Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Change and decay - not all bad

The one form of headgear I can accept: Breton marine cap (or its sibling worn by Rhine barge captains). Gift from Mrs BB.Great source of quaint lapel pins once awarded to pliant proletariat, now keenly priced for tourists

AGEING Evidence may be sudden and poignant. As when I heard trebles singing a descant to Adeste Fideles, a skill I lost sixty-five years ago. But it is, in the end, a balancing act.

Indent left: Former German chancellor, Helmut Schmidt

CAN’T: Regularly swim a mile in the pool. Ski. Go rock-climbing. Drink to excess. Eat to excess. Interest myself in most UK TV sitcoms. Sleep more than five hours a night. Pick up conversation in noisy environments. Endure the middle-classes en masse. Remain calm during conversation about soccer, pop music. Behave civilly to suspected Tories. Restrain myself from asking questions. Show enthusiasm for the Iberian peninsula. Fly long distance. Tolerate evangelists. Willingly regard the faces of Huw Edwards, Kevin Geary, Alex Ferguson, Sue Barker, George Osborne, Arianna Huffington, John Pilger Empathise plausibly with youth.

CAN: Feel untouched by many of the above. Compensate for not drinking to excess by buying expensive wine. Revel in shabby clothing. Take pleasure in academic accounts of history. Luxuriate in near silence. Respond to the appearance and songs of birds. Spend more without caring. Consider death unselfconsciously. Find myself becoming more generous (with cash). Imagine I understand maths and physics - and the structure of music. Write better. Ignore changes in the weather. Benefit from advanced car technology. Exercise curiosity about the nature of womanhood without being thought a menace.

12 comments:

Avus said...

I approve of the Breton cap, BB. Being largely "un-thatched" my pate feels the cold and my own such is a constant companion. Thus it has become well worn with authentic fading and an uneven peak. However, beard, pipe, roll-neck white sweater and sea boots have yet to complement it.
My Australian Akubra tends to be worn only at suitable events like country fairs.

Plutarch said...

Just for the sake of asking with regard to the middle class en masse, how do you regard the working class en masse eg on a football terrace? Or do you agree with the goddess of the middle classes, Margaret Thatcher, who said that there is no such thing as class? The upper classes? There are so few of them by now that to apply the phrase en masse to them would be I suppose amount to a contradiction in terms.

Hattie said...

I have my sensitivities, too, such as the hideous sight of slack-jawed gum chewing. Add smacking sound effects and I become enraged. I do sympathize with the young, however, and my take on men is that are transparent and highly amusing, mostly. I wonder that I ever took them seriously.

FigMince said...

That cap. Looks a little subversive to me. The kind of cap a card-noncarrying anarchist might wear. Where can I get one?

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: Since I am well thatched, headgear has no thermal significance, rather a way of re-creating myself. But who, you may I ask, do I become? From time to time I am Helmut Schmidt, the German chancellor 1974 - 1982 who always looked so sophisticated and intelligent in comparison to the UK's Brass Chancellor at the same time. The cap also suits Mrs BB as it did, inter alia, Barbra Streisand. I have rejigged my post layout to include a shot of Schmidt wearing the cap since I'm grateful to him for giving me the idea.

Plutarch: Sounds like a loaded question. Theoretically I'm supposed to love the working classes but they make this difficult by reading The Sun, parrotting its politics and occupying the terraces; let's describe my state of mind as one of armed neutrality. As to the middle classes I am brought forcibly into contact with them three or four times a year when we travel by chartered bus to concerts at Birmingham Symphony hall. The men all wear ties, carry their salad teas in Tupperware boxes and their coffee in vacuum flasks and are wary about expressing opinions about the music in tones that may be overheard. Worst of all is the way they eat, using only their incisors. Mrs T said there was no such thing as society and she may have been right.

Hattie: I don't know what you've got against smacking. The fact that I was thrashed repeatedly during my youth, leaving me as a broken-down psychopath with a tendency to run off at the mouth, is a perfectly acceptable resolution when you imagine what the alternative might have been. In strong sunlight I too am transparent, forgetive (see Falstaff) and would be shocked if anyone took me seriously.

Fig: It could well be subversive but I need all the visual interest that's available. To further your education Google Quiberon cap. Quiberon is also a presqu'ile.

DuchessOmnium said...

Is lack of affect in relation to minor land masses a symptom of getting older, or are you confessing to a long-held apathy? Are there any more peninsulas you'ld like to reject? As you age, will you be moving on to isthmuses and archipelagos?

Barrett Bonden said...

DO: Quiberon is the cap model, according to a stiff linen tag that juts into the back of my head and will have to be removed before I start wearing the cap seriously. However once I'd typed the word, to aid FigMince in his search, word association took over and I was reminded of a holiday at Concarneau on the south coast of Brittany quite close to Quiberon. It was there I discovered that Quiberon is a presqu'ile.

However word association didn't stop there. I've been wrestling with French for decades now and this latest discovery came as a great disappointment. Calling a peninsula an "almost island" left the French condemned of philological naivete, undermining my real reason for learning the language (to appear a sophisticate in certain impressionable quarters of the UK).

When it comes to features in physical geography the USA leads the world in unsolved mysteries. I never really tracked down a meaning for "berm" (and I'm not sure now of the spelling) nor of the vaguely used "wash" that crops up in cowboy tales. I realise this response to your comment is somewhat inordinate but it may or may not answer the implicit question as to whether I'm sentient.

The Crow said...

Ex-B left behind his mariner's cap. I've been thinking of adding some beads to it, maybe some ribbons. Now that my hair is short again, I think it will fit.

Yours looks much better than the one I have, and you (what I can see of you) look dashing in it.

Happy new year, BB.

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: From a feller's point of view the cap's attraction is its plainness and my aim in wearing it is not to look dashing (my wild overgrown white hair does that) but to appear tough and competent; hey, we're all entitled to our delusions. However, since you aren't a feller feel free to add ribbons, bells and furbelows but with one caveat - you mention short hair, such a cap may cause your hair to jut out like a couple of bat's wings. Check out your shadow if you're not sure.

Let's hope for both of us 2011 is better than 2010. Cheers.

Rouchswalwe said...

BB! Ich wünsche einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr! The nifty thing about those marine caps is that the brim doesn't make it necessary to remove the cap for the midnight kiss.

Lucy said...

I must say your list of bêtes noirs is entertainingly catholic (with a small 'c' of course, with a majuscule and doubtless that would add another...) Not interesting yourself in UK sitcoms is more a mark of sanity than age, I would have thought. Indifference to changes in the weather is an odd one, I thought people got more preoccupied with meteorological phenomena as they aged.


Which causes me to remember that in fact I did enjoy Tom Conti's turn on Miranda Hart's sitcom as her old-bufferish dad, fretting endlessly and repeatedly about leaving everywhere early because 'If that slush freezes it'll turn to black ice. Absolute death trap...'

Perhaps it's just people en masse who are the problem. My immediate family alone would probably constitute an example of the middle classes en masse so I can't really concur altogether with that, but your description of your coach parties is funny. I wonder if the salad teas and the eating with incisors only are cause and effect and if so which way round?

I do like the cap, and the little glimpse of your twinkly eyes below it! It reminds me a bit of our former neighbour who always wore one. Quiberon put me in mind rather of Portland, including the prison, but the western coast of it is quite impressive, with rocks and stuff. I did do a post on it years ago I think.

Wishing you and Mrs BB all good things for the New Year!

Barrett Bonden said...

RW (zS): And I wish you happy landsliding in 2011 too - alas, my ski-ing days are over. I'll bear that tip in mind about about kissing, though shouldn't gentlemen take their hats off, anyway?

Lucy: Sitcoms - I mean I can't bear to watch them, their predictability (always emphasised in the trailers) causes me psycho-stress. Weather - Ignoring it allows me to avoid talking about it. The middle-class aversion - I suppose I could qualify it, limiting myself to those who simulate rabbits. The cap - probably something deep-seated; I'm convinced it will confer sturdiness, stability and just a tiny tinge of Europhilia; it might look well if I wore it while flying in a helicopter. On verra

Salud, Mat an traoù ganeoc'h? Kalon digor! Debrit ervat! Debrit a galon!