No tracksuits here

Mary Quant launched the clothes that made the Sixties swing from The Economist

Not just because they could playfully imitate men, by borrowing men’s tailoring and their cardigans, but mostly because mini-dresses freed them to move. She designed them, she said, to be alive in. More important still, high hemlines, paired with opaque tights, let girls run for the bus in order to get to work. You could never run for the bus in a Dior dress. In Quant, women felt they could leave the house and dare a different life.

Martin Amis as the lurid chronicler of the UK

The Economist

These men dared to write vast superpower novels about the whole of society. His own smaller efforts were symptomatic of Britain’s decline: its aura of filthy pub carpets, its morbidly obese children, phone booths “slobberingly coated with thick red paint”, London “like the insides of an old plug”. Purpose had been lost along with the empire, and under Thatcher, that old witch, civility and civilisation had fallen apart. Nothing but weak left-liberalism remained to confront the ruins; that, and the scathing onslaught of his prose.

Getting rid of the fags helped the pub carpets. And Thatcher did Wales (see previous post).

A carry-on of professors

by reestheskin on 11/11/2020

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There was a touching obituary of Peter Sleight in the Lancet. Sleight was a Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Oxford and the obituary highlighted both his academic prowess and his clinical skills. Hard modalities of knowledge to combine in one person.

Throughout all this, at Oxford’s Radcliffe Infirmary and John Radcliffe Hospital, Sleight remained an expert bedside clinician, who revelled in distinguishing the subtleties of cardiac murmurs and timing the delays of opening snaps.

And then we learn

An avid traveller, Sleight was a visiting professor in several universities; the Oxford medical students’ Christmas pantomime portrayed him as the British Airways Professor of Cardiology. [emphasis added]

This theme must run and run, and student humour is often insightful (and on occasion, much worse). I worked somewhere where the nickname for the local airport was that of a fellow Gold Card professor. We often wondered what his tax status was.

Cream rises

by reestheskin on 08/11/2020

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From the obit of the 007 in the Economist.

Sean Connery as James Bond simply is British manhood: good-mannered, patriotic, entitled.
Both went to Fettes College in Edinburgh, Mr Bond after he was reputedly expelled from Eton, Mr Connery to deliver milk from a barrow. He grew up in Fountainbridge, which used to be known as Foulbridge for the open sewer that ran through it.

And why those milky early morning thoughts matter.

In playing Bond, I had to start from scratch,” he pointed out to an interviewer just after “Dr No” opened. “Nobody knows anything about him, after all. Not even Fleming.”

Attacking the devil

by reestheskin on 17/10/2020

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On that day in 1981 when he first sat at the pinnacle of British journalism, the editor’s desk at the Times, and wrote his first policy editorial, Harold Evans heard Abraham Lincoln’s voice in his ear. In 1861 the president had said he knew of nothing more powerful than the Times, “except perhaps the Mississippi”.

Another wonderful obituary in the Economics — this one about a great man, whose life was changed by an evil one whom to this day continues to be dirt on humanity.