Wednesday 30 December 2020

Cinematic Fancies

Beau casting judgement on our cut of cloth

The original Dandy, Beau Brummell, was a man who certainly had a few opinions about dressing for the occasion, and indeed there was probably no occasion in his books that didn't require a considered review of the sartorial choices before setting out. And to give the fops their due, neither would they forego an opportunity for some peacock preening, just with a more colourful flourish. 

All hail the Macaroni!

Just imagine him in colour!
Philip Dawe mezzotint, 1773

Given his eventual fall from royal grace, Beau would have been delighted to see Our Queen, below, arriving for her cinematic viewing of his 1954 MGM bio-pic, Beau Brummell, accessorised quite appropriately in the Vladimir tiara and Delhi Durbar suite with emeralds. Details, Dear Reader!

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Ah, going to the cinema ... once such a Grand Affair.

It's been a while since the last time we Pipistrellos went to the cinema. In fact, I can't remember what the last film was. Perhaps it was The Favourite, with its own resplendent cast of popinjays, which seems like ages ago. Or The Lobster **. Regardless, I don't believe I saw any parures or sweeping hemlines on my fellow cinema-goers in recent times, or ever, notwithstanding my own attempts to keep the game lifted from my plush seat in the darkened auditorium.

Big hair: tick. Jewelled colours: cross.
A bit of artistic license taken here with Queen Anne's foppish courtiers

But when we emerge from these socially isolated-times, blinking into the light like butterflies emerging from our chrysalid state, maybe Cinema-going could be a Grand Affair once more. It would delight me no end to see everyone dress for the occasion, and let everything old become new again. 

Celebrating our new butterfly form with
Elsa Schiaparelli's 1937 aquamarine jacket

Oh, and to really cap off our stylish outing, instead of a bucket of near ubiquitous popcorn* in a neighbour's lap, or a crisp chocolate-topped ice-cream that will guarantee to shed grubby stains down the front of (some)one's shirt in the dark, or a bag of cellophane-wrapped-sweeties for another neighbour to infuriatingly rustle, perhaps we could all have a posy of flowers to sniff through the showing? It is, after all, only a couple of hours out of our lives to endure without sustenance.

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Typically fragrant (Royal) family outing to the cinema, 1949

The Queen doesn't seem to shed tears easily, something we learn if we pay attention to The Crown, but the proof of this pudding really lies in the countless photographs of her through the past decades attending gala premieres in her customary party finery, and as there would have to have been at least one tear-jerker among them, gala dressing for the cinema would be a blotchy, runny-nosed disaster best avoided for one prone to tears.

Unlike Your Correspondent, for whom it greatly annoys me that I am prey to the emotional manipulations of lilting soundtracks and can be brought to sentimental tears by a 30-second toilet paper commercial, so avoid commercials altogether like the plague they are as I find weeping so draining. It baffles me that there is an attractiveness to be found by sniffling through a movie with one's friends and I shun the so-called weepy as I do the aforementioned Labrador puppies romping with a roll of Sorbent.

One of my earliest cinema experiences was to see the 1976 version of King Kong as a child***.  I was mortified to discover Jessica Lange and myself convulsed with weeping, myself sans hankie****, over his miserable demise. Too shy and embarrassed to ask for a tissue from the kindly, middle-aged neighbours who took Brother & I for a treat, I tried to suppress my snivelling in the dark and had to resort to surreptitious use of my long sleeves. A gesture completely beyond the pale, I know, but I'd been caught totally unawares. When the lights came up, we all pretended not to notice my red-eyes and rather besmeared and exhausted self. 

King Kong and Jessica in happier times

Hankies. Not even a dry-eyed ERII would ever leave home without one, and neither do I these days. 

Double-duty hankie, proof against dramatically-dying giant primates
... And a runny nose
Georges Barbier, c. 1910

* Lovely L's eldest child had a high-school job as a cinema usher where, within five-minutes in the job, he became vehemently anti-popcorn as it was his job to rush about with the Bissell, scooping the mountainous scatterings left in the wake of the cinema-goers.

** What are the odds? I've just noticed both films were directed by Yorgos Lanthimos.

*** Not quite sure how this came about as it was rated Not Recommended for Children, probably owing to the Sad Ending.

**** Handkerchiefs have gone the way of the Dodo, it would seem, judging by the distinct lack of them in the shoppes this past birthday for Mr. P. To replenish his collection, much hunting brought down perhaps the last boxed set in this city.

Image credits: 1: via; 2: British Museum; 3, 6: Getty Images; 4, 7, 8: via Google; 5: via Pinterest

Thursday 24 December 2020

Merry Christmas!


Thank you, Dear Reader, for following along.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Image credit: Lennart Helje

Monday 21 December 2020

Be Hale!


Yuletide. How did that sneak up on us, Dear Reader? In this wide brown land of ours, wassailing is officially Verboten as at today. So this rather leery Father Christmas shall be imbibing from his wassail cup on his jolly own. Ditto the rather more rustic traditions of Saturnalia, if your family traditions are a tad more pagan. Singing naked in the street, gambling in public and making noise alongside your feasting and drinking cannot possibly fall within the bounds of the present strictures.

Nonetheless, the tinsel tree is decorated and I triumphantly bore home a ham-ette from the shoppes yesterday* which I've decided at the last minute to glaze for the wild crowd of two for Friday's lunch. I think the rather Australian tradition of a prawn and mango salad shall also feature in there somewhere. And I believe today or tomorrow there'll be a bit of baking of ye olde Bethmännchen and I want to try out a Zimtsterne recipe, as in more recent years, I've been loving having a few German Christmas biscuits about the place. 

There's been a bit of Handel's harpsichord chirruping away merrily on the B&O but we've not cracked out The Messiah nor any of its ilk. Have to hold something back since the whole of Yuletide looms with only the cicadas for entertainments.

So, what's left? Summer solstice tonight and the 794-years in the waiting conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter will grace our Solar System. Eyes aloft, everyone! Wait ... what's this? ... the trusty Bureau of Meteorology says it'll be raining cats and dogs just after sunset. Drats. Scrap that delight, too.

Be Hale, Dears!

* Yes, I'm up and about again, just not able to get my bearings yet when upended, but that's an overrated posture, anyway. 

Image credit: Illustrated London News, 1857

Saturday 12 December 2020

You Must Have Rocks In Your Head


Mascarade à la Grecque etching emphasises "on" more than "in"
Ennemond Alexandre Petitot, 1771

Nota bene: If you have come here only for some usual fare, Dear Reader, avert your gaze now as today there is something completely different: a bit of Real Life, and possibly Too Much Information.

Even a casual acquaintant with this blog will have noticed there is a doormat and umbrella stand at its entry, with which to leave the Cares of the World behind before setting foot within. Here you will find no more than allusion to Real Life, no heartfelt biographical truths or details about myself nor those in my colony, and you can be sure that if you poke about in my proverbial cupboards, the contents within shall be neatly folded, colour-coded and/or labels facing forward*.

We are all adults and understand that one cannot exist in this world without suffering its many indignities but I don't like to leave mine laying about like dog-hairs on the sofa for you to even inadvertently sit upon. Now that I also have rooms off to the side where you are free to wander, one of which so clean and white with just some words, and my Wunderkammer where I'm arranging my assortment of treasures, we especially don't need to drag about our muddy feet or poke the curios with grubby mitts. 

While I am more than happy to gently kick the autumn leaves about in the comments section of some favourite bloggers where chewing over the issues of the/ir day is their métier, I find my own to be tedious and do not wish to afflict you so. But I'm going to break my own rule today because I've had a bit of a Funny Turn recently and as it's not in the Dire Department, rather the Interesting, I'm going to give it an airing.

You see, the Rocks in my Head gave gone awandering. I've had a Case of BPPV - Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo - and have been reminded yet again why I'm not flinging about in low orbits in a spacesuit as motion-sickness and I are unhappy bedfellows. Which is where I'm at right now, mid-second week and happily on the mend, and able to put digital pen to paper again.

In Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) dizziness is generally thought to be due to debris which has collected within a part of the inner ear.  This debris can be thought of  as "ear rocks", although the formal name is "otoconia". Ear rocks are small crystals of calcium carbonate derived from a structure in the ear called the "utricle". [Dr. Timothy C. Hain, via]

Queen Elizabeth II famously described one year in her life, 1992, as her annus horribilis. Latin and I are not on first-name terms so I do not know how best to describe five horrible years to date (rest assured, some goodly time will be spent with my useful friend Google Translate later), but we Pipistrellos feel as though we are part way through the penance from having broken the mother of all mirrors, which we neither can remember, and respite from which sent me to this part of the interwebs to skip about and strew some daisies.

So when I awoke ten days back with wild and shuddering vision and a sensation of walking on a waterbed (not that I've ever done such a thing but it just sounds so right), Mr. P called in sick for the day and we were straight off to hospital. If this sounds a little over-reactive, it is only because my life seems to be ruled by one Colonel March of Scotland Yard's Department of Queer Complaints**, and I thought we were in for a second round of something which reared its ugly head in Year 3 of the broken mirror penance, and even left my wedding ring at home in anticipation of some grim medical intervention.

Blessed are we in this roost that it was but twenty-five minutes later that I was being whisked off in a wheelchair to Acute Bed 13 in the Emergency Department of our fabulous local teaching hospital, told I was going to be "nil by mouth from now" when  I asked for some water (always a grim sign) and asked to change into the presented gown quickly and hop into bed as "I mustn't be alarmed, but rather a lot of people will be congregating about you in a minute". Which there was. A stroke protocol was being undertaken, then a CT-scan and MRI owing to my medical history and so the day unfolded.

Mr. P held up rather well, which is always hard when you're on the outside of the main action. The neurologist registrar was fairly confident that it wasn't a stroke but we just had to wait on the final report from the radiologist and attendance by the Professor of Neurology on duty that day, so there was just a lingering doubt about things when we were left just the two of us. I'd answered in the negative to boxer?, head trauma?, infection?, and though personally acquainted with the medical term "idiopathic", I dislike it.

Then we had another flurry of activity and my bed was on the move and we were off to a ward. We'd been to Ten North before, visiting an ailing octogenarian neighbour during the year, so it didn't seem to auger well when we sailed through swing doors with exhortations to keep them locked against wandering delirious patients, and then as I was parked momentarily beneath a wall of leaflets labelled so optimistically "Life After Stroke" &c, and the accompanying nurse said "she's a stroke patient", I think I aged the thirty years required for automatic entry into this world.

Fortunately, there was a student nurse who set us to rights. It seemed Acute Bed 13 was needed for another and they needed to put me somewhere handy for the consultant to find me and apparently all suspected neurological patients get parked in with the stroke victims when the emergency department fills up. Mr. P and I laughed rather heartily when she departed, anguish falling away, and an involuntary tear of relief was shed by my stoic self. The look on my face was priceless, he said, when he watched me absorbing the wall of brochures earlier, himself contemplating the next decades with a disabled wife.

The neurologist*** was not long after, with a half-dozen earnest registrars in his wake, and he sent me home with the diagnosis of BPPV and an invitation to come and see him and/or a vestibular therapist (next week for that) if needed, and told I should be my old self in a few weeks. I actually got worse the next few days, when the nausea kicked in, but apart from the usual wishing for death at that point, all has been okay. 

And that's it for a glimpse behind the curtain of Flying With Hands, and normal programming will be resumed with the next post. Cheerio!

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog

* Yes, it is true. In Real Life I am messy chaos on the surface but everything must be just so when put away in its rightful place. A perfect yin to Mr. P's yang in the housekeeping department.

** Thanks Bruce P-P for alerting me to this dapper eye-patch wearer on his blog, Eclectic Ephemera.

*** And throughout the day we learn some new vocabulary: nystagmus (involuntary eye jumping); otoconia (a.k.a. our ear rocks); Eply manoeuvre (a sometimes-working system of shaking the ear rocks into the Dark Cells of the Labyrinth); The Dark Cells of the Labyrinth (excellent name for a book).

Image credits: 1: LACMA via Public Domain Review; 2: Archives NZ via Flickr

Bats In The Belfry