Sunday, 22 June 2014

Buona Vacanza

This is my last blog before I depart on holiday and I'm somewhat demob happy. I toyed with writing it in pidgin Italian but was fearful of causing offence (even though I only speak pidgin Italian). I also suggested on twitter I might only write about my favourite artist, Piero della Francesca, but, to be honest, nobody comes here for art criticism.

So in the end I'll stick to my usual stuff, Scottish politics although I might illustrate it with some pictures from the great man.

I'll start with this. The Flagellation of Christ. In the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino.

I first visited Urbino on the day Italy beat Spain in the quarter finals of the 1994 World Cup. "Il Roberto" (Baggio) scored the winner. Anybody who thinks the BBC is too anglo-centric in its coverage should reflect that, when the victory led the RAI News later that evening, the "highlights" of the game did not include the Spanish goal, which was merely mentioned in passing.

Anyway, this has been described as the greatest small painting in the world. I thought by John Mortimer but Wikipedia corrects me to Sir Kenneth Clark. The Wikipedia entry is well worth reading for the various interpretations of the painting it contains. What it doesn't really reflect is just how small the painting is. Not much bigger than a large laptop screen.

And yet it is a great painting. Small can be beautiful. One of the great fallacies of the referendum campaign is that anyone on our side ever described Scotland as "too small, too poor, too stupid" to be independent. In fact, the first person to say that was John Swinney, albeit attributing the words to (invented) others in the usual chip on the shoulder manner of so many Nationalists. The only way the word stupid features in the argument on our side would be to suggest that Scotland is far from a stupid country. That's why the No side is so clearly winning the argument at a canter.


Now, at this point I'm afraid my own conceit defeated me. It is simply too much of a leap, for me at least, to link Piero della Francesca repeatedly to the micro politics of Scotland five hundred and more years later.

But I can't be bothered starting again, not least because I'm keen to watch the football.


I'm not always the biggest fan of Bernard Ponsonby but he observed ten days or so ago that the idea that the Referendum would dominate public discourse in Scotland now that the World Cup had started was perhaps, on the part of the political class, a somewhat optimistic one. And that is without Andy at Wimbledon or the Commonwealth Games to follow. But most importantly of all because, if even I am now thinking mainly of my holidays, then how much more so are people not obsessed with politics.

I have no idea how many people Eck thinks will be watching a two hour debate between him and Alistair Darling on 16th July, the Wednesday before the Glasgow Fair weekend, but I suspect it will be very few indeed. Even among those actually in the Country. Perhaps that is his hope

Of course the obsessives on both sides will still .....obsess.....about every twist and turn. But the public, particularly the undecided public, will have more pleasant ways to spend their time.

There is still an important period in the Independence debate but it will start only when the schools go back and, in Scotland at least, the Autumn starts.

I'll be back long since.


Firstly, I'm off to watch South Korea against Algeria.

Secondly, here is another painting by the great Piero della Francesca

Santa Maria Maddalena. Duomo, Arezzo.

Finally, a great Summer to all of my readers. Even the cybernats.

1 comment:

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