I’ll miss House of Cards. I was committed to Frank Underwood

The controversy surrounding Kevin Spacey raises the question of where we draw the line between art and artist

News that the political TV drama House of Cards has been axed has come in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against Kevin Spacey – which raises the question of whether you can make a distinction between the artist and the art.

I’ve been a big fan of the show since its inception, and one of the great attractions has been the complex protagonist, Frank Underwood, played by Spacey. How far was Frank willing to go? As an examination of the dark side of power, of manipulation, cynicism and ruthlessness in the pursuit of political gain, it has had few equals. However, with Hollywood in general, and now Spacey himself, consumed by allegations, that subject matter takes on a grim resonance.

The question of where any viewer – or reader, for that matter – draws the line between something they like and the creator, whom they don’t, is a difficult one. If you commit to a character, as I have with Underwood, it can be very difficult to part company with him, no matter what an actor is accused of. And, of course, now the temptation for us fans of House of Cards will be to start looking for subtext about the creation of the character from Spacey’s own life.

As things currently stand, I’ll be giving any future episodes a miss. But I will still want to know how things turn out for Frank.

Woof justice

Collared … a council has reduced the limit on dogs walked per person in local parks.
Collared … a council has reduced the limit on dogs walked per person in local parks. Photograph: Getty Images/Hero Images

As every politician knows, there are certain subjects it’s wise to avoid if you’re hoping for a quiet weekend at home with the family. And there’s one in particular that is beyond toxic. Unfortunately for councillors in South Ribble, Lancashire, they didn’t seem to realise that you tangle with dog owners at your own risk.

This Conservative council has decided to reduce the number of dogs allowed per person in local parks from six to four. Councillor Graham Walton said it was to lessen the risk of walkers losing control of their dogs: “We thought it was far safer for children on parks and open spaces, and also the senior members of our community.”

However, the online petition protesting against this canophobic prejudice targeting a vulnerable minority has reached nearly 2,000. We can probably expect party splits and deselections to follow.

It has often been commented that some British people seem to care more about their pets than they do about their children. Perhaps this is where the councillors went wrong. If they had restricted the number of children to four and insisted they were kept on leads at all times, would anyone have batted an eyelid?

It’s all on tap

A few tasty taps will work wonders for your house.
A few tasty taps will work wonders for your house. Photograph: Jenny Dettrick/Getty Images

I had a problem at home with an outside loo that was in danger of collapse, and a kitchen that may well have fallen foul of health and safety. So I brought in a builder friend to sort it out. When it came to choosing a cheap tap for my new inside loo, my guy found me a cheap version of one of those waterfall-style basin features from a market trader.

No doubt it’s very nice, but I take the view that one tap is much the same as another. It seems I was wrong. None of the visitors I’ve had since the work was done has shown much interest in my new kitchen, but this tap has become an endless focus of discussion and debate. The other night, one of my guests ended up photographing it and asking how she could track one down.

So I have some advice for any homeowner looking to boost the appeal of their property: forget about spending tens of thousands on a new kitchen, an extension or a loft conversion. Just stick a few flashy faucets around your home and you will have hordes of admirers queuing down the street.

Contributor

Dreda Say Mitchell

The GuardianTramp

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