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The beautiful cack-handed ibex

Submitted by on June 6, 2017 – 8:07 pmNo Comment


Remember when you heard about the leaks of the Labour manifesto? ‘Controversial’, it was, they said.

Oh crumbs, what might that entail? Slaying of the first born?, that might be a bit much for the shires to take, Jezza. Then when you heard the leaked commitments listed, you went ‘Yep’, ‘That one sounds good’, ‘OK by me, when is the controversial stuff coming?’…

I have just come back from a week in Greece, a time full of warmth both meteorological and also emotional. Everyone says hello as you pass their house, even in touristy areas where you’d think they would get bored of smiling at strangers who can afford to travel. The amazing stories of Greeks supporting refugees who land on their shores make sense to me now. Even their dances are communal, with everyone welcome to join in.

Partaking in such collectivity was a bit of a double whammy for me because I was on Paros for a singing holiday – with lots of people I didn’t know, but with whom I quickly bonded as we harmonised. Oh, it felt good for the soul.

To quote José Antonio Abreu who created El Sistema, the education programme for young musicians in Venezuela, ‘music has to be recognised as an agent of social development, in the highest sense because it transmits the highest values – solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion’. In fact Abreu is clear that an orchestra can be a model for social change – how fantastic is that?

As I was musing on communality while wandering the splendid small archaeological museum on Santorini after my joyful singing week, I encountered an unbelievably exquisite little gold statuette of an ibex. I was bowled over by it. The body is beautifully contoured and smooth, but it is also a wonderfully sturdy little thing.

It was only discovered in 1999 (ha), as archaelogists investigated the extensive volcano-destroyed-and-yet-preserved city of Akrotiri. Examining the tiny animal further, I realised that the legs, tail and pretty little golden antlers are welded on in what is, to be honest, a somewhat cack-handed way. Given that the sculptor was working in the 17th century BC, I am inclined to forgive them. And in fact it just makes the little statue even more endearing.

So, then, this manifesto. What a beautiful world it wants to bring into being for the many; what sturdy collective endeavour it encourages us all to work towards. OK, the Labour election campaign has its ramshackle aspects – I’d certainly steer Diane Abbott away from attempting ‘Grecian urn’ jokes in interviews, for instance – but goodness me, when you compare its vision and aspiration to the never-changing Tory monotony of Bong and Babel…

Vote for the beautiful cack-handed ibex on Thursday. A better world is possible – I’ll sing to that.

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