By ArcLight

Homage to Frederick Douglass … and MH

Anyone with an eye on the news today could not have failed to notice what some people thought was a controversial gift from Boris Johnson to Joe Biden at the G7 in Cornwall. As ever with the news, the story is a bit more complex than it has been painted. The picture was not ‘lifted from Wikipedia’, but used with the agreement of the photographer, MH, who told us the story on Monday at book group, to our great excitement. And also used with the agreement of the original artist for the mural, TrenchOne. MH tells the story in a bit more detail here, including a comment upon *that cone*. A bit of context: MH is a very effective contributor to Wikipedia, making it ever more extensive and inclusive. I only have to send her a text saying “X” (i.e. prominent woman) doesn’t have a wiki entry, and back will come a text a couple of days later saying “she does now”. It’s also great that the BLM Mural Trail is also really positive about the exposure. Finally, it is worth pointing out that it is not that Johnson’s gift is inappropriately cheapskate, but rather that Biden’s gift is actually inappropriately expensive. James Chalmers has thoughts on this here. So while I am loath to concede that this horrific government ever gets anything right, the Frederick Douglass picture story is actually something quite interesting and quite positive.

Anyway, after the first murmurings of this emerged yesterday, I thought it was a good idea to go myself to take a picture of this stunning mural (complete with some aspects of its not very stunning surroundings), so I could memorialise the moment in my blip journal. It wasn’t even out of my way, as I used the bike to get to work, and went the long way round on the paths, which takes me along Gilmore Place where the mural is located. I chatted briefly to a local householder, and he told me that (a) virtually no one who photographs the mural knows who it is and (b) he has ordered a plaque to be placed next to the mural to tell the world about Frederick Douglass. I told him about the gift story.

Apart from this happy thing, another good thing that happened today was meeting a new colleague for a coffee. Well, he’s not that new. He’s been at the Law School since September, but, yes, the general principle of newness applies because of the pandemic. It was a lot of fun chatting to someone about all manner of things.

Other than that, I worked on various things in my office, quite successfully, and in splendid isolation, although I heard a few people in the distance. I actually saw no one else in the building, which is the case most times when I spend a day in the office. It can be a bit eerie, but it also tends to be extremely productive.

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