Category Archives: Cultural cogitations

Why life is a lot like jazz


I’m something of a jazz fan. Not an informed one who can tell their Basie from their Mingus and who thinks BC means Before Charlie (Parker). I’m more the kind of fan who matches the music to my mood. Right now, as I write, I’m listening to John Coltrane and Duke Ellington getting very sentimental. Taking my cue from the music, I’m so languid I could almost slide off my chair. Or gaze soulfully into a cocktail glass. Continue reading Why life is a lot like jazz

The AbFab guide to being fabulous

Frightfully fabulous - champagne already imbibed intravenously.
Frightfully fabulous – champagne already imbibed intravenously.

Today I would like to pay tribute to the twosome who have absolutely set the bar for fabulousness. Yes, ladies (and gentlemen if there are any of you), I give you Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone. Who else? The stars of Absolutely Fabulous are in a class of their own.  When it comes to the art of being über fabulous, these two wrote the manual and then tossed it away. Continue reading The AbFab guide to being fabulous

Ladies, I give you Mr Leonard Cohen!

Suzanne Marianne Cohen down by the river.
Suzanne Marianne Cohen down by the river.

It’s official: I’m in love. With an almost-octogenarian. Like so many women before me, I have fallen for the charms of Mr Leonard Cohen. And as a token of my deep, undying devotion, I’m changing my name to Suzanne Marianne Cohen. As of now I’m not yet styling myself “Mrs C,” but maybe in time…Though, as even Mr Cohen would admit, time isn’t exactly on our side – our combined age currently adding up to a tidy 140 years. Never mind. In the meantime, let me recount the ways in which I love this man. Continue reading Ladies, I give you Mr Leonard Cohen!

Do the French really know all about la vie?


Vive la vieille!

OK, I finally get it, the reason for all the bad karma that has come my way. It all started at birth, when I was born a baby, not a bébé. Then I grew into a woman, not a femme. And now I’m just a plain old dame, not even une femme d’un certain âge. In short, all my troubles came about because I’m Not French. Zut alors!  If only I’d been born une Française, it would have all been so very different. Pretty much parfait, in fact. Continue reading Do the French really know all about la vie?

How to be erotic at any age

Too sexay for my sheet.

Have you noticed that after a certain age there’s nothing sensuous or erotic about onscreen sex and nudity?  Rather, it reeks of irony, or even more disconcerting, downright ridicule. The few rare sightings of the unclothed older figure are either shown as a joke or an embarrassment. There’s this subtext: We’ve had our laughs, now do us a favour and put it away. Continue reading How to be erotic at any age

What Nancy Mitford can teach us about diet

I’ve been revisiting Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate and have found it just as enjoyable second time round. You can’t beat the lady for incisively witty observation at the upper end of the social scale. I, of course, can’t vouch for its accuracy because 1. I’m not quite old enough to have been around at the time of which she writes (late 1940s) and 2. even if I were, I have no firsthand experience of those rarefied circles.

I was struck by her treatment of a topic that is as universally enthralling now as it was then, i.e. the latest diet fad. Continue reading What Nancy Mitford can teach us about diet

Why I’m a Glee fan

Confession time: I am a Gleek. Yes, at 60 – older than the oldest character on the show – I am a devotee of high school musical show Glee. How did this come about? Is it a case of uncanny attunement with Gen Y? Or simply arrested development?

In my previous post LOL I briefly touched on how much our taste in humour may change with age.  Glee is  billed as a “dramedy” but for me it’s the comedy aspect that’s most appealing, especially those insulting riffs by Sue Sylvester, Brittany’s deadpan delivery and Kurt Hummel‘s camp dance moves. I love the song ‘n dance numbers, the more dancing the better. Straight songs, not so much. I’m not a fan of the big swelling ballad (or smaller ones, come to that) and all the blatant manipulation wrung out of every emotional note.

But back to Glee and why it keeps drawing me in. Could it be I’m indulging in la recherche du temps perdu, even though my own adolescence had only the vaguest resemblance to the Glee scenario?  Or maybe a secret sense that if I can still laugh at (mostly) the same things that amuse the young, then maybe – just maybe – I am not completely past it (whatever “it” means). In short, maybe I still have a vestige of awesome wickedness…?

In the spirit of Glee, I dressed up in an outfit that I imagine an Ancient Gleek might wear (see pic). Everything is from my regular wardrobe, though never before assembled in this particular juxtaposition (except for the hat, which is actual fancy dress I once wore to a party).

Ancient Gleek.
Ancient Gleek.

I can’t end without mentioning the sad death last year of Cory Monteith, Glee’s beloved Finn Hudson. The storyline that traced the relationship between him and Rachael Berry was one of my favourite parts, as it was for most Gleeks. Now we’ll never know the next chapter. Cory’s lopsided smile will always tug at my heart.

Mel Smith in memoriam

Some of my fondest  LOL moments are from the satirical UK TV show Not the Nine O’Clock News which aired in the early 80s. The recent sad demise of one of the stars, Mel Smith, at the age of 60, got me thinking about what we find funny and how much that changes (or not) as we grow older. We’ve probably all had the experience that what once made us laugh hysterically can no longer raise more than a nostalgic smile. Or even cause a grimace of embarrassment.

Mel and the team, however, can still press all my laughter buttons. One of my all-time favourite scenes features Mel as a gorilla expert, though, as he acidly points out, decidedly nothing like “David bloody Attenborough”. And FYI, it’s officially a “band” of gorillas – though apparently “flange” and “whoop” are becoming acceptable in actual scientific circles. Gerald the gorilla (aka Rowan Atkinson), that lippy and opinionated primate, has much to answer for.