Who on Earth is Justin Gatlin? Most wouldn’t have the vaguest idea. It’s a misfortune more associated with timing than talent. For Mr. Gatlin is a very fleet American sprinter toiling under the immense shadow of Jamaica’s Usain Bolt. Living up to his sobriquet of Lightning Bolt, the Jamaican hare owns practically every sprinting record and championship. He is unanimously regarded as the fastest man who has ever lived. It’s all a shame, because Mr. Gatlin is very fast indeed. Yet by puckish chance his career trajectory paralleled that of the greatest, thus casting him into forlorn obscurity.
This must be how Britain so often feels. A country of tremendous native skill and the determination to see it actualized in performance. A people of single-minded dedication to reach the tape faster than any before them. A people with a singular goal: extinction. And though the track melts at their rapid embrace of every immigrant, anti-white whimsy, and liberal lunacy, there is always before them…The Prodigy. Faster, and even more oblivious and fanatical…just a hair’s breadth closer to the finished line. That incomparable national prodigy is, of course, Sweden.
But sometimes fates fortuitously align. A wind shifts, a sound distracts, a stride slips imperceptibly. And when the slightest opening is revealed, those with fortitude make history. Because in one immaculate race, on June 6, 2013, Justin Gatlin outran Usain Bolt in the 100m sprint, winning by 1/100th of a second. For that exquisite moment, he was the fastest man in the world.
And whether this is Britain’s Justin Gatlin moment, or merely an exhausted burst behind Sweden’s vapor trail, we should acknowledge the worthiness of their effort. I give you A Real Birmingham Family.
Six years ago she created a statue of a ‘typical family’ showing a mother, father and two children. That was in Italy. Asked to do something similar in Britain, however, Gillian Wearing has come up with a sculpture which many may feel is far from typical. Her £100,000 work representing what it means to be an ‘ordinary’ family in 2014 is of two single mothers and their children.
Sisters Roma and Emma Jones and their sons Kyan and Shaye were chosen from 372 nominations to be the subjects of A Real Birmingham Family. The bronze sculpture by the Turner Prize winner shows the four of them hand-in-hand and Emma heavily pregnant with her second son, Isaac, now eight months old.
But the absence of any adult male or father figure has drawn criticism.
The mixed race sisters, who live separately, have not revealed details of their family set-up, leaving many to ask why the fathers aren’t included in the piece. Birmingham Yardley MP John Hemming said: ‘There’s absolutely nothing wrong with single parent families but I always find it sad when fathers are not involved in the lives of their children.’ The Lib Dem also questioned why public money was spent on such a controversial sculpture. ‘When the council can’t afford to clear up the rubbish on the streets, £100,000 is not peanuts,’ he said.
Craig Pickering, of the charity Families Need Fathers, said: ‘Everybody knows that families can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but this interpretation of a family seems most bizarre. It is factually inaccurate and totally out of step. ‘Children do better when they have both their mother and their father playing an active role in their lives.’
Dr Patricia Morgan, a leading researcher on family policy, said the artist’s decision to portray a fatherless family was ‘a disgrace’. ‘We should know whether or not there’s a man involved here,’ she said. ‘Is he taking responsibility, living with them, or not? These are things the viewer needs to know. ‘They are putting this up as some kind of ideal which people have to be like or have to evolve in this direction, but it represents under 1 per cent of the population.’
The sisters say the sculpture will help other families with unusual set-ups feel welcome in Birmingham.
A neighbor, who also declined to be identified, said: ‘The sisters both seem to be devoted parents raising happy and well-rounded children. But Birmingham has tried hard in recent years to position itself in a positive light and this statue sends the wrong message. This is the UK’s second city, and while it is diverse, I don’t know of any modern family made up of two single mothers who are also sisters.’
Miss Wearing, who won the Turner Prize in 1997 and is the partner of artist Michael Landy, said: ‘A nuclear family is one reality but it is one of many and this work celebrates the idea that what constitutes a family should not be fixed.’
Two indiscernible mixed race welfare mothers and their fatherless offspring: the face of the new British family. With both humans and statuary financed for display by the heavily taxed legacy population. Surely this is the sort of anti-western social grotesquery that must make Swedes squirm with envy. How did such an elegant solution escape their notice? No matter, sometimes it is only through viable challenge that greatness surges into timelessness. And that is what is expected from prodigal Sweden now. A gesture of timeless self-eradication. Not just inviting in the population of Syria, or hosting Barbara Spectre, or subsidizing the Horn of Africa in Stockholm. No. Something that will etch into history their incomparable determination to have no future.
Britain has spoken. And now a world turns its eyes to the champion. Sweden, we await.