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I begin somewhere where work ends.
We have moved from Dionysus, through Orpheus, to Adonis and
each of us like you
has died once,
each of us like you
stands apart, like you
fit to be worshipped
I have stopped eating dairy (except when drunk or hungover which, in effect, means I still eat dairy). I have seen the House of Bernarda Alba set in الشرق الاوسط (which worked better than Bernarda Alba set in Pakistan but, please, what would be so terribly wrong with a Bernarda Alba set in an ordinary Spanish village?) and a flamenco version of Fuenteovejuna (which was so good I think I might give up theatre for dance). I have been inside parliament and been sat next to Lord Howe – that was grand (Hanging out with lords in the day and wiccan high priests in the night? Well, that’s just how I roll). I have listened to Roger Scruton talk about the supremacy of European culture (as you suspect he would); A.S Byatt talk about Ragnarök and other things I like; Richard Holloway talk about faith and doubt and speaking in tongues. This was also the week I decided that mixing every kind of alcoholic drink that exists on the planet would be a good thing to do at my boss’ birthday party – went down a treat. Coincidentally, at the same party, I realised my true vocation in a grande dame who, sat in a regency chair, was holding court throughout the night: “daaahling, do you remember Paris?” “Hockney? Well, daaahling I knew him in the 60’s”. Yes, such aspirations.
(Waterhouse, Adonis; H.D. Adonis)
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.
“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. )
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.
…this is what I like.
Essay: Zadie Smith on the essay. (bonus: Joan Didion anno 1967)
Perspective: everything’s amazing, nobody’s happy. (bonus: very funny!)
Philosophy: The Romantic Manifesto by Ayn Rand.
Radio: Weekend Woman’s Hour
Tune #1: Tougher than the Rest with Bruce Springsteen (bonus: fashion anno 1988)
Tune #2: Pata Pata with Miriam Makeba
Poem: “Spellbound” by Emily Brontë:
The night is darkening round me, The wild winds coldly blow; But a tyrant spell has bound me And I cannot, cannot go. The giant trees are bending Their bare boughs weighed with snow. And the storm is fast descending, And yet I cannot go. Clouds beyond clouds above me, Wastes beyond wastes below; But nothing dear can move me; I will not, cannot go.
Painting #1: Waterhouse – St Eulalia
Painting #2: Millais – Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind
Painting #3: Friedrich – Winter Landscape
Time to change that header now huh? A Tale from the Decameron by J.W Waterhouse, painted in 1916.