Kidneys! Kidneys! Get your kidneys here!

I’m fascinated by this story—that the British government is considering changing organ donation to an opt-out system. So the surgeons would be able to presume consent unless the patient had specifically asked that his organs not be used.

I think it’s such an interesting ethical question. In some ways it would so clearly be a good thing: having organs which could save someone’s life and not using them just seems criminally wasteful. But I don’t think you have to be a full-blown libertarian to feel uncomfortable with the government giving itself the right to treat the bodies of its citizens as a resource to be harvested.

Anyway, at least having the story in the news made me finally get round to registering as an organ donor, something I’ve vaguely been intending to do for years. So even if the law doesn’t change, they can have any squidgy inside bits they have a use for.

Millais at the Tate

I went to see the Millais at the Tate today. After my scathing comments about the Pre-Raphs last year, it may not surprise you that I was a bit half-hearted about visiting this. But I’ve got a Tate membership, so I didn’t have to pay, and the exhibition is about to close; so I thought I’d check it out.

Because it’s the last weekend the exhibition was absolutely heaving with people, which didn’t help, but I tried to give Millais a fair go and see if I could find things to like about his work. And… well, there were some nice paintings there, but he’s not suddenly my favourite painter. He left the Pre-Raphaelitism behind fairly quickly; his painting style loosened up a bit and his subject matter changed first to more contemporary subjects and then to less literal-minded story-telling—both shifts in the right direction—but he never seemed to quite lose the narrative instinct. He couldn’t just paint a picture of a woman in chair, it had to have some story implied: she’s holding a black-bordered envelope and she’s wearing mourning, or whatever.

portrait of Louise Jopling by Millais

So I rather liked the room of portraits, like this one of Louise Jopling, because if you just stopped him from trying to tell a story for five minutes he was a pretty good painter. I’m not quite sure whether there was actually anything wrong with his narrative paintings or if I’m just prejudiced against the whole genre, but I found them stiff and heavy-handed.

As ever, the Tate have put together a really comprehensive website for the exhibition with loads of pictures online, so judge for yourself.