The BBC’s recent 100 Books that Shaped our Worldhas started me thinking about comfort reads. What are they? When do we want them? Maybe even need them, indeed. What do they do for us? And how do we find them in the first place?
And is comfort reading a Bad Thing?
Escapism, after all, has got a bad press ever since the word was first coined, apparently in thirties USA i.e. at the height of the Depression. The Oxford English Dictionary defines escapism as “the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.”
A few years ago, we featured polar bears (left) in our Christmas blog. They were fun, in shop windows and on market stalls. I thought they were almost as good as our burglarious santas.
But this year, even though we were nowhere near the end of November, the polar bears had grown. I found nine-foot high bears on the pavement in Piccadilly outside the Park Lane Hotel (shown left and below).
They were eye-catching, certainly, but in the middle of November?
What do we poor punters have to do to be spared Christmas adverts and — crucially — Christmas jingles for weeks and weeks in the run-up to the great day? Continue reading →
There are a couple of months to go before we need to start to panic, but the groans are undoubtedly justified.
The children have only just gone back to school, the supermarket aisles are full of the momentary distraction of fake pumpkins and Halloween costumes, but they are already piling up the Christmas chocolate. (I took these two photographs just this morning.) And greetings cards are on sale for those organised enough to get them written before they get swept up in the season.
It sounds like a horror movie, doesn’t it? Sort of the reverse of the Seventh Day, when you’re supposed to rest. More 21st century urban nightmare than traditional Christmas. (Indeed, the IMdB data base does list a move called DAY 13 filmed in 2017. But that’s about all it says.)
POST PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION REVIEW
Well, Mr True Love, would you say that you succeeded in implementing your ideas?
Did you achieve your goals?
Did the project fully solve the problem it was designed to address?
Can you take things further (further?!) to deliver bigger benefits in the future? (Yikes!) Continue reading →
If you needed any more evidence that True Love has lost the plot Day 12 will do it. He’s now throwing 12 drummers drumming into the mix. Assuming they enter Stage Left and advance, drumming, that sounds pretty much like a declaration of war to me, if not the start of the battle.
Of course, the recipient may be a fan of heavy metal or other modern music making. In which case the drummers presumably just roll up on a milk float, or similar, sitting in the middle of their drum kit.
By Day 11 Mr True Love has lurched from sweetly metaphorical, or at least agriculturally productive, through the dangerous combination of entertainment and aristocracy into full-blown martial mode. He’s sending eleven pipers to do his wooing business.
Now they could be playing the bagpipes. It’s the time of year for it.
In Scotland pipers are booked up years in advance for both New Year parties and Burns’ Night celebrations on (or about — because they often slip to Saturday night with its attendant recovery period) 25th January.
But eleven bagpipes? Well maybe, if you’re advancing on the field of battle. But as a token of a chap’s respect and affection? Um. Continue reading →
By Day 10, the deranged True Love is sending along an almost football team of male aristocrats engaged in unlikely gymnastics. Were I the recipient I would go away pretty sharpish, not leaving a forwarding address.
The British 1970s Christmas stamp depicting these Lords (and yesterday’s Ladies) is chilling. At least, I think so. Continue reading →
By Day 9, Mr True Love has gone into the entertainment business. (It is a role he will continue for the rest of the holiday.) He presents our heroine with nine ladies dancing.
You may think, as I do, that this is an odd choice. Frankly, it sounds more like a stag do than a gift to the beloved. Surely it would have been more alluring if he’d invited the object of his affections to dance with him?
Hasn’t he seen Strictly Come Dancing, for Heaven’s sake? (That’s Dancing With the Stars, if you’re across the Pond.) Continue reading →
By Day 8, the True Love is getting more ambitious and, frankly, a bit cracked.
Today’s gift embraces both livestock and human trafficking. This is seriously dodgy territory now. He’s clearly into all things quaint, traditional and with just a hint of the Good Old Days. Maybe even Heritage.
I feel we’re beginning to detect some disturbing undercurrents in these so-called gifts. Are they not just another way of tying his Beloved to endless cleaning and animal husbandry? Only now she’ll have staff to placate as well. Not a good outlook. Continue reading →
At least our heroine’s True Love has shifted from domestic to wild birds with the Day 7 offering. And not just a wild bird but a truly beautiful one, with mythological and poetic pedigree to boot.
The swan is one of the creatures that mates for life, according to legend and, to some extent, ornithological observation. (Not 100%, apparently; but a significant percentage of couples stick together.)
Allegedly it also sings only once, at the point of death – hence the exquisitely mournful Orlando Gibbons motet
So at last we have here a gift with real subtext: love, loyalty and death. Not that jolly maybe. But certainly romantic. Hmm. Possibly a bit late, given the bird shit that must be surrounding his lady love’s residence by now. Continue reading →