‘I wish I could subdue the flesh that sadly troubles me…’ So the wonderful and not altogether regretfully still randy John Betjeman in his poem 'Senex'. The autumnal tone manages to combine all the burgeoning and moist and ripe stuff with misty wistfulness. So it is with the ageing process.
A scruffy buzzard perches on the ‘welcome’ sign in the small Highland town of Grantown on Spey, its head angled down and sideways. Its one visible eye peers into my own, a bright pulse of contact as I drive by, and as a result of this I feel expected. I have made a reservation in the same hotel where our family holidayed each summer, although it is decades since I was last here. I have no idea what I will find, and am relieved to discover that the hotel is almost unchanged. The croquet lawn at the back has gone, and new houses fill its place; the gravel drive now forms an ordered car park. But there is still a glass case on the writing desk in the lobby where a – perhaps diminished - variety of hand tied fishing flies bristle, iridescent, over their hooks.
WomenTime plays a ‘swings and roundabouts’ game with women. With maturity come wrinkles and sagging, fading and withering, scraggy neck or double chin and a definite loss of pertness in the pertinent parts. I am increasingly horrified at the amount of loose ‘curtain material’ I have to gather and draw back with one hand while enjoying my wake-up wank of a morning.
In the great debate of pornography v. erotica the view is that, among its other failings, porn is clichéd and mechanistic. There are no surprises. It’s all as predictable as a Big Mac with fries and coke. With the burger, you know just what you’re getting and how it will satisfy your hunger down to the stomach’s final gaseous expression of satisfaction at the end of the meal. Despite the subsequent feeling of mild self-disgust it does the job, in a linear sort of way. Porn is no different, or so they say.
‘Porn is everywhere’, Irvine Welsh averred back in 2002, but a recent twelve-hour power cut to Castle Riley sadly proved how readily Irvine’s proclamation can be gainsaid. With not even so much as a half-charged laptop between us, my cohabitee and I were thrown back on the pastimes of a less technological age: parlour games and reading aloud.
Whether with laughter or desire, expect pulses to race at Spencer Maybe’s multi-character solo show. Based on the delightfully ludicrous premise of a God-ordained mission to save the world from ecological disaster – through the medium of burlesque – The Last Trilogy is one of the freshest experiences available to Fringe audiences this year.
In my humble but firm opinion the most evocative love song ever written is Those Foolish Things. The writers (Maschwitz and Strachey) deserve eternal credit. Among the lyrical gems are the words ‘silk stockings thrown aside as invitations’. If that doesn’t make you swoon with pleasurable images you must be dead. Now imagine ‘nylon tights lying in a crumpled heap tangled up with her knickers’. There’s no contest really. Watching a woman remove her tights is as off-putting as watching a bloke shed his socks. All right, it’s not as bad as that, especially if you are both hot to trot, but the process lacks finesse. I doubt that even Angelina Jolie could make it look great.
The Wages of Sin are Death, we well know, and of the Cardinal sort, Lust (Lechery, Fornication: take your pick) will always come high, if not highest on the list. For, bad enough taken on its own, in combination it colours each of the other six. As for the dark deed itself, it is, as old Sir Thomas Browne, himself a medical man, once said, ‘the foolishest act a wise commits in all his life, nor is there any thing that will more deject his cool’d imagination, when hee shall consider what an odde and unworthy piece of folly hee hath committed.’ Which altogether seems to rule well out of order that natural imperative which, unanswered, would leave none of us here at all. Very puzzling and confusing it is.
Years ago I inherited a Martini glass which accommodates a quarter of a litre of gin, so that’s what I use every Friday when I mix myself a large one. Rowley Leigh’s barman told me that you should splash a little Noilly Prat in the chilled glass, swirl it round and flick it away. Use Bombay Sapphire, pour a glassful over the ice and shake it until the silver flagon is misty with frost, return it to the glass to absorb the traces of Vermouth, add a slice of lemon zest if you like and feel the spirit slipping like frozen fire around your mouth.