Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The ragged trousered philatelists

Leafing through a compiled volume of Gibbons Stamp Weekly (as was) from 1908, I'm impressed by the prices of packets of stamps relative to contemporary wages.

One packet of 1,000 stamps is advertised as Stanley Gibbons' cheapest ever, at 15s: the best-paid painters and decorators in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (c. 1903) are getting 25s a week if they're lucky.

Their contemporary equivalents are getting, say, £400 pw if they're equally lucky, which makes that 15s packet cost £150 today, or something like 10 times the cost of a modern bargain packet of 1,000.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Lightning Seeds Renault Scenic advert

Regrettably Tim Pope, in his Tim Pope wisdom, has seen fit to remove the video referred to below from his website. I apologise for any disappointment. Let's hope someone, somewhere, kept a copy.

Anyone else who, like me, has wanted to see again the triffic 'back projection' Renault Scenic advert set to Marvellous by the Lightning Seeds, will be fed up trying to find it on Youtube.

But they'll be pleased to know it's on Tim Pope's website. Bit of a surprise to find it's his work, as he hasn't crossed my path since the Boys Don't Cry video.

To reassure people stumbling across this on searches, I'm referring to the cowboy/Indian/James Bond version of the advert. The other versions are on Youtube, including the 'studio backdrop' one and the 'car rolling down the hill' one.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Oh this is confusing. Alistair 'Saddam did have WMDs, and even if he didn't, no civilians were killed or tortured in the invasion Tony and I arranged, absolutely none, the bombs were made of cardboard and the torture photos were fake' Campbell is on board with the campaign to bring the Daily Mail to book over the Lucy Meadows case.

Well, ultimately I'd rather be falsely accused of supporting the Blair/Campbell position than correctly accused of failing to stand up against transphobia. 'I figured I'd rather go down swinging for the right thing.'

Monday, March 04, 2013

Rape in Jack Vance's fiction

While vacuuming the front room this afternoon I was mentally composing a post on the awkward subject of 'Vance and rape', an area that made me uncomfortable years before I came by my extra nobility.

There's an unsettlingly jocular approach in the 50s stuff (Dying Earth, and a throwaway comment in To Live Forever) which perhaps can be put aside as 'of its time'.

But at the other end of the time tunnel, by the 80s and Cadwal Chronicles, the lovely Wayness is attacked twice and successfully defends herself each time. We certainly are not lead to sympathise with the aggressor here, so credit where it's due.

However, a few years earlier there's the Tatzel thing in Lyonesse books I and II which repulsed me on first reading, and indeed was the first time I began to think about what Vance was trying to get me to believe. For those not familiar, in book I heroic Aillas is enslaved by the aristocratic, marauding Ska (no giggling please) and put to work as a slave in the household of Duke Luhalcx. He deals so spiritedly with the concomitant humiliations that Luhalcx's daughter, Tatzel, covertly warns him one day 'Have a care - intractable slaves are gelded.'

Now, I innocently read this as a supportive statement - 'You're twice the man that any of them are, watch out they don't "cut you down to size"'. But clearly Vance means it to be a taunt, because in book II Aillas encounters Tatzel again. She's got lost and broken her leg, and Aillas forces her to travel across country with him and constantly leads her to believe that she's in imminent danger of being raped up good. What a gent!

On arrival at their destination Aillas reveals that the whole rape thing was merely a bantering response to her words in book I, and hands her back over to dad in one piece. He then saunters off to spend the rest of the book being kingly and executing summary justice, before in book III we're forced to endure much of the same from his equally horrible, but less rapey, son.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

One of the finest moments in Viz is the encounter between Raffles - The Gentleman Thug - and Oscar Wilde. Raffles and his sidekick Bunny have gatecrashed a society party, and Raffles' attention is soon drawn to Wilde, who's amusing the company with epigrams. The Gentleman Thug begins to intimidate him, addressing him as 'Professor fucking Posh' and asking him if he thinks he's clever. Experienced Raffles readers know how this conversation will end. But Wilde replies:

'Cleverness, Lord Raffles, is the assertion of the absolute modernity of ignorance.'

A question mark appears above Raffles' furrowed brow. And Wilde continues -

'More like a bastard!'

accompanying the remark with a taste of Raffles' own fistic medicine.

In the final frame Wilde has his hands clasped triumphantly above his head, while Raffles staggers away supported by Bunny. With a hand to his bleeding nose, Raffles groans,

'Fucking hell, Bunny, I wish I'd said that.'

And his faithful sidekick can only reply,

'You will, Raffles, you will.'

Incidentally, readers wanting some really fine writing about Viz should hurry on over to here for a detailed analysis of Fru T Bunn's affair with his butcher neighbour's meat missus.