Janet Street-Porter: Artist Jim makes an impression

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Jim Moir, better known as Vic Reeves, has achieved the dubious accolade of having two of his paintings chosen for this year's summer exhibition at the Royal Academy. Jim is a pretty good artist, publishing a book of his paintings and drawings, sunboiledonions, (in 2000). Now he's promoting his autobiography, wittily entitled Me: Moir, and planning to sell more art on-line.

We once walked into Leeds for a TV series, and he stopped to paint a view of the River Wharfe, much beloved by Turner. Jim's version featured a large, psychedelic blue and white cow, upside-down - very Chagall!

During our enforced confinement in the jungle for I'm a Celebrity, Jim brought a welcome note of sanity, spending his time painting wild birds on pieces of bark. Obviously he was too talented to be allowed to stay in the camp for long.

He adds an agreeable mark of vulgarity to the Royal Academy show. Darwin Jones and his Bloodhounds shows a horse's head with human ears and a smart, short hairstyle. It bears the caption: by order of Sir Winston Churchill. Moir's other painting, They Pinned Back My Eyes and Lips, seems to be a sardonic comment on Mr Blair's proposed ID cards.

Have some of us lost touch with humanity?

It will be of no comfort to eight-year-old Cait Atkins, who lies recovering from a badly broken leg in hospital, that the queue of drivers who ignored her as she lay injured in the road were in fact suffering from an illness themselves. It's not terminal callousness or total inhumanity, but a newly identified condition called IED.

We used to know it as road rage, but doctors in America have discovered that the kind of behaviour where you behave unspeakably aggressively, screaming abuse at others and cutting in and out of traffic, ignoring everyone else to get where you want, is linked to a lack of serotonin (one of the chemicals that controls moods), and have named it Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

Cait was walking with her mother in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, when she ran across a busy road after buying bubblegum in a sweet shop at 8.45pm. The car that hit her so hard that she was flung in the air, her leg smashed in two places, didn't stop but drove off, leaving her lying on the ground, covered in blood, screaming for help. During the next two minutes, at least another six drivers manoeuvred around the poor girl, ignoring her cries, before one could be bothered to stop, get out of his vehicle and come to her aid.

Perhaps it is time for a rethink of the driving test, with a section that covers courtesy to other drivers and consideration for other road users. I've been filming a television series in which I drive a London taxi, and have to cope with more aggressive drivers than normal. The news that a super speed camera has been invented, which monitors four lanes at once and contains an automatic number-plate-recognition function is thrilling. Nothing makes me more furious than a bloke behind me flashing his lights until I pull over (in a 50mph zone), only to slam on his brakes just to travel the 25 yards covered by a speed camera, before resuming 70.

With joyriding and resultant injuries on the increase - it's clear that the link between cars and speed is a hot drug for the young. Is there no way to bring cars into schools to start teaching mechanics at 14, to get students stripping engines down and putting them back together? That way we might change how young men, in particular, think about driving. Statistically, hit-and-run drivers are highly likely to be teenage joyriders. We need to change how people behave in their cars, and we can only do this outside the home, where dad is probably the very last person to give any sensible advice.

Last month, I wrote about the 40 climbers who walked past a dying man on the slopes of Mount Everest and didn't bother to help him down the mountain, too busy with achieving their own "goal" - the summit. Sir Chris Bonington expressed his revulsion; the behaviour of the mountaineers tarnished the heroic sport of climbing and certainly diminished their achievements. The treatment of Cait shows that some of us have become repellently dehumanised.

* A new report by the distinguished planners Sir Peter Hall and Tony Hall puts forward the bold proposal that Heathrow should be scrapped and an airport built on an island in the Thames Estuary. It would have four runways, a properly sited terminal, and could cope with the super-planes of the future. Before environmentalists start moaning, let's at least consider the benefits. It would allow a huge area of west London to be landscaped and about 30,000 new homes to be built, freeing from the horrible blight of noise the lives of everyone living within the footprint of Heathrow - and that extends to the City of London. The Government's plans to build in the Thames Gateway have always lacked a focus. This would provide jobs, an integrated transport system - and noise would be concentrated over water. But I'm sure there's a rare toad that will have to be saved at all costs...

Comments