Summer’s soft, warm breezes are back, bringing their own special memories: the end of exams; holidays on the beach; falling asleep in hammocks; but most of all, the first few exciting weeks of a new relationship.
How many of us have enjoyed our first romantic relationship thanks to the revealing outfits that warm weather allowed us wear, the tanned limbs the sun gave us and the simple fact we had somewhere that wasn’t indoors to go and, well, explore?
But when sun goes in and the Ray-Bans come off (somehow instantly losing that rose-tinted quality they possessed) we find ourselves ‘in a relationship’.
Every now and again, the wheel of fashion turns but discovers it has nowhere new to go, and suddenly bellbottoms and crop tops are back in vogue. The same cyclical patterns can be found in Gender Politics. Catcalling, quotas and ‘how-to’ books on feminism are all back on the agenda. And so it is that the question of body hair has become somewhat of a ‘thing’ lately, with the press reporting ‘hairy isn’t scary’, with a combination of fear and fascination that denotes it could well be the last taboo. Girls, rejoice! Sporting neon dyed underarms is proof your feminist credentials and a fashion forward-look for SS15. But is a bit of fluff really a political statement?
Down here there is special concern about whether an EU ban on neonicotinoid coated seeds will threaten the oil seed rape crop. Rape, apart from its colourful contribution to our landscape is apparently (do we detect the PR hands of the OSR Marketing Board?), a coming rival to disease-threatened olive oil in the kitchen.
This issue was the cause of some discussion in the Old Doom Bar the other weekend. June arrived wetly so there was leisure time to consider whether to cover our verdant meadows with solar panels – like our neighbours in Devon or persevere with a cash crop such as rape.
Rapeseed or brassica napus to give its proper name has nothing contextually or etymologically to do in its familiar form with the act of sexual violence. Nonetheless the term inevitably led someone in our little discussion group to mention the current issue of new CPS guidelines that enable being drunk as no impediment to a female’s claim of rape – that is, non-consensual sex.
The account Tom of Tehran (https://instagram.com/tom_of_tehran/) publishes intimate pictures of gay Tehran. They are subtle in nature, perhaps following the long tradition of Persian poetry, where metaphor is king.
Most images are accompanied by a description, a poetic narrative that, at times, gets cheeky, humorous, or envious. But it remains evocative at all times.
Do you read slash fiction? Well, you read the Erotic Review, so presumably you have fairly eclectic literary tastes– but until recently I had never heard of it. Frankly, it was a more innocent time.
Then one evening, quietly googling Sherlock plot predictions like the amazingly cool adult I have become, I stumbled across some of the most shocking filth I have ever read. Honestly, I may never be able to see Sherlock and Moriarty together on screen again without blushing.
It’s been odd weather of late. May struggles to present itself as nearly summer, rather like a long dreamed of or fancied lover who turns out on re-acquaintance to be not quite as remembered. May, despite sunny moments has been in general a little colder, less reliable and more windy than hoped for. The first two could well be true of lovers, but one hopes not the third. As my friend Nick the builder says ‘you can get pills for that’.
We like the winds of change, especially when they are blown as a result of popular vote, as if it means we, as a species, have evolved a little, that we have become a tiny bit better.
Ireland’s vote to legalise gay marriage is a welcome change. It is a victory against the Church’s obdurate dogma and a show of Irish people’s maturity and goodness.
In comparison to many other countries, Ireland has done well. Although homosexuality was a crime only 22 years ago, this is a good deal of progress.
The result of the Irish referendum is great news. However, I cannot agree that upholding human rights should require a popular vote. It is always dangerous to ask the majority about the rights of a minority. But where in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does it say that a country has to resort to a referendum?
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Thirty-five years ago on June 7 1980, Henry Miller died at his home in Pacific Palisades, California. His had been an extraordinary life, and he left behind a body of work of unique character and quality.
Sadly, in the popular mind (if that term can be applied to the mainstream media commentariat) Miller is referenced too often as a notorious author of smutty ramblings. In reality he was in the first rank of radical 20th century writers, and many of his books would qualify as ‘the great American novel’, were they merely novels rather than semi-autobiographical works of polemic and social critique. Lawrence Durrell and Norman Mailer were both unreserved in their admiration of the meaning and power of his work.
"We're not junkies," says Michael, the newest member of a group for Internet addicts. His relationship may be in tatters, but his YouTube videos have become a sensation (almost 2,000 hits a day). This is Anonymous Anonymous, AA, if you will. But Michael's right in a way. The four people sitting in this circle haven't hit rock bottom through any of the more “traditional” addictions. They're here because they can't stop Tweeting, can't get off Facebook, they scour and contribute to forums as day turns into night.
“About beauty they were never wrong, the ancient masters” – so W.H. Auden might have professed upon seeing Defining Beauty: the body in ancient Greek art, the British Museum’s most significant exhibition of Greek art in decades. It is a truism, after all – or an ingrained assumption – that Greek sculpture epitomises beauty in art, especially the classical Greek sculpture that emerged from 'democratic' Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Since antiquity itself, this view has heavily shaped the way we think about art, and about beauty. And wandering through the low-lit chambers of the new Sainsbury exhibition wing at the British Museum, it is hard to deny the allure of the sculpted bodies on display. Lithe, torqued, tensed or rippling, they multiply into a pantheon of gods, athletes and heroes.
Addressing an event in such recent history, you would be forgiven for thinking you knew everything about the Iraq war. After numerous Hollywood blockbusters, public executions and a worldwide critique of the parts America and the UK played in the arguably unnecessary and absolutely mishandled invasion of Iraq, we understand the politics of the war so much more clearly in hindsight.
It is interesting to discover a side of the story that has been largely overlooked, something that all too often happens when the subject matter is women. The Lonely Soldier Monologues is an entirely verbatim play written by Helen Benedict, recounting stories told to her by female American soldiers deployed to Iraq. Superbly directed by Prav MJ, seven women deliver fiercely striking and honest performances that would make their real-life counterparts proud.
For Books Sake's star has been gradually rising since its launch in 2010. Its aim is threefold – to champion writing by women and girls, reform the mainstream media's gender bias, and to petition national exam boards to better reflect equality and diversity. As a charity it's all done voluntarily, with a dedicated cast of reviewers, editors, feature writers and commissioners. And now it has launched a short-fiction anthology dedicated to erotica by women, compiled from an open call for submissions and featuring emerging as well as established writers.
High Society: Kevin Spacey's tenure at the Old Vic is almost up, after an 12-year jaunt that's taken the theatre to as many corners of the thespian globe as it's possible to go. The success of last season's Clarence Darrow saw queues snaking round the side of the building (I know because my mum was one of them, hunched in the doorway in a sleeping bag at 4am). And what better way to bow out than on the sparkling pink cocktail that is High Society – at once sexy, jolly and naff.
Ali May’s debut collection of erotic short stories, Geography of Attraction, takes the reader around the globe, pausing breathlessly to observe the fleeting flirtations and longings of others as nationalities and philosophies entwine and people connect through that universal language, desire.
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JOSHUA HAYES PHOTOGRAPHER
is a London-based freelance photo-journalist with a passion for Social documentary and political unrest. Working towards developing not only our understanding of what is around us but the wisdom and passion that is within us all.
Joshua’s work can be seen here
and he can be contacted at
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Did Johann Salvadorus kill the Homecoming Queen? No, he did far worse…
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