Turner corner


The Fighting Temeraire                                                                                                      JMW Turner playing with light and messing with our minds in 1838

Seemingly, this noble salute is the nation’s favourite oil painting, capturing the final fathoms slipped by the veteran of sea-battle Trafalgar before she was broken up.

Why do we ponder on this now? Well, both picture and painter grace the new polymer Twenty Pound note.

The sense of gratitude the image inspires for the Temeraire’s heroism two hundred years later is miraculous; can there be a doubt that Turner’s mind, alive to what she represented, sought to lift spirits above those of nostaligic national pride?

Is that why he’s playing us?

I’ve donned an anorak equivalent (a Barbour, obvs) so as to get really picky. You see, the boat was towed up the Thames to the breaker’s yard at Rotherhithe, on the south bank, upstream from Greenwhich and opposite Wapping. Why then is the sun setting over Eltham, in the SarfEast? Poetic license gone mad.

It seems we’ve turned a corner. There’s talk that cash is on its way out and the two billion £20 notes currently in circulation will not all be replaced with this year’s model. Rather, fewer bills will reside in the national purse&wallet as our love affair with tapping cards continues.

Does the lack of romance implicit to assets beyond physical reach demonstrate the sun is setting on a way of life & say something simple on how all things, eventually, are towed off to be broken up?

The new Twenty … Turner, ship and that sun