Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Swinging The Lead

I am swinging the lead (as described in an earlier post) and just let you have this so far today:


Monday, 26 December 2011

In The Mood

I don't know why but I just thought of this scene in The Glenn Miller Story (1953) starring James Stewart and June Allyson:


Christmas Spirit

I have to say that (apart from the golden period of childhood up to the age of about six), with its months of expectation, commercialism and frenetic scrummage, I have nearly always found the traditional British approach to Christmas something of a disappointment and a depressing anti-climax; especially when the summer holiday adverts on the TV start before the last mouthful of pudding has gone down. I have also come to detest the thought of cold weather; the rain here is relentless at the moment and the summer is a kind of rainy season but at least it's warm rain.

Summer on the beach always struck me as an odd phenomenon but now it just seems 'normal'; not that we actually go on the beach much; maybe because we are always, but for the road, within reach and sight of the beach. However, I guess emigrants question things that they used to take for granted and challenge the received wisdom of their upbringings in a way that most people never do. That has been liberating: you really don't have to eat certain, prescribed foods on Christmas Day and, moreover, some of them (such as frozen turkey) are, actually, rather horrid.

There is certainly less commercialism about the Christmas season in Brazil than in Europe; maybe because they celebrate certain other days in a similar way but we were invited to what was nearly a midnight feast, on Christmas Eve, at the house of a mother of a friend: an enormous table was heaped with what used to be called a 'cold collation' of Edwardian proportions: meats and fowls of various kinds with accompanying fruits and sauces, as well as cinnamon bread, bacalau (salted cod), and various accompanying side dishes (including chestnuts!). The friend's mother and her daughters must have catered that night for around forty people. This is a practice of hospitality in a private household on a scale which our great grandparents might have known but it is largely lost to Europe.

In the midst of all the feasting and the conversation, I sensed very clearly the proper Spirit of Christmas Present and remembered something too of my very youthful Christmases Past.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

From the beach, The Naked Ape wishes all his Naked Friends A Very Merry Christmas! Tomorrow we are having BBQ lamb cutlets, tomatoes and baked spuds. Stuff turkey.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Falklands

Here we go again. But this time Argentina's preliminary to grabbing at the Falklands is not instigated by a Colonel-Dictator, it is instigated by the finding of oil. There does not seem to be any legitimate argument that the Falkland Islands are not British soil, and stained with British blood in defence of its own at that. Naturally, I find it disappointing that Brazil has seen fit to back the Argie claims (I didn't even think that Brazil and Argentina were on particularly good terms); however, whenever oil is discovered it seems to rob the best of the world's politicians of their senses. I just hope that Cammers and Little Willy can find a swift and sensible resolution to the shipping ban without giving an inch or spilling any more blood.

Of course, it is at times like this when one realizes with a quickening pulse; sun and scenery or not, and England with all thy faults, where one's loyalties lie.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Coats and Ties

I like what Sinatra says about coats and ties and more establishments should cease pandering to the whims of the arrogant and the impolite, who demand to discard their coats and ties in restaurants and theatres and bring gym and rough countrywear into such settings. They should tell them to go elsewhere. The world needs more Frank Sinatras and fewer roughnecks. Something that I have noticed, however, is how well-dressed most footballers and managers are; even in the face of the nearly ubiquitous, post-modernist, stubble-bearded, estuary/slack-voiced slobbishness (most evident in the young Hollywood set); which so many fashionistos and 'style leaders' slyly abet for the sake of popularity and the [i]blunt, dough, wonga, spondoolicks[/i] that it brings them.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Frank Sinatra Has A Cold

This is all worth a read:


House of Lords: Reform

It is indeed high time that the House of Lords were reformed. While there were still many landed, hereditary peers allowed to sit, there was at least some territorial basis for the constitution of an unelected chamber. There should be an elected second chamber with 'senators'; life baronies would cease to have any purpose and they should all be completely abolished and the uppity little pushers and convicts (think Archer) who have them should be sent away for good. So there.

A Nice Souvenir

Click to enlarge.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christopher Hitchens

Whether one agreed with his actual opinions or not, the world needed Christopher Hitchens and needs more like him. Once we had the late Robin Day and the late Bernard Levin, Jeremy Paxman is in a similar mould: uncompromising investigators of the truth and fearless exposers of humbug, lies and hypocrisy. Interestingly, Brazil's premier broadsheet, O Globo, featured a half page obituary to Hitchens in yesterday's edition, demonstrating that his characteristics are broadly appreciated and admired.

Come on, Britannia, it's time to get back on the prow of that ship and face the world again. Men such as Hitchens give us hope that she will arise again.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Girl From Ipanema

They all mispronounce 'Ipanema' but this is probably my fav recording of this number:


What a natural entertainer NKC was.

And Her Mother Came Too

Listen to this medley. Great Stuff. What a difference from modern 'entertainers'.


Friday, 16 December 2011

Leaving The EU

There is now a real prospect that the UK might leave the EU and if the government has the guts for it, I should raise an unusual cheer for abandoning that total shambles of an 'organization'.

The Eccentric Club

The Eccentric Club has been revived in a real way (Patron HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who attends functions) and there is everything that you need to know about it here: http://www.eccentricclub.co.uk/

Application for membership is open to all, subject to proposal and seconding and granting membership (domestic and overseas), is up to the club in the usual way. The first point of contact should be the club secretary, Imants von Wenden.

The club has a magazine and stages functions, including dinners at various venues in clubland, while the club finds its own West End premises.

I urge my readers to give consideration to joining the club which is more about valuing individualism than insanity and it also has a charitable objective.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Whales and Sea Eagles and Skuas

The whales pass by here every year at around this time and they are circling in front of the house (maybe 200 yards away) and there is a sea eagle on the beach and the skuas are diving like arrows and skimming the breaking waves. Unfortunately, the sea air has corroded the camera and the mobile 'phone just isn't up to the job. I should really get disposable cameras for such times. I am patiently waiting the tail flip, which is spectacular.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

In Praise of a Certain Kind of Idleness

I have to admit that, whatever my choices have been, the blood of the puritan runs deep in my veins and his work ethic is etched on my soul, so I find it very hard to do absolutely nothing or just to relax; wholly failing to understand Ava Gardner's statement that doing nothing was as agreeable as floating in warm water. However, I have lost the chains and shackles of modern corporate serfdom (which represent irresistible pay packets to most people who wear them) and now that I am nearing the top of the escalator (so to speak), I remain as convinced when I first read it thirty years ago, that Bertrand Russell's In Praise of Idleness should win a place on every youngster's bookshelves (or in their Kindles).

It is not a book commending mere idleness for its own sake, as the characteristically provocative title might suggest but commending more leisure and recreation in our increasingly mechanized (and now digitalized) age, in place of being at work or, more precisely just being seen to be at work, as this should be discouraged, when it is not productive.

The world seems to be moving in this direction with more and more people allowed to spend significant work time at home. I know of one fellow, who seems to be well thought  of by his Quango employer, who works at home a lot: he gets the job done but also seems to spend significant periods in leisure pursuits, such as tending to his pipe collection, and Skyping friends, over coffee. "Bully for him!" say I.  Mind you, with all the government cuts going on, I hope, for his sake, that no one ever notices that they are paying a part-timer a full-time salary.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Sound of The Sea

Well, Le Coin Perdu was not meant to be: sold to another, just as inquiries were being made! However, it may well be possible to find a garden plot over on the lagoon and travel there by boat. I have to say that I should miss sleeping and waking to the sound of the sea forty yards away and so it is at least a blessing not to have had to make the choice.

However, a friend is one of those who is busily trying to satisfy himself that his life, significantly spent in buildings with walls for a view and in underground trains, is The Good Life. Of course, he is able to spice up his accounts with tales of the Travellers' Club; Annabel's, old cherry brandy and shooting parties, involving small talk with some rather thick-sounding old buffers - and then I wonder about it all and consider that there is just no way in which I could possibly be persuaded to return to all that, after having been here for five years. It seems rather curious too because I know just how such people, knowing that there must be some advantage in living close to nature in a tropical place, forever fantasize about making a break for the border but can never quite bring themselves to give up what they think they have, in return for bliss in their own Coin Perdu.

One thing is for sure, nightingales or no nightingales, there is no sound of the sea in Berkeley Square.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Robert Cummings

Here is Robert Cummings (1908-1990), Grace Kelly's 'other man' in the gripping 1954 Hitchcock thriller Dial M For Murder. Long before the Harrison Fords and Sean Conneries, Cummings was noted for his perpetual youthfulness. He was also reckoned to be Cary Grant before Archie Leach started playing Cary Grant to perfection.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Real Traps in a Virtual World

Having been deprived on the internet at home, I have had to make use of an internet shop for the last couple of weeks. Here they are called 'WAN House', and comprise a darkened, air conditioned room to which holidaying Carioca children flock, apparently preferring rap muzak, Grand Theft Auto XII and internet interactiom with their absent friends than beach volleyball, swimming or even the gym.

It occurred to me that, in a sense, I should be grateful for time out because it has meant that I have rediscovered the mid-day sun, formerly such a magnet for mad dogs and Englishmen; although, maybe, it is ironic that I rediscovered it on walks to the local WAN House. Moreover, it is mentioned in Peter Fleming's Brazilian Adventure (if you have not read it, imagine P G Wodehouse in the jungle), that the Brazilian sun does not cause sunstroke and, whatever the reason, this does seem to be true.

It also occurred to me that computers and the internet have ensnared us in real traps, voluntary enetered, in a virtual world, from which we dare not escape, in case we are missing out on something. One of my father's friends, an elderly and well qualified atomic physicist, once said to my father that if he went offline he felt as though he had lost a limb. Yet he is someone who got through the first fifty or sixty years of his life satisfactorily enough with books, paper, pens, telephones and the post office and here we are clustered around the screen, desperate to research and to express ourselves in this virtual space. Just how virtual it is can be appreciated when all the date on your computer just sudenly disappears (don't worry all unpublished material has been saved by e-mail attachement). Overall, it seems to me that it is high time  to review and revise my own approach to all this and to ensure that, in the future, the computer and the internet serve my needs, rather than take possession of so much of my time in contrived idleness, masquerading as industry.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Reverting to Nature

I walked to the town along the seafront two days ago to retrieve the computer. I wore shoes for the first time in several months: sound London shoes that fit. Normally, I have been wearing 'Jesus sandals', in varying degrees of disintegration and, even though I am English (well seven eighths Cornish, with some smattering of Anglo-Irish and English blood), no socks. I have to say that, after a round trip of four miles, I felt crippled and, more specifically, my poor feet told me, in no uncertain terms, that they felt as though they had been smothered and then given a hammering with a sculptor's mallet. Accordingly, it appears that, all joking aside, we really are returning to a State of Nature and, after discarding our clothes, we will be giving up the house and looking for a des res in the Mata Atlantica any day now.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Back on-line

The computer has been completely cleaned and repaired and we are back on-line. However, I am now so behind with Book IV that I shall have to knuckle-down to it; which means less blogging! Still I shall try to do some.