If you think life is moving too fast now, imagine how you’d have felt 150 years ago before the phone, the telly or the car had been invented. As the Victorian industrialists mechanised and urbanised, the pastoral idyls of old England were feeling the pinch and it took a group of young painters to come to its defence.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, didn’t take to factories and machines. They yearned for a simpler time of lovestruck knights and dreaming damsels and painted their sumptuous, romantic scenes, in part, as a protest against the muck and the noise of so called progress.
You can see some of their work at the National Gallery right now and just down the hall from this exhibition you’ll find another response to modern life. Twenty four years before Rossetti painted Pia de’ Tolomei, Turner gave us ‘Rain Steam and Speed’; a favourite of mine. An imposing steam train roars towards us belching smoke into the air. But look more closely (if you have the time) and you’ll see one of nature’s fastest creatures, a hare, running for it’s life in the train’s path. Keep looking and under the viaduct you’ll find a small pastoral scene on the beach – old England hanging on, just.
Concerns about technology are nothing new. Smart phones were supposed to liberate us from our desks, but only gave us more things to do. Taking time out from screens and phones has never been more important and that, my dear reader, is why you need to discover the Crazy Coqs.
I’ll be there in a few weeks celebrating the incredibly diverse music of 1968. I’ll be singing Frank Sinatra, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Robert Goulet, so to say there is something for everyone is (probably for the first time) true. There will be no screens or phones and the only ringing you’ll here will be the chime of your cocktail glasses.