Tuesday 30 June 2009

Often Misused Words

aghast – amazed, appalled or angry? (appalled)

– dynasty, ancestry or mastery? (Sounds like ancestry – but it means mastery.)

– array, attack or barrage? (array)

belie – betray, reveal or contradict? (contradict)

compunction – compulsion, compassion or contrition? (None of these – it’s a prick of conscience.)

– reluctance, respect or shyness? (shyness)

edifice – the front of a building, a building or a tower? (A building – the front is the façade.)

– battle, excursion or raid? (A fray is a battle, a foray is a raid or incursion.)

– high, holy or hollow? (holy)

– gap, heyday or exodus? (gap)

– porridge, sermon or homage? (sermon)

– endow, infuse, permeate or drain? (permeate) (There’s an archaic word “endue” or “indue” which means “endow”. And “imbrue” or “embrue” means “to saturate”. Endue thy ministers with righteousness!)

inherent – installed, innate or inevitable? (innate)

insipid – tepid, insidious or bland? (bland)

invariably – unavoidably, always or nearly always? (always)

lauded – praised, boasted or saluted? (praised)

novitiate – novice nun, group of novice nuns or member of a religion? (Sounds like initiate, but it means a group of trainee nuns, not a single novice.)

– defamation, funeral or obligation? (defamation)

obtuse – lateral, stupid or impermeable? (stupid)

opprobrium – approval or disapproval? (disapproval)

ostensibly – originally, apparently or showily? (apparently – if you want showy, try ostentatious)

preoccupation – prejudice, worry or obsession? (worry)

proviso – provision, premise or caveat? (caveat)

reticent – disinclined, reserved or religious? (reserved. If you’re disinclined to do something you’re reluctant.)

sacrosanct – holy, taboo or superb? (holy)

sanguine – sarcastic, optimistic or sardonic? (optimistic)

spatchcocked – sprawled, straddled, splayed or botched up? (splayed)

touted – praised, rejected or sold in the street? (sold)

vaunt – leap, brag or advertise? (brag – it’s vaulting ambition that o’erleaps itself)

When you examine something closely, do you pore, pour or paw over it? (pore)

Monday 29 June 2009

Found Poetry

Coffee cools
because quasar 3C 273
grows ever more distant

Lawrence Schulman, New Scientist Feb 5 2000

This poem is put together from newspaper and magazine headlines.
Monkey species ‘gone for good’.
Huge waves eroding British coast.
Maps show homes at risk of flood.
Global warming worse than feared.
Extreme events will be the norm.
Heavy traffic heads for Mars.

Typing Exercises
Yesterday I went to see the house and found it to my liking.
A tall figure with a square box entered and closed the door.
She could hear the water rushing and flooding all around her.
The shop, with the blinds drawn down, was a place of shadows.
John was standing outside a large store watching the traffic.
Every evening the old lady sat by the open door of her house.
The woman had taken a seat quite close to the railings.
His train seemed to go so slowly he wanted to push it.
He stretched himself out on the grass to enjoy the sun,.
The next morning the thunder seemed to have quite gone.
Out of the window she could see large blocks of houses.
The man in the top coat was clearly very nervous.
Anne gazed with excitement at the dazzling scene below.
He strolled downstairs and out into the garden.
She turned and walked slowly back to the bookshop.
A big man in grey flannels was pacing up and down.
I stood unable to move, afraid of who waited there.
He had no intention of hanging about doing nothing.
The blind man sat motionless on the camp bed.
Before going to her room she peeped in at the old man.
Both doors were tightly closed and it was pitch black.

Saturday 27 June 2009

Figures of Speech

The Ancient Greeks were heavily into rhetoric. It was all about making people think and feel and believe what was useful – we call it marketing. They turned it into a science, breaking persuasion down into its constituent parts and codifying them as anacoluthon, hyperbaton etc. You might think that was all soooo 2,500 years ago, but we use those figures of speech every day. Well, maybe not all at once.

This is where you you refer to the whole of something when you just mean a part of it, or vice versa. Whole for part, part for whole is a shorter way of putting it. He was a famous face (the whole of him was famous). It you can mention the container when you mean the thing contained – Janet Jackson had a wardrobe malfunction (it was her clothes that went AWOL). The speaker addressed a packed hall (he was addressing the people in it). The kettle’s boiled! (It was the water that boiled.) You can also refer to the thing contained when you mean the container (pass the milk). Synechdoche, New York is a film starring Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Separating the parts of a compound word, according to Webster, as in "abso-bl**dy-lutely", la-di-perishin’-da, Leonardo da bl***dy Vinci). Used a lot in In the Loop

An implied or indirect reference (Another Place for the House of Lords, the Other Place for Hell, Across the Pond for the U.S., the Man Above for God, Over There for the war in Europe (WWI)).

What would the English do without understatement? When people are yelling and screaming and running round in circles you ask: “What’s all the fuss about?” If a friend is severely ill you say he’s “feeling a little sorry for himself.” You refer to World War I as “the late unpleasantness”. The retreat from Dunkirk was “no picnic”. If you’re surrounded by utter disaster you say “conditions are suboptimal”.

A rhetorical figure in which the speaker emphasizes something by affecting to pass it by without notice, usually by such phrases as ‘not to mention’, ‘to say nothing of’.

It goes without saying...

Not to mention...

I needn’t tell you...

Needs no introduction...

Let others speak of...

...but I’m not going to go into all that now.

To say nothing of what you did when...

If you perpetrate amphiboly, you make a statement that can be read two ways, or even three. Do dogs have worries? Or should we worry about them?

Dogs Found Worrying Will Be Shot

Bishop Lifting Service

Brake and Clutch Parts

Caution: Do not run on the stairs. Use the handrail.

Dogs Must Be Carried


Elephants Please Stay Inside Your Car

Fish and Chips Left at Lights

Flying Insect Killer

Help save the world from your desktop!

Incest More Common than Thought in U.S.

Insert finger under flap and move from side to side

Knight Rentals

Man Not Responsible for Global Warming

Monster Man Eating Shark

Pedestrians Look Right

Save soap and waste paper

Slow children crossing

The Society for Visiting Scientists

Toilet Out of Order, Please Use Floor Below

Wildlife Drive Slowly at Night

Boring Machine Ahead

Sheep, please keep dogs under control

Print friendly statement

HYPERBATON – backwards ran the sentences...
Hyperbaton is a "figure of speech in which the customary or logical order of words or phrases is inverted, especially for the sake of emphasis". For example, they used to say of Time magazine: "Backwards ran sentences until reeled the mind." The film Philadelphia Story may have been guying this when the Cary Grant character says: "No mean Machiavelli is smiling, cynical Sidney Kidd."

According to the Time archive: “[Briton] Hadden [a founding editor] ... encouraged backward-running sentences ("A ghastly ghoul prowled around a cemetery not far from Paris. Into family chapels went he, robbery of the dead intent upon").” Time Archive) A letter to the magazine caught the habit: "Of primary importance is making the problem visible."

It used to be common in military usage: beds, army, two tier, soldiers, for the use of; Clutches, motor-cycles, soldiers for the use of

This can easily be parodied in other contexts: Soup, nourishing, the poor, for the use of.

HYPERBOLE – exaggeration, overstatement, catastrophising

If we relax the divorce laws it will lead to anarchy!

Political correctness has destroyed society!

Young people have become feral!

This 13-year-old father shows that we have lost all sense of right and wrong!

"This is Stalinism, practically!" David Hockney on the smoking ban (Times May 9 2009)

When the head of a theological college removed one prayer from a rite, protesters asked: “Why do you want to destroy the prayerbook?”

“Full normalization of homosexuality would eventually mean the end to all morals legislation of any kind." Albert Mohler, quoted in Time Nov 08

"the progressive intelligentsia ... have simply written orderly, married, normative family life out of the script, enforced the doctrines of multiculturalism and nonjudgmentalism with the zealotry of the fanatic, and caused Britain to descend into an age of barbarism." Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail

Friday 26 June 2009

Pangrams and Palindromes

PANGRAMS contain all the letters of the alphabet.

The public was amazed to view the quickness and dexterity of the juggler.

I endeavoured to puzzle the ex-spy by quickly jumping backwards.

While making deep excavations we found some quaint bronze jewelry.

Sweet marjoram grew in luxuriant profusion by the window that overlooked the quaint Aztec city.

Sphinx of black quartz judge my vow.

PALINDROMES read the same backwards as forwards.

Drawn onward

In words drown I

Rats live on no evil star

Satan oscillate my metallic sonatas

Lewd did I live and evil did I dwel

Norma is as selfless as I am, Ron

Monday 22 June 2009

Visions of the Future: 34 Predictions We're Still Waiting For

Nothing dates faster than visions of the future

1. We'll dress in spider silk and nettle thread. There's a piece about spinning and weaving spider silk here.

2. Products will send messages to your mobile from the shelf (a centralised shopping database knows your preferences).

3. Ladies - you'll keep a computer in your kitchen to store your recipes!

4. We'll live in the house of the future: cuboid, with moulded plastic furniture and a conversation pit. Or possibly an egg-shaped pod on a stalk.

5. The Information Superhighway will come through your television.

6. The family computer will sit in the living room and the man of the house will be in charge of it.

7. We will make the Web more “intuitive” by presenting it as a 3D molecule diagram, and replace the outdated desktop metaphor.

8. We will interact with computers by waving our hands in front of them, or typing on a keyboard image projected onto the desktop.

9. A fridge with an Internet connection will read the bar codes of whatever you put in it and order more when you're about to run out.

10. Your washing machine will flash up a message on your TV screen when it's entering its final cycle.

11. Every home will have a Vacubot!

12. You will order dinner in advance from your amphibicar.

13. You will turn on your oven or aircon from the shopping centre.

14. Walls will change colour according to your mood.

15. The airship will make the aeroplane obsolete.

16. Trains will run on overhead tracks.

17. We'll grow crops on the moon.

18. We will travel at top speed through the stratosphere.

19. We will colonise Mars.

20. We will wash dishes, clean shoes and purify sewage with ultrasound.

21. Electronic credit will be operated by thumb print.

22. Computers will put most people out of work.

23. We will travel on the maglev (predicted before WWI).

24. Movies and TV will be 3D.

25. Excess population will be housed in satellites.

26. Ships - and space craft - will be powered by giant sails.

27. We'll have robot pets.

28. Robot insects will act as spies.

29. All phones will be videophones.

30. Space mirrors will turn night to day.

31. Rubbish will be sent into orbit, or used for fuel.

32. We'll be driving wooden cars.

33. Intercontinental travel will be by rocket.

34. We will live cheaply off farmed fish – or plankton – or antarctic seals – or protein made from leaves.

Sunday 21 June 2009

Ads We Loved and Loathed

TV ads sometimes disappear mysteriously. Did people object to those girls eating Aero and saying "Love those bubbles"? Who could fail to love the violin-playing sloth who should have gone to Specsavers? Did someone complain it was unfair to Brazilians? We loved these:

All the Creature Comforts electricity ones, especially the turtle. ("An athlete like me – I need it warm in all the rooooms.")

Irn-Bru - made in Scotland from girders.

Ariston, and on and on and on...

Bev and Kev ("We always wanted one of those!") Watch it.

That gas ad where the devil is living in a semi. ("Yes, I like a roast.") (Vanished very fast.)

Boddingtons, the cream of Manchester ("'Ere, Tarquin, yer trollies are on back to front!")

Ah, Condor! (Series from the mid-60s advertising vanilla-scented pipe tobacco. The funniest was with a group of Japanese tourists turning their heads as one as a pipe-smoking gent strolled by.)

Maxell tapes skeleton ("Rerecord, not fade away!")

All the Maureen Lipman Beattie ones. ("Not good enough for Mrs Jones, not good enough for me.") Here's Maureen.

Are you with us, Uncle Reginald? (Ghostly voice:) Nooooo, I’m with the Woolwich!

"As we say in Liverpool, eat up, you’re at your auntie’s! And it’s low in fat – yes, low in fat!"

Bassett's Allsorts ("Everyone's gone Bertie!")

Fido Dido 7-UP ("It's cool to be clear.") Gong, ga-gong.

Fry’s Turkish Delight (from the 60s, with swaying girls in harem pants)

Guinness dancing man.

Becks dancing men.

Hot chocolate, drinking chocolate (from the 60s, with couple running through snowy wood chanting this)

It’s in the saaaaand. I’m not being much help, am I? (80s ad where little boy has buried car)

Judderman He judders here.

Aero ("Love those bubbles!")

Mr Soft He's here.

Vicks Sinex (Nigel Plaskitt, the guy who played Malcolm, also voiced the violin-playing sloth.) "No, your exams, silly!"

OO ooo, Vitalite Sing along here.

R Whites ("I'm a secret lemonade drinker!" Sung by Elvis Costello's dad.) I'm trying to give it up...

Ronseal ("It does what it says on the tin.")

Cresta ("Rrrrrrrimskykorsakov! It’s frothy, man!" This vibrantly coloured fizzy drink was sold by a very cool polar bear in shades.) Froth here.

Esure with Michael Winner ("Calm down, dear!")

Walkers crisps are for Druids!

Crème Egg (how do you eat yours?)

After Eights David Attenborough takeoff

Philadelphia cream cheese with Sarah Croft ("Chives!")

Jack Dee, the dancing penguins and John Smiths.

And those we loathed:

"Sarah Mike Tom and I" were sitting in the garden drinking Baileys. Or was it four other people? (Here's a Bailey's ad with nice music from Carmen Miranda.)

That’s Fruitini! (a doomed attempt to make tinned fruit cool by selling it in little ring-pull cans)

"I’m on a hair and beauty course and all my friends ask me…" All you need is a little Finesse! (Sometimes you need a little Finesse, sometimes you need a lot)

Red Mountain – coffee so good that your guests will think it's freshly made. As long as you hang out in the kitchen making percolator noises first.

Stu-Stu-Stu-Studio Line (Sculpt your hair any way you like it!)

Shampoo and conditioner? Take two bottles into the shower? Now I just Wash'n'Go! (She was quickly replaced with another girl who talked more proper. This is the posh girl.)

The Andrex lady being helicoptered in (originally American, she was quickly revoiced).

Mini-Kievs! (Just shove them under the grill and call perkily to your children.)

The woman working late designing a sanitary towel “designed to fit the body”. "Why not make it curved? Women are!" (They didn't catch on.)

That 80s one for sanitary towels which showed cartoons of women’s walking feet (in low heels and peg-top trousers) to tweety music. (Restrictions on advertising sanitary towels had just been lifted.)

Ooooooh! Bodyform! Body formed for you! With a woman doing a cartwheel in tight white shorts. Try this.

And who could forget the See you all in Courts song?

Saturday 20 June 2009

Music and Sound Cliches

Bassoon, tuba = A fat person is funny.

Castanets, guitars, shrieks, olés = Hispanic culture even when Puertan Rican, Mexican, Argentinian etc. Accompanied by wild skirt-swirling and balletic arm gestures.

Distant dog barks whenever someone looks out of a cabin door at night.

Elgar (19th century) = Enter Elizabeth I played by Cate Blanchett (in the 16th century).

French horn solo = Tall ship sets off on journey round world, sun rises over pride of lions.

Full orchestra = We're in outer space, Yellowstone National Park or the Galapagos Islands.

FX needle scratches record as you tear it off turntable = But then they found out about the damp/rats/hole in the roof.

Glissando strings = Pompous person falls down steps and breaks femur/someone sneezes persistently in the next room when you are trying to sleep. (If this happens in any movie, stop watching now – it will be slow, plodding and full of laboured “humour” and people smiling crookedly at unfunny situations.)

Harp arpeggios = Native girls bathe in waterfall/fountains of Versailles play, water weeds wave.

Harpsichord = Series featuring elderly female detective.

Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 = Ethelred is crowned King (in the 9th century).

Musical box = Ad for practically anything (brief fad, seems to be over).

Piccolos = It’s funny.

Pizzicato strings = It’s funny.

Salsa = Home improvement show.

String orchestra = Whales hasten to their breeding grounds.

Twanging open fifths = In American movies of the 30s-50s, anything Irish, even though the sound evokes Scottish bagpipes.

Unaccompanied choral music from 1500-1800 = Presenter walks past ecclesiastical building/ruin from 900-1900. (Soundtrack monks are always singing Veni Creator Spiritus.)

Vivaldi, Handel = We’re in Cheltenham or somewhere “leafy” where upper middle class people live.

Wordless or Latin chanting, especially in parallel fifths = Satanic forces, Dalek invasion.

Three random swanee whistle notes, in descending series: we are in the Amazonian rainforest – 400,000 million years ago.

Tweety flutes and harps = We’re in Smallville, Idaho.

Upward appoggiatura on bamboo flute, long-held overblown note: we are in the Amazonian rainforest now.

Warbling tone (up a semitone, down a semitone) = Noonday sun wavers in heat haze as lone aircrash survivor staggers through desert.

Detectives enter a house. A radio is playing quietly, tuned to a MOR station. They call out “Hullo, anybody home?” Camera pans round over a) ordinary furniture, steaming cup of coffee, book, glasses and knitting or b) wrecked furniture, bookcase overturned, glass smashed, stuff smeared on counter and splattered on wall. Banal pop music continues to play as detectives gaze down at the owner’s dead body.


When someone takes a knife out of a drawer, it makes a “metal on metal” sound (ksssssshhhh!).

When we zero in on a diamond it goes “ping!”.

Jewellery makes the sound of little silver bells, or chandeliers jingling. (Chandeliers also jingle when there’s an earthquake, or a nuclear test in the next valley.)

When the picture abruptly changes, we hear the clunk of an old-fashioned slide projector (TV documentaries).

When someone opens and unfolds a letter, it makes a loud crackling sound, even if it’s an airmail. If it’s a will or a document found in an old brassbound chest, the crackling is deafening.

As a joke FX men used the same recording of thunderclap and rain from Frankenstein (Castle Thunder) until the 80s, also the same scream (the Wilhelm Scream). I've just noticed the thunderclap in Ghostbusters as Sigourney Weaver walks towards her apartment (and a date with a demon).

In the Rathbone/Bruce Hound of the Baskervilles, every time they go out on the dark, fogbound moor tropical frogs croak.

A friend writes about Wallander: I don't think that I've heard modems entraining for many years...Still, it goes well with the teletype noises as text prints on the computer screen.

  • Three from filmsound.org: Rats, mice, squirrels and other vermin always make tiny little squeeky noises constantly while they are on screen. Dolphins always make that same "dolphin chatter" sound when spinning, jumping, etc. Snakes are always rattling.

And in wildlife documentaries, when you home in on the caterpillars munching the leaves of that lone tree in the far distance, you hear the chomping of many jaws. But where's the sound man with a fluffy mike on a stick? It must be someone slicing a cabbage back in the studio.

Badly Dressed Boy: Eight Men's Fashion Mistakes

Please avoid:

1. Flat caps.

2. Trousers that unzip at the thigh to make short shorts
and at the knee to make long shorts.

3. Cropped cargo pants and baggy Bermudas – they do nothing for your legs.

4. Pleated pants make you look deformed.

5. Nothing shouts "my wife buys my clothes" more loudly than the
toning shirt, tie and handkerchief set.

6. When on holiday, don't wear a safari jacket – this is Devon, not a zoo.

7. Especially not his'n'hers outfits.

8. And no safari hats in built-up areas, please.

Horror Shoes: Six Foot Faults

1. Summer mules with tribal art details.

2. Wood-effect waisted wedges.

3. Sandals, ballet pumps and Mary Janes based on trainers.

4. Pointy stilettos.

5. Wedges on anything but sandals.

6. Grey loafers.

Friday 19 June 2009

Whatever Happened To...?

They're here, they're everywhere and suddenly they're gone.
21st birthday cards featuring keys, 3-D plates hung on the wall

abandoned cars
by the roadside (and sofas in woods), acrilan, Aertex, Afghan hounds, airmail paper and envelopes, Airwick, address books, alcohol-free wine, alienation, Anne French Cleansing Milk, anthracite, antimacassars in trains, apple strudel, art depicting antique automobiles, atomic warfare, attempts to make the Web more intuitive by presenting it as a 3D molecule diagram

baby cards featuring storks,
babydoll nighties, bacon slicers, banana ice cream, barber’s poles, barley sugar, basketweave shoes, basset hounds, bath hats, bathing caps, bay leaves, beaujolais nouveau, beetroot in white sauce, Bemax, Bejams, biofeedback, biological washing powder, birthstones, biscuit barrels, black-and-white movies on TV, black felt Spanish bulls, black pudding, bloater paste, boiled cabbage, bottle gardens, bouillabaisse, bowls full of coloured marble eggs, Brentford Nylons, bridge rolls, Britvic orange juice, brown lino, brushed nylon, budgies, bull-fighting posters, butter knives, butterscotch

Cajun music,
Californian Poppy scent, candlewick bedspreads, cap guns, carbon paper, carpet beaters, carphones, CD Roms, champagne breakfasts, charity telethons, cheesecloth, chest freezers, chicken in the basket, chiffon scarves, chlorophyll chewing gum, choral speaking, chrysanthemums, cinder paths, Cinzano, Clarnico mints, coal scuttles, cocktail biscuits, coconut ice, coconut matting, coffee percolators, cold consommé, collecting cheese labels, beer mats, bus tickets, postcards, car numbers, silver paper, computer addiction, cooking sherry, cottage loaves, Courtelle, Crimplene, crystallized fruit, custard tarts, cuticle remover

Dad’s Cookies,
Danish pastries, debating societies, deckle-edged paper, Dentyne gum, disco dancing flowers, dolly birds, dominoes, draught excluders, dressing tables, dried flowers, drystone walls, dungarees, Duotan, dymotape, Dynel artificial hair

earth shoes,
Edam cheese, eiderdowns, electric blue, elephant jokes, enamel buckets, Enamelaires, Eno’s Fruit Salts, Enterovioform, ergonomics, escalopes, Evostik, executive toys

fax paper, fairy movies,
fawn (the colour), fear of eye damage from TV/VDU screens, fettucine, fibre optic lamps, Findus crispy pancakes, fish paste, flag days, Flit guns, Florentines, flower presses, flyspray, fold-up pushchairs, fortune tellers with crystal balls, fountain pens, foxtail chains, freshair fiends, fruit flans, fun runs, futons

Gabicci clothes, gabardine raincoats,
gala pie, galoshes, garbage disposal units, gas-powered corkscrews, Garibaldi biscuits, Gentleman’s Relish, ginger biscuits, Girl Fridays, glacé cherries, Gloy paste, gobstoppers, gold-top milk, gonks, Grape Nuts, grapefruit knives and spoons, greengage jam, Grimly Feendish, Gripfix, growbags

hairpin bends, handkerchief sachets, hard margarine Hawaiian Tropic, herring-bone tweed, Holly Hobbie, Harmony hairspray,, holograms, hot plates, housecoats, hundreds and thousands, hurdling races

ice cream wafers,
indelible pencils, individual fruit pies, individual fruit-cake slices, Internet addiction, investing in ostrich farms, Irish stew, isometric exercises, I-Spy books, Izal Medicated Sanitary Paper

Original Crunchy cereal, junket

and Tia Maria, Kardomah coffee houses, kinkajous, kipper paté knickerbocker glories, Kunzl cakes, kleptomania, knitting machines

langues du chat,
laundry boxes, lavender water, leaving the gentlemen to their port, Lent lilies, Letraset, liver sausage, living in sin, log tables, loony lefties, lucky four-leaf clovers, lucky mascots, lucky white heather, luncheon vouchers, Lux

MacFisheries, macrobiotic diets, magic eye pictures, male chauvinism, Marie biscuits, Maryland cookies, Mazola corn oil, meths drinkers, microfiches, milk bottle tops, milk bottles, milk machines, mint choc ice, monkfish, monocles, Moon Drops, Morton’s pie filling, Mouli hand-powered food mixers, mountain bikes, movies “based on a true story” and starring Loni Anderson and Corbin Bernsen (and called Something Something: The [name of person you’ve never heard of] Story), Mr Softee, musak, mustard and cress, musical birthday cards

navy gym knickers,
nested tables, nettle fabric, New Age travellers, New English Bible, New English Library, New Society, news theatres, NHS glasses, Nice biscuits, nightdress cases, nougat, Nubuck, nutty slack, nylon sheets

office memos, olde tyme dancing, omelettes, open relationships, open sandwiches, orange and watercress salad, organdie, organza, origami, Orlon, osso buco, out of body experiences, oxtail soup, oxygen bars

packet lemon pie filling,
paisley, Pakamacs, Palmolive, pampas grass, panatellas, Panstik, panty girdles, Panyan pickle, paper carrier bags, paper dresses, paper knickers, paper furniture, paperchases, paprika, paraffin, party games, past life regression, Peek Freans, pelmets, Penguin biscuits, permissive society, pet rocks, petit beurres, petit fours, Petit Suisse, PEZ, phurnacite, Picador and Paladin paperbacks, Pickasticks, pinball, pixie boots, place mats, plackets, plain boiled potatoes, plain grapefruit as a starter, plain white rice served as a vegetable, plaster alsatians, plastic rain bonnets, plastic Tampax holders, platinum blondes, plastic sofa covers, Poptarts, Port Salut cheese, postmodernism, potted ferns, pouffes, prawn cocktail crisps, Prediction magazine, premarital sex, Pringle sweaters, promiscuity, protractors, puzzle rings

Quark (the cheese)

ratatouille, Reader's Digest condensed books, Red Mountain coffee, red-brick universities, reds under the bed, ric-rac braid, Ritz crackers, rock buns, rollers (for your hair), roofracks, Roquefort cheese, rubber-band balls, rubber plants, Russian salad

sago, salmon mousse, salt spoons, sand shoes, sand tumblers Schloer apple juice, Scotch broth, Scotch pancakes, sealing wax, sandwich boards, seersucker, semiotics, serving hatches, shaved parmesan, ships in bottles, shirt-sleeve bands, shoe bags, shopping in bedroom slippers, shortie nighties, Siamese cats

silver puffa jackets,
skate in black butter, slide rules, Slush Puppies, soap on a rope, smoked cheese, smorgasbord, sodium street lights, soft mattresses, son et lumiere, sorbet, soup tureens, Space Dust, Spangles, Spanish fig cake, split ends, spray-on starch, Spudulike, squarials, St. Ivel cheese, stainless steel jewellery, stamp hinges, steak tartare, steel wool, street parties, street theatre, string beans, string vests, stuffed marrow sundaes, Sunday trading laws, Super Wate-On, suet puddings, swirly carpets, Swiss cheese plants

tarragon, tea trolleys, teasets, Teflon, telephone covers, telethons, terrines, tealeaf reading, the initial teaching alphabet

the sound of bicycle bells, manual typewriters, many phones ringing

the Test Card, thongs, tiddlywinks, tieclips, tiepins, Tiffin bars, time and motion experts, Time Out’s agitprop section, tinned mandarin segments, tinned prawns, tinned spaghetti hoops, tinned strawberries, Tizer, toasting forks, Toby jugs, toilet-roll covers, tomato red, top of the milk, Treasury tags, tuna mould, Twiglets, typewriter covers, typewriter rubbers, Trebor chews

UHT milk,
Unox Luncheon Meat

vegetable dishes
with lids, Venetian blinds, Ventaxia, Venus pencils, vests, vibraphones, vichysoisse, video nasties, Vilene, violet cachous

Wade figurines,
Wagon Wheels, waiting an hour after lunch before swimming, wall hangings, Walnut Whips, washing your hair once a week, watching TV with the lights out, water polo, wearing a headscarf over curlers, whitebait, wife swapping, willpower, wintergreen lozenges, witty graffiti (or were they just arch and whimsical?), woks, wrapover overalls, Wright’s Coal Tar soap

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Cop Show Cliches

Suspect: I went for a walk!
Inspector: At ten o’clock at night? In a snowstorm?

As of 2009, UK cop shows have to be whimsical – the central character is a time traveller, or something. Yawn! Bring back Bergerac and Murder in Suburbia. Though He Kills Coppers wasn't bad.

 The central character has to be a maverick.

The cop’s wife has to say: “It’s me or the job!” or “You never have any time for me!”

Liking jazz is a sign of depth of character.

Cop is tailing female suspect. She dodges into the tube/metro/subway. He blunders through crowds of commuters only for the doors of a train to shut just as he gets to it. His tailee smiles and waves through the glass as the train draws away.

Friendly, unthreatening detective has just been interviewing someone in a low-key way, in their own home. At the end of the interview he says, "Mind if I just use your bathroom?" Once in the bathroom he flushes the toilet while checking out the medicine cabinet, where he will find the incriminating stash of heroin/pregnancy testing kit/nail file with bit of murder victim's scalp attached/razor blades + shaving cream although no man lives in the house etc etc etc (Or else he sits on the toilet lid and sobs.)

Rachel Cooke in the New Statesman picks the cliches out of Whitechapel: "Welcome to hell, gentlemen." Posh top cop owes promotion to "smoking cigars with the right people". "Chandler, in charge of his first murder investigation, is run ragged by D S Ray Miles - ordinary coppers are always called Ray - and his team of podgy, sweaty, cynical detective constables. Oh, how he wishes they would wear deodorant and ties and use their waste-paper bins, and when they refuse to do so, he rubs Tiger balm into his temples and breathes deeply.

Andrew Billen in the Times does the same for psychic crime show Empathy: “Can you imagine if the press get hold of this?” “You could have compromised the entire investigation!” "This stops, NOW!” “You can’t possibly think I had anything to do with this?” “You two are off the investigation!” “You’ll pay for what you have done.” "You had me worried there!" "Nice to know you care."
A friend writes: The best bit about Empathy was when a shrink tried to persuade him that it was all due to guilt, denial etc. You were plainly meant to think, There's obviously something in this psychic lark, psychiatrists getting it wrong again etc etc.

Other cliches were: 2 detectives in charge of the operation, one (the superior) a man, the other a woman. The man thought the psychic thing was all bosh, the woman kept saying things like, "I think we should talk to him again", "You know, this doesn't really add up" etc etc i.e. used woman's intuition to get at the truth.

Another cliche: a longer than necessary shot of the murderer's head, from behind, before he was even under suspicion, so at the end you could say. "I thought there was something funny about that bloke ..."

CSI, House, Criminal Minds:
Someone has a problem. He looks thoughtfully at the scene (dead body, badly planned building) and immediately we see a short film of his thoughts: virus whizzing down bloodstream, people beating on locked fire door, probably with Psycho style music.

It's a
dangerous situation being dealt with by a team of people. Only one of them is a woman, who says words to the effect of "Sarge, let me try it, I think I can deal with him" or "I'm sure there's something in there. I want to go and have a look." The foolhardy woman barges into the dangerous situation alone, usually without informing colleagues, and ends up on her own with the gangster/monster/psychopath whatever holding her at gunpoint or something and is only saved by the reliable bloke from the team rushing in and rescuing her at the last minute.

Here's some reach-me-down dialogue to help you write your script:

By rights I oughta take you off this case!
My private life is no concern of yours.
That's a very serious accusation, Sergeant.
Better not look, miss.
Everybody move back - give’em some air.
Don't try to be funny, Inspector, it doesn't suit you.
I'm a policeman, not an artist!
Aren't you being a bit mysterious, Inspector? What's this all about?

More here.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Movie Cliches

Attractive airhead girl lost in the woods? Check. Frothing mad German scientist? Check. Incredibly stupid policemen? Check. ... It’s the same old story. Dim-witted tourists end up abducted, imprisoned and tortured by some wacko. Fortean Times, Aug 10

Composer hands singer tatty piece of manuscript paper – here’s something I’ve been working on – see what you make of it – she takes it, starts reading, composer joins in at piano, she puts down paper and sings entire song (sometimes orchestra joins in).

For about 10 years I've noticed that the only movie characters who seem to do household tasks any more are lesbians. There's always a scene early in the movie showing them caulking something. Roger Ebert, September 16, 2010

In British films, women hold a coffee mug in both hands as if warming their hands on it (you can only do this if the coffee is tepid).

If you are an ex-military man working for both sides at once, sooner or later you will don full dress uniform and shoot yourself in a hotel room.

When you’re running from the police AND the villains, join a Salvation Army/St Patrick’s Day parade.

When someone has died in bed ... The person discovering the body always appears at the door carrying a tray, with breakfast/lunch/tea etc things on it. This person then screams and drops the tray.

In a street scene in the olden days ... The screen has to have lots of people milling about, crossing in front of the camera, temporarily blocking the people who are actually talking. There are also obvious tradesmen, carrying ladders, coffins, rolling barrels etc. Nobody stands still, not even the actors having the conversation.

In a drama set in the olden days ... Shoot every scene in the half-dark with a wobbly hand-held camera and have a civilised middle class character in a wig suddenly manhandle a prostitute violently and yell at her to reveal who raped her.

If your town is threatened by an imminent natural disaster or killer beast, the mayor's first concern will be the tourist trade or his forthcoming art exhibition. (Web)

Whenever someone walks into an empty house, you can bet someone's either hiding or hanging there. Unless there's someone sitting in an armchair who says casually, "Hello, Smith." (Web)

In a movie of the 30s/40s set on a train ... the main characters will run through the baggage car (where there’s a calf in a crate/several dalmations on leads), then through third class where there are crowds of Chinese/Balkan peasants smoking heavily and doing folk dances and a woman with a basket of live chickens on her knee. Then they run through the restaurant car narrowly avoiding a waiter with a tray full of crockery.

A girl stares into the mirror, holding a pair of scissors. She nibbles a bit off the ends of her long wig. Immediately cut to: she’s still staring into the mirror, now with a perfectly executed urchin hairdo.

If the hero and heroine have breakfast together (after a chaste night when he sleeps on the sofa), she walks about the kitchen (or comes out on the porch) stirring something in a mixing bowl she’s holding on her hip. She’s also smiling and wearing a frilly apron. The hero is amazed that a career girl like her knows how to cook. (40s, 50s)

In 40s/50s American movies set in England, the characters always live in a huge house with a vast hall containing nothing but an imposing staircase. When they drive anywhere, they have to take a road that follows the edge of the mile-high cliffs we have all round the coast here. When they decide to drive out of London for a picnic, they go straight from the Savoy to a winding country road, not passing through miles of dreary suburbs in between. Or they set off for a seedy dive in Soho and find it in a half-timbered house in a cobbled side street in what is obviously Winchester.

In American films and TV series, women sit on a sofa, pick up a cushion and hug it. When tidying up the cushions before their clandestine lover leaves, they pick up one of the cushions and hug it while saying "You will tell her this weekend, won't you?".

In 40s/50s movies set in America, the characters live in a huge, well-kept house with a garden and constantly wail “If only we could afford to move out of this terrible lower-class suburb!”

When creeping thru a wood, you always give away your presence by stepping on a dry twig and snapping it in half.

Suspicious characters play Bartok's Mikrokosmos on the piano.

When you throw a girl out of a window, she bicycles her legs frantically until she lands in the swimming pool.

How to show disdain to the man talking to you about something very important: give him a quizzical stare and then bite something with a crunch.

“May I have this dance, Mrs. Fletcher?” They never dance but sway from foot to foot while telling each other large swathes of plot and of course they can’t waltz round the room cos they’d waltz away from the camera.

When A lets B in at the front door, A stays at the door after B has gone in and looks right and left before she shuts it. She also does this after letting B out.

Two people drive off in a car. The camera stays on the street/building they have left. A person walks out of a concealed doorway/alleyway and looks meaningfully after them.

When aiming to seduce a pure young girl (or Humphrey Bogart), an older man takes off his jacket and puts on a silk dressing gown.

When anyone falls downstairs, they roll over and over until they reach the bottom.

Powerful people with their own offices enjoy talking to people with their back turned to them while staring out of their big window. (Guardian cliche list)

Close-up of tough woman in driving seat of car, alone. The window is open. Tough woman stares expressionlessly out of window at camera. Very slowly her window slides shut ... When it is fully shut, the scene ends, by which point we know conclusively that the woman has either found out an important piece of information she needed to know, or has made a crucial and necessary decision, or both. As a result we also know that her marriage/affair is over, or someone will now get killed, or both.

A woman is having an illicit affair. Her lover says, “Sorry I didn’t have time to get you a present, darling, I’d like you to have the money instead” and offers her a wad of cash. Closeup on her frozen face. (In The Apartment, she starts taking off her clothes and says “Well, as long as it’s paid for…”)

Keys are always kept singly and loose in a bag or pocket, never on a ring or a bunch, or on a fob.

When a woman’s handbag is upended (sometimes brutally by the hero or a policeman), a few hard, clean, new objects fall straight out and clatter loudly onto the tabletop: keys, purse, powder compact, lipstick. The hero or policeman always does this, and never scrabbles in the bag for whatever he’s looking for.

When making a phone call while pretending to be someone else, always hold your nose to disguise your voice.

Two characters are arguing on the sidewalk. One is trying to calm the other down. The other is becoming increasingly frantic because the mob is after her/her husband has poisoned her toothpaste/she’s found a radiation leak at her place of work etc etc. Suddenly she rushes across the road while cars screech to a halt, people shout "Get out of the way, you mad bitch!" or “Look where you’re going, lady!” and she weaves out of sight occasionally collapsing on a bonnet.

People involved in fist fights don’t fall down when they’re hit on the head.

When a woman comes into the kitchen to find the table crawling with rats, she flattens her back and open hands against the wall, turns her head to one side, and slides neatly to the floor.

When a minor villain or the hero is chased down an alley, he always ends up at a blank wall. If a villain, he pathetically attempts to climb up it. If the hero, he turns and faces his pursuers.

Woman (beautiful); Man (old, plain, kindly) The man takes the woman in his arms and holds her close. She places her head on his chest and closes her eyes. Then ... camera close-up on her face ... she opens her eyes and fixes them on the camera in a steely gaze. Message: She is only after his money!

In TV sitcoms, couples sleep in a very small, bouncy bed, and have an eiderdown.

When a tortured artist picks up a paint-laden brush and looks in a mirror he will: a) paint all over his face b) put the brush in his mouth

When people fall in love, they go to the beach, run about giggling and push each other over. Or else they go riding.

In American films, going sailing is a sign of integrity, wholesomeness, finding real values after the sham tinsel of city life etc etc. Also it’s an opportunity for women to throw their heads back, shake their hair and smile very widely.

People say "Come!" instead of "Come in!" And then don’t turn round to see who it is. (Sometimes they say “Close the door, Palmer”.)

In 40s/50s Hollywood movies, when anyone has paintings on their walls, they are famous works of art from the Prado, National Gallery etc.

When people take notes or write down an address, they clutch a very tiny pencil and write very very small (on something held in one hand). Sometimes they don’t look at what they’re writing and just make scribbling movements. Or else there’s a sudden close-up of somebody else’s hand writing impeccable calligraphy.

Typists never hit the space bar.

In radio plays, writers type v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y (pock ... pock ... pock pock) while breathing heavily and reading what they write out loud. When using a computer, they mutter the actions to themselves “Now, file menu, save as... that’s right”.

Writers constantly rip the paper out of their typewriter, scrumple it up and throw it into a basket full of screwed-up pages.

Mad people shout, cry, scream, pull faces, talk unstoppably, swear, peel wallpaper off walls and (this is the favourite) fling everything off a desk with one sweep of the arm. This is also done by (male) free spirits at end of their tether, about to walk out of a banal office job to do something more fulfilling, i.e. write a novel etc.

When people haven’t eaten for days and someone gives them a hunk of bread (they never cut a slice), they grab it in both fists and chew bits out of the middle, making grunting noises. And they gulp water from a can, making slurping noises and spilling a lot over the rim.

When a woman talks on the phone, she holds the cord with her other hand, sometimes in a suggestive manner, eg stretching it and looping it round her hand.

If a person has a mental illness, they are cured by a psychoanalyst who makes them look at a spinning disk and urges bossily “Try to remember!” Once they’ve remembered what it is they’ve forgotten, they are fine.

Uptight girl meets working class boyfriend in cafe to tell him she must go back to university instead of marrying him. Somehow they get caught up in a Polish wedding.

People go to elaborate lengths to pour drinks (go into kitchen, take cap off the soda water etc), then don't drink them. Or else they take a sip and say "I must go now", or their host kicks them out. Offering a man a drink is a coded invitation.

When a man visits a prostitute he always follows her into a house. Then we see outside the house – sash window on first floor with blind down. A bright light appears behind the blind, then two sihouettes of man and woman facing each other.

When women are about to be murdered, beaten up or raped in their own home they are often holding a china object (e.g. a tea cup) at the time. When they see their attacker they always gasp and drop it. You then see a close-up of it as it shatters on the floor (they never get murdered, beaten, raped etc in the part of their home with a carpet).

If a woman picks up a random object to clout her attacker with (Dresden shepherdess, pair of dressmaking scissors) he always dies immediately without bleeding at all and she's left wondering what to do with the corpse.

Hugely pregnant woman suddenly goes “Oh! Oh! Oh!” on a rising pitch and immediately has to sit down and moan continuously while all around go “Don’t worry! We’ll get you to the hospital! Women have babies every day!”

In a bookshop or library, someone removes several books from a shelf so that he can look thru the gap.

Prostitutes and Bad Women sit on a chair with their feet on the seat. They chew gum with their mouth open. When they're shot, poisoned, hit on the head or fished out of the bay, they lie on a hospital bed looking angelic and give a long statement to the policeman who is in love with them, and then die.

Don't get into a cable car – the cable will fray, strand by strand (sproing!). Unless it contains a macho guy who will climb out and tie the cable back together, or pass you all to the rescue helicopter, while a grizzled couple who went through the blitz sacrifice their lives.

When TV drama characters want to ask each other out, they always start “I was wondering…”

Computers in cartoons have banks of unmarked keys (no space bar or return key). You operate them by tapping rapidly on these keys without ever pausing or waiting for a response. While you do this, explain the plot to the other characters.

Spy Drama Cliches

When the agent is on his way to plant the bag with the secret plans, he clutches it and
looks around nervously.

When two spies meet in a café, they look around furtively, then converse in undertones.

When a spy disguised as a mechanic spots a disguised VIP, he follows his retreating car with his eyes, pulls back his sleeve to look at his watch, and looks meaningfully into the distance again.

When the men in trenchcoats are trailing the beautiful spy, they stand directly under a lamppost smoking a cigarette so that she can see them from the window.

As the spy leaves the customs post, a black-gloved hand opens a gap in the Venetian blinds.

What Not to Wear: 12 Fashion Mistakes

1. Low-rise trousers

2. Whale tail

3. White trousers – with a dark thong underneath

4. Chrome yellow

5. Mustard
with purple

6. Red jackets
on US political women

7. Ill-fitting clothes. (Every few years in the UK somebody says: "Shouldn't sizes be standardised so that a size 12 is always the same whatever the manufacturer or shop?" And then nobody does anything.)

8. Bandeau
top that you keep pulling up with both hands

9. Hat plonked on your usual hairstyle – a hat needs an updo

10. Visible bra line

11. Black tights with white court shoes.

12. 80s city shorts suits - especially in tangerine.

13. Just spotted (x3) in Queensway: skinny hipster harem jeans.

Fashion crimes from the past here.

Monday 15 June 2009

Interview Wear

Lifted from Irritated Tulsan's blog.


15. Sports jackets with jeans, it’s the only way to ensure the interviewee will not think you’re a douche. Pop (turn up) your collar for extra hipness. Don’t forget the pink undershirt.

14. Wear a beer keg tie.

13. Display a trendy cause. “Live Strong” bracelets never get old.

12. For shoe attire, Old Navy flip-flops.

11. Everyone is wrong; V-Neck shirts don’t look creepy on men. Best worn if you’re hairy.

10. Corporate America loves large earring gauges. You can never have too many holes.

9. Don’t forget to tip your hat at a 20-degree angle.


8. Display your tramp stamp (lower-back tattoo - Translator's note). Wear a shirt that is two sizes too small. Tramp stamps are best seen when framed with muffin-tops.

7. The power suit is still acceptable, but only if the shoulder pads make you look like a football player.

6. Accessorize with your shiniest spiked dog collars. Baking Soda and water are a green alternative to polish those spikes.

5. Pink blouses work, but only if they’re covered in white skulls.

4. Accentuate your eyes with tattooed teardrops and glitter eye shadow.

3. Low-cut tops should never be above the navel.

2. For footwear, f*** me pumps.

1. Keep yourself organized and current. Use a Hello Kitty planner.

Plot Cliches: 22 to Enjoy Again (and Again)

All Hitchcock movies after The 39 Steps are The 39 Steps. (Well, some of them.) Godzilla is Beowulf. Shanghai Express is Stagecoach is Maupassant's Boule de Suif. Fright Night is Hue and Cry. The Accused is Anatomy of a Murder. Kiss Me Deadly is The Seventh Victim. Being There is The Passing of the Third Floor Back is Wings of Desire.

1. It was all a dream (Wizard of Oz, Woman in the Window).

2. I’m really dead (Man without a Past, Owl Creek Bridge).

3. You were meant to fail - that’s why you were hired!

4. The fake medium turns out to have real powers.

5. A baddie is the only person the hero can turn to for expert assistance. (And you end up sympathising with and even fancying the baddie. In extreme cases the baddie then gives his life to save the others.)

6. A dork is the only one who has the knowledge that will get the gang out of the mess they’re in.

7. A fop turns out to be a hero (The Scarlet Pimpernel).

8. An eccentric collection of boffins get together in secret location (underground lab, seaside boarding house) to save the world/win the war (School for Secrets, Andromeda Strain).

9. The characters spend the film chasing a suitcase full of money. It ends with notes blowing away in the wind/floating on the water as they lie dead/are taken away by the police/die of thirst in the desert. Previously, there’s a scene where someone picks up untidy handfuls of the stuff and shoves it at someone going “Take it! Take it! I don’t want it!” (Often starts with “These two cops/strangers/married couple/man and woman who’ve only just met find this suitcase full of notes and…”.) No Country for Old Men, Too Late for Tears, The Pardoner’s Tale.

10. A meek, colourless girl moves in with (on) warm, outgoing, popular, pretty girl and gradually takes over her style, friends, catchphrases, boyfriends, flat, job. Popular girl is left an overweight, alcoholic, neurotic reject. Vanity Fair, Single White Female, Three Women, All About Eve, Bernice Bobs Her Hair.

11. Two women are life-long sisters/friends/rivals. When one’s up, the other’s down. One writes serious novels, the other decides to write historical trash and becomes more famous/rich. One steals the other’s husband. The other steals the first one’s daughter. Half-way through, the more dowdy, serious one is leaving the room when she turns round, comes back, puts down her bag and gloves, and slaps the other across the face. (Old Acquaintance with Bette Davies and Miriam Hopkins.)

12. The hero/heroine finds happiness/moral integrity by returning to third-rate vaudeville circuit after finding fame on Broadway because he/she does it for sake of mother/father/husband/wife.

13. A young ingenue joins the act and an old vaudevillean teaches her all he knows (Sell it! Eyes and teeth!). She auditions for a Broadway show and gets the part by ignoring the old vaudevillean’s advice. Cut to him looking miserable/he returns to circuit and shoots self while listening to her hit record/their old number.

14. The detective did the crime but doesn’t know because he’s got multiple personality disorder, amnesia etc. (He solves the murder by following the clues he's left for himself.)

15. A doctor works all hours in a laboratory in his back garden to create a new wonder serum. He may go mad and start shrinking people.

16. The killer leaves crossword type clues for the investigating team (“He’s copying famous crimes! He wants us to guess where he’ll strike next!” “The clues are all in pairs!” “All his crimes are based on Dante/the Bible/Shakespeare!”) (Theatre of Blood)

17. After staggering clear of the car/train accident and being presumed dead, the former rich industrialist ends up in Smallville where he strolls into a job as a mechanic. After eating a lot of home-made fruit pie, he finds happiness with the girl next door. Given the chance of reclaiming his old identity/millions, he smiles wryly and stays put in Smallville.

18. The man falls for the girl when she's come to New York because her sister’s disappeared/been murdered and he gets roped into the search. Ie attracting someone is the last thing on her mind and she's not trying at all but being emotional, rumpled, honest, wry, bitter etc. and doesn't have time to be brittle, coy, cute or flirtatious.

19. A basically decent, idealistic, young (man/woman) goes to (New York/Chicago/Los Angeles/D.C.) to make his/her mark in (writing/business/music/ acting/government) only to be temporarily seduced by the very environment/person they are the antithesis of, alienating his/her (boyfriend/girlfriend/ family/friends/all of the above) in the process until he/she stumbles on to the revelation, "To thine own self be true." IMDB on The Devil Wears Prada

20. A disparate group of characters yoked together by a quirk of fate. (Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian)

21. A cute, sad maths genius solves Fermat’s last theorem to show his/her dad how much he/she loves him, or to show us that very clever people are really just dim people underneath, or to show that it’s all right for people to be very clever as long as they suffer. If a maths genius, you must have a disability or a trailer trash mother. Movie must have the word mind in the title. (Agora with Rachel Weisz as medieval mathematician Hypatia has just premiered at Cannes.)

22. The US president is going to be assassinated. May or may not involve psychic foreknowledge. (Manchurian Candidate)

Dressing Too Old: Seven Slips to Avoid

1. If you are a femme d'un certain age, avoid pegtop trousers with a knife-edge pleat. They lingered on in Marks & Spencer for far too long.

2. And don't team them with a polo shirt – especially not in jade.

3. A bi-coloured anorak is just the wrong thing to top off this outfit.

4. Another nono is the fleece. Much too practical.

5. When out rambling, avoid tying your jersey round your waist.

6. And whatever you do, don't team the ensemble with stone lace-ups.

7. And please, please, not the purple with the red hat.

But watch out that you don't dress too young, either. Avoid fussy, feminine details – stick to classic tailoring and block colours. Italian grannies have the right idea: they wear a flowery overall for every day, and a beaded cardigan for best.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

70s decor


Wearing loons, a tank top and Farrah flicks,
you stood in the middle of your lovely room and admired the:

Brown or dark green walls, fitted carpet White trellis
 Bright walls, white furniture
Potted ferns
Potted rubber plants
Potted avocado plants
Bamboo wallpaper
Brown or dark green walls, fitted carpet

More here.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Comics in Angouleme

In June, the Musée de la Bande Dessinée (comic museum) in Angouleme, France, moved into a new home in a converted paper mill: "les chais Magelis”.

The Belgian Comic Strip Centre in Brussels is at Rue des Sables 20 (+ 32 (0)2 219 19 80). It's housed in an Art Nouveau building designed by Victor Horta in 1906. Its latest exhibition, opening today (June 9) is on Lanfeust, hero of the Arithmetics of Troy by Christophe Arleston and Didier Tarquin. There are eight volumes; the first is called L'Ivoire du Magohamoth.

You can get the latest news on the world of the "bande dessinée" (in French) here.

Hergé Museum


In June, a museum dedicated to the work of Tintin artist Hergé (Georges Rémi) opened in the Brussels suburb of Louvain-la-Neuve. The area was planned and built in the 60s as the home of the French-speaking Catholic university.

Here are the details:
Hergé Museum
26, Rue du Labrador
Anneau central
1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
Tel.: + 32 (0)2 62 62 421
Fax: +32 (0)2 646 14 59

See also tintin.com

(26, rue Labrador was Tintin's address.)


80s Decor

Wearing stone-washed jeans, big hair and a pastel cardigan with a lace collar, you stood in the middle of your lovely room and admired the:


wallpaper and flowery dado strip
Chintz and stripes
Pleated coolie-hat lampshades
Swagged pelmets
Tart's knicker blinds
Dried flowers
Miniature straw hats hung on the wall
Corn dollies
Pine, pine, pine
Art involving poppies and wheat
Navy/jade/burgundy/ochre tiles
Plastic tablecloths with kilim print
Palm-tree art
Carpet with diagonal pink and jade splashes (on grey)
Ceiling with diagonal boards.
Bathroom with diagonal tiles.

Mirrors featured largely, and prints by Patrick Nagel. On your glass/bamboo/chrome coffee table was a fibre-optic lamp or a lamp with a hand holding a globe.

The 90s obliterated all this in favour of chrome yellow with French blue, and lilac with mint. Heavy wood furniture and check curtains went with the first; muslin curtains and wrought-iron furniture with the second. And there was a rash of swirly designs with that hand-painted look.

More 80s decor here.