While not being entirely qualified, in so many ways, to broach the subject at all, the re-worked works of art — classic paintings that have been “reimagined what they would look like if their bodies conformed to what the 21st-century thinks of as an ideal of beauty” — really don’t say anything particularly new or surprising.
Perhaps due to the limitations of what was possible with image manipulation software, the reimagined versions don’t look all that bad: the hips are still rather curvaceous, the bosoms are fairly full. I would have thought the point was to shock us all into how unrealistic the modern version of beauty really is.
This weekend my mum forwarded me the news about the senior HSBC worker Bindi Dhanji, caught stealing almost £120,000 from pensioners’ accounts and due to be sentenced a few weeks ago, who committed suicide together with her husband Kishore. Both were found hanging from a bridge near Staples Corner on the North Circular Road, in London.
Kishore Dhanji was my childhood friend. We went to the same primary school and for a couple of years of secondary school before we gradually lost touch. He lived two streets away from me, and with his cousin who lived on my road and a few other friends — all within two minutes walk of each other — we played in and around each others’ houses for several years. We explored the trees around the reservoir at the Welsh Harp Park; we discovered Mario Brothers on the Nintendo and WWF Wrestling on the telly.
We rode our BMX bikes everywhere, and were once chased by a group of older boys intent on stealing our wheels. We ducked into Hendon Police Station and a friendly policeman gave us an escort back to our houses, us on our bikes and he on a big grey-and-white policehorse.
I haven’t seen or heard from Kishore for about twenty years, and I have no idea what happened in those intervening years. But I spent a few hours last night thinking about those childhood days, and it’s upsetting to think that someone I spent so many fun hours with could have been driven, for whatever reason, to hang himself from a bridge with his wife, just a few hundred metres from where we played as children.
Something I’d not seen before, but is apparently very common here: parents post their child’s personal details (age, height, job, salary — all the important stuff) on a washing line at the park, for other parents to check out and, if they like what they see, set their own child up on a blind date.