Hit & Run: Jarvis' bum note
Wednesday 29 April 2009
Jarvis Cocker has just gone and broken one of rock's cardinal rules: never (ever) admit even a fleeting fondness for the Conservative Party. In an interview for the new issue of GQ, the former Pulp frontman told Dylan Jones (the magazine's editor, himself a self-proclaimed Cameronista): "Maybe [a Conservative government] is necessary. There is no credible alternative."
Cocker's comments were heavily qualified, of course: hardly the triumphalism of the Tory cheerleader, more a lament for Labour's lost moral high ground. The thought of Conservative rule "doesn't excite [him]", he says, but Gordon Brown's behaviour "makes a mockery of the whole system."
Cocker has always had impeccable left-wing credentials – despite his mother being a Conservative councillor. He doesn't say he's actually planning to vote for Cameron. But even sitting on the political fence is risky business for a rocker. Coming out as a Conservative musician is career suicide. Or, at least, totally not cool, man.
After all, a successful musician who shows support for a right-wing party risks sounding just like any other rich bloke fishing for lower taxes. Phil Collins moved to Switzerland when Labour got in. Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet is a Tory conference regular. Mick Jagger says he's "conservative with a small 'c'", and that it's "possible to be conservative in fiscal policy, and tolerant on moral issues or questions of freedom of expression." Who wants to hear a Rolling Stone using the words "fiscal policy"?
Musicians are meant to be anti- establishment outsiders, so any sort of engagement with the political mainstream is frowned upon. But at least in the old days, supporting Labour suggested you'd love to stick it to the man. Hence the creation of Red Wedge, a musical movement fronted by Billy Bragg and intended to engage young people with the Labour Party during the 1987 election.
Such idealism died with what Cocker once called the "Cocaine Socialism" of Britpop and New Labour. Damon Albarn, invited to Number 10 for a reception after the 1997 election, sent a note to the new PM saying: "I'm sorry, I won't be attending as I am no longer a New Labour supporter. I am now a Communist. Enjoy the schmooze, Comrade. Love, Damon."
The widely-circulated images of Noel Gallagher sipping champagne with Blair did little, in the long run, for the reputations of either man. By the following year, Labour cabinet ministers were being doused with the water from their own champagne buckets – by Chumbawamba.
Nowadays, musicians are as disillusioned by party politics as the rest of the electorate; even political (small 'p') songwriters tend to stick to issues instead: war, poverty, the environment. Politicians would do well to steer clear of music, too. Thom Yorke cringed publicly when David Cameron aligned his party's policies with Radiohead's album-release strategy. The Killers had their credibility dented when the Conservative leader attended their gig at the Albert Hall.
When he tried to have his photo taken outside Salford Boys' Club, in an echo of The Smiths' photoshoot for their The Queen is Dead LP, he was foiled by local Labour activists. So if Cameron should find himself living in Downing St next year, he probably shouldn't expect Jarvis to turn up for drinks. Tim Walker
Surgical-mask chic: a hipster's guide
'Viral fashion' normally refers to an obscure trend that affords those in the know a chance to be snotty about the mainstream. And catwalk innovators and style luminaries have been all over the surgical mask like, well, a rash, for ages.
London-based designer Dr. Noki (real name JJ Hudson) has been wearing a face mask in public for over a decade now. "My mother detests it," he admits, "but it's an arresting image. It may not be attractive, but it's my own form of branding." Vogue calls both Hudson and his designs "apocalyptic"; in fact, it's fairly hard to tell him apart from his catwalk models, because he makes them all wear surgical masks too. "My favourite is a Spiderman one," he reveals, "customised from an old T-shirt."
Forget Michael Jackson - in Japan, where fear of pollution and hayfever have long driven mask sales, you can buy leopard print and even delicate lace masks. At this month's Japan Fashion Week, Mint Designs sent models out in masks moulded to the contours of their faces and covered in thorn prints. In Tokyo, it's impossible to tell the hipsters from the hypo-chondriacs, and where other countries have fresh-faced Pop Idols, the Japanese have the TV starlet Mask Idol, aka Anna Nawagawa, who is known for the incredible beauty of the upper two-thirds of her face.
So, ladies, though we might be doomed by a pandemic, don't let the side down; when wearing your mask, aim for inviting eyes glinting above a hidden, but luscious, pair of lips. Set them off with smoky eye make-up – just remember to use a tinted moisturiser, lest others mistake your interesting pallor for wan sickliness... Harriet Walker
A hole lotta pizza for Britain's salad lovers
For a dish which, at its best, is proof that simplicity can be sublime, the pizza is the victim of some complicated makeovers in its time. Traditionally, it consists of just three ingredients – dough, tomato sauce and mozzarella, although after a short session in a hot oven, it is permissible to add a sprig of fresh basil.
This is the blueprint for the original margherita pizza, created in 1889 by one Raffaele Esposita in Naples, to celebrate a visit to his home turf by Queen (you guessed it) Margherita. Its colours – green, white and red – were a patriotic (and tasty) recreation of the Italian flag.
But since then, the pizza has been given a good going over by any cook looking to make their name with a new version of the cheese and tomato treat. The frozen pizza went on sale in America half a century ago – and the yankees have been innovating ever since. They gave us home delivery, the Hawaiian, the deep-pan base and the triple-cheese-stuffed crust. In Britain, we've eagerly devoured these new taste sensations, but haven't been quite so creative. Until now.
Pizza Express has made up for lost time with the Leggera – a pizza with the centre section removed and replaced with salad leaves, drizzled with dressing. While it's ostensibly designed to appeal to weight-watching Brits, Hit & Run reckons it's just a bid to get one over on those pizza-pimping Americans. Rebecca Armstrong
The legendary human rights activist, OBE, started her 70 year career working with Holocaust survivors. Colin Firth & Emma Thompson pay tribute
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