Also on wikipedia.
Now, back to the festivities.
The passing of this holiday season should improve Malcolm’s enjoyment of his daily diet of newsprint.
A major turn-off has been the prevalence of Chanel 5 adverts. In particular, variants on this one:
Doubtless, a creative media type saw it as seductive, sensuous, even erotic. Just the kind of thing to persuade innocent males to reach for their credit cards.
Was Malcolm unique in seeing a distasteful resemblance to a tape worm?
Oh, and a counterweight, the Audrey Tatou ad is terrific:
Guido (not that one, silly!) di Pietro had serial goes at the Annunciation. In his adult life he was Brother John from Fiesole — because Fiesole was where he took his Dominican vows. Flash forward a century and Vasari added “the Angelic” bit. Add in another four centuries or so, and he’s become “the Blessed”.
It was just as well the Blessed Fra Giovanni da Fiesoli Angelico (serial Californian divorcees get off lighter) hadn’t screen-printing as a medium. We’d be knee-deep in Annunciations and Crucifixions. As Malcolm muttered, after an extended Florentine traipse around the Accademia and the Uffizi on successive days, “you can have too much of a good thing”.
However, this is the one we all remember:
It’s in the Diocesan Museum at Cortona. It’s a big one (some two yards each way). And it’s one where Gabriel looks almost aero-spatially possible.
So why is Malcolm doing Fra Angelico? Has he become seasonal, and gooey? Nah!
It’s Steve Bell’s cruel take on the thing:
Yes, yes … it’s like being bullied by a Leichtensteiner admiral.
There is, of course, a serious aspect:
In a new row with Britain, the Mercosur bloc, which includes Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, agreed on Tuesday to close ports throughout the region to ships flying the flag of the disputed Islands.
The presidents of the countries agreed ships flying the Falklands flag “should not dock in Mercosur ports, and if that were to happen, they should not be accepted in another Mercosur port”.
A copy of the agreement also said member countries would adopt “all measures that can be put in place to impede the entry to its ports of ships that fly the illegal flag of the Malvinas Islands”.
The dispute, which has created a fresh diplomatic headache for the government, which controls the islands, involves a vast area of potentially mineral-rich South Atlantic waters.
At one level, this is simply “Britain’s difficulty is Argentina’s opportunity”, and shouldn’t be given higher priority than than second-hand thought.
Equally, it is hard not to find a smidgeon of wonder: how can a dispute, over a few bits of sheep-infested rock, fester so enduringly and so poisonously between two civilised, rugby-playing nations? Except, inevitably, oil is involved.
If history repeats itself, first as tragedy — for that is what Thatcher’s war most assuredly was, for both parties — and then as farce, in David Cameron we have the true flatulist, le vrai petomane, to open the second act. Which, of course, was the intended end (ahem!) of this post:
The winter solstice is at (London time) 5:30 am on Thursday morning. Malcolm hopes to be asleep to miss it.
The place for the sunset on Wednesday would be Maeshowe on Orkney. Catch the webcam link (hoping it works) here.
Malcolm shall, of course, maintain the well-worn tradition established by his Dear Old Dad. Later on Thursday he will gaze out his back window and mutter the hallowed line:
“Good to see the evenings pulling out.”
It comes just about time
At this grim, grey mid-winter the sun, even at noon, doesn’t make it over the roof-trees of the next road south. The rotary clothes-dryer in the back garden of Redfellow Hovel never gets any sunlight — a commodity in any case sorely rationed in London (Latitude 51deg, 32min N) at this time.
To the Brythonic Druids this was the time of “the light of the bear” — Alban Arthan. It is no coincidence that the Arthurian cycle starts with Arthur’s birth at mid-winter, and ends at Camlann, as Tennyson romantically has it:
So all day long the noise of battle roll’d
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur’s table, man by man,
Had fall’n in Lyonness about their Lord,
King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
On one side lay the Ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.
Once one has seen Slaughterbridge, along the B3314, near Tregath Wood, in Cornwall, on a rare morning of hard, penetrating frost, little remaining emotional doubt where “Camlann” had to be remains.
Beannachtaí na Nollag!
The BBC News website Christmas quiz is starting.
The teaser is:
Well, for free, that’s Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Adam and Eve, from the collection in the Warsaw National Gallery.
There are two obvious connections for that picture:
1. It is dated from 1512 — which makes a nice quincentenary coming up.
2. Malcolm has never understood Eve’s pose there, rubbing the apple to her cheek. It couldn’t be an allusion to putting-the-shot for London’s Olympic year, could it?