Only once in my lifetime have I witnessed an England team reaching the semi-final of the World Cup, and that was during the Italia ’90 campaign (the one where Gazza cried). That World Cup (maybe with the exceptions of U.S.A ’94 and Japan ’02 because the matches were played so late in terms of G.M.T.) was everywhere – in the sense that not only was it on the T.V., but shops and cars and people were all displaying football related stuff. And in fairness, England didn’t qualify for U.S.A. ’94, so that’s perhaps an odd one to judge by, but there was the same merchandising and fervor surrounding England’s Japan ’02 Quarter-Final appearance (the one with Beckham’s mohawk), where people stayed up late to watch important matches.
So, where is the fervor surrounding the latest England team to reach a World Cup semi-final? I now all the matches are on late because it’s being played in Canada, but the supermarkets that are usually so quick to pounce on merchandising ideas have not done so on the occasion of the England Women’s team reaching the last four. If it were the men’s team the whole of the aisles as you walk in the store would be awash with booze, flags, t-shirts, barbecue stuff (cos when you’re drunk you’ll eat any old half-cooked rubbish). There’s not a lot of stuff around, so if you didn’t know, you’d think there was nothing much going on. This seems bizarre to me. Having watched all of England’s matches, with the exception of the French match, they’re a really good team that plays good football and they have a pretty good chance of beating the current holders, Japan.
So I ask: are flags and booze reserved for men only?
Edinburgh Advertiser newspaper report, 13th November 1840:
Apprehension of a Desperate Robber
‘Our readers will recollect, that on the 23rd of last month, James Alexander, or Elshender, a notorious robber who had earned himself the sobriquet of “The Modern Rob Roy,” had broken out of Lanark jail, where he was incarcerated, charged with a desperate act of highway robbery; and that £20 was offered by the authorities there for his apprehension. Since then the police have been on the alert, to discover the daring freebooter; and having got a hint that he was likely to visit Hallow Fair, Sergeant-Major Colquhoun traced Elshender on Wednesday afternoon to a house in Bruntsfield Links, where, assisted by the criminal officers of the Establishment, and Mr Currie, Chief Officer of Police at Lanark, they pounced upon him and a confederate named Somerville. Both Elshender and Somerville are strong and desperate men, and they made a powerful resistance, but Colquhoun and his party succeeded in overpowering them both, and in dragging, or almost carrying them bodily, to the cells of the Police Office, where they were safely lodged, to be dealt with according to the law. The farmers in the west of Edinburghshire, as well as those of Lanark and Linlithgowshires, will, we believe, feel relieved by the knowledge that Elshender is at length in safekeeping.’
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Sir Ian McKellen‘s (@IanMckellen) newest film, Mr. Holmes (@MrHolmesMovie), is an interesting take on the all too familiar Sherlock Holmes tradition of super-sleuth-doing-super-sleuthing kind of stuff, albeit as he’s nearing the end of his life and suffering the effects of old age. However, having just watched the film, I’m left somewhat perplexed at the inclusion of a direct reference to the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’m perplexed because I guess I’m meant to be. What I mean by this is that the film-makers obviously meant this aspect of the film to have such an effect, because it jars one’s sensibilities at the point of reference, causing one to perform a kind of cinematic double-take, where you’re sitting in your comfy cinema chair, feeling all caught up in the scenes of England-of-yesteryear, what with steam trains and old cars and men in hats and women in gloves and apiaries and stuff, and then you catch a glimpse of a Japanese woman with horrific scarring to her face, just before you see the sign for Hiroshima Station and the scorched landscape beyond.
And I guess my problem with feeling perplexed about this is that it’s just way too oblique as a reference, and as such can be readily disposed of before we set our minds to work on the purpose of its inclusion, and believe you me, there is a purpose to its inclusion, it’s just that it’s way too disjointed from the rest of the film to make itself known readily or to haunt us in the way that such an event should haunt us. Whilst still in the midst of my perplexity, I feel it’s a little too soon to come to any sort of conclusion (so watch this space), but wanted to give mention to a Hiroshima reference that works exactly as intended in describing the sense of horror that accompanies the senseless use of an horrific weapon on hundreds of thousands of innocent people. The reference to which I allude is Georges Bataille’s “Concerning the Accounts Given by Residents of Hiroshima” (1947), trans. Alan Keenan, in Trauma: Explorations in Memory, ed. Cathy Caruth (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 221-235. Perhaps the film-makers should read it, then reflect on their use of such an event?
A radio interview with David Foster Wallace’s sister, Amy, hears her tell of DFW wearing his hair in a top-knot and being discouraged to do so by his family, sensitively, so as not to hurt his feelings. Amy’s explanation of why DFW should not be wearing his hair in a top-knot was that it’s kind of the thing that little girls do – I’m paraphrasing here – and that the reason the family had to be so sensitive about breaking this news to him was that he had a problem with feeling that he wasn’t ‘masculine’ enough. But DFW was obviously rocking this look at a time when others weren’t – and fair play to him for that. Doing anything that makes you stand out is kind of tough, and wearing a top-knot sometime in the 80s, I’m guessing from Amy’s recollections, must have been a pretty hard look to pull off for a guy from the Mid-West. Fair enough, you might say, but, what of the current surge in top-knot wearing?
The current trend for top-knot wearing is interesting, and controversial. It doesn’t always work, but don’t knock a person for trying. Anyhoo, here are a couple of links to do with men wearing top-knots – although the New York The AWL feature has lots of pictures of ones worn at the back of the head – surely not a top-knot by its very definition (a top-knot should be worn above the occipital bone, and preferably above the recession, IM humble O).