Archive for April, 2009

It’s fair to say that my sartorial disposition is toward the “classic” (by which I mean that I can make Alan Bennett look avant garde and edgy; or Jonathan Miller dangerously subversive) – with the exception of one magic garment: The Coat of Spontaneous Youth. This is a coat that I tried on (against my better judgement) and was about to return to its retail resting place when Wife spoke up in its defence – “But it’s got a hood!”, I said. “It’s the hood that makes it.” she informed me – and I am inclined to trust her, she does have (with the obvious exception of one or two howlers) absolutely terrific taste. So I bought it, and as it was being slipped into its garment bag, Wife opined “It makes you look younger”, ushering in its new name: The Coat of Spontaneous Youth. I love it – my sole regret being that as the (hum hum) warmer months approach, I shall be less able to call on its age-defying properties as often as I would like.

But then, my eye was caught by a challenger: a Spring/Summer alternative to The Coat of Spontaneous Youth, if you like – and that was The Jacket of Instant Rejuvenation. Simply presented on the page of some magazine or other, there it was modest and classic enough to be within my area of expectation (single breasted, pin-striped, working cuff buttons), but challenging enough to hold my interest and toy with my imagination (unstructured! cotton! heavy of seam!). I was hooked.

So I went ahead and bought the fucking thing (I should add now the shameful suffix “over the Internet”) – and as soon as I saw it some days later I thought “Shitly shit. It’s absolutely horrible.” What had, on the page, looked like a dark navy with a thin grey pinstripe was, in fact, mid blue with a double cream pinstripe. What had appeared to be a lightly tailored shape was, in fact, a sack. I tried it on, thinking that perhaps my dark good looks and imposing height would transform it into a garment of wonder – and it was then that I discovered the worst of it: it was NOT The Jacket of Instant Rejuvenation. It was The Jacket of Immediate Senility. The only person who’d have been glad of that jacket was Benjamin Button at the end of his life, as it would surely have arrested the reverse ageing process and added a much-needed twenty years to his tally.

Wife didn’t help me to revise my opinion of it (her objection to it being that it made me look like a reject from Duran Duran), particularly when she sent Daughter into the room where I was trying the fucking thing on to trill out a just rehearsed burst of “Her name is Rio, and she dances on the sand…”.

Oh well. I am going to offer it to Uncle Who Is Often Mistaken For Sean Connery, who is in his seventies and is unlikely to be affected by its ageing powers. Otherwise, I am going to cut it up and burn it.

Read Full Post »

Wife has come to the opinion that the defining location in humans’ lives is the school playground: there is simply too much “adult” behaviour that confirms her in this belief for her to consider otherwise (she has recently been subjected to the oddest bout of “I want you to be my friend, not hers” and “I get very jealous of other people being friends with you”). I hope that this isn’t going to end up with the introduction of a strawberry-embroidered handkerchief and some fatal stabbing, obviously, but it does seem that some juvenile jealousy is making her life as a friend to one and all (or rather, to those whom she hasn’t dismissed as “absolute cunts”) a little tougher.

I, meanwhile, am facing playground antics of my own: probably the best of these is the fact that after our latest spat (recorded in uneven fury below, somewhere), Woody Allen in Robert de Niro’s Body Creative Director “defriended” me on Facebook. I am yet to experience him actually nicking my lunch money, or getting the big boys to flush my head down the loo, but I daresay I can look forward to it. Can you believe it? It’s the forty year-olds’ version of “I’m not going to be friends with you any more”: a silent, stealthy – but mighty – click of a mouse, and it’s all over.

Well, it probably is now: because the latest exhibition of self-indulgent, 1980s-style wank from his department finally got the better of me and I sent out an e-mail detailing exactly how and why I was so aggrieved. In retrospect, it was probably not the wisest thing that I could have done – but I don’t think that wisdom is really in my DNA: I meant it, and at the time it felt entirely justified. It was, however, a brutal piece of communication – not shrinking from detailing what I saw as faults, failures and indulgences in CAPITAL LETTERS, and with a FUCKLOAD OF SWEARING.

Quite where we go from here, I don’t know. It’s not like he can block me on Twitter (as I am yet to see the appeal of: “Stuck on a bus. Tcch!”), so maybe we’ll go aggressively old skool and have a duel with pistols.

Read Full Post »

Is it weird to come to an author through minute quotations from his work, I wonder?

I have just committed myself (financially, not actually to starting them…yet) to The Complete Works of G.K.Chesterton, a manly thirty seven volumes, in spite of the fact that I have read about thirty words of his up to now.

The reason for this is simple: two unrelated sentences : “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing – they believe in anything.”, and the second is a professional mantra for me (rather than a slap-in-the-face piece of brilliance): “It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.”

He’s fabulously unfashionable now, of course – and I daresay that’s another thing (in my slightly perverse way) that makes me want to read him – and the truth is that I didn’t know where to start (would the Father Brown stories be too syrupy? Would Orthodoxy be too alienating a point at which to begin this relationship?): so rather than tackle the issue head on, I have delayed it, so that I have to wait until the books are delivered to choose my jumping off point.

I’ve done this before, a long time ago, with F. Scott Fitzgerald and (even earlier) with Evelyn Waugh – and that all ended very happily. In those instances, it wasn’t quotations taken out of context that led me to want to explore the work: it was the cover of  “The Beautiful and The Damned”, and the sight of my father crying with laughter over “The Loved One”, in fact – but they’re both pleasingly trivial entrees into pleasingly major sources of pleasure.

I am sure that after prolonged exposure to Chesterton (although I don’t plan to follow the path of one friend who reads authors in their entirety, to the exclusion of all others, chronologically and then moves on to letters and autobiography) I will be looking for a little bit of secularism – even atheism: but I have had enough of that for the moment, and am looking forward to a paddle in Lake Faith.

Read Full Post »

LA Fitness are a bunch of crooks.

I joined the branch near work a couple of years ago – and even went once or twice. However, it was clear that it wasn’t working, because after about a fortnight I didn’t have the cut look popularised by the movie “300”, and so I stopped going. Anyway: I’ve decided to move my custom to the gym at the end of the road (as they will clearly give me the torso of Hugh Jackman in three weeks), and so I instructed the bank to cancel my standing order, which they did…

So I was a little miffed to receive one of those slightly threatening calls from a company chasing me for payment of three months’ fees, which I apparently owed them as “notice”. Notice of what, exactly, I wondered? Given that I hadn’t set foot in the place for a good year, this seemed a little bit rich – so I thought I would get out here into the virtual world and expose them for the bunch of money-grabbing little turds that they so obviously are.

Pip pip.

Read Full Post »

Madame de Sade

My parents went to see Mishima’s “Madame de Sade” last night, and I (who am going to see it in a few weeks’ time with Me as a Protestant and his wife) was keen to see what they thought.

Well, I don’t think Kenneth Tynan needs to worry that his reputation as the king of drama criticism is under threat; my father’s response to my enquiry was: “It was over by quarter past nine – and not nearly as turgid as the critics had led us to believe.” He’s not an effusive man.

Read Full Post »

I Wonder About Glasses

As I walked home yesterday, I saw an Estate Agent’s board displayed in the front garden of one of the houses ahead of me, very near to our own.

As I drew nearer, my heart started thumping: the board was in OUR front garden – and the sign on it said “Auction of Premises”. Dear God, I thought – things are worse than I thought: Wife has put the house up for auction without telling me!

It was only when I drew very close that I was able to read that on this Estate Agent’s sign, there was an advertisement for an event at our children’s school (and for every sign advertising said agent that parents consent to being displayed, the school gets fifty shiny new English pounds), the event being an “Auction of Promises”. This is the same event which (a couple of years ago now) resulted in my bidding for someone to do my tax return (and he did it beautifully, I must say), so maybe I should have remembered the event a little more clearly. I got quite a scare, but the relief at discovering that Wife hadn’t decided to sell the house without consultation was an equivalent delight, reminding me to be grateful for what I have.

Read Full Post »

I had lunch with Hilarious Researcher recently, and she (who is married to an actor, and who likes theatre) and I (who am married to a woman who does not like theatre at all) were discussing what it is to travel across London to see something truly execrable.

There is nothing worse than Terrible Theatre: nothing to make one conclude that this is an outmoded form, populated by self-indulgent actors whose understanding and experience of human nature seems as remote as our general understanding of alien life forms. I have recorded the unspeakable horror of Gary Wilmot as Bottom in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and the (usually immaculate) Fiona Shaw’s ghastly folie d’amour in “The Powerbook” – but Hilarious Researcher was reminding me of another type of theatre: the type where one knows a member of the cast, and is thus performing every bit as hard and carefully as the paid performers. I haven’t been to this sort of show for a while, but I do remember at University (and for a number of years afterwards) turning up at “spaces” to stand (always) with a handful of other “friends of the cast” (invariably) to see someone one had spent too many earnest evenings with in the past, stand at a microphone in a tight spotlight, clad in a leotard, intoning “I am vagina” over and over before covering themselves in four pints of milk, assuming a foetal position and sobbing, as we wait for the pitilessly long and final fade of the light to release us all.

It seems that Hilarious Researcher has not been so lucky: her husband’s profession means that they are still finding themselves in strip-lit church halls with leotard-clad performers a little too often for her liking. Maybe it’s because I have been on the other side of the divide often enough (either as performer – although I always drew the line at the leotard, but was less resistant to the “basic black – a WORKING ACTOR” look, which is equally morally awful, if less anatomically repellent – or as director or designer) that I am ready to forgive bad theatre a little more readily than most others would. I know that it is, to some extent, a numbers game: because there is no financial barrier at all to a group of people performing a piece of theatre, it is bound to be prolific in a way that film isn’t (although there are lots of developments that mean the gap is narrowing, though still significant) and so that means that there is an awful lot of bad theatre knocking about. But when it is good (Shaw’s “Hedda Gabler”, “Electra”, “Medea”, “Happy Days”; Ian Holm’s “King Lear”; Simon Russell Beale’s “Hamlet”, Paul Schofield, Eileen Atkins and Vanessa Redgrave in “John Gabriel Borkman”; Judi Dench in “Amy’s View”, Judi Dench and Antony Hopkins in “Antony and Cleopatra”) there is nothing to compare with its thrill – and it stays with you undimmed forever.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »