Sloe-eyed and gin-soaked goddess Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011), then. Quite genuinely gutted about this – I thought she’d carry on forever, like Shane MacGowan, or the Highlander.
We don’t have to argue about her talent – she was a very good actress, apart from when the film she found herself in was unrescuable shite, in which case she didn’t bother trying. Onscreen, her lush, immaculate, unapologetically high-maintenance, Old Hollywood glam made me want to use words like ‘luminous’ and ‘incandescent’. Offscreen, she did enough to advocate gay rights to get the Westboro Baptist Church consider picketing her funeral. And she combined being an impeccably classy dame with having the spark to remark that her marriage to Richard Burton made her ‘Welsh by injection’.
There are, of course, more important things happening in the world. My route to work takes me through London’s academic quarter, where today at least three lecturers’ pickets – disappointingly weedy, but still – were taking place. My route to work is quite often dependent on which transport union is taking strike action on any particular day. And my route to work, for a little over a month, has been festooned with stickers, flyers, posters and graffiti building up to this Saturday’s March for the Alternative. In two days, London will be host to the first truly mass and popular expression of the discontent, the fear, the despair and the exasperation, as well as the anger, that this government has provoked in those it governs.
It isn’t going to be a revolution. It’s very likely that the government’s reaction – as with Iraq, as with the Liverpool Dockers, as with the 1981 March for Jobs, as all the way back to the Jarrow Marches and beyond – is going to be dispassionate, patrician indifference. That’s not the point. It can’t be the point, otherwise we may as well curl up and die right now, and the same could have gone for the Chartists, the Suffragettes, and any other group of individuals who felt themselves politically ill at ease with the way things were. I do what I can, like those before me – not in the expectation of making a difference, only in the barely flickering hope of it. One has to try.
I’ll be marching on Saturday, having felt moved to do so for the first time since (Iraq invasion, top-up fees) I marched in 2004. And then on Sunday, hungover and exhausted, I’ll be watching Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I don’t want a world in which Thatcher outlives Elizabeth Taylor.