Category: ageing

Alice_biblio“In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream, Lingering in the golden gleam. Life, what is it but a dream?”

La Biblioteca Malatestiana in Cesena  are celebrating the 150th anniversary of  Alice In Wonderland with a small exhibition (curated by Giulia Quintabà & Maria Luisa Pieri).

This consists of book illustrations from a range of editions of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s timeless classic,  together with photographs, objects and brief biographical information.


One of the illustrations for the Treviso Comic Book festival

34 designs are by artists in collaboration with the Treviso Comic Book Festival and these are far preferable to the sappy Disney style illustrations  in some of the books on display.

These do not top the original drawings by Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914) which are still the ones that best stand the test of time.

The surrealism and wonderful strangeness of Lewis Carroll’s work means that it’s a work that never really goes out of fashion and remains as popular with adults as with children. Continue reading

When do men get perverted?


The image that excited the ‘perverts’.

When you are in your teens anyone over 30 seems ancient. Only when you start getting on in years do you come to redefine what it means to be middle or old-aged.

I am 57 so can wholly relate to Oscar Wilde’s statement that “The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young”

I was struck by this thought again when reading a blog post by children’s author, Stephanie Faris entitled  ‘There’s no excuse for being a perverted old man’.

This relates to a series of sexually explicit comments made after an ‘innocent’ photo was uploaded to Instagram by 17-year-old actress, Ariel Winter. As you can see, this is not by any means an overtly sexy pose but the amount of bare flesh on display was enough to get some men excited all the same.

Faris writes: “Blaming the young girl isn’t the answer. Saying the men are wrong for looking isn’t the answer, either. However, there is a difference between looking at someone and saying extremely disgusting things to that person”.

I agree with this and would add that dumping all this venom on ‘old men’ isn’t all that helpful either; particularly when ‘old’ seems to extend to anyone over 40 – presumably on the basis that this is the age when they are technically  ‘old enough to be her father’.

These salacious comments would have been equally inappropriate coming from a male who was the same age as the girl.  The routine objectification of women is the issue here and this can, and does, start at any age.

Perversion and creepiness may become more embedded in the individual as the years pass but I take issue with the implication that these negative traits are confined to men of a ‘certain age’.

I’m just saying.


45 YEARS directed by Andrew Haigh (UK, 2015)

In his meditations on the art of story telling, A Pesca Nelle Pozze Più Profonde (Fishing In The Deepest Pools), the Italian author Paolo Cognetti wrote that a short story is not only a brief narrative but also an incomplete one. By this, he didn’t mean that the tale is unfinished but seeks to draw attention to the fact that what is omitted is often more significant than what is included.

The British film, 45 Years,  is based on David Constantine’s ‘In Another Country’. I haven’t yet read this story  but I feel sure it follows Cognetti’s parameters.

Brilliantly adapted for the screen by Andrew Haigh, it offers a one week window into the lives of a retired couple as final preparations are made for a party to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. Continue reading


Neil Hannon

Neil Hannon

I know this song by The Divine Comedy is not new but, playing it again today made me realise what a gem it is.

Neil Hannon’s crooning portrait of an ageing jet setter reduced to a relatively modest and lonely existence accepting drinks from some “nice young man” is a witty, compassionate and perfectly nuanced piece of writing.

My favourite lines are: “Your son’s in stocks and bonds and lives back in Surrey, Flies down once in a while and leaves in a hurry, Your daughter never finished her finishing school, Married a strange young man of whom you don’t approve”

The orchestral version on the 2006 album – Victory For The Comic Muse – is immaculate but the solo performance in the video below is also pretty damn fine.

I haven’t eaten meat or fish for the past forty years and in all that time I have never been remotely tempted to regress. On the contrary, I am now trying to stop consuming ALL animal related products and switch to a completely plant-based diet.

The wisdom of following a vegetarian lifestyle is, to my mind, beyond dispute and arguments for taking this one step further towards veganism are equally compelling.

Not succulent, tasty or nice.

Not succulent, tasty or nice.

It is relatively easy to explain why I don’t eat raw steak, ground veal or chicken legs but the processes that lie behind the mass production of eggs, milk and cheese are just as closely tied to barbaric factory farming methods. You don’t have to be overly squeamish or sentimental to see that the routine practices of animal agriculture are increasingly indefensible and unsustainable. Continue reading


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