A blog by Patrick Crozier

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September 12, 2003

Art or fart?

Tom Utley has realised that he doesn't like culture:

Then I thought of all the tens of thousands of other tourists who had gawped at the painting over the years, muttering their appreciative noises. Could it be that the great majority of them, like me, were just pretending to admire it, simply because they knew that cultivated people were supposed to like Leonardo? Well, yes, I rather think it could...

The shameful truth swept over me that hardly ever had I sat through a play or a concert — let alone a ballet or an opera — without secretly longing for it to end. Oh, I would tell my friends afterwards that it had been wonderful, and that they really must go and see it — particularly if the reviews were good, and the byline was something highbrow like Chekhov or Verdi...

I had sipped some of the finest wines that the vineyards of France had to offer, nodding, sighing, half-closing my eyes in feigned bliss — but only after seeing the label...

It would be interesting to put it to a scientific test: wire up the average self-declared art-lover, stick him in front of a Leonardo and measure his endorphin levels. Then give him a flash of Kylie’s bum and measure them again....

Quite. It was a great relief to me when I realised that I didn't have to enjoy plays, ballets, the opera, trendy restaurants, worthy novels, reggae, art galleries, mange touts and could still be a worthy human being settling down to watch Die Hard or reading a spy novel, with an Indian take away and all washed down with a couple of cans of Tesco Value Lager.

But I am inclined to take issue with Utley when he says it doesn't matter - because I think it does. All this arty self-flagellation - especially of the modern kind - has driven a wedge between the elite who indulge and the rest of us. All with rather disastrous consequences. I can't help but think that at least part of the elite's hatred of everyone else is fostered by the desire to visit the same kind of pain on their compatriots that they have to put up with watching arthouse movies and going to Damien Hurst exhibitions. Hence, the nanny state and all the banning of self-defence.

Eat a deep-fried Mars Bar and be free!