Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Hasta la Vista!

Just a quick reflection as Colonel Gadaffi says "Hasta la vista!" and goes the way of Batista: until a few months before he started making his way - well maybe down here, come to think of it - he had been a valued customer of British arms' dealers and (surprise, surprise, folks!) he used the arms to crush the early stages of rebellion against his dictatorship. Now Britain (according to the provincial croak of the man Maggie Thatcher called "Little Willy" Hague), is firmly behind the calls for the Colonel to be tried for crimes against humanity. Maybe, those who sold (or, Little Willy, authorized the sale), to this nutter of these arms should be called to account as accessories; after all, if you knowingly hand a madman an axe, you would normally be held to be responsible for the shambles that follows.

Overall, modern Britain, you make me sicker all the time to think of what you once were.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Some Favourite Meals

I have been recalling and producing, for home consumption, some of my favourite meals from my childhood. One of these is a simple beef casserole with a mixture of mashed potato and mashed carrot and is something that my paternal grandmother used to make for me, as an especial favourite. However, just as people' houses always have their distinctive individual scents, I can never make this dish exactly as my grandmother made it and I am not entirely sure that I want to.

Other meals such as the big breakfast cannot even come close: there are all the components except hog's pudding which, so far as I know, is a peculiarly Cornish speciality (about the same dimensions as black pudding, which I detest) and absolutely delicious sliced into thick slices and fried on each side. Without this component the Brazilian Big Breakfast is wanting and I have just given myself a great yearning for something that I have traded in for a place in the sun. At least we certainly have that here today, whereas Cornwall, I hear, is cold and damp...

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Style Icon LXIV: Muhammed Ali

In a portrait by Karsh: "Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee!"

True Style

From a 1939 advertisement.

Jesus Christ and Buddha are two famous proponents of True Style, which needs to be beneficently directed outwards, and neither was a clothes-horse or a 'performer'. Anybody with enough cash can be well clothed; being well dressed is something more but being well dressed is never more than a slight clue to the style within. Even as a slight clue it is an uncertain one at that because a well dressed man might just be a popinjay or a dissembler or even totally obnoxious and there are many brilliant and good-hearted scruffs. Moreover, I dare say that Lucifer himself is resplendent in a purple satin-lined opera cloak and Lincoln Bennett opera hat; at least, he was the last time he dropped by.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Pygmalion 1938

The 1964 musical film of My Fair Lady, starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, is the first cinematic production of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion that springs to most minds but the 1938 film, directed by Anthony Asquith, and starring Leslie Howard and the great Wendy Hiller (as a superb Liza Doolittle, with all the authenticity of a proper little cockney sparrah) and Wilfred Lawson, miraculous as  Alfred P Doolittle, is a tremendous film adaptation and should be shown more often. Today's picture is of Howard and Hiller in a still from the film.

Friday, 19 August 2011

It is a Question of Degree

Surely the greatest examples of true style are to be found in such as Buddha and Jesus Christ. The essence of their message seems to me to be self-denial, even self-abnegation; certainly the practice of putting the interests of others first; of perceiving need and meeting it quietly and, preferably, anonymously. We know nothing (so far as I know) about the clothes makers for Buddha and Jesus Christ but I dare say that they were, for their times, conventionally and neatly turned out. Being well dressed is no certain indicator of the possession of true, deep style and I have the feeling that Lucifer is better dressed than any Archangels left standing up above. Many of the best people that I know are incredibly scruffy, because clothes just hold no interest for them. I am rather on their side than the side of those who think that we should dress as an end in itself and flash our clothes and watches and wallets and so forth about in an attempt to impress others with our so-called 'style', which is really bumptiousness: there is too much bumptiousness in this world and far too many clowns and bullies controlling mankind: 'Colonel' Gadaffi is only one of the bullies. There are plenty of others; as indeed there are plenty of clowns: starting with the leaders of the current British government, and that nasty little twister Berlusconi.

It seems to me that the world has lost its way, along with its faith in any Creator and too often substitutes an 'appreciation' of the faux style peddled by  miserable, pig-ignorant 'celebrities' for an appreciation of true style.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Connie Francis

When I was a student, sometimes we used to stand on the benches, after dinner, and sing Strangers in The Night. For a long time, I thought that Frank Sinatra gave the world the best rendering of this song. Then I heard Nancy Sinatra's rendering - and realized that I was wrong. However, recently, I heard Connie Francis, singing it in Spanish, and realized that I was wrong twice. Please listen and revel in it. It's on YouTube but I cannot create a link, for some reason.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Aftermath of The Riots And A Sign of The Times

A friend has sent me the news that, out of a street of shops in a riot zone: a one hundred year old business (unspecified) was burned out; the sports' goods, electronic and mobile 'phone shops were looted and the bookshops were left untouched. Maybe the looters did not know what the books were for and, rather than court a possible clash with the supernatural, the rioters left them well alone. Ah! Baroness Thatcher; Messrs Major, Blair and Broom; Cameron and What'syername: what a miserable mess you have generated, you morons.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The UK is Disintegrating

In the wake of the economic crisis and the de facto bankruptcy of several banks (as well as the continuing appalling running of banks such as the Royal Bank of Scotland), and against a background of hidden but festering resentments, arising from class and race, the actual meltdown of the UK begins with uncontrollable violence and looting. Economically, morally and socially it is finished and a pair of wets such as Cameron and Clegg are not, after all, made of the stuff to make a difference.

'Ye Olde Blighty' is probably about to join "The Glory that was Greece; the Grandeur that was Rome."

Monday, 8 August 2011

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Why Brasil

There are several reasons for being in Brasil: first, it is at a fairly happy stage that the UK seemed to be in when I was a child: when there was still thoughtful conservation of the countryside and historic buildings, and no heedless 'town planning'; there were still individual businesses with the personal touch, before the 'supermarket' giants sprang up from their dung heaps (along with all the 'celebrities'); secondly, the weather (getting a tan off the mid-winter sun); all the space, filled with natural beauty; the gathering prosperity (the GB£ and US$ have halved in value against the Br$R in five years), and not having to watch 'up close and personal' the disintegration of a civilization and a way of life - Gone With The Wind Without The War (without much of a struggle really): morally, socially and economically. "The falcon cannot hear the falconer".

The trouble is that, from as far away as this, it actually seems clearer to me than to my cocooned friends back there what is going on as the Ye Olde England joins the "Glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome".

It has been noted many times that Brasil involves a learning curve but this is not the place to go in to all that. Let's just say that "This is Brasil" covers every unusual occurrence. But I love it here.

Friday, 5 August 2011

New & Lingwood Silk Jim-Jams

A friend just sent me this shot of a pair of woven silk jim-jams that he bought from New & Lingwood. Needless to say, they would be too hot for Brazil, which is hot enough as it is and wearing anything at all at night would demonstrate a case of sunstroke. Still, they are splendid looking jim-jams.

Hedy's Houdini Escape

Originally, there were four kittens: two toms and two she-cats. Now (despite the low kitten survival rate) there are, well, several cats but only one of the Big Four is left: Hedy, so-called because she was the prettiest of the Big Four and also extremely clever. Just how clever has been demonstrated in the last twenty four hours. For various reasons, I wanted to keep the cats from straying from the grounds at the back of the house. Accordingly, I identified two points of egress over the high walls. The first was a low-hanging lightweight roof on beams over the water pump house and the second was the low roof of the gas-cylinder house against a main wall. So I spent yesterday removing the lowest part of the water pump house roof and raising the roof on the gas cylinder house. At dusk, when the bigger cats wake up from their sun-soaked slumbers, and start to run amok, I watched and waited from inside the house. For an hour or so no cats appeared in the usual places and I began vainglorously to wallow in having stymied them all. Then Hedy appeared outside the doors on the lower back verandah (which is at first floor level). I still have not worked out how she managed it. She stayed in the house last night and I let her out to be fed with the rest this morning. A few minutes after that she appeared at the front of the house and the picture shows her, just after I let her in again, sitting on my shoulder. Once more, quite how she managed this different feat, when none of the others can defeat my ploys is beyond me.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Style Icon LXIII: Maurice Chevalier

Maurice Auguste Chevalier (in the 'still' from Love Me Tonight (1932), with Jeanette MacDonald, 1888-1972 was a popular French star of stage and screen on both sides of the Atlantic. Born into obscurity and poverty, his career stretched from the beginning of film and ended with his final screen performance, singing the title song for The Aristocats  (1970). In between, he delighted audiences with performances in musicals as diverse as The Merry Widow (1934) and, of course, the modern classic musical Gigi, with Hermione Gingold; Leslie Caron; Louis Jordan, and Eva Gabor (1958); from which, amongst others, we remember Thank Heaven For Little Girls; I'm So Glad That I'm Not Young Anymore, and I Remember It Well. Chevalier was the recipient of a special Honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Bangles: Thought For The Day

I have noticed a modern trend towards men, outside the tribal unit (where, I daresay, they have actual significance), wearing bangles on their arms. Even the Duke of Cambridge (who avoids jewellery to the extent of refusing a wedding ring) seems to sport the things; as do a couple of popular 'style gurus'. Frankly, I do not like them and regard them as a sign of the decadent times in which we live. Moreover, there is a clanger of a mismatch between either a city or a sporting suit and such items, which suggests that the spirit of subversion lurks in the wearer's breast.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The definition of 'Town', relevant to the custom of "No Brown In Town"

Someone asked me about this and I think that 'town' in this context means the City and the West End of London (and the centres of the world's other capital cities which have fallen under British influence), excepting the parks. Rus in urbe , such as tweeds and brogues, is a better option in 'town' than jeans and trainers (sneakers) but, despite the opinions of the modern trend-setters, I generally stand by the old custom of 'No Brown In Town': Touché!