One night in November 1993, I went to the Oxford Union to hear Toby Young of the Modern Review oppose the motion that ‘High Culture’ was superior to ‘Popular Culture’. Bryan Appleyard, Norman Stone, Mariella Frostrup and Rob Newman were among the luminaries who spoke.
The Oxford Union’s bust-ridden debating chamber is certainly the place to go if you want to see alabaster-brained twits practicing up to be prime minister. Last Thursday, however, there was an extra attraction, for the Modern Review was down to extract yet more publicity from the antiquated mid-century conundrum its editors have relaunched as the ‘pop-posh’ contest. They had come to contest the motion that ‘This House believes that High Culture is Superior to Popular Culture’. And, of course, they had brought a fashion show with them: Modern Review tea shirts, Freudian slippers, and underpants fitted with ‘ironic’ quotation marks were briefly paraded in a freezing tent…
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