My friend Amanda rang me the other week and said that her friend Julian Bell wanted to paint a big group portrait of people hanging out in a bar, and would I be part of it and come for a mass sitting? So this evening I did, and spent three hours being a life and soul holding-forth with extravagant gestures drinking club diva in the background of a club, with Amanda leaning on my shoulder and a terribly charming, though painfully thin, AngloSpanish guy called Don Ramos - Don short for Donald, contrary to expectation - doing an intent listening pose. Elsewhere a barfly insults a yuppy, some other yuppies are ignored at the bar and a disreputable celebrity makes an entrance. We held the pose for about an hour while Julian sketched in oils and then he took photos of the subgroups and then mugshots of each of us.
His work is nothing like his grandmother's - yes, one of those Bells, why did you ever doubt it? - a bit hyper-realist with interesting perspective distortions, a bit like early Lucien Freud before the palate got muddier. I am loving this, can you tell? The thought that something vaguely resembling me will be on a wall somewhere is oddly comforting and oddly classic. Maybe one day I will be unbeknownst on the cover of a Penguin Modern Classic or something...
Meanwhile I am hoping that Charisma is taking baby time off still and will be back for a few episodes of season Five. Cordelia was always my major fannish muse and I shall miss her if she is gone forever and good. Not because I think Charisma is a desperately good actress, because. bless her, she is not. But she is a competent light comedienne who has always been game for whatever Mutant Enemy threw at her and has a luminous beauty that lights up screens, or hotel corridors.
Clare Short resigned, and probably did so a minute before she was fired. Nonetheless, her argument for staying rather than protest the war was not a contemptible one - or rather it was not contemptible if it was a reason rather than an excuse. By resigning once it has become clear that proper reconstruction of Iraq is not happening, she has made it a reason rather than an excuse. I don't think she could have damaged Blair beyond reason by going back in March; by resigning on the same principle that she stayed, she has done something respectable, if not admirable.
I am no huge fan of hers, but I will be vexed if the Left goes on bitching rather than welcoming one who has repented of her sin. She resigned; she resigned on a good principle - that is more important than second-guessing her earlier decision. After all, she made the same mistake we all did - thinking Tony Blair could not really be as bad as all that.