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Where I’m from a haircut is about a tenner – and you can be sure to get all the town gossip from the past year thrown into the deal as well as well. Here in central London it’s a different story. It’s perfectly alright to charge 100 quid for a simple, straight-forward cut justified by some “senior stylist” title bollocks. I know I have myself to blame for being such a push-over but I find it virtually impossible to walk into a hair salon without being talked into having the most ridiculously priced stuff put into my hair. Your hair needs it. Does it now, really? Because I can never say no, nor have the guts to complain, I have had some pretty wacky – and expensive – hair cuts in the past. That’s why I’ve stayed clear from hairdressers for a good year now. Then yesterday I gathered some strength and went for it. Five hours, four hair colour removal runs, one exceptionally gentle (i.e. exceptionally expensive) hair-colour, three absolutely essential treatments, a cut and a blow-dry later, I could walk out as the red-head (although not quite the shade) I had come for. I didn’t even dare listen to the total cost, I just paid and ran out before they managed to convince me to get the super amazing “Brazilian blow-dry” for the fantastic price of £200. Such bollocks.

I listen to Tim Buckley’s Song to the Siren about ten times every day. I have no idea why; I’m not a Buckley fan otherwise. Sometimes This Mortal Coil’s cover will do as well, but never, ever Robert Plant or Brian Ferry (although Ferry’s live performance on Jools Holland was quite acceptable). And for the rest of my waking hours, it plays inside my head, over and over again.

It haunts me to say the least (thought I’d better get it out of my system).

Which, of course, leads me to present these various Ondines / Victorian pin-ups…

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(Khnopff; Longoni; Burnat)

The artist at work in his studio. Self-portraits by Jean-Léon Gérôme.

Read the article “Fin de partie: A Group of Self-Portraits by Jean-Léon Gérôme” by Susan Waller in Nineteenth Century Art Worldwide.

“You will come to the Sirens first of all; they bewitch any mortal who approach them. If a man in ignorance draws too close and catches their music, he will never return to find wife and little children near him and to see their joy at his home-coming; the high clear tones of the Sirens will bewitch him. They sit in a meadow; men’s corpses lie heaped up all around them, mouldering upon the bones as the skin decays.”

(Lady Circe to Odysseus)

The sirens are endlessly more interesting than poor old Odysseus. Or what do you say about “mouldering upon the bones as the skin decays.” Makes my skin crawl (pun most definitely intended). I absolutely loathe vultures, but I feel some strange fascination for these mythical beings. Half woman, half bird. More seductive than the mermaid, more lethal than the sphinx. Yet, how rare they are in the visual arts. Bar Waterhouse, for this episode I often find them represented as nymphs or mermaids. Which is fair enough, vultures aren’t very sexy… The song has nothing, or very little, to do with that of course but the lyrics, oh my, amazing. As for Atwood, I was mucho disappointed in The Penelopiad, nothing at all as grand as her other books, it just felt…commissioned (ugh!), but the poem yes, inversion – me like.  And no, of course there will be no mention of Joyce. Horrid, horrid thought.

(Also, Paula Arundell’s version for the film Candy is growing on me. )

John William Waterhouse 1891

Herbert Draper 1909

Siren Song by Margaret Atwood

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who had heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

My blogging activity, as you might have noticed, is somewhat limited to quoting from books I read and changing the header image from one sleeping girl to another. This is to illustrate my state of mental and physical exhaustion. Nowadays I am constantly drained, lethargic and tired. I don’t know why.  I’m being told that it is the weather. That it is that time of the year.  I sure hope not, I really don’t have time to wait for the sun to come out. I need energy, inspiration and enthusiasm now. Pronto!

(Albert Moore, Apples; A Sleeping Girl; Lord Leighton, Flaming June; Maurice Denis, The Sleeper; Tamara de Lempicka, Dormeuse)

edward john poynter_horae serenae

Edward Poynter Horae Serenae (detail)

Franz_von_Stuck_Ringelreihen

Franz von Stuck Ringelreihen

duncan grant_dancers

Duncan Grant Dancers

matisse_dance (I)

Henri Matisse Dance

I’m on a google-ban as well as a blogging-ban, but again, for things that really irritate or excite me, I make an exception (procrastinating? Me? Never.). Have I ever mentioned how much I love Edward Poynter? Well I do. Almost as much as von Stuck (did you know that I share this affection for him with Hitler? He was Hitler’s favourite painter. This von Stuck – Hitler relationship is actually freakingly interesting, at least if you have some inclinations towards the superstitious. Will have to return to this subject methinks, we could do a von Stuck Special). I like Duncan Grant very much too, although, admittedly, much more because of my fascination with the Bloomsbury set then for his actual art. His Dancers is on display at Tate, the colours are simply dazzling, just not my thing. It reminded me a lot of Matisse, and then Tate confirmed this by saying it is probable that Matisse provided inspiration for Grant. So Matisse is included here too although I am actually not a big fan.

I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful – a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild

 

Sir William Wterhouse; Sir Frank Dicksee; Frank Cadogan Cowper