Blowing in the wind: Fly the flag, and to hell with the state


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The Independent Online

Remember Bill Drummond, the pop-star-turned-artist who, in 1994, burnt £1m in the name of art? Well, Drummond has been up to mischief again, defacing a Ukip poster in Birmingham last week with his own-brand International Grey paint.

Drummond is in the city for a three-month residency at the Eastside Projects gallery, and while his Ukip stunt may still see him visited by officers of the law, another artistic endeavour has brought him to the attention of local mothers.

Drummond, you see, has been putting up 40 flags on 40 lamp posts in a circle around Birmingham and, over on Mumsnet, one woman has started a thread called "Weird Flag Outside House". "A neighbour said two men put the flag up, then took pic of flag, then took pic of house," posts HandragsNGladbags. "It's the pic of house that bothers me most. Especially as DH [darling husband] recently had a mild altercation with the council. Surely they don't flag people now in a shaming way?"

In fact, the flags are from a project called "The Atlantic Archipelago", because, says Drummond, "to fly the Old Chevron is to ignore the political state and celebrate the geological state". Glad to see that message being embraced by the good citizens of Birmingham.

The Jackson four

From the box marked "beyond satire". Last week, Bloomberg, "the premier site for business and financial market news", told the story of one Wall Street headhunter, Daniel Arbeeny, who had seen his "income [go] down tremendously". "On a recent Sunday," the piece reported, "he drove to Fairway Market in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn to buy discounted salmon for $5.99 a pound." Cue shooting fish in a barrel jokes all round.

On this side of the pond, meanwhile, The Telegraph told its own tale of the "squeezed middle", under the headline: "I make £120,000 but I can't recall the last time we went out for dinner".

In that piece, Guy Jackson, of Farnham, Surrey, told the writer: "Even though we have a reasonable income we have had to economise, swapping Ocado deliveries for trips to Tesco." Pictured with their sons Tom, 17, and Harry, 16, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Jacksons looked familiar. Earlier this year, in The Sunday Times, under the headline "Top tips for families in 2014", there were the Jacksons, again with sons Tom and Harry, in a picture with the caption: "Guy, a financial services worker, and Sharon, who runs UCan Training".

But what's this? In the "About us" section of the UCan website, Sharon writes: "I am a great believer in the importance of the work-life balance. I ensure that I spend valuable time with my partner and three children." Perhaps the mysterious third child (let him be called Dick) was unable to pose for press photographers as he was out at the time on a protest, holding up a banner reading: "We are the 1 per cent."

Isn't it ironic?

Alanis alert! Probably, by now, you've seen the video for Gary Turk's mildly irritating "Look Up", a five-minute spoken-word piece about "smartphones and dumb people". And if you have, you have probably pondered the fact that nothing could be more ironic than a poem about how we should all spend less time on computers, going viral (32 million YouTube views and counting).

Except this: underneath one of the many links to the poem in my Facebook feed last week, was a "suggested post" (or an advert, as we used to call them) for something called Gamewagon. Gamewagon is a "fully mobile video game party service", that is basically a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van that will pull up at your kids' party and offer "a unique social environment where kids can play the games they love together, comfortably, relaxed and safely with their friends".

Maybe that poem had a point, after all.

Gimme shelter

"You can only sleep in one bed." So says artist Gregory Kloehn, whose latest project involves turning discarded junk into homes for the homeless. Kloehn, from Oakland, California, says his aim is to use "discarded materials to make sturdy, innovative mobile shelters for homeless people" and the latest examples of his work can be seen on his website (

"Shelter is key," Kloehn says. "So many of us have 3,000sq ft to keep all our stuff in but love nothing more than to get away, to go camping and stay in a tiny tent."

Kloehn is no stranger to living in cramped spaces. Whenever the artist is in New York, he lives in a dumpster that he has had fully converted.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a now-regular series of limericks based on recent events:

For its Brand and its Rascal decision

The examining board faced derision

Because all the old guard

Said, "What's wrong with the Bard?

These A-levels themselves need revision"