EURO bouncers have been put at the door – “You’re not coming in here dressed in that tattered old flag.”
Yes, the European Commission has decreed that the UK won’t have a turn at hosting the European Capital of Culture after Brexit.
Two British cities have held this honour: Liverpool in 2008 and Glasgow in 1990.
To many, it was a surprise when Glasgow had its turn at wearing the cultural crown. Back then cliché demanded that Glasgow was a rough-edged city where drinking was the only available culture. And a Glasgow kiss was not something you puckered your lips for.
I recall an episode of Taggart from the time, back in the day when Mark McManus played the Glaswegian cop, his pale face looming like a pickled egg in vinegar. “And to think they call this the city of culture,” he said, peering at a body in a skip, or some such murderous misfortune.
The joke was on Glasgow in the end. It’s a cultural place nowadays, as the Scotsman noted two years ago on the 25th anniversary of the award, saying: “Glasgow has in recent decades established itself as a cultural centre of unrivalled prominence and productivity.”
Leeds had been hoping to grab the European culture crown, having reportedly spent £1m on preparing its bid. Other British cities jostling in that queue included Nottingham, Belfast/Derry, Milton Keynes and Dundee. But now the Commission has withdrawn its offer and set the Brexit Bouncers on us. If you care about these things, which I do, then you can hardly blame Europe for taking its bat home.
John Glen, Tory MP and culture minister, might well tweet: “Crazy decision by European Commission over Capital of Culture 2023. We’re leaving the EU – not Europe! My team at DCMS are speaking with the 5 cities right now on the way forward.”
Never heard of John Glen before, which makes me wonder if he’s been pulling his weight. He’s throwing it around now instead, but almost certainly to no effect.
Why on earth should Britain still have its turn when we are pulling out of Europe? John Glen might well say: “We’re leaving the EU – not Europe!” but it feels like we are leaving Europe.
It feels as if we are putting up the shutters and shouting at the world through the slats. It feels as if the whole country has been infected by a terminal virus, the Batshit Brexit Bug. The main symptom is a crushing inability to do, think or talk about anything other than Brexit – a sundering from sense that has reduced our national conversation to a bitter shouting match. And made us look incomprehensibly stupid to the rest of the world.
Well, at least that’s off my chest. Leeds could easily have made a case for the honour, although the traffic might have been a problem. Yesterday the drive to Horsforth took bloody ages – an hour and 20 minutes. Perhaps they should spend some of that money sorting the traffic instead.
I rarely concur with the Daily Mail, but after yesterday its “GRIDLOCKED UK” splash today rings a peal of bells loud enough to make my ears buzz.
“How Britons waste up to six minutes per mile in ever worsening road jams,” the sub-heading says. Not sure how that calculation was made, but however you add up the figures, I can tell you that sitting on the Leeds ring-road for ages while bursting for a pee is not a fun start to the day.
As for the Europe setting the Brexit Bouncers on us, what do you expect? And if the bouncers say to Theresa May, “You’re not coming in here in those shoes”, that would be understandable, considering her outré taste in footwear.