Monday, 30 July 2018

Let's exchange the experience, oh

"I think we all feel geeky at times, don't we? Isn't that all a part of the wonderful tapestry of life?"

"I think musicians have a responsibility to try and do something that is good. It's so hard. It's very difficult to pull something out of the hat creatively. Although I say it’s their responsibility, it's really just people trying to do the best that they can."

"I do think I go out of my way to be a very normal person and I just find it frustrating that people think that I'm some kind of weirdo reclusive that never comes out into the world. Y'know, I'm a very strong person and I think that's why actually I find it really infuriating when I read, 'She had a nervous breakdown' or 'She's not very mentally stable, just a weak, frail little creature'."

"I'm really very happy if people can connect at all to anything I do. I don't really mind if people mishear lyrics or misunderstand what the story is. I think that's what you have to let go of when you send it out in the world. I'm sure with a lot of paintings, people don't understand what the painter originally meant, and I don't really think that matters. I just think if you feel something, that's really the ideal goal. If that happens, then I'm really happy."

"Why are celebrities so important to people? It's absolute crap. I mean, the important people are surgeons and doctors and people actually put people back together and make a difference to people's lives. Not somebody who's in an ad on telly. I mean, okay, so that's valid for what it is, too. But why so much attention on something that's so shallow?"

“I don’t think plants mind being eaten, actually. I think they’d be really sad if no one paid that much attention to them.”

"I think quotes are very dangerous things."

Many happy returns to our Patron Saint of Kookiness, Miss Kate Bush herself - who blows out sixty candles on her cake today...

One of the most influential artists, ever, her unique style is often imitated [we're looking at you, Tori Amos, Florence and the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds and Imogen Heap et al], but never, ever bettered!

We adore her.

Catherine "Kate" Bush CBE (born 30th July 1958)

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Grosgrain is so dull

Feeling under-dressed?
A man, especially a young man, may be able to do without a morning coat, but he needs a dinner jacket (even if he never owns a tail coat). Here is a suit that should do duty for five years if it is well chosen, of good quality, from a good men's shop, if ready-made, or carefully tailored by a recognized tailor. Unless a man can afford two or more dinner jackets, he should stick to the conservative black, for if he appears in it time and time again, no one knows but what he may have two or a dozen like it. If he chooses his one tuxedo in the newer midnight blue, it would seem inconceivable to the observant eye that he had two such alike. And there are occasions on which he might feel slightly conspicuous in the slightly less formal blue. As for dark red or other colours in dinner jackets which may have seasonal popularity, it's better to shun them unless he has an extensive evening wardrobe...

...The vest [note to people who speak The Queen's English: read "waistcoat"] usually matches the suit but may also be of white pique, marseilles (or marcella), or black or midnight blue silk, ribbed or figured. Small braid matching that on the trousers may trim the vest in a custom-made suit. It is fastened with self-covered or smoked pearl buttons, not links. The vest is always dispensed with with a cummerbund (silk, rib-hugging sash which hides the top of the trousers), but this somewhat dashing accessory is no asset to a gentleman of expanded girth. The cummerbund is now best worn in black, maroon, or midnight blue. The cummerbund is particularly attractive, and certainly more comfortable, in summer and may be topped by a summer dinner jacket in white, with or without lapels or shawl collar in the same fabric. Or, if a man's figure can stand it, a white linen mess jacket, but this has come to be considered theatrical.

Dinner jacket lapels may be more peaked than those of business suits but should avoid eccentricity. A shawl or a notched collar, considered more casual, is preferred by some, and the facing of either type may be satin, grosgrain, or of the same fabric if the jacket is white.

The lines of a dinner jacket should be about the same as those of an easy, comfortable business suit. Avoid the too-fitted waist and the too-narrow Latin-style trousers as well as the absurdly built-out shoulders, although some padding is advisable for most men...

...Like the dinner jacket, the tail coat may today be black or the deep midnight blue which reputedly looks blacker than black at night. The trousers worn with it may be the same as those for the dinner jacket, for economy's sake, or have the somewhat wider, finer braid usual for full dress. The lapels are satin or grosgrain (of course grosgrain is so dull that one might almost as well wear a dark blue or black sack coat), always conservatively peaked and never the shawl collar sometimes seen on dinner jackets. If he can possibly afford it, a man should have his tail coat made to order, unless he is of average proportions, because it is almost impossible to alter a ready-made tail coat so that it fits as if it were made for him. A man somewhat under average height may shun the tail coat, because he feels it makes him look shorter. Yet if the tails are proportioned to his height by an expert tailor the suit can seem to give him several inches in height. A ready-made tail coat or a rented one for such a man can make him look like a small boy masquerading in his father's clothes. But, tailored to fit, "white tie" can give any man a special dignity and distinction as do no other clothes...

...Gloves worn on the street are white doe-skin or chamois. Today the white kid gloves, ultra-correct for indoor wear with formal clothes, are seldom seen, although some fastidious men don them for dancing, to avoid having to place a moist hand on a woman's bare back. Actually, a man's white kid gloves worn this way are not removed even when he is acknowledging introductions or having supper...

[and, finally] ...If you don't own a black silk hat or an opera hat, don't wear tails at all.
Essential tips for the modern man, courtesy of Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette - a Guide to Gracious Living (1952).

Amy Osborne Vanderbilt (22nd July 1908 – 27th December 1974)

Friday, 13 July 2018

Spectacular, spectacular

The BBC Proms Season opens today! From the Daily Express:
[The Proms this year includes] some of the world’s greatest musicians performing a diverse range of scores – from Bach to Bernstein to Jules Buckley.

One of the major themes will be events that occurred 100 years ago, including women’s right to vote, the end of the First World War, the death of Claude Debussy and the birth of Leonard Bernstein, one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century.

And as BBC Young Musician celebrates its 40th birthday, the first ever Young Musician Prom will take place, a gala concert bringing together more than 20 of the competition’s alumni.
As every year, the sheer scale and range of musical delights on offer over the next eight weeks is impressive - however we have yet to decide whether we'll be going to any of them except (inevitably) the season-closer Proms in the Park in September. Also impressive is the spectacular "curtain-raiser" taking place tonight at the Royal Albert Hall...

A Prom-by-Prom guide is (of course) available on the BBC website - and every one will be featured on Radio 3.

However, the ArtsDesk website asked a few "classical music insiders" to name their choices - and you can read them here.

Gawd bless the BBC...

Friday, 6 July 2018

It's a mixer, Pats

This "Gay Xmas Eve", we must pay due tribute to one of the most influential of all British comedy performers and screenwriters, Miss Jennifer Saunders, who is sixty years old today!

Alongside the dearly departed Victoria Wood, "Our Jen" - whether in partnership with the wonderful Dawn French, the eternal Joanna Lumley, or whoever - has provided much of the quotable material that enriches our daily lives, such as:
  • "We ARE those Lucky Bitches."
  • "It's LaCroix, sweetie!"
  • "You can have a Hubneub. That's Swedish for Hobnob."
  • "It's a mixer, Pats, we have it with whisky."
  • "Dry clean a t-shirt, I couldn't believe it - I should be dry cleaning her knickers next time."
  • "What did the Krankies say to you? They said 'Fan-daby-dozy'."
  • "Gorgeous, tasteful, little stylish little gorgeous things!"
  • "Are you going to do the accent at all?"
  • “The last mosquito that bit me had to book into the Betty Ford Clinic.”
  • "Your mother sucks jelly babies in hell!"
...and so on...

We adore her.

Happy birthday, Jennifer Jane Saunders (born 6th July 1958)

Monday, 2 July 2018

Phallic benevolence

This being Gay Pride week, I thought I would revisit a subject most dear to our - ahem - hearts: the phallus. And more specifically, how the cock became so fascinating to us all...

The English word "fascinate" ultimately derives from Latin fascinum and the related verb fascinare, "to use the power of the fascinus", that is, "to practice magic" and hence "to enchant, bewitch".

From The Making of History blog:
Fascinus was a minor deity in Ancient Rome. In fact he was not so much a god as part of one - a disembodied penis and scrotum, roaming free and touching lives with his phallic benevolence. This virile member of the pantheon was popular from approximately 753 BC - 100 AD. Roman men, women, and especially children wore Fascinus charms to protect themselves from the ‘evil eye’ and dark magic. When a Roman general celebrated a triumph, Vestal Virgins would hang a charm under his chariot to shield him from the envy of his peers and enemies.

Fascinus charms (called fascinum) were often made of wood or metal, showing an erect penis and scrotum with miniature wings, a penile tail, or, in the more subtle models, a second penis between little penis-shaped feet. Images of Fascinus have been found in wind chimes, jewellery, and art throughout the former Roman Empire.
And from Wikipedia:
The "fist and phallus" amulet was prevalent amongst soldiers. These are phallic pendants with a representation of a (usually) clenched fist at the bottom of the shaft, facing away from the glans. Several examples show the fist making the manus fica or "fig sign", a symbol of good luck.
I, too, have always worshipped Fascinus...