The picture felt like a Caravaggio. Obsequiousness to the fore, one powerful man, and another accepting his gifts. The real politick was the banality of a prime minister giving an important position in government to a 'successful' businessman (with not a scintilla of public service on his record.) The role was to be the government's efficiency advisor, or 'waste tzar'.
The Waste Tzar
So rampant and so splendid that there seems to be a reason for fearing that men and women will be taught to feel that dishonesty, if it can become splendid, will cease to be abominable. — Anthony Trollope, "The Way We Live Now"
In the photograph he’s leaning in.
An act of fawning obeisance,
the upper part of his hand visible
at the bottom of the frame, his palm
held gently against David’s chest;
he’s saying something, or said something;
the shadow of David’s nose is cast on his
forehead, a soft apex of triangle; and
David’s eyes are cast down, maybe
uncomfortable with this man in so close,
their shirts and ties mirroring, muted
blue and bishop’s purple; Philip’s
steely grey Renaissance curls curling
in loose waves at the nape of his neck,
his balding pate counterpoint to David’s
groomed hair with a small bouffant
revealing the pink skin of his brow
containing his psyche, holding his higher
thoughts, thoughts about his waste tsar.
Perhaps he knows he has appointed
a greed tzar, a tzar of clever who has
a well-known model on speed dial,
a man who knows that dishonesty
(with the PM’s blessing) is becoming
splendid and ceasing to be abominable.
Posted 13 April 2021
This blank verse was written in response to an opinion piece in the Observer by Catherine Bennett, about David Cameron and Philip Green. The photograph I refer to in the poem was not published in the online article. I couldn't find it online elsewhere, and the paper has long since been recycled, so it remains a memory. Alison Hackett
Alison Hackett — Director and founder of 21st Century Renaissance; author of The Visual Time Traveller 500 Years of History, Art and Science in 100 Unique Designs
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