Thursday, May 31, 2007

Elegant Decrepitude

Pants is a trifle maudlin today. Work doesn’t suit me. I don’t do suits, well not anymore. I would like to dress like George Melly, sans patch l’oeil, naturelment, and with a purple rather than red hat - am so over red. Finding enough sombre clothes of the old professional variety that still fit is a daily battle. In the last year the pant arse has flattened out considerably. It was lovely to see George Melly on the tele last night introducing the current Surrealists exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum as well has having a bigger arse than one’s own. Nice one George.

It’s not that the work is bad, judged by its own standards. It’s good and the ‘colleagues’ are nice and I have a lovely big office all to myself where people knock on the door before they come in, even my boss – that’s kind of spooky actually. I have no interest in it beyond doing it properly. I’m still quite into maintaining a certain standard of personal excellence. Increasingly, I’m uninterested in the business of the world. I think of the Surrealists, whom I love, and I think, why don't policemen turn their faces into apples ? Surely anti-social behaviour would plummet and the world would be a better place.

I could, honestly, spend a month thinking of nothing but The Elephant of Celebes by Max Ernst. It’s always been one of my favourite paintings and the thought that it and I live in the same city has often been of great comfort. Did I mention that I went to Spain for Dalí’s funeral in 1989? I don’t get to go to many funerals – fortunately. Dalí wasn’t actually a close friend, although after watching Russell Harty’s memorable interview with him where he told the world that his favourite animals were the rhinoceros (‘because he is cosmic’ and fillet of sole), over and over on video, I felt I knew him as well as I know most people - Dalí rather than the rhinoceros or fillet of sole, you understand.

My daily journey to Ilford takes me past Manor Park Cemetery where rest the ashes of one of my closest friends who died of breast cancer five years ago. She is the only person that I have so far been with at the moment of death, and I was alone with her. Her dear mother, who had been sitting vigil in the hospital for about seventy-two hours, was finally persuaded to go home for a couple of hours kip. Yvonne breathed her heavily-laden last very shortly afterwards. Being there was not an entirely unpleasant experience. It is true that you sense the 'soul' depart and feel ridiculously elated. That's partly because you are still alive and are not only proud that you can feel at all, but know that it's very important to do so, to the point of celebrating. It's odd and I remember that very clearly.

When I go past Manor Park Cemetery in the morning and see the freshly laid wreaths spelling out GRAN, GRANDAD, MUM, DAD, ALBERT, ETHEL, in tightly knit white flowers, I think of Yvonne and how we chose a proper East End funeral for her with the man in the morning suit walking in front of the hearse and everyone coming out of their houses to watch. I remember having the ‘burial or cremation’ discussion with her when she knew she was terminal and she wanted to be cremated because she was always claustrophobic, whereas I’ve always been afraid of fire and want to be buried. Please excuse the bad taste, but we pissed ourselves.

Please further excuse the crude segue, but I would now like to take the opportunity to mourn the passing of some of my favourite blogs. Yes, it is time to update the blogroll and take down the ones that are no longer active. I can’t bear to eliminate entirely those with a catalogue of previous posts that other people might like to read and I might want to access in the future without having to palaver myself stupid with Google requests, so I will create a new category on the blogroll called Not Forgotten.

This special roll will include the adored Periodic Englishman, who is almost entirely periodic and not the least bit English but is as interesting a mind as one's own will ever meet. Regrettably, also there is Monkey with typewjkl; who bid us a happy New Year, went off to play with the USB turntable he'd got for Christmas, and never came back. It will also include Penless Artist who was one of the first bloggers who ever linked to me. Penless found me quite early in my blogging career because I wrote a post about a woman who had accidentally booked a ticket to Sydney, Canada rather than Sydney, Australia and hadn’t noticed that part of the journey was by husky-driven sleigh. Penless is a Canadian who’s moved to Belgium and I followed with immense interest her wrangles with her cranky accommodation, the Belgian bureaucracy and the serene interludes of the visits from divine, if occasionally and unintentionally bilious boyfriend Andre. In fact it was during Andre’s last visit that it all went very quiet. I hope that’s a good sign.

Sadder is the demise of the blogs of Exonome, including the one formally on my blogroll, Go Away Please. I won’t even provide the link because I know that she’s taken the content down. Rest assured ‘Gappie’ as I call her, is alive and well and has her reasons for closing down her blogs. I do feel a loss. You read blog posts and enjoy them and you think that you know you can always go back to them, and then they disappear, along with all their links and pictures. I’m wondering what it sounds like when blogs die and whether the Surrealists have an answer – probably not because, actually, they mostly made work that will probably make a reasonable stab at lasting for ever. Are we bloggers the true Surrealists? Answers on e-Bay, of you please – my opening bid for 1p is a J-cloth dressed as a Toco Toucan. You too can do better than that, right?

Picture of George Melly from


R.H. said...

The most revealing thing about bloggers is the way some of them just clear off, suddenly, with no explanation, no goodbye, nothing. They just vanish, like dropping dead from a heart attack, taking all their merry responses with them. No other writing could get away with this sort of crassness, and if you think about it, you may realise why blogging is so looked down upon.

Janejill said...

Hi Pants - you manage to make ideas both poignant and full of devillment, yet the aloneness comes across so strongly too; such an lively mix ... I saw George Melly a few hours after finishing "Rum bum and Concertina" - (imagine I was shy to ask for it by name at the bookshop - God- he was so entertaining); then I saw him again when he really could not sing and wished I hadn't. Love him still. I feel as if there are lost souls haunting space when a blog I love disappears Daniel, where are you; this says more about me, me ,me.

That's so pants said...

Hi RH - As usual, you are in 'take no prisoners mode' - nice to see some consistency in a person. The thing about bloggers is that you don't really know them, (excepting the ones you really do know, of course), yet you feel as if you do because you are often privy to some of their most personal thoughts. But they are a more like the people you see on the train every day and smile at but never speak to. One day, they just aren't there anymore and you don't know if they were kidnapped and made to appear in '24' or just got another job and take a different route to work.

That's so pants said...

Hi Jane Jill

Dear old George. While I'm in mourning mode, I'd like to mourn the passing of the great English eccentric dandy. I just can't see Elton John growing old elegantly, can you?

R.H. said...

You avoid what I'm saying. You're being innocent. I'm not talking about people I just nod at every day, I'm talking about people I correspond with. I know them better than I know neighbours in my own street. And if I'm 'privy to their most personal thoughts' I trot out a few of my own too. They could be just faces on a train, yes, if we'd never spoken.

Well you may think I'm consistently stupid, and good for you, but tell me this, some bloggers do say goodbye, others just flick a switch and you can all get rooted. Is that what you'd do?

R.H. said...

What makes me laugh is how some bloggers say nice things to me by email, but don't want to be seen with me in public.

Bwca said...

First I was thrilled to see George Melly there .
I was amused for years by a large (unlabelled) painting of him which hung in a pizza restaurant in Brighton Victoria - always wondered... WHY ?!.
I could see it was a copy from an old Snowdon photographic portrait of him in a big wicker chair which just added to the weirdness.

Then I was still laughing from the dogsled portion of the journey to Sydney Canada, ...

when I was brought up short by your most eloquent waving to that old tugboat GoAwayPlease choofing over the horizon.
I guess Gappie got what they wanted and went off singing
"wish me luck as you wave me goodbyeeeeeeeeee ..."

bless you Pants.

That's so pants said...

Dear R.H.

I hope I didn't infer that you are stupid, consistently or otherwise. If I did, it was poor expression on my part. Here's what I think - in real life you get precious few chances to hold other people to account for expectations you might have of them. Healthy relationships are built on trust and it's a foolish person who raises their own expectations of others without some foundation for believing that those expectations will be met. That's the real world where being able to trust is actually important so people vest interest in it.

In the blogosphere you can have no expectations. You think I'm a middle-aged woman who lives in London but I could just as easily be a fourteen year-old boy from Bute, Montana. You wouldn't know.

Unless a blogger has promised you on pain of death that they will never stop blogging or take down their blog, you must think that this can happen. Socrates is believed to have destroyed some of his own work - the threat to the universe is very small.

I think one of the most attractive features of the blogosphere is its impermanence.

Re: people not wanting to be seen with you in public - is there a foundation for this fear? Is mayhem likely to ensue? You should know that I do not do mayhem unless I am actually the cause. If you are buying, that is likely.

That's so pants said...

Hello BWCA and welcome

Glad you liked the George Melly.

I do imagine Gappie singing 'wish me luck as you wave me goodbyeeeeeee - very perceptive of you.

R.H. said...

What I mean by 'in public' is they want me to know they agree with me, but are embarrassed to make it public on their blogs. -And come on now, don't lecture me, what a joke; no one can trust anyone at all, and with increasingly good reason. And they get held to account for it all the time. But not in blogland, that's what I'm pointing out to you. Misrepresenting yourself here is an enormous temptation. But I've no doubt whatsoever you're who you say you are. I can tell. But all the same, as you agree, it's a notorious fact that people do misrepresent themselves here. Just as they do in their daily lives -but to a much lesser extent. So it's no surprise when this type abruptly disappear. However it's a rude shock when people you know to be otherwise genuine do the same thing.
There's a blogger group here who have little socials. I'm invited, but don't go, because I don't want that sort of involvement, but I'm glad there is involvement, or I'd have less belief in the whole thing.

I get looked down upon by spivs and professors for being common, but it doesn't matter how you're brought up, if you have intelligence you'll have good manners. Fakes on this internet aren't awfully bright, nor are they talented, and it's a mighty come-down to put yourself among them by showing everyone your arse as you go out the door.

That's so pants said...

That's me told then.

R.H. said...

The biggest mistake you ever made was moving to pommyland. The entire place is a music hall.

That's so pants said...

And that is a bad thing how, exactly?

Quink said...

Romantic friendships [at Stowe] abounded, but only occasionally were they physically consummated. In addition there was a certain amount of straight carnal groping. But the only experience of the latter kind which I can recall had to do with a fifteen-year-old contemporary who has attained fame and fortune in adult life as a jazz singer and writer. He seduced me with incredible despatch on the art room sofa one afternoon."

Peregrine Worsthorne, "Boy Made Man", in The World of the Public School

That's so pants said...

Er-hem. More tea vicar?