Friday, 22 July 2011
The news of Monsieur le President's intensive culture drive is causing amusement of course (note Yann Moix's witheringly patronising remarks at the end of this piece), but isn't it also rather gladdening? It certainly wouldn't happen here, where our leaders court low culture and shun the high, in public at least - witness Groovemaster Gordo's absurd espousal of the Arctic Monkeys. If any British political leader now reads the literary or philosophical classics or takes a serious interest in classical music, you may be sure they're keeping quiet about it. The last PM to admit to reading anything literary was, I suppose, Harold Macmillan with his famous gag about going to bed with a Trollope (though I think Johnny Major also admitted to the same taste). Of course running the country was a much less time-consuming affair in Macmillan's innocent times - but even so, our present-day politicos would learn more about the world as it is if they made time for reading some 'proper' books instead of endless briefing documents, newspapers, etc (and heaven knows they'd probably be more innocently employed than in attempting to run the country). Sarko must be speed reading, if he's got through half the books he's said to have read ('I took a speed reading course and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It involves Russia' - Woody Allen), and watching 15 movies end to end would surely take more than 24 hours, which seems a tad improbable. But hats off to Sarkozy for making the effort - for thinking it's worth making the effort - and for somehow fitting it all in around the demands of France and the Eurozone and La Bruni... And isn't it great that in France Hitchcock (who isn't even French!) counts as High Culture.