Sunday 30 May 2010

Whatever Happened To...? 4

arguing about how to pronounce “apartheid

basketwork shoes (coming back 2010)

Bonio dog biscuits

Brobat bleach

chastity trousers: rainproof trousers in horrible colours (French blue, terracotta, viridian) exclusively bought by women for men

coats in fur-effect material

coffee-flavoured food (mousse, ice cream, cake)

cuisine minceur


Gary Larsen the cartoonist (retired 1995, didn't want to get stale)

genetically modified food

Golden Delicious apples (gone, long gone)

grey eyeshadow

high cut swimsuits

lurex (It was an early 70s thing)

nouvelle cuisine (now ancienne)

patios (now terraces)

scalloped potatoes

shower gel (it was going to replace soap)

smoked trout

smoky bacon crisps

stick insects

tinned asparagus (in airline lunches)

wearing wool next to the skin

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday 15 May 2010

Styles and Genres

Osbert Lancaster, in Pillar to Post and Homes, Sweet Homes, nailed some pretentious styles of the interwar years with epithets like Banker’s Georgian, Stockbroker’s Tudor and Bypass Variegated. Here are a few more that reveal a place, a time, an attitude, a level of aspiration.

advertisers’ nostalgia How could anyone who had read the book and who had any respect for literature… turn this story of glum penny-pinched '30s London into 1990s-style standard advertiser's jolly-jumpered "Heritage" golden nostalgia? (imdb on Keep the Aspidistra Flying)

airline stewardess chic

album-cover art (Damien Hirst)

boho chic

Bungalow Bliss (era in Ireland)

cocktail grunge

consumptive poet rock

cup and saucer comedy

diorama décor

Edwardabethan (Richard Thompson)

festival chic


French flea market (old posters and ads for drinks)

Gin and Jag Belt Does it still exist? Yes, apparently it’s in Maidenhead, according to a government report of January 2003.

haunt rock

heroin chic

high tech

Joke Oak

Marks and Spencer Zen: beige, white, brown and piles of large pebbles. (Briefly Woolworths zen, before the chain went bust.)

maximalism (minimalism with 70s wallpaper)

Neo Geo


pagan chic

restaurant music (Polina Shepherd) bowdlerised heritage - with sparklers!

silver-fork novels novels of the 1820s/30s that were disguised manuals for the socially aspirant

Tarot reader chic

the aesthetic is very Ikea room set (Jay Rayner Observer Nov 09)

the Celine Dion school of design (Colin and Justin)

the first-class airport lounge look felt a bit Mayfair 2004. (Matthew Norman)

These developments risk turning “contemporary” into the new Neo-Georgian.

The Treasury went from Soviet-era hospital to Marriott hotel.

White-telephone movies 60s Italian movies that used a white telephone to signal "socially aspirant bourgeoisie"

Thursday 6 May 2010

101 Implausible Outdoor Sports

It's good for young people to get out into the countryside and use up energy in the open air, so we have to keep inventing new ways for them to do it. Bog snorkelling? So last year.

Why not have a go? The rules are few, but quite restrictive.

Your new activity may involve equipment, and this can be showy but not too bulky or expensive. Ditto special clothes – keep them affordable and try to avoid bling, fashion or a sense of style. Your sport can't involve fighting, dancing or any kind of competition. You must choose between EITHER pain, cold, effort and exhaustion, OR sheer, naked terror.

I'll make it simpler for you. Combine any three of the following:

para riding mud motor hopping kite diving husky swimming gliding spelunking Norwegian motor lake walking surfing driving swim carthorse pole sand running extreme ball wild hiking wolves bog walking river lake roof ice free skiing pole kiting yachting cycling mountain climbing barefoot naked rock subzero extreme free dune solo deep forest rope Antarctic

Here's what I've come up with:

naked mountain surfing
Antarctic roof skimming
wild carthorse diving
extreme mud gliding
wild motor skiing
sub-zero para walking
Norwegian husky riding
winter lake caving
motorised pole driving
free sand swimming
extreme mountain yachting
Swiss rope driving
naked kite cycling
free wolf running
deep river hiking
power-assisted lake walking
solo bog kiting
French roof skiing
free rock hopping
wild forest rolling
barefoot dune swinging
river ball striding
Dutch ice bouncing
three-legged cross-channel abseiling

Serious coverage at the BBC's Countryfile here. All good clean fun!
And more implausible sports here.


Charles: hard-hitting

Bathos is one way of being ironic. You set the listener up – then you pull away the chair just as he’s about to sit down.

[Prince Charles's staff] have helped His Royal Highness make some brilliant biscuits and some pretty hard hitting speeches about trees in recent years. Jewish Chronicle on the Prince's staff 28 Dec 07

a dish that is often compared to moussaka, though not always favourably (Web)

Alan Partridge ... whose vanity and stupidity were laced through by a core of real nastiness. Andrew Billen Times Oct 8 08

All the guides are very jolly in the worst sense of the word. Sybil Hart-Davis

Any further suggestions will be gratefully shredded.

Churchill called Stalin’s Russia “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Kim Jong Il’s North Korea is much the same, minus the transparency.

conducting which invests Mozart’s score with all the scintillating joie de vivre of a Victorian hymnbook. Richard Morrison on Die Zauberflöte Times January 30, 2008

eight-legged bastards from the bowels of hell (or the garden, whichever’s nearest) Charlie Brooker on spiders Guardian Sept 3 07

Frankfurt – like Croydon, but less exciting.

His one liners kept on coming, unfortunately. Andrew Billen Times Nov 24 09

I hated the bar on sight. It saved time. Jay Rayner Sept 1 07

I worked my way up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty. Groucho Marx

I’d say “Call me old fashioned” (or Ishmael – your choice) whatnottocrochet website

If you’re not familiar with John Duncan Fergusson or the Scottish Colourists, this exhibition may strike you as quaintly parochial – full of the charm of the forgotten, but ultimately quite unimportant. Hephzibah Anderson, ES January 6, 2005

It is thought to taste like lobster – by those of a lively imagination. Mrs Dods’s cookery book 1829.

Life is so full of preposterous pretensions and lies and nonsense and fraud and chicanery and deceptions; there’s so much sick, strange, weird, neurotic behaviour, that it’s an infinitely interesting study. Jackie Mason

Mind you, there is nothing that can't be made worse by the addition of tinned carrots and cumin. commenter on (Followed up by: Any and all of the recipes on this website are clear evidence, as if it were needed, that we live in a cold unfeeling universe bereft of any kind of benevolent deity.)