Tuesday, April 10, 2007

DSC_2401 - Bow on Bow[Some now distant day] was gin day, featuring both Gin Lane and One Gin in a dry London, but disappointingly no actual gin. It started with Hogarth at Tate Britain - look out for the Godliman at number 25, the unicorn's corn, a visual version of consequences, the little publicised counterpart to Gin Lane and remember to always count the hands - and continued with Tchaikovsky's Onegin at the Royal Opera House, which just about managed to be more show than interval.

Yep, that was yet another ballet at an opera house, but then I think I may prefer ballet to opera, even those about simpering girls dallying with contemptuous and contemptible men. It's something about not having awful screeching women interrupting the music, although a chorus line entering stage right en pointe is not the quietest thing on Earth, regardless of intention; it's like having a scattering of lacewings start playing wardrums. Speaking of quiet, a trumpet mute can make a lot of noise, at least it can when dropped mid-insertion. Fortunately our seats were high enough that we could see him chase after it, insert it, play a couple of bars and then change more quietly this time to another form of mute. It was also interesting to notice the French horn players scurry into the active orchestra pit just before they were due to play (considerately the idlest parts of the orchestra were best placed to slink out for a while).

Hmm, I seem to have roared through that far too quickly, so what else is recent? Doing happy family ball games somewhere in South London (otherwise known as seeing how long we can go without breaking into a proper argument - I think the ball deflected the aggression and the retaliation went into shots over powerful or poorly aimed), where the dynamic between whatever I'm supposed to call my brother's girlfriend and my mother would have proved entertaining were it not so loathsome and dispiriting. Essentially my mother set out to dislike her and came away with a cornucontemptia of reasons to do so, ranging from the SIL's folly in attempting to replicate a salad dressing (which my mother had ensured would not be on the salad, demonstrations of attempting to lose weight being more important than actually bothering to do so) by applying the bottles of olive oil and balsamic directly to her plate (less drizzle, more monsoon) to not putting cucumber in the mixed salad but serving it separately, probably to save the SIL's awkwardness in picking it back out again. I think my mother was thoroughly thrown by my brother and co having things to do (at Planet Hollywood, which I think we should file under 'one should not laugh') and so ensuring that the evening stretched into only moderately morose (does this count as Bunbury?).

It's odd, but I can't quite work out why my mother seems set on hating her so. If one has to resort to using cucumber as a basis for a vendetta then it rather debases the whole thing, doesn't it? And what's the betting that if ever my mother caters for any party including the SIL then it'll be sure to consist solely of cucumber sandwiches made with white bread regardless of the depth of snowdrift outside (the logic being that if the SIL eats brown then my mother will choose the opposite, and if the SIL prefers white my mother will seek out a loaf so unpalatable that even the ducks refuse it, while perpetually emphasising the martyrdom of all for the SIL's supposed benefit).

But then my mother's probably decided the SIL, with her scandalously papist ways, intends to trick my brother into creating a bankrupting armada of children. It is dismaying to remember my mother sometimes sounds a little Elizabethan, although she's yet to accuse anyone of Popery (one of the most repugnantly scented crimes), she has expressed disappointment, away from the SIL, that the Scots girl is not an Anglican. I stayed quiet, rather suspecting a Church of England in Scotland might not survive too long, while not being terribly sure of what the equivalent is. But then the wee lassie also appears to care about football, which is on an anathema par, said he who can never remember which way round Rangers and Celtic-with-an-ess are, possibly because in my mind the people who care about such things all live beyond "here be dragons" (cue Idris).

[The following was meant to continue from the penultimate paragraph above, but I got distracted and now realise it might apply to me too, hence not actually bothering to do some proper editing and sort the tangle out]

I know this sounds quite callous, but bright people can be when they so choose. More worrying still they can be when they don't necessarily mean to be. But having played with a camera in the SIL's presence (she accused me of trying to be a paparazzi by walking backwards. I didn't point out that paparazzos don't tend have only a collection of blurs or shoulders and chin shots. I also didn't think saying I didn't have much to say to any of them en masse was a good idea. Anyway, I've always walked backwards in groups; it means I walk slower so don't leave people behind, means I can see what's going on better, hear more, feel more a part of the conversation yet can equally drop out simply by having to look where I'm going), I'm now disturbingly aware of her ability to look remarkably like both my mother and my aunt. The smile rate is up slightly from both of those, but it's not a convincing smile, and the frowns and grimaces are far more prevalent; the latter being a pure [mother's maiden name] expression.

And having aimed a lens about all afternoon, I realised that of the lot us, my brother's the only one who smiles much of the time - I've no idea what I do. I used to smile a lot. The brace and school overcame that. I started doing it again and then I started noticing the permanent lines in my cheeks, so tried to stop (leaning on my hand is a really bad idea [as I just realised I'm doing while proofreading], and the crease slitting each dimple makes me want to cry), then came the continuing tectonics of failed orthodonistry (whatever certain people say, it is not anything that can be loved) and being told off for using what was termed a cheesy grin in a group photo and then having every subsequent attempt at a smile rebuffed as unphotogenic (the final version has me looking waspish). Have you ever tried to smile when you've been told that what ever you do it makes you look awful?

Somehow I've managed drift from my family's foibles to my own frailties. Yet I ardently dislike both the realisation that my body might not be forever youthful and that I'm vain enough to care. I'm above all that, said he wondering what that Boots thing was they had in Horizon a while ago (answer: expensive, and whatever happened to the impenetrable-if-you-missed-the-first-five-minutes Horizon of probability waves and suchlike? The one that was aimed over everybody's heads, but that was fine because we're all used to encountering things we don't understand until we think about them? Whereas now it's rehashing poorly simplistic stuff we already knew. It's become podcastable. Why watch the whole programme when a 3-minute mp3 or mpeg can tell you the same amount of information, and everything is already in a short article on the BBC's website or that of Guardian? Where's the stuff that says "Warning: Heavy Thinking"? Where's the stuff that isn't just old news with the names changed?).

Once again I've strayed. But I'm not sure what else there is to say, other than how much I'd forgotten what London is like. It has people, many people, young people. It's very disconcerting to suddenly look up and make contact with a pair of blue eyes when that hasn't happened for months. Especially when in directly behind one's parents and those eyes happen to be male and oh so attractive. It's horrifying to think how easily I'd forgotten the youthfulness, the busy-ness, the density, the enjoyment, the happiness, the interestingness (damn you Flickr), the not-tired-of-life-ness, the summer-come-early-ness, the divertingness, the entertainingness, the provocativeness, the playfulness, the more-fun-than-The-Family-Ness-ness, the all-the-world's-a-stage-so-come-and-play-it-ness of it all.

And sitting through a ballet betwixt my parents, my mother bemusing the students beside her, my father grinding his wallet into me as he edges onto my chair, silently trying to escape the couple next to him who dared to be the same sex, all the while trying not to show excessive interest or disinterest in the thighs, buttocks and what one imagines to be codpieces arrayed before me. Then came the misery of the Tinkerbelling, where all got an equal clap on the first round because I couldn't decide which level of bluff to use (while also wondering if any mean set designer has incorporated a mirror behind the bowing ranks; the costumer design noticeably preferred the male form), which was just as well considering they seemed to run through every possible combination, a system either gained from Mastermind the boardgame or from those dull psychological tests which imagine that rephrasing and paraphrasing the questions will encourage widely differing answers thus betraying inner turmoil or possibly the fact the respondent got bored and made pretty zigzags down the multiple choice columns.

And speaking of processes of deduction, I'm not much forwarder, having noticed and commented something which might affirm the operating hypothesis, but it might also just suggest I'm forgetful or having been paying attention.

And... not at all connected (was that convincing?), Martin's pestering on Flickr (oh, 4,658 photos / 30,002 views), lead me to the discovery of Eurion, which I've therefore just noticed as the anthers and watermark surround of a ten pound note (I only have £10 notes on me at the moment).


Glad to have been of service.
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