Andreas is thinking of buying a little painting we both loved when we saw it. It’s late 18th century by the painter Tischbein the younger 1751-1829. It reminds me of Watteau because of its attitude. Watteau, born 1684 and died of T.B. aged 36. He tells the truth in his paintings. You can find his work in the Wallace Collection.The ones who copy him, Pater and Lancret are there in the same room. Their paintings are decorative pieces but they don’t tell the truth – The gestures are self-conscious.
Andreas was telling me what he wanted to say about the painting and not listening to me, “Watteau was telling the truth!” I said. – Andreas, “Yes, he probably invented the truth. You know when people die, they say the soul flies off, that little trembling of life.”He fluttered his fingers near his mouth and whisped out slightly his breath; referring to the little Tischbein.” You know, the dog licking his crotch and the other climbing up on her skirt, she with her hawk and the man behind the horses – he could be her servant – her lover?” What Andreas is saying is, it’s all so arbitrary; that’s what’s real.
Myself and CR and my son Joe have been working with the Green Party since Christmas. I gave a donation which enabled them to field more candidates for the coming election. We had meetings.
What inspired me to get involved was of course that they are the only English party who care about the environment and that that and everything else is connected. I was impressed by the small leaflet I was handed at an anti-fracking demo which listed their main aspirations. I urged them to stick to it.
Keep it simple. Stick to your 4 big aspirations: Against fracking, against austerity, pro community, pro human rights. You are the polar opposite of the other parties. They are pro fracking, pro austerity, anti-community (allowing speculators to put up tower blocks on spaces used by local people whilst ripping down every building, plus housing and evicting people (The Housing Crisis – Politicians are criminals), anti-human rights (they want to scrap it). You are revolutionary.
We were delighted. A day or 2 later their message was an image of Luke Skywalker with a green-lit baton and the text: We are the Revolt.
Just before Easter we got an e-mail of a poster for their billboards. I was feeling stressed. (Tell you why in a bit) I freaked out. I thought the poster was terrible. Negative. Where was the aspiration? It seemed only detail and off-putting. My enthusiasm drained away. But then next day I started to see that though I would have done it differently it was their poster and it suited them. But I really shocked myself and doubted myself. How could I have been so extreme in my passionate dislike? There was nothing wrong with the poster. It was rather clever. And by the tone and feeling I saw that we did have the same vision and our discussions had helped. However I do think that this poster could only reassure people who had already decided to vote Green, maintain the vote – not build it.
At the time of our Gold Label Paris Show (7th March) the Telegraph did an article citing an item extracted from my company’s tax accounts, which they claimed had deprived the British government of tax. It did not worry me at all because I am quite comfortable that not only legally but morally I pay the right amount of tax. Of course the paper linked this claim to the donation I had made to the Green Party.
I think with this re-structuring the Green Party see us as more perfect.
A good week later when I got back to England I decided to make a statement against the smear, especially because the Green Party needed this cleared up. First I went through everything with my accountants, asking questions. I wished to make a simple statement but I kept thinking I needed to supply some detail, but every time I tried the detail led to more detail and I found myself at every spare moment and in the middle of the night holding imaginary conversations with the world at large explaining why I had not morally avoided paying tax. At the time of the poster I still hadn’t done this statement. I was frustrated. So right now in the diary even though this stupid story has evaporated I would like to use the opportunity – to make a general statement – and there’s an end:
We are an international company with international directors. We have a holding company by which we pay the right amount of tax internationally. When I take profit from the company it comes to me in the form of a dividend on which I pay full income tax in England. I am not a non-dom. I live here.
There is a re-structuring now in tax practice which we have just adopted. We are happy to be part of the change.
Nevertheless the Young Greens, bless them, weren’t happy, I wasn’t pure enough for them. They went on our planned tour without me. We had proposed a series of public lectures and debate with economics expert Andrew Simms: How to get from Here to a Green Economy. We were to visit 8 towns throughout the country focusing where strong Green candidates were. I thought, “Why should I create a fuss for me and the whole of the Green Party? Give yourself a break.” And they went off without us – I think. A wasted opportunity.
It is important to have this debate:
- Make clear that the Greens expect political power and they are seen to be preparing for this.
- how that a green economy could build a fair, comfortable, kind and safe society. Not just green jobs but education, social life, art and culture.
- You can’t start a debate from Here. You have to start from where you want to go and how you want to get there. In this election the other political parties, having drained off our wealth for the banks, smashed, broken and sold off our assets, are trying to blind everyone to the truth of the disaster they have caused by playing the game of robbing Peter to pay Paul and vice versa. Of course Trident needs to go but most things you can’t cut. They are playing the game of austerity. They do quantitative easing all the time; they could pay for more teachers with it – no, they give it to the banks. The press are a disgrace treating this election like a game when things are so serious. We need long-term policies. The Greens do have long-term policies and that is what they should try to get across to people. And in the midst of all those Jokers they must try to stick to their aspirations and show they are different.
- Show the Greens to have the only responsible financial vision.
I have met very good people in the Green Party, friends, dedicated and inspiring. I am so glad there is a party you can believe and vote for. By the time you read this the election will be over and then we’ve really got to get it together. We will have to fight the next government on every issue – prevent their crimes. Hopefully the SNP’s will also take the fight into parliament.
Wed 1 Apr: I went to see Julian Assange, my friend – to pick his brains. I will help him all I can this year to obtain justice and freedom. He has never been charged with a crime. He is illegally detained in the Equadorian Embassy by the British government; surrounded by police and unable to step outside, even onto a small roof terrace because the police will pounce. He has every legal right under British law to fly to asylum in Equador yet we deprive him of freedom and happiness. We must thank brave Equador. Julian is America’s most wanted man. They are criminals, he is truth. We will feature Julian’s campaign for freedom and justice on Climate Revolution.
Fri 3 Apr: 3 p.m. Barbican with Andreas, Ben and Tomaka. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Didn’t quite gel. From there we all drove down to Joe and Faye in Cornwall for Easter– Faye with the horses. Blue sky and loved to walk the beaches and woods and to do nothing. Picked big bags of wild garlic and came back.
Wed 8 Apr: My birthday. How many flowers I had and thoughtful presents! Sarah (Stockbridge) gave me party at her home and invited my friends. I gave a little talk to tell everyone where I’m up to, what been happening. It is useful to have a group focus, this being a formal talk; it helps make a party more of an event by bringing everyone together. The big problem for all activists is how do we get through to people. We do keep adding to the public debate. I enjoyed myself and realized how important my friends are to me. Thank you Sarah for everything and we will always remember your wonderful cooking.
Fri 17 Apr: I see friends that I work with and we talk about work and a bit about background events – personal and universal. I am so busy so it is a treat to see other friends. A son of my cousin Christine who died young; same age as my sons, Simon must be coming up to 50. He called into our studio in Battersea. He came down from Scotland with his partner Barbara. They were staying with his friend who is working on the restoration of Westminster Abbey and they have been experiencing the Abbey as their friend shows them round the work he is doing.
They are both carers but Simon has a new job, for the past 2 weeks he’s now a bus driver. His caring job had deteriorated. It is now run for profit not for the best interests of people. Simon had complained, some people got the sack but he left – because the new people who replaced them were even worse. Barbara is Polish and very dedicated, she is studying with a view to having more responsibility and power for good in her job. They just stayed in my room, talking with me and my son Ben. (Of course I talked to them about the world map at + 5 degrees and End Monopoly Capitalism). He’s still not sure if he will vote for the SNP. Simon is the one who admits to being a terrible teenager – loved fighting. They had a little tour of our building and the different operations, then left. They are going on the Eye tomorrow and maybe to the British Museum. I asked Simon what were his hobbies. He said, “You won’t like me when I tell you.” (I’m a vegetarian) He goes shooting in the woods – rabbits, pigeons. I told him I thought some of the wood pigeons are endangered. Goodbye for now.
Sat 18 Apr: Yoga. Then 1.30pm at Shepherd’s Bush Green to speak at an anti-TTIP rally. Transatlantic Trade and Investment. Partnership is a trade deal which is being negotiated in secret between the U.S. and the EU. (Are chlorine-washed chickens coming here to roost?)
An example of what can happen is in El Salvador the water has been poisoned by mining, the public demonstrated and the government stopped permission for further mines. Now a giant Canadian mining monopoly is suing the government for (I don’t remember millions or billions) a lot, for loss of earnings.
TTIP uses the ISDS (Investor- State Dispute Settlement) legislation which gives equal rights to giant monopolies as to governments which means these giants can sue anything or anybody by claiming loss of earnings. They can wreck the planet and smash every law which protects us. It is a catch – all law. They only need TTIP to take away all our laws. TTIP can stop all workers rights, stop protest, impose fracking, privatise the NHS – anything. Indeed it goes into every corner- human rights, the lot. We would have no freedoms left. We would be ruled by giant monopolies, criminal governments and the faceless evil of the private banks. Why do powerful governments want this? Because they are part of the triad, they are the same people – remember the revolving door.
By the wish to impose TTIP, governments have exposed themselves. They now have the confidence to show their hand. They have drawn the line;They are pro profit and anti people. They are criminals and every one of their policies is a crime against humanity. – They are movers in a giant game- and they thrive on power; people are pawns – collateral damage, cheap labour.
I now know what to do. I was with Cynthia. I said we have to make a point of calling politicians criminals. She said people do that already. I have sometimes heard them called “crooks” but I have not heard criminal. Cynthia works with computers and the social media. I don’t. I rely on her as my medium, she tells me what’s happening out there. I said we are activists and we have to tell everyone to say criminal. We never say “politician” unless the politician is a good politician. Then, by constantly referring to criminals, the dupes might open their ears and see the light, it might sink in: change public opinion. If there’s one thing I could do it would be this. It would change everything.
Sat 18 Apr: Andreas and I to the Barbican. Joyce Didonato again wearing a very good dress from us. She really goes for it. She got us to change the sleeves- make them more dramatic. Music: Ravel – of poems by Tristan Klingsor.
Andreas loved Der Rosenkavalier Suite by Richard Strauss. The sound is full. Strauss seems to use every instrument of a large orchestra all the time. To orchestrate all the instruments in continual harmonies and versatility was of a genius unheard until him. The Americans loved him most of all; they felt it was new and big enough for America. Jewish he survived the holocaust, saved by his reputation. A disillusioned man, aged 80, at the end of WWII, in reply to an American soldier who came to his door, “I am Richard Strauss, the composer of Der Rosenkavalier and Salome.”
Sun 19 Apr: On Sunday evening Andreas and I went to see my old friend Dennita Sewell. We last saw her in the archive of the Metropolitan Museum, N.Y., at the time of our “Vive la Cocotte” collection. We copied a Dior suit; Andreas took measurements and called it the “Metropolitan suit.” She has been head of fashion at the Phoenix Art museum for 15 years and she was on a fashion tour with a group of 20 women supporters and trustees of the museum. They invited us for dinner at the Landsdowne club and Andreas remarked that he was the only man.
I want to give the historical background to American ladies who support art and promote culture.
Freedom and Organization 1814-1914. Writing in 1934 Bertrand Russell says:-
Though I agree with Russell that much art appreciation is superficial, not only in America but worldwide – otherwise 90% of art produced today would not sell. But Dennita’s ladies are Jeffersonians. I talked about +5 degrees and End Monopoly Capitalism and they were very encouraging, indeed they did their best to cheer me up. They too want a better world.
Andreas enjoyed being with such people. We love art-historians and when Americans are nice there is nobody nicer.
Tues 21 -26 Apr: Andreas and I to Rosita and Paola in Prato next to Florence. You know these are friends who produce us in Italy and we stay with them in their home. Andreas and I worked together, he mostly on Red Carpet (fabrics now chosen) and me mostly on Unisex knitwear. On Saturday morning we drive ½ an hour through Tuscan hills, past miles of nurseries – garden plants and trees, to Viaregio with its long beach and restaurants on the sand; full of people and shops, shopping and lunching and generally just walking around. In its heyday it was very rich and popular but some of the great hotels are now boarded up. It continues into Forte di Marmo famous for marble and Michelangelo.
I came back on my own because Andreas caught the train to go and see his father in the Tyrol.
Mon 27 Apr: Wrote article for Huffington Post about the scandal of London being torn down for the building of high rise flats for speculators. I pointed out that as the flats are empty no one need build them. The government could just issue bonds I.O.U. the right to build a high rise, then the speculators could just keep selling them on until it all goes bust.
Animal rights activists say that leather is much more harmful to the environment than plastic.