sur ces pages, qui se veulent être un exposé à votre curiosité et pour votre découverte des distilleries de France qui proposent du whisky."

 

Next time I am in France I shall try some of them

 

PPS I have actually signed up to the France Whisky's forum.

Edited by terpsichore
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since when has qualification for, or ability to do, ever meant anything in a cabinet post? The current environment Minister thinks global warming "might be a good thing"

 

Well, the current environment minister is a history graduate, so it's no surprise that he doesn't know what he's talking about regarding global warming. But then he got his job from the same source that thinks a banker is an ideal candidate as minister for culture. I suppose we can only hope they have staff who have some sort of clue about the topic they're supposed to be running.

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Only in the Treasury:  As is well known the current Chancellor doesn't have an appropriate background for his job.  When it comes to the budget you will find Rupert Harrison actually writes it.

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A couple of on topic words before going back to the important stuff.

 

I find the disregard in which most politicians seem to treat all matters cultural in this country generally appalling, we wouldn't need to have endless ridiculous discussions about perceived elitism if everyone could just be a grown-up and accept there is nothing wrong with liking things others don't.

 

And I don't think there is anything to expect from cabinet members when the most important qualification seems to be their willingness to slash the budget over improving services. At least that one apparently (used to?) call for the suppression of the DCMS, so at least we know not to expect anything.

 

 

 

Waitrose always sell some English wines, usually from Kent and Sussex, and all of those I have tried have been very drinkable (and no bouquet of feet!).  Next time I'm in my local branch I must ask them about wines from north of the capital.  Nyetimber makes the best bubbly and has won a load of international awards.  it's also frequently served on Royal occasions as the Price of Wales is a firm supporter of our home-grown vintages.

 

I don't know much about whisky but I hear the Japanese brand, Suntory, is pretty good.  I once saw it as an offering in a shrine in Kyoto :)

 

 

 

Nyetimber is quite nice too indeed, but I've liked the ones I've tried a little less.

 

And Japanese whisky can be delicious, the Suntory distillery has been active for close to 100 years now. There flagship brand, Yamazaki is well worth a try, it's very similar to Speyside, the 12 years-old is the easiest to find, the rest of their range is also delicious but can easily get a bit expensive; especially since they recently had a 50% increase in price on some of their range. I also really like the Yoichi 12 years-old which is a very nice all-rounder, sherried and smoky.

Hibiki (blended whisky) 12 and 17 were nice enough, but I didn't really find them anything special.

Hakushu is the other famous single malt, I've only tried the Heavily Peated expression (which wasn't that heavily peated) and loved it, but they've also had a 50% increase in price since the last release.

 

 

 

Thank you Terpsichore for the info, the only research I had done after I had tried it was: "where can I find a bottle?", it was unsuccessful . It explains what I had seen as incongruities, the label called the product scotch, and it seemed to think blend described the colour. I can confirm it comes from French Jura (it's where the bottle was bought, and vin jaune is typical of the region). I know wonder for how long it is aged in total, the bottle seemed to say three years total (which I was very surprised by as it was extremely smooth), but it looks like it might be longer. It was also very sweet, but that would be the vin jaune casks.

I also know of a whisky called Armorik made in Brittany, but I haven't had the chance to try it yet, I think there is also a Corsican one.

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Apologies to diverge from the wine, whiskey etc but the culture secretary doesn't seem to have made a great start, making what seems a slightly thoughtless comment that gives some support to ticket touts. This has lead to a response by the Royal Opera House:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/04/10/sajid-javid-ticket-touts-naive_n_5124008.html

 

 

(The quote about ticket touts is from 2011)

Edited by Janet McNulty
Edited to add sentence in parentheses, post #26 refers
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This is such a stupid thing to say. Ticket touts are not entrepreneurs. This is racketeering pure and simple, they are re-selling people something that should have been theirs in the first place, they don't identify a demand, they artificially create one so they can charge extortionate prices.

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For a moment I thought this was his first announcement in his new post.   :o 

 

Not a very good start, I thought, until I read the article and realised it was back in 2011.

 

A very stupid thing to say, though, I agree. 

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Ah, apologies - I missed the fact that the quote was from 2011 (I should have guessed that anything appearing in the news in the coming weeks about Javid will be retroactive). Does anyone know if the response from the Royal Opera House about the touts is from 2011 too? It doesn't make it clear in the article whether the response about touts and the congratulations on his appointment are from the same statement or not.

 

I do think Javid's financial background could be a very good thing for the position of culture minister - the world of arts funding seems tricky and complicated and approaching it with a business-head (to a certain degree) may be a smart move.

 

(Edit: Also, I can't seem to go back and edit my previous post to point out that the quote is from 2011 - I guess you can't edit posts after a certain time?)

Edited by DavidW
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Would the minister be concerned with finding alternate sources of financing for the arts?

I can see one of his missions being to create a new framework, in which case his previous position with the budget could also be a plus.

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This may sound like a very stupid question, but what does the Minister of Culture actually do?

 

I have absolutely no interest in politics at all!

 

The official title of the portfolio is Department for Culture, Media and Sport  and its primary concern now that the Olympics are over is rolling out super-fast broadband to the nation and regulating the press.

 

I understand that he used to play cricket very well (which is a good thing because he is responsible for sport as well as the arts) and he is a member of Conservative Friends of Israel which I think also reflects well on him considering that he has been brought up as a Muslim,

 

He has achieved much in his 44 years without any connections and it is good to see a member of an increasingly important but sadly under-represented section of our community achieve high office.

 

If we have to have a minister for culture at all - and like Ian Birrell I question whether we do though for different reasons - I can think of far worse candidates. I am sure he won't do any more harm to the arts than any of his predecessors and - who knows - he may even surprise us pleasantly.

Edited by terpsichore
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(Edit: Also, I can't seem to go back and edit my previous post to point out that the quote is from 2011 - I guess you can't edit posts after a certain time?)

 

You get a window of about half an hour to edit posts otherwise you have to contact a moderator.

 

I have taken the liberty of adding a sentence to say that the quote is from 2011 -  I hope you don't mind.

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You get a window of about half an hour to edit posts otherwise you have to contact a moderator.

 

I have taken the liberty of adding a sentence to say that the quote is from 2011 -  I hope you don't mind.

Ah - I wondered how I could edit #26 but not #21 - that explains it! Thanks for adding the sentence Janet :)

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