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Thursday, February 20, 2003
A day in London

Serendipity took me to London, yesterday. (Well, actually, it was Hector, my horse.) Of course, you will have to take my comments on the new congestion charge and its effects with a pinch of salt - one who travels on horseback is hardly likely to be affected. And indeed, we weren't: we crossed the Millennium Bridge unbothered by other traffic.

On the edges of the charge zone, traffic seemed to be moving freely. Traffic chaos will not doom the scheme. It is more likely to be civil disobedience. If people do not pay their charges (and thousands didn't) and are not pursued vigorously, the habit will spread. A few judicial acts, pour encourager les autres, will be necessary. I do not mean anything as severe as the fate meted out to Voltaire's "fat Admiral" (Byng) in Candide [Executed - Ed.]. Although come to think of it...

It was a bitterly cold day and I was unable to find suitable stabling for Hector. With the co-operation of the attendants, I left him in the turbine hall of Tate Modern while I went off to transact my business, some of which I may reveal in a day or two.

Hector is a very well-behaved animal and I had no qualms that he might damage an exhibit there. There was always the possibility that he would make a contribution, though. Only brilliant art critics such as Kim Howells and "Jugs" Charles, a prince of the realm, have the level of knowledge to make proper judgements about most modern art. So, if you read a puzzled critic's description of small mid-brown spheres of hay littering Tate Modern's turbine hall, remember that you read about it here, first. Ah, but is it art, you ask? And how do you tell the difference between modern art and Hector's contributions?

Come on, Chris Ofili; tell us.

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