Wednesday, 16 January 2008
Ford Madox Ford: Ordinary People
As the current debate about the Arts Council's support - or rather withdrawal of support - from literature rages, we will hear a great deal about the need for the arts to be "accessible" to "ordinary people". I have always found this phrase rather patronising because it is generally used by people who are looking down their noses at us at the same time as they profess to be our friends. Actually they take rather a dim view of us and don't think we should be setting our sights too high. This is the essence of populism. So it was refreshing to come across a nice thought from Ford Madox Ford in his Memories and Impressions: "I always want to write about ordinary people. But it seems to be almost impossible to decide who are ordinary people - and then to meet them. All men's lives and characteristics are so singular." Exactly. May we all remain "singular".