Saturday, December 10, 2011

Games, money, myopia and heritage

click photo to enlarge
Our government of political pygmies makes much of the need for cuts in public expenditure and the fact that, as far as the current financial crisis goes, "we're all in it together". However, virtually every day they do something that undermines these claims; that demonstrates it's the poor, women, the old, public sector workers, the marginalised and the cultural community who will bear the brunt of the spending cuts.

Last week the government shot themselves in their collective feet once again. Fearing that the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games might be a touch underwhelming compared with the efforts of previous Games they immediately sanctioned a further £41m taking the budget for this single short spectacle to over £80m. Then, turning their attention to security, decided to almost double that budget too - from £282m to £553m. If, like me, you see the Olympic Games as an optional, low importance expenditure, you can only gaze open-mouthed at the facile way in which sums of this magnitude are found and disbursed. Then wonder turns to anger when you consider what it might have been spent on.

I can think of countless more worthy recipients of £300+m but I'll mention just one. The body that channels public funding into helping to maintain our architectural heritage - including buildings such as the one shown in today's photograph - is called English Heritage. In October 2010 it had its grant cut by 32%. A reduction of that order is not so much a cut as an amputation. Surely, even the most myopic politician is capable of seeing that the few tens of millions it would take to restore the funding would generate revenue year on year from increased tourism. In fact, our politicians don't seem to understand the main reasons why visitors come to Britain and seem to think that the Olympic Games and their increased spending will be repaid by more tourists. Fat chance say I.

Today's image shows the porch on the west range at Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk. This religious site was was closed in 1537 and fell into disrepair and ruin. However it is still possible to see something of what it was from the extant walls, buildings and foundations. Much of the site dates from the late C11 and C12, with additions from each subsequent century until its demise. The porch is a relatively late building with a fine mixture of local styles represented on its facade.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 50mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On