Sunday 31 January 2010

All the Pretty Horses

I'm reading All the Pretty horses by Cormac McCarthy until the small hours of the night at the moment and then dreaming of galloping all the hours I am asleep and awake.

Victorian horse in vintage typewriter key pendant from Buster and Boo on Etsy.

Winchester .40 Smith & Wesson ring from Jetflair on Etsy.

'Dust Storm' print from Mazzy Blue Studios on Etsy.

'Bridles' print from Ya Rly by Liliya on Etsy.

'Galloping filly' (really) skirt from Anthropologie.

Pony dress from Joy.

'Gentle Giant' print from Angie Muldowney at All Things Original.

Friday 22 January 2010

The most Gallic jumper I have ever seen

Eiffel Tower jumper from Topshop, available in sizes 8-16 and rather fabulously I thought in maternity sizes- for chic bumps.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

The perfect tea bag?

I think these teabag designs from Yanko design are genius. There are lots of comments about how the bag would float from kill joys below the pictures- I do see where they are coming from but for real tea surely you go leaves and strainer and for a making you smile every day these would be perfect? They just seem to be a prototype at the moment but hopefully they won't be forever.

Found via the tea appreciation society blog.

Friday 15 January 2010

Blur: no distance left to run

I was lucky enough to see the documentary film No distance left to run last night. It is a film in every sense- filled with drama, humour and beautiful cinematography.

No distance left to run is of course about Blur- through them it is about what it was like to be music artist from the early nineties to I suppose the time just before i-tunes conquered the world; about songs and gigs; life on the road and life in the bubble of fame but really it’s a film about friendship and particularly the friendship and love between Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon.

In Hyde Park last summer, as the sun was going down on a truly glorious evening in this beautiful city- and in Glastonbury weeks before in the darkness of that sacred place- it was Tender that felt like the zenith of this band and of the experience- and the relationship between these two men, who co-wrote and co sung that song is just that- tender.

No distance left to run is honest, at times searingly, uncomfortably and therefore fascinatingly so. All of these men are extremely interesting in their own ways. I thought Alex James was a revelation; back in the day he was always the fun one to me, the party animal, the one who didn’t seem terribly complex. To watch him talk about his friends feeling pain, losing them and finding them again- and the expressions on his face when the camera hangs just a moment longer than perhaps he realised was to see a man who probably looks for the light in life but who is more than he seems- and who is a very true friend.

I am sure with this level of access and input they could have made a whole series about this group but I think choosing to focus on their friendship was very wise because this is an interesting film not just for anyone interested in Blur or music but also in male friendships. I hadn’t thought about how different they can be from female friendships before watching this last night and how very pure and innocent they can be.

I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t say anymore but just watch it if you can- and on the big screen if possible because the footage of the live scenes is great in the cinema. If you don’t manage to it’s going to released on dvd in February with a second disc featuring one of the Hyde Park nights- which should be the cherry on top of the cake that was those gigs.

Hums Oh my baby, oh my baby, oh- why, oh- my.

Images from the Guardian here.

the red shoes

I had a beautiful pair of red shoes once. They were a perfect true red- the colour of routemaster buses, post boxes and Hollywood lips. They had a very low kitten heel so that from the front they looked almost flat- but the heel was enough to tip you forward and be flattering. At the front they came to a point and were extremely low cut so that you could see the beginning of my toes. There were two little bars of leather that made a kind of short T above the toe cleavage.

The red shoes became very comfortable in the end but initially they and my feet had to learn a way to get along with each other. When it rained sometimes they turned my feet a bright shade of pink. To start with I didn’t have rubber soles put on them because I love the clip of leather soles on London pavements- eventually I did and they were quieter but the heels still made a satisfying sound. They were bought in an LK Bennet sale for less than half price- they didn’t really look like they were from LK Bennett- which isn’t meant to disparaging, they just weren’t one of their standard styles or colours or heights and I suspect that is why they were in the sale.

When I bought them I was certainly pleased but they weren’t a pair of shoes I had longed for and I didn’t look at them endlessly in their box as I have been known to do with some new shoes. I started wearing them almost immediately and unusually for me didn’t keep them for special occasions but wore them whenever I wanted- which ended up being virtually all the time. A really good pair of red shoes can have an amazing impact on the way an outfit looks, they can make something classic look a bit quirky and something plain look interesting and the wearer becomes blessed with an Amelie type quality. Most importantly looking down at your feet and seeing a really joyful red looking back at you gives you a spring in your step and the confidence that follows.

The red shoes and I went all over town and memorably they came to Paris where they passed the pavement test (how many men and women look down admiringly at your feet) with even more flying colours than they did at home. They were resoled many times and polished to keep their lipstick sheen; they got wet; they got mud on them from walking through the park; I even think they got salt from snow on them and I worried that I wouldn’t get the white marks out, but I did.

Then one day the leather started splitting where your foot bends and for the first time they had lost some of their cherry zest and I knew that the cobbler wouldn’t be able to do anything more for them. I didn’t wear them again but they did stay in my room for quite a long time, just neatly by some drawers because they still looked so interesting. They were an accidental purchase but I have never been able to find their like since- it was truly like they had a little personality of their own. They found me and we had adventures and now they are gone but I still remember them- even though they were just shoes. I was getting dressed this morning, putting on some red tights and I thought how fine my red shoes would have looked today and I just smiled. We had fun.

Picture of the red shoes from 'The Red Shoes'from Verdoux blog via Around the Edges blog.

Dorothy's shoes from Scene stealers here.

Thursday 14 January 2010

What I am yet to do

Sometimes it feels like there will never be time to read all the books I want to read, see all the plays and films I want to see- listen to all the music I would love to love if I had time to know it- does all this sound familiar? I’m sure it does.

The world can seem like a series of rooms to me. Opening the book 1984 by George Orwell opened the door to a room of Orwell’s books and when I finally and sadly had finished there a door opened to a book my Margaret Atwood and then Aldous Huxley and onwards. The doors behind me always stay open and often in times of unrest or just to indulge myself I can go back to them, but I am certain I won’t get to open every door. Some of the rooms have windows and I can see from watching Dr No in one that Goldfinger is on in the next and I am almost torn by how much I want to get to the next room.

I accept that I won’t get to go to every room now but I still fight to get to try.

I had never seen the play War Horse until last night though, which for someone who goes to the theatre really quite a lot, loves war plays and films and used to spend every holiday and weekend working at a stables for nothing more than fresh air is a bit strange. I just hadn’t got to that room yet, perhaps because I thought it would be too sad, perhaps the timing hadn’t worked out, I’m not certain.

Of course the play is about a war and the sacrifice and pain of the horses involved in the First World War is agonising- which is why I have featured a picture of the lovely memorial on Park Lane to all animals who have given their lives in wars above. It is also perhaps poignant that the horses are played by puppets and that the animals and people involved in wars are so often puppets for the whims of a small few.

This is a fabulous piece of theatre and certainly the sum of its parts; nevertheless it is the puppets that are truly remarkable and that I wanted to write about. I was just amazed at what the puppeteers can achieve with only their bodies, wire and tape- smoke and mirrors really. Virtually anything in life when done with total commitment and passion by talented people can be remarkable but these puppets are so refreshing, so unexpectedly lifelike and moving that I have looked at the art, for that is what it is, of puppetry in a whole new light.

Photograph of the Animals in War memorial from their website here.

Friday 8 January 2010

Glorious 39

Glorious 39 keeps coming into my mind and stopping me in my tracks.

The film is the latest work by Stephen Poliakoff, a man revered for his work for UK television at a time when we seem to have forgotten how to make good, original one off dramas consistently. I’ve always found it fascinating how much he works in TV when he can and has worked in film and admire his interest in television as a medium- for it is the kitchen table to film’s dining room table, the wool glove to film’s leather version. Kitchen tables and wool gloves have their place though don’t they- and at times there is nowhere I would rather sit and nothing I would rather wear.

This film has been out for quite a few weeks now and there are reviews in various places by people more qualified than me to give you a thorough analysis of it, without spoilers. Nevertheless for context in short the film is set in late 1930’s Britain and focuses particularly on a young, adopted teenage girl from a privileged family with significant lineage and the effect of the 'gathering storm' of war in Europe on them- and their wider circle.

The film is well shot, set in interesting but suitably period and at times very picturesque settings, the costumes are lovely, the accents and manners are refined and clipped and initially, with the sound turned off anyway, this could be a film like many others about the attractive, plucky British upper classes. It isn’t though. It is more like a Hitchcock film, admittedly perhaps not quite up to those standards. Still it comes from just to the side of where you think it will- it’s like being given a bouquet of flowers and cutting yourself on the thorns- perhaps not pleasant but it makes you take notice of the flowers.

The thing about Glorious 39 is it really made me think. It isn’t perfect at all but every time I have thought about war since I have really found myself looking inside myself, actually looking down at my chest and wondering- what would I have done at that time?

Then as now the default ‘good’ position was to oppose war and to do everything you could to stop it- and they had the deafening echo of the First world war in their ears which has become perhaps more of a whisper to us.

With the evidence I could see I was opposed to the war in Iraq and I continue to be, though I support the very brave soldiers and friends who are there absolutely truly and without question. In 1939 how would I, a liberal minded, non interventionist have felt about getting involved in a European war- especially with the information I was given by a less independent press- not the information I have now? Honestly would I have been trying to talk, appease, not intervene. Perhaps- which horrifies and chills me.

EM Forster wrote in the epilogue to A Room with a View that the hero, the idealistic shining light of that book, George Emerson, was a conscientious objector in the First World Ward but fought- and died- in the Second World War. It is received wisdom that that is the war it was okay to fight- and I still think it was- but Glorious 39 made me really think about that- in a way that many years of school and University had never done. To always remember again and again to look at the case as best as you can and not do what you ‘should’ do, what others you admire are doing, what is easy. For that reason alone I think it is a must see.

Romola Garai picture courtesy of The Independent.

Picture of Anne, Celia and Ralph courtesy of The Guardian

Thursday 7 January 2010

Shaking the snowglobe

I said yesterday that being in London was like being in a snowglobe that had just been shaken really hard- well it was from 3- 4pm anyway.

I find snowglobes very charming- even the quite tacky ones with a gold Big Ben or Eiffel Tower. The idea of being in one probably shouldn't be nice, being trapped inside a bubble you can't leave, but for me, for a time anyway, I think it would be quite fun.

My fascination with these rather sweet, slightly strange keepsakes led me to Etsy and then to BubbleRoll. They have lots of globes available made with old pictures- mostly from films you might have loved. It's this sphere holding Holden Caulfield in a snowy Central Park, with the opening passage of Catcher in the Rye in the background, that particularly caught my eye.

Sadly they don't seem to ship to the UK but as this was my favourite snowglobe of all the ones I looked at I thought I would show you the picture anyway.

Monday 4 January 2010

My friend i-pod

I had the back to work fear last night, which makes no sense as I’ve worked throughout Christmas and New Year.

I was at a gig last night but left at a reasonable hour and was all tucked by 12- that should have left me reasonably tired but able to get up at 7am without trouble (given that I didn’t get up until… well it was after the sun was over the yard arm). Lo at 2.41am I was wide awake. I am not normally a bad sleeper except for the fact I don’t like to go to bed too early- and I am being supportive and have given up caffeine with my housemate so am totally lacking in jitters- so none of this makes sense.

I did the usual thing of trying to sleep for half an hour that never works. Then I turned to my beloved i-pod. By day my i-pod and I walk to and from work and all over London with music on- mostly this is bliss because at work I’m afraid I do not get to choose the music and while I like to think I will try anything really I don’t like everything - and all but the very best songs suffer from being played once an hour, every hour (which is what middle of the road FM do to the tolerable songs they play). By night I catch up with podcasts and often find myself asleep with the headphones wrapped around me- sometimes rather alarmingly wrapped around my neck.

Last night at 4am when I woke up to switch Andrew Marr off (for I didn’t realise the i-pod was stuck on replay) I thought about what I would have done without the little thing. Sure I could have read for a bit but there is nothing like being talked to sleep. In a world where I noticed it was a blessing to turn off phones, computers and all of that over Christmas the i-pod is a friendly technology which doesn’t cause me stress but assists me and comforts me. I don’t work for apple and they have never given me anything for free and am certain I would feel the same about any MP3 player but I felt genuine warmth for the little machine last night.