Thursday, August 29, 2013

Price, value and Oscar Wilde

click photo to enlarge
"Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." (from "The Picture of Dorian Grey")
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish writer and poet

The quotation above is delivered by Oscar Wilde's character, Lord Henry, in the course of an apology for lateness - "I went to look after a piece of old brocade in Wardour Street and had to bargain for hours for it. Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." However, it seems to me that for many years it has accurately summarised the attitude of British politicians, both national and local. Our coalition government is cutting state spending, particularly that by local government with a barely disguised zeal. Under the pretext of "balancing the books" and "clearing up the mess left by the previous government" they are doing what their political philosophy of "shrinking the state" would have led them to do in any circumstances.

The effect of this in the wider country, particularly where the political complexion is the same as that at national level, is that services are being hacked to pieces. Lincolnshire County Council wants to reduce the spending on its library service by one third, closing many libraries, and hoping that volunteers will step in to fill the void created. In Boston the council is seeking to attract businesses to the town and at the same time is selling off public buildings in order to generate income and reduce outgoings. The glass fronted building in today's photograph used to be an art gallery and community space. For the past few years it has been empty, the only thing on display being a sign advertising its suitability for offices. There have been no takers. What the local council don't seem to realise is that companies looking to locate in an area, and attract workers to their businesses, are influenced by the cultural services available. Many new industries will only establish themselves in a place that offers their workforce theatres, galleries, public parks and facilities that give a buzz to the area. Politicians who close galleries and libraries whilst at the same time working to increase jobs in their area epitomise Wilde's quotation to perfection. It also brings to mind E. M. Forster in "Howard's End" - "Only connect!"

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On