Look after our star

Last night we had an evening celebrating the EU, our 47 years as members, and the day we will eventually return to it. Just seven of us, but as I learned during the week, we weren’t the only ones doing this. European flags went up in windows, groups of friends made shopping lists of favourite foods from across Europe and met for a convivial hopeful evening, just as we did.
The very wonderful Led by Donkeys sent this message, displaying it on the white cliffs of Dover.

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Quantifiable

I set off on a damp morning to the V&A. My friend Patou and I had arranged to meet there to visit the Mary Quant exhibition, of which we have heard good things. Mary Quant came to prominence in the early 60s as a designer and entrepreneur, and name and her face were familiar to me throughout my childhood when the mini skirt was de rigueur.

Sassoon and Quant


However, fate intervened, and when I reached South Kensington, it was to find a message on my ‘phone to say Patou could not join me. It might have been more fun going round the exhibition with her, but I had a wonderful time on my own all the same.

Although Quant’s fashions would have been splashed across magazines, those magazines would generally have been of the glossier kind that rarely came my mother’s way. So it was with something of a shock that I realised how much Quant had influenced the clothing I wore or saw older cousins and neighbours wearing as I was growing up. Apart from mini skirts, there were shift dresses, pinafore dresses, boxy suits, and pin striped materials previously the province of men’s suits.

Unfussy

When I was at the Vice Versa exhibition in the Ulster Museum last summer, fortunate enough to have a tour with the exhibition’s curator, Charlotte McReynolds, it was clear fashion is very much part of social history. So it proved again at the V&A. At McReynolds 2018 exhibition Fashion & Feminism she included a quote by Quant: “Clothes always say it first, you know, then comes the effect.” That desire to get away from restrictive clothing, to be comfortable, to be gleeful, was all part of the emerging sixties youth culture. Quant does not claim to have invented the mini skirt, she says it was a street fashion, invented by the girls on the Kings’ road where she had her shop Bazaar. Continue reading

As Plato put it

As Plato put it: Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.

Whatever the outcome of today’s general election, the lyrics of this fugue will still be true. Unfortunately.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_G-FBSf1UI Continue reading

Of Ill Health, Tory Lies, Good Men and Women, and Democracy on a Knife Edge

I probably brought it upon myself by saying to Octavia that since I switched from being vegetarian to vegan I seem to shake of colds very quickly. The next evening, Monday, I was just taking my seat in the National Theatre for a performance of Brian Friel’s Translations (excellent btw) when I sneezed a couple of times. By the time I reached home I had a sore throat and a runny nose. The following day I didn’t feel great, but I confidently expected to be well by Wednesday, so it was a bit of shock when I woke to find my legs were like jelly.
That was a week ago. Since then I have got through eight boxes of paper hankies, quantities of paracetamol and half a bottle of Benylin, several boxes of throat sweets.
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Antisemites to the left of us, islamophobes to the right; let’s stick in the middle with EU

Only a few days to go before the general election and Boris Johnson has yet to take the opportunity to say anything truthful. He has also refused to be interviewed by Andrew Neil, presumably because he knows he would come out of it badly, though he might choose, as he did in the Leaders’ Debate, to make jokes when asked about the importance of truth. For most of us being caught telling lies in our professional lives would spell the end of our careers. Not so Johnson, his is a career built on lies. Lies are the key to his success. We all know he lies, he knows we know he lies, so if elected and it turns out – surprise! – he has again lied about the NHS, getting Brexit ‘done’, about the glorious and golden opportunities that will unfold once we have left the supportive embrace of the EU, well we knew in advance he wasn’t telling the truth, so how can we feel betrayed?
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Mother, born a hundred years ago today

My little mum was born a hundred years ago today in Larne Co Antrim. None of her siblings was born there, but my grandfather, not the most pleasant or successful person in our family’s history, had lost his farm and was working as a carter, probably in the docks. Mother didn’t like the fact she was born in Larne. It doesn’t have a great reputation. It does have the most hideous roundabout ornament I have ever seen, though it’s fairly new, and Mother never saw it.
The street she was born in has gone. Cousin and I visited a few years ago. In a shop, we found a painting of a hare that Cousin fell in love with. If you ever visit her home you’ll see a print of it on the wall.
I left my details with someone at the museum who told me that the person I needed to speak to to see if there were records of our family time in Larne extant was Marion. Unfortunately Marion was on holiday. More unfortunately Marion has never got in touch with me.
So Mother’s early circumstances remain unclear, though they were obviously pretty tough. I know she was baptised at home because she was sickly and thought unlikely to survive. But survive she did.
There are no pictures of her as a child. I think this one is the earliest one I have of her. She looks like a young teenager. She probably was.

You may recognise it. I posted it in 2013 after she died. Continue reading

Democracy is Fragile and Needs Your Help

It’s an odd thing, but if you make up qualifications, cheat in exams, lie under oath in court, fiddle the evidence to suit your premise in a science experiment, take drugs to enhance your sporting prowess, when the truth is discovered, you will quickly be stripped of your qualifications, awards and medals, your professional reputation will be in tatters and you will be held up as an example of how cheating and lying does not pay.
I say it’s an odd thing, because the same rules do not seem to apply to our unesteemed Prime Minister, who I am starting to suspect is a pathological liar, by which I mean he really can’t help himself. To Johnson, lies seem to be so much more attractive than truth. He cheats too, wearing a discreet ear piece in a debate so he could be fed li(n)es, rather than rely, as Corbyn had to, on wit and memory. This last deception has had scant coverage in the news. Many of our newspaper editors almost equalling Johnson by writing about hm as though he is a political colossus.
He is also aided by the BBC news team which sees to have decided that a global reputation for fair reporting, professionalism and impartiality can be dispensed with. There are too many instances to list here, but a few stand out ones are the wreath laying ceremony at the cenotaph in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday. The leaders of the political parties lined up holding their red wreaths. Johnson looked as though he had slept in his clothes after a thick night and had forgotten to brush his hair. He was seen stepping forward at the wrong time,laying the wreath upside down, shambling. The other party leaders performed the wreath laying with respect and reverence. The BBC radio news reported the leaders as bowing their heads, apart from Corbyn who inclined his head. Now bowing your head and inclining your head are the same thing, but a Twitter storm was unleashed accusing Corbyn of lack of respect and patriotism. Corbyn, having associated with some pretty unsavoury characters down the years, gets these accusations all the time. Bizarrely, Johnson, who is pally with an equal number of unsavoury characters now, does not. Anyway, the next day BBC news broadcast footage of Remembrance Sunday and included Johnson neatly dressed, hair brushed, laying a green wreath. That is footage from three years ago, which when it was spotted by viewers, was claimed by the BBC when it later apologised, to have been in the production room, and a mistake. Hmm. Maybe. Continue reading

Happy Non Brexit Day

I thought tonight’s post would be about the cemetery again, maybe it will be later on. It is, after all, Hallowe’en.

But then I saw something on Twitter I just have to share. It made me laugh, but it is very close to the bone. Although people voted Leave in 2016 for a variety of reasons, some more noble than others, it has become increasingly apparent that it is a small group of already very rich people who will benefit, while the rank and file who made the mistake of believing in unicorns, will suffer.

But tomorrow I shall still be an EU citizen. Actually I shall still be one even if we continue on the disastrous path to leave as it turns out I have been an Irish citizen since birth. Thanks Mother. Good one. Continue reading