After the 2008 financial crash, the investment bank Goldman Sachs acquired an unforgettable description, as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”. England has been struggling with its own undying vampire squid for centuries, in the form of London’s political, economic AND cultural domination.
When it comes to culture, the figures are breathtaking. So is the media silence about them. (Where’s the media based, by the way?) Do follow the link, explore what lies beyond, and gasp at the extent of London’s greed. That money belongs to all of us and should be spent for the benefit of all of us. To say that we can all go up to London any time and look at what’s been bought with it really won’t do.
In fact, it’s worth asking why we’re still funding the growth of the ‘national’ museums and galleries when they don’t have the space to do justice to their existing collections. How about a ‘one in, one out’ policy? That is, that they can make new acquisitions only if they pass something else to ‘the provinces’. It wouldn’t be difficult to draw up a list of artefacts from Wessex that could be displayed closer to home, the Wessex equivalents of the Elgin Marbles.
Expect screams of outrage from the plunderers at any suggestion that the loot should come back. Do we not know that we should feel nothing but pride that the whole nation has honoured our regional heritage by dispossessing us of it? Upon leaving home, our treasures become our ambassadors in a far more important place. Just don’t try suggesting that London might surrender anything it prizes to New York or St Petersburg.
London’s artistic and museological establishment is a feudal pestilence lingering deep into the 21st century, still insisting on droit de conservateur. Always ready to confuse their academic knowledge with the ability to weigh up locational justice. Always ready to defend the status quo simply because it is the status quo. Always unable to comprehend the hurt they cause by doing so. And if the status quo is bad, remember that our taxes and lottery tickets go on and on funding the process of making it all inconceivably worse.