Now And Then

Sometimes, I wonder why we bother trying to create any new art at all, when it’s not only been done, but been done better.  In my wanderings along the Intertubes, I happened upon this little Art Deco piece:

It’s called The Swing, and was painted in the 1920s by Georges Barbier.

Alert Readers may recall that there’s been another artwork on the same topic (and title) featured on these pages, to whit, the one painted by Jean-Honoré Fragonard back in 1767:

Sorry, but I prefer the rococo playfulness of the later over the spartan coldness of the former — and I love Art Deco, generally speaking.  (For those interested, I talked about the Fragonard piece here — note the post date.)

That’s not to say that Barbier is a bad artist, of course.  Note La Jambe  (“The Leg”), for instance:

I’m not generally into sketches, but I’d have that one on my wall in a heartbeat.  And his Le Grand Décolletage  (“The Backless Dress”) is absolutely brilliant (and the man’s expression is priceless):

See what I mean about Now And Then?  That “fashion” is very popular nowadays with celebrities;  but they did it back then too, and better withal.


At one point not long ago, I remember that we had a huge sofa that needed to be carried down the stairs — the only people around to do the job being me and the Son&Heir — and in discovering that I no longer had all the considerable strength I could once have brought to bear, the task was made tolerable only by the fact that the Son&Heir had grown up to be a strong man himself.  It was a sobering moment, and for a while I was quite depressed.  Then I thought about it, and realized that age was starting to have its way with me — I think I was sixty at that point — and trying to replicate feats of strength from my youth was not only pointless, but possibly quite dangerous:   heart attacks among men of my age trying to do heavy lifting are not uncommon.

I could have gone two ways:  hit the gym, manically try to build myself back up, or just accept the situation and realize the reality.  I chose the latter, even though it was quite a blow to my self-esteem to come to terms with this new reality.  No longer could I get into barroom brawls, no longer could I lift or just push heavy objects into place;  my life (and more correctly my body) could no longer tolerate any of that strong-man stuff.

Nowadays everything’s all about “self-esteem” and “self-realization” and self-this and self-that.  Hence the title of this post, which stays away from all the negative implications that have accrued to terms like “self-confidence” (boastful), “self-aware” (self-centered), and instead makes the case for being accepting of oneself and even more so, doing it gracefully.

Age does worse things to women.

While I agree that too much emphasis is placed on a woman’s appearance and especially her weight — and as Loyal Readers know, I lean more towards the “Nigella Lawson”-persuasion than the “Cameron Diaz” type — I think there is a great deal more to be said for women becoming what used to be known as “being comfortable in your own skin”:  coming to terms with who you are, what can be changed by things like diet and exercise, and what can’t be changed because of genetic heritage and advancing age.  It’s not a carte blanche to “letting oneself go” (another old expression) and becoming hideously bloated and sloth-like, but it does presume a more realistic attitude towards one’s appearance and capabilities.

No better example, I think, can be found than in the case of Kelly Brook, the one-time Page Three model.  In her teens and twenties during the late 1990s, she was the very picture of “beauty” (as defined by, well, everyone):

Then came age, and two children, and by 2007 she’d got bigger:

…and into 2018: 

To me, that’s a lovely woman.  In fact, “womanly” is the best way to describe her, and I cannot stress enough how attractive that is to me — how attractive that has always been to me — and I know that I am not alone in this.

Of course, a lot of people went to the Insult Dictionary, calling her “bloated”, a “whale” and all the other unpleasantness, and no doubt it hurt her a great deal.

But at some point, she got a grip on the situation, realized that what was being asked of her — staying with a sylph-like teenager’s body — was not only impossible but ridiculous, and she said so, plainly and quite succinctly.

Nowadays, she seems to have cut back a bit, but she’s still the same womanly size 12 woman she became:

Oh, I could go on (and on, and on, and on…) but I think you all get the point I’m trying to make.

Off The Shoulder

In today’s post I’m going to sing the praises of an article of women’s clothing which alas seems quite unfashionable these days, whereas it should be as perennially popular as blue jeans:  the loose, baggy, off-the-shoulder sweater.  Here’s an example:

The wonderful thing about this garment is that it looks sexy:  that slightly impression of wantonness  coupled with (in some cases) a tantalizing glimpse of the breast whenever the lady leans forward makes, for me at least, a hugely-erotic sight.

It’s completely ruined by the appearance of a bra strap, by the way;  the whole essence of the thing is near-nudity, even under so large and thick a garment.

Now I know that Not All Women Can Go Braless… but actually,  a loose floppy sweater does an excellent job of concealing loose, floppy breasts, for example, so what would be unthinkable with any other garment top is not at all out of the question with a wide, loose-topped sweater.  Here’s one with a very loose neck:

In each of the above cases, the model has a fairly modest bust — but a larger one would make the garment quite sensationally sexy.

While I quite like the Victorian “below-the-shoulder” (i.e. both shoulders uncovered), it’s a little more overt (albeit also very sexy too):

…but this one is definitely reserved for the Young ‘N Perky Set because of its tightness.

But a big ol’ floppy sweater falling off one shoulder?

Have mercy.


From Pretty To Peculiar

There’s this TV show called Love Island, where pretty young heterosexual things of all types get to hang around in seclusion somewhere and bonk each other.  (I may not have got this quite right, as I’ve never actually watched the poxy thing, but this seems to be what happens.)  After the season ends, the cast go on to make all sorts of money from endorsements and Instagram appearances and so on.

Nice work, if you can get it.

And to get it,  you need to be pretty, regardless of whether you have a pleasure pole or a love socket.

The men, needless to say, don’t do much to make themselves look more attractive to the women — ’twas ever thus, except for men of the Elton John persuasion — but the sluts women certainly do.  And of course, by today’s deplorable standards of beauty, a girl needs to have an ass of Lopez/Kardashian dimensions, and a face that… well, see for yourselves.

Here’s an article which shows Before / After pics of some of the girls’ faces.  Most of them are fairly plain, but one stuck out as particularly sad:

She went from being quite stunning to looking like a RealDoll.

Yes, that’s a RealDoll.  I challenge anyone to contradict me.

In describing my despair at our modern life, I often say that I’m just a 1911 man trying to live in a 2020 world.  And I’m not exaggerating.

Here are three famous Edwardian beauties (Gladys Cooper, Lily Elsie and Marie Doro).  Compare them (and their contemporaries) with the grotésqueries  in the above article, and I think you’ll get my point.


Not a stitch of cosmetic surgery anywhere.  And if you didn’t fall instantly in love with one or all of the above three, I don’t want to talk to you anymore.

Classic Designs

Just about every sentient human being has their own set of criteria for what constitutes a “classic” design.  My own are fairly simple, in that a classic design:

  • should make everyone who sees it go:  “Ah yes!  That’s  _____________”;
  • must stand the test of time — people should recognize exactly what it is, decades after its creation or even demise;
  • should be universally recognizable even to people not familiar with the product or product category;
  • should be beautiful enough so that one might desire to own it or view it in person, even when you’re not quite sure exactly what it is.

I (and others) might not even care for the stuff, but the iconic designs nevertheless need to be recognized as such.  Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.

E-type Jaguar

Walther PPK (“the James Bond gun”)

The Eiffel Tower

Volkswagen Beetle (old shape)

Cartier (“Tank”) Watch

P-08 (Luger)

Austin Mini (old shape)

The Parthenon

Winchester 1894

Omega Seamaster

1965 Ford Mustang


Those are just the first ones that spring to mind — I used the “five-minute” rule to establish which, to me, exemplify the concept.  Yours may differ, so feel free to comment.


Now it’s Diana Rigg’s turn to shuffle off this mortal coil (or, as the title suggests:  “another one bites the dust”).   In an email to me, Mr. Free Market included this pic:

…and I’m fairly sure this would be how we all want to remember her.

R.I.P. to one of the classiest and sexiest Dames ever.