The Curmudgeon


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Our Betters

As is well known, the Government is not lacking in compassion when it comes to accepting tax payments from those suffering financial distress. In cases of genuine corporate need, such as Goldman Sachs, the Treasury is only too happy to accept a bit of wining and dining in lieu of tax; and aristocratic families impoverished by death duties are permitted to donate art objects to the state instead. Under this scheme, pioneered by Lloyd George in a proto-Cleggite display of concern for the disadvantaged, the trustees of Castle Howard have donated a full-length portrait of a simpering fop draped in a green velvet curtain, the oversized tassel of which coyly emphasises the golden rod of state concealed in his daringly frilly bloomers. Before a background of classical pillars and arches, the fifth earl of Carlisle, having lost all his proper clothes at the gaming tables, descends some ankle-high stairs, guided by his dog Rover because he isn't looking where he is going. He is languidly attempting to point at something, but is apparently too hung-over to close his fingers properly and is also not looking where he is pointing. The painting will eventually be displayed at the Tate, but for the time being will remain where it is, until the public can be properly prepared for its disturbing insight into the strange habits and stranger wardrobe of the eighteenth-century British aristocracy.


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