More often than not, the story of Héloïse and Abélard is hurled onto the same stockpile of ‘star-crossed lovers’ to which Juliet, Troilus, Mélisande and Pyramus belong. Admittedly it has all the conventional elements of a tragic romance: a philosopher and his student fall in love; the girl’s uncle opposes; they marry in secret; the girl bears a child; the philosopher is brutally castrated; faced with no other option they both enter religious orders, while exchanging passionate letters to the end of their lives. A heady mix of piety and illicit desire, guilt and fury, it appears good enough, if not too good, for stage and screen.
Flicking through a copy of Cosmopolitan at my local railway station - I would never buy it, it's only for tutting at disapprovingly as I wait for trains - I saw they had interviewed some ‘real men’ about something to do with sex. I involuntarily rolled my eyes (and tutted disapprovingly) because I've noted that 'real men', according to Cosmo, are to be found not down mines or on construction sites but exclusively in professions that would never require them to break a sweat or develop calluses. They're always in poncey occupations such as wine importing or commodities trading, exactly the kinds of places, in fact, where I am likely to find that species of smug, preening, self-congratulating male I would never dream of having sex with. Men with a manicure probably, Lord save us. A buffed fingernail near my clitoris? I think not.
In the wake of the historic Irish Referendum, Laura Ward looks back through past societies at the almost unbelievable obstacles facing women in the UK who sought terminations and the bizarre underground culture that rose around them. Abortion was the only medical procedure to be banned by law Far more brutal surgeries, such as lobotomy or clitorectomy, were performed at whim. After the country's separation from the UK (concluded in 1921), Ireland’s eighth amendment had made abortion illegal since 1983, even in the cases of rape, incest and severe danger to the mother. Abortion law still remains unchanged in Northern Ireland.
Julie Cook. A weekend exhibition at the Doomed Gallery 65 Ridley Rd, London E8 2NP
If I told you this would be the last drink of my life, what would you make me? I ask as I sit at the bar stool, beside a towering, bespectacled young bartender. A Negroni, because it is bittersweet, like life itself, he responds without hesitation, as if he gets such strange custom regularly. I have already shed my duvet of a coat, a silly hat with ear flaps, gloves and a scarf that is large enough to cover my entire body. It is a school night, which might explain why I am one of only three punters at Apoteka; the two others sit by the window that overlooks the Vilnius night, slightly muddled by confused snowflakes.
A while back, I ordered something from a well-known online stationery firm. It didn’t arrive. So, of course, I went online to ask why. They had run out of stock, they told me, but they had reordered. So I asked them when it would arrive. ‘In a few days,’ typed Customer Service Representative Julie. A month later, still nothing had appeared. So I asked them again and I got this email answer from Customer Service Representative Harriet:
Let’s be honest with ourselves, romance, seduction, lovemaking, mindless fucking, it’s all better when you’re with someone who knows how to say the right things in the right way. I am talking about love letters, I am talking sensual whispers, I am talking about those savage moments when you throw your partner on the bed and start talking dirty. Whatever it is, it isn’t the same without words.
It’s all the rage at the moment, stirring the halls of power in certain countries, and satisfying some sense of puritanical virtue. Bonking is off the cards for politicians – at least in certain contexts, and some states. In Australia, the issue of the Deputy Prime Minister’s relationship with an ex-staffer whilst married persists in gripping politics with what is now a deadening hand. Not, however, for a certain Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
To pay homage to an inspirational woman such as Josephine Baker was a daunting prospect, and something I put off for a while. Not only because of who she was in terms of the history of dance, show biz, and her relevance in black culture but also the political statement of the piece. Firstly I needed to bring together all the elements of the act. The right music, the correct moves and, of course, the persona. I enlisted the help of a dear friend and the head of the Bees Knees, Aliya Floyd. Her expertise in Charleston and the popular dance moves of the time were perfect in what was needed to make a true salute to Josephine. Naturally, I studied her range of facial expressions as well, which I feel is her signature – and a whole piece of choreography within itself.
London, 9 August, 1967. At the height of his short-lived fame, Joe Orton – anarchic playwright and cause célèbre of the English theatre – is found murdered at 25 Noel Road, Islington, his brains bashed in by his long-term lover and one-time collaborator Kenneth Halliwell. Divided in life by Orton’s hard-won success as a writer, the two are forever united in death when Halliwell savagely bludgeons Orton with a hammer then takes a fatal dose of sedatives.