Katy Guest: Rant & Rave (13/11/11)

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Rant

You won't find me at the National Gallery's Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, which has already sold out until mid-December and is expected to be the gallery's most packed show ever. I appreciate art and literature and the finer things in life, but as soon as I walk into an art gallery I instantly become a petulant child. A condition known (by me) as Gallery Knee, caused by walking at the pace of 180 slow people, cripples me with the need to sit down and drink a cup of coffee. The inability to see anything apart from the back of someone's very unenigmatic head makes my eyes glaze over. And then I enter the gallery where the couple who've just spent their first night together and have run out of conversation have come to snog, then the room featuring the over-privileged child whose parents are teaching it the valuable life lesson that it is the only important person in the world and can get anything it wants by shouting louder than others. By this stage, I wouldn't stay even if you gave me the Mona Lisa. Good luck to anyone who can.

Rave

I am delighted to learn about William Prynne, the 17th-century pamphleteer whose collected works are expected to fetch £30,000 at Bonham's. A man of strong opinions who was not afraid of sharing them, Mr Prynne railed at various times against actresses ("notorious whores"), stage plays ("heathenish and pernicious corruptions"), long hair on men ("unnatural and unmanly"), short hair on women ("mannish, unnatural, impudent, and unchristian"), and the "unnatural, unthrifty, odious and swinish" habit of drinking toasts. Why, this was the 1600s precursor to modern newspaper columnists! Unfortunately for Prynne, his opinions were not appreciated, and he was imprisoned, fined, had his ears cut off and his book burned. Then his nose was slit and his cheeks branded with the words "seditious libeller". Still, at least Prynne never ranted about the horrors of art galleries, public snogging, and screaming children, or else he would undoubtedly have been subjected to the ultimate indignity: lots of misspelled nasty comments on the internet.

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