Roll out the red carpet, because I’m back after a highly indulgent Christmas, thoroughly guilt-ridden by the amount of chocolate and children’s movies which went down. It’s mango salad and obsessive reading from now on.
Sadly, I find myself grappling with a pretentious snobbery which is spreading like a tumour, most blatant a few days ago when I found myself reading an exploration of homosexuality in the 19th Century on the bus, wearing a silk t-shirt and huge brogues, judging the woman feeding her child Mcdonalds opposite me.
Anyway, the exploration in question is a book which my dad bought me, chosen from a long, literature-centric Christmas list. Deviate from that list at your peril. Feeling particularly uninspired on the blogging plane, I thought I’d share a few of my Christmas presents with you, which is either going to be really cute and interesting or just arrogant and annoying. That’s for you to decide, so here goes:
(P.S. the whole ‘ARTS / LIFE / STYLE’ thing has gone right out the window, hasn’t it? I should probably to change it to INFLATED EGO / TRYING TO MAKE MYSELF LOOK COOLER THAN I AM / POORLY PHRASED SENTENCES ABOUT MY LIFE MOSTLY WRITTEN WITH A HANGOVER)
1. STRANGERS: HOMOSEXUAL LOVE IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY by GRAHAM ROBB
I came across this one via Forster’s Maurice, where it was cited in the introduction. Also, Alan Hollinghurst loves it, and he is always right about everything and praise be to him forever and ever amen. I’ve only read about 50 pages so far, but I particularly enjoyed the list of once seriously proposed causes of homosexuality, highlights including:
– excessive meat-eating
– a foetal deformation causing the genital nerves to end at the rectum
– parents of widely different ages
– curiosity or boredom
– books about homosexuality
– lack of parental love
– plebeian brutishness
– the emancipation of women
– foreign fashions and bad examples (especially Oscar Wilde)
– ‘loosening of moral fibre’
Shit, we’re a troubled lot, aren’t we? But, as Robb sets out to prove, we’ve always made the best of things.
2. FAVIKEN by MAGNUS NILSSON
Faviken is a beautiful restaurant in Sweden, way too exclusive and expensive for plebeians like me. Well, that’s what I thought, until this beauty turned up under the Christmas tree. It’s a recipe book written by Faviken’s head chef, containing all kinds of stunning recipes with titles that sound like poems (‘broth of autumn leaves’, ‘steamed Arctic char, pickled, salted, dried and pasteurized mushrooms, crab apples, fermented cucumbers and dried marigold petals from last year’, ‘vinegar matured in the burnt-out trunk of a spruce tree’) which I have the intention of trying out when I get all rich and extravagant. The photography and design is top notch, too.
3. BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by EVELYN WAUGH
I’m not sure what I can say about this one without sounding condescending, because everything has already been said about Brideshead Revisited. I will, however, tell you that I absolutely loved it, and that it confirmed both my love for excessive semicolons (;;;;;;;;;;;!!!!!!!!!) and my suspicions that I have a compulsion to become a waifish alcoholic living in Morocco in a cloud of self-pity and incense smoke. Seems like a valid life choice to me.
4. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER COMPLETE BOXSET
ALONGSIDE ENCONA HOT PEPPER SAUCE, THIS IS THE BEST THING THAT EVER CAME INTO MY LIFE, AND IT DOESN’T EVEN GIVE YOU STOMACH CRAMPS.
5. ORLANDO on DVD
I read Woolf’s Orlando a few weeks ago, and being a bit obsessed with the monolithic babe that is Tilda Swinton, I made it my mission to see the film adaptation by Sally Potter. And, you wouldn’t believe it, but I did!!!! O M G!!!!! It was visually stunning in terms of costumes and Tilda (obviously), but it was a little lacking in substance compared to the novel. Still, who can’t enjoy Quentin Crisp all dolled up as Elizabeth I?
Ok, so this isn’t a Christmas present at all, and it’s not even an object, but it IS a perfect little tapas restaurant on London’s d’Arblay Street, a short walk from Oxford Street. My dad took me there before we went to see Happy Mondays (thought I’d just shove that info in there for extra street cred), and I was super impressed. I ate pig cheek with chocolate and hazelnut, which is every bit as weird, wonderful and delicious as it sounds.
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I hope you enjoyed another incoherent, sprawling blog post. I’ll leave you with this, which my friend only introduced me to last night. You’ve probably seen it already. Do come again.