Category: gender


Short Skin – I dolori del giovane Edo’ directed by Duccio Chiarini (Italy 2014) 

Edoardo, or Edo (Matteo Creatini), is a serious, sensitive and intelligent 17-year-old virgin whose hormones are at odds with his physical development.

He would like very much to have sex but is frustrated in his fumbling attempts to do the deed primarily because he suffers from phimosis, or tight foreskin.

This is a delicate subject for me as I also have this condition although fortunately not to the degree that it causes serious discomfort or pain. It did however make me wonder if I would have had a better sex life if this condition could have been corrected in my teens.

Unlike women, who visit gynecologists as routine means of maintaining physical well-being, men would only visit doctors or urologists if they had problems and even then might put off a visit as long as possible. I can never remember any doctor checking my privates and I have never volunteered to be probed in this area. Continue reading

VIRGINIA WOOLF biography by Hermione Lee (Vintage Books, 1996)

leeVirginia Woolf’s life story is one that is continually being re-evaluated. After all, it was fully  two decades after her suicide in 1941 before she began to be more widely acknowledged as a literary great and a feminist icon.

Even so, there are still far too many (mostly male) detractors who will routinely belittle the achievements of Woolf. Hermione Lee recalls that as a student she was taught to regard her as a “minor modernist”, not fit to be ranked alongside Joyce, T.S. Eliot or D.H. Lawrence.

She also recounts a revealing (and humorous) story of a St Ives bookseller who decided to take advantage of Woolf’s association with one of her former homes but only had a vague idea of who she was. He put up a sign which read : ‘Talland House. Home of Virginia Woolf, wife of the famous novelist”. Continue reading

YOUTH directed by Paolo Sorrentino (Italy, 2015)

1youth3“Youth is wasted on the young”, quipped Oscar Wilde, or was is George Bernard Shaw?

Whoever made this observation, knew something of the poignancy and sadness of growing old.

All Paolo Sorrentino’s films to date have featured elderly characters struggling to come to terms with the realisation that the best years of their lives are almost certainly behind them. Youth , despite its title, is no exception.Paradoxically, it is more about facing up to the inevitability of dying than the carefree pleasures of our ‘salad days’.

At its heart is the friendship between a retired composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) a film director who believes that he still has at least one great film in him. Continue reading

GIRL IN A BAND – A MEMOIR by Kim Gordon (Day Street Books, 2015)

The somewhat reductive title is surely intended to be ironic since Kim Gordon’s autobiography is most certainly far than that of just another  ‘girl in a band’.

This is evidenced by the fact that the postscript defines her as an “artist, musician, producer, fashion designer, writer and actress”. Not only that but she is even a little dismissive of her musical prowess : “I’ve never thought of myself as a singer with a good voice or even as a musician”, she reveals.

Most of the time her desire to be a name in contemporary art world seems more important than being a rock star.

Despite this, Gordon is best known as founder member of post No Wave , pre-Grunge and super cool experimental rockers, Sonic Youth. This is a band who, she writes,“could only have come out of New York’s bohemian downtown art scene and the people in it”.

But anyone seeking a straight bio of the band will be disappointed by her non linear recollections. What dominates the plot is her relationship and marriage to Thurston Moore, the rise and fall of which parallels that of the band they founded together. The first chapter is entitled ‘The End’ and refers both to Sonic Youth’s final concert and the messy marital breakdown. Continue reading

viv_albertineCLOTHES, CLOTHES, CLOTHES. MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC. BOYS, BOYS, BOYS by Viv Albertine (Faber & Faber, 2014)

I started this autobiography expecting a fun but frivolous account of the punk era. It is all that and more.

Viv Albertine was at the heart of the heady period in the late 1970s when the British establishment were running scared. The Slits were one of the many bands that were inspired by the so-called ‘filfth and fury’ of The Sex Pistols; four feisty females who were not about to let a lack of musical expertise hold them back.

Albertine was the guitarist in that band’s early years. I regret to say that I never did see them play live but I treasure the memory of first hearing them on a John Peel session – four tracks recorded in September 1977 that captured their ramshackle brilliance.

The book contains plenty of fascinating insights into the ordinary world that preceded and followed the extraordinary explosion of rebel yells. Continue reading

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