Thursday, 22 October 2009

Musical Recommendation of the Week:
Who's Going To My Soul? - Gnarls Barkley

Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? No, It's A Rant

On October 13th I was went to The Literary Review lunch in Fitzroy Square for their annual lunch to award for a poem that ‘scans & rhymes & makes sense’.
The Review lunch attracts the literary and the eccentric in equal numbers.
One woman told me how mother’s friend had just introduced her to someone ‘training to be a psychopath’.
A Canadian man wearing a facemask then joined us and got onto the subject of his obsession with of impending Swine flu.

He shed some light when he described how, as a child his mother would wrap his birthday cakes with cling-film so no germ-clogged breath fumes could contaminate the icing as he blew the candles.
I was very amused by this, but he looked as me in dismay and wailed quietly, ‘But it’s a good idea!’

The highlights of Frieze week for me were Museum of Everything [more of which another time] and the Age of Marvelous in
Holy Trinity Marylebone, the beautiful neo-classical church designed by John Soane.
Curated by Joe La Placa, the show was a modern day take on the Victorian Cabinet of Curiosities and was showing one of my favorite artists, Alastair Mackie who makes perfect spheres out of mouse skulls. [pictured]
It also featured Polly Morgan who has breathed life back into the defunct art of taxidermy and Kate MacGwire who has managed to create truly strange objects out of bird feathers. Her spooky serpentine knots that fill up antique mahogany cabinets remind us that birds were once reptiles whose scales grew more and more delicate until the could defy gravity.

Particularly arresting was the black Pieta a beautifully executed figure of Christ sitting in an electric chair by Paul Fryer. Fryer [pictured] was wondering around the show, startlingly handsome, in a long coat, wild hair & beard making Jane Eyre’s Mr Rochester look like a simpering beta male. He made the point that if Christ had been killed in the States, Christians would be walking round with little electric chair necklaces rather than crucifixes.
The ape nailed to a cross is even bolder. His motivation was to highlight the plight of the Western Lowland gorillas, but with the replacement of man for a monkey, it manages to speak of man’s cruelty to man, that sophistication is wafer thin & inventing ornate ways to kill each other doesn’t put a murder on a higher plane.
[Interestingly, Holy Trinity, built not to commemorate the higher planes of consciousness, but to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon.]

The show triggers my visceral loathing for organised religion. They dress themselves up as spiritual, but are so blatantly about governance and male hierarchy as to make a lady snort.
I can’t understand how any woman could want to be a part of a church – or mosque - that considers female service unworthy of inclusion. I'm all for the sacred and the importance of ceremony, I just can't stand the intimidating sexually-twisted bullies in maxi dresses who claim to be in a conference call with a supreme being.
I love the fact that the current Uncle Fester look-alike Pope has just issued an open invitation to all the misogynist Protestants to swap to Catholicism.

We look across at Iran and see a religious state that reveals it's murky political intent by rigging an election to keep its puppet in power & wields a huge ‘morality’ policeforce that menaces the public for tiny infringements of dress code & displays of ordinary affection.
Now, in the aftermath of the rigged election, we hear there is systematic rape of imprisoned protestors; state sanctioned by the ‘holy’ men who so disapprove of sex.

At the beginning of the month my friend Neil, who goes to about five plays a week, took me to see The Mysteries, an adaptation of the medieval plays of biblical stories performed by a South African troupe at the Garrick Theatre.
[Lucifer pictured. Cast as a woman]
As the interval curtain came down, I headed straight for the nearest exit.
I just can’t buy into those ghastly old chestnuts of all the angels being blokes, of woman being taken from Adam’s rib and Mary’s premarital sex being retrospectively dressed up as a virgin birth; it’s obnoxious sexist bullshit….the etymological root of Papal bull……..

I think I might be all ranted out.
Oh, one last postscript rantlet.....

While he was alive there must have been hundreds of yards worth of column inches written about what a freak Michael Jackson was and how his attempts to look white were a neon sign pointing to his rampant madness and self-loathing. Reports on his post-mortem have only bothered to write a couple of words about about the fact that he was suffering from the pigmentation leaching skin disorder that he always claimed he suffered.

Monday, 12 October 2009

This Blog is Posted Every Monday... on the whole

Friday, 9 October 2009

Musical Recommendation of The Week:
Feel The Music - Guru

Prestat Chocolate Review No.9

Organic Dark Chocolate Mint Wafers.......
Sophistication is drinking espressos rather than lattes, eating one's meat rare, eggs soft boiled, enjoying brandy & prefering dark chocolate to milk.
I like my meat like the bottom of an old shoe, my eggs like bullets & my chocolate I approach the Dark Chocolate Mint Wafer like a neolithic tribeswoman approaching a Braun juicer....
When I went to visit the gothic mansion that is the Prestat factory, they explained to me that such is the power of mint to permeate other ingredients that it is not only kept in separate boxes & cupboards, but completely segregated store rooms. Powerful, dangerous, mint can escape & invade unless put under draconian controls. It is the Hanibal Lector of the sweet world.
When I took the lid off the the deep pink and green box the smell was overpowering. Luckily the thin wafers didn't look too aggressively dark. It's chocolatey and less minty tasting than initial smells indicate.
Thinking about it's Lector-like powers I was reminded of the time I bit quite a chunk out of Jody Foster's shoulder while helping her adjust a shoulder strap after squeezing through the trapdoor into her Panic Room. [Her girlfriend was at a White Snake concert at the time.]

Deja Voodoo

The difference between coincidence & serendipity, according to me...& how they can lead to crime.

The word 'serendipity' is a beauty coined in 1754 by Horace Walpole, [pictured] after the fairytale The Three Princes of Serendip, in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.” More than this, I think serendipity depends on our mood being elevated & at one with the universe.

[While we are on the subject of words, my favorite is Space and another one of great beauty is Sublime, but the other day, it suddenly struck me as quite a strange word. While it sounds lovely & means soaring, transcendent, uplifting - but when you deconstruct the word there's a sub in there, 'sub -lime' meaning under the limit, rather than over & beyond it.
Sometimes it's not a good idea to think too hard about these things.

But back to feeling is that when we are up we are more receptive to making
connections & seeing the joy in how random events effect one - joyfully irrational evidence that all is not chaos & that a thread of magic weaves through the plot of our lives.
When we are blue we miss these things: our hearts tilt towards the pavement, we see the hole in our shoes rather than the comet in the sky.

Coincidences, unlike serendipity, arrive whatever our mood and don't necessarily good things.

Take for example a recent news item about Man A, whose hat was blew into the road. Being safety conscious he checked the road was completely clear in both directions, before stepping out...if he had looked up, he might have spotted the mini bar-sized fridge flying of a third floor window where morbidly obese Man B had decided to kick start a diet with drastic action. Being a good-ish citizen he had also waited for a gap in the traffic before taking out his troubles on his white goods. The fridge landed on Man A at the exact moment he reached the hat. So, a coincidence, but not a happy one.

Coincidences swirl round us like a thousand leaves in an autumn gale. We only notice the ones that actually blow into our open mouths. It's as if they are constantly straying into our lives from across the porous membrane of a parallel universe, a universe where normal rules of odds & likelihood have no foothold... like when you squeeze a lemon & a stray squirt - that could have taken frankly any trajectory - heads straight to the bullseye of a tiny target:
your eye.
A few weeks ago I wrote in my blog [16/8/09] about the coincidence of when my ex-husband & war reporter Nick della Casa were arrested in the wilds of Northern Kenya & the young army commander who interrogated them turned out to have studied Nick for his political science degree at university, because Nick had previously been held as a hostage in Mozambique for eighteen months & Kenyan diplomats had assisted in his release. While this was good news because they suddenly had a personal connection with the army commander it was trouble too, because their story that they were 'just there on safari', no longer had any credibility & they were slung in jail. An example of a contradictory coincidence.

Two weeks ago on my birthday - actually, because of my birthday - it felt like I'd got caught up in a threshing machine of coincidences...

I met up for birthday lunch with my girlfriend Mad, who was paying a rare visit from Spain. After we had eaten, I headed back to my studio and we kissed goodbye on the corner of Ledbury Road & Westbourne Grove. As I set off down Ledbury, [incident happened a few feet from shop pictured] she called after me with one last 'Happy Birthday'. A woman, who had just overtaken me, turned back & said, 'It's my birthday too.'
I said in a stage whisper that I was turning fifty. [Dont. Say. Anything.]
She stopped & said. 'Me too.' So we hugged and congratulated each other. She asked my name, I told her & she said, 'I've heard of you, aren't you a writer?'
I said, yes. 'I am too' she said, 'I'm mostly a journalist but I'm trying to write a memoir.'
'Well I'm the same: journalism as bread and butter - although doesn't seem to be any butter at the moment & my book is a memoir.'
'Where d'you come in your family?' she asked.
'Second.' I said.
'Me too. Where do you live?'
'Knsal Rise'
'Me too.' It turned out we live two streets apart.
'Have you got children?' she asked.

'Two' I said.
'Me too' she said.
'Which makes us average, but maybe they're birthday twins too.' While not being exact, they turned out to be close enough to stay within the vibe of weirdness; with 365 to choose from, one is only 5 days after my daughter, the other 9 after my son.
We exchanged numbers & week later she rang & asked me round to her house.
Sitting in her study, I noticed a painting on her wall. It was by my great friend, the painter
Sarah Stitt, who I shared a studio with until three years ago, before she cruelly abandoned me for LA.
It turned out Birthday Twin was not only a collector of Sarah's art
[pictured] , but considered her a friend & had just emailed her, as I had too, just before leaving my house.
When I replied to her question of who I had been married to, she shrieked. It turns out that she is my ex's eldest brother's wife's estranged stepsister.
Maybe the only odd thing is that we've lived for fifty years & never met before, but I started feeling distinctly weird.

I'm not superstitious, I don't think walking under a ladder is unlucky, nor passing black cat; I don't believe in going back to bed on seeing a magpie. I can say the word Macbeth in a theatre & often do.
I don't believe in horoscopes: I cannot believe constellations that make up a rubbish picture
of a crab or a goat, (but in reality are stars billions of light years apart) can effect your personality, I really don't.
I don't believe in fairies, elves, ghosts or witches, or any sort of gods, the afterlife, reincarnation or the evil vested in the number 13 but....I didn't dare be asked, or ask Birthday Twin any more questions. One more coincidence & I was going to become hysterical. I made my excuses & returned home it a failure of imagination, but to be honest... the feeling was that I might have to kill her.
I made a cup of tea, kicked off my shoes, checked in the mirror to see if it reflected my face or hers and then coolapsed on the sofa & turned on the tv. It was CSI Miami, now
that is serendipity.