Friday, 19 March 2010

'Gym? Your name is gym?'*

It's true that I don't much like gyms at the best of times – they smell funny and they play terrible music – but you can't tell me this isn't a little bit sinister:

I'm not sure if it's the steps descending into tomb-like oblivion, or how gothic the logo's typographical flourishes seem when rendered in white on black. Whichever, it smacks of infernal nightmares.

What happens inside? Are people being sacrificed on toning tables? (My use of the expression 'toning tables' is indicative of the last time I was in a gym.) Are people doing their combat training bare knuckle? Against snarling yellowed-eyed hounds?
Are lost souls wailing and crying and tearing at their own skin because there's no fluffy towels left and they're having to use their own scratchy ones from home?

The sun was shining, but my blood was chilled as I went on my way.

* You win a prize† if you can identify this film quotation. It utilises a pun on gym/Jim**.
You do not win a prize.
** I may not be quoting it entirely accurately.
Good luck!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

'Rock and roll is here to stay...'

I love the way Alex Chilton sings, 'I've been trying hard against unbelievable odds.'

I'm sad that he won't be singing any more.

Also, this…

Not a big visual element to this post. Maybe you could look out of the window for a bit or take one of your stamp albums down off the shelf and flick through it, remembering all you achieved in assembling your collection. Be proud. Be nostalgic.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Salad days

If you are in the market for a salad spinner, and you're on a budget, I can help you. There was one abandoned on my street this week. I saw it on my way to choir practice. I cannot guarantee that it had not been used as a latrine by passing wildlife – canine, volpine, humine. Any port in a storm.

Not that one ever seems to actively acquire a salad spinner. Has anyone ever bought one? They just seem to find themselves in your kitchen, stoutly defending their corner of a cupboard, all sturdy plastic and 70s colour scheme. An incongruous out-of-timer in an era of pre-packed salad and all its easy charms. A beige alien.

When I was little, a popular strand of storytelling by and for the young involved extraordinary, implausible, unresolvable adventure, culminating in the 'all a dream' get-out. Ninety-nine point seven per cent of the stories I wrote ended like this, fifty-two point seven per cent of the ones I read.

But eventually I learnt what I considered to be a highly sophisticated modulation. When the dreamer awoke to find themselves back in their own world, they would also find some kind of souvenir from the alternate reality they had slumbered themselves into. It wasn't a dream at all! Or was it? Or wasn't it? Or was it?

How could you deny your presence in another dimension, when right in front of your very eyes was an exotic shell, a pair of gloves, a quill, a salad spinner? How else could it have got there?

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

This is the advert

Can somebody cooler than me – and here you must suspend your disbelief, for I'm telling you that these people really do exist – explain the concept behind this season's French Connection adverts?

If you haven't seen them, they focus on a man, who is called 'the man', and a woman, who is called 'the woman', and they feature a series of pictures and some artfully emotionless slogans.

'The woman' is chic, gamine and just the right amount of hunted cartoon woodland animal.

'No, hunters, don't shoot me! While it will enable my son to experience a character-defining rite of passage, it will traumatise thousands of young cinema-goers all over the world.'

The man, meanwhile, is brooding and bearded in a way that goes beyond the type who might be sexily taciturn and build you some furniture out of reclaimed wood, and out the other side into Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

And I speak as someone who LOVES Tom Hanks. He collects typewriters. What is not to love?

I feel that perhaps French Connection are channelling some masterpiece of French cinema that I have never seen. I think I mostly think this because a number of the slogans sound like they are written by someone doing a bad impression of Jean-Paul Gaultier. Who is French.

But wait – some are written like Peter & Jane Go To The Advertising Agency.

What is in the model's bag? A cake. The model likes cake. She does not eat cake. 'I eat cake,' says Peter. 'I eat cake but then feel wracked with guilt and self-loathing afterwards,' says Jane.

Never mind, Peter and Jane, today we will be learning about questions.

Reassuringly, though, some of the adverts do incorporate a modern staple of style speak – what I call the diminished fashion plural.

The shoulder is very special.

I'm wearing a daytime sequin.

I'm teaming this trouser with a heel.

With my generously-proportioned lower body, I simply can't do a skinny jean.

And so on.

But while the shoulder may be special this season, good shoulder health is apparently OUT for spring/summer 10. Look at this:

This is how she stands, is it? Well, edgy fashion stylists, how she stands will one day culminate in this beautiful young lady – who admittedly needs to get that hair out of her eyes because you can't see that pretty face – becoming the kind of pensioner who cannot elevate her upper body higher than 90 degrees to the pavement.

Fashion stylists seem hell-bent on jamming models into this kind of pose. But why? Because they are wreaking some kind of bitter, jealous vengeance on those extraordinary, elegant, elongated young bodies? Because it's cool?

Hear this, stylists. Bad posture = not cool.

I have yet to see a hunchback in Dazed & Confused magazine.

I have yet to read Dazed & Confused magazine, if I'm absolutely honest.

Here's another pouting uber-slouch:

French Connections's summer must-have? The bright floral shift-dress. Mine? Lower lumber support.

The final advert that I have hamfistedly scanned reflects my own reaction to the campaign…