Animalic Allure

Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne. Photo by Gordon Correll

Last week I went to see the film, The Danish Girl. It’s based on the true story of the artist Einar Wegener who in 1920’s Denmark became Lili Elbe and had pioneering gender reassignment surgery. Eddie Redmayne gives a superb performance and has been nominated for an Oscar. I hope he wins.

There were many thought-provoking moments in this film and as with all good culture, it changed me. This particular human struggle is one about which I knew very little. Now I know a bit more. And in amongst all of the drama there was a touching scene that made an unexpected impression on me. Lili is working in the perfume department of a smart store in Copenhagen and gives some advice to a customer, clearly relishing that she can at last share in the feminine mysteries of cosmetics. She tells the customer that in Paris, women never apply perfume directly onto their skin. Instead they spray it into the air and walk through it. I’ve taken to doing this ever since and it feels luxurious. It may be a frippery but it’s also a reminder of Lili’s difficult life and of a raw, beautiful film.

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I love perfume and don’t feel fully dressed without it. However, I’ve had a few ups and downs in my relationship with various brands. Continue reading

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A Postmodern Mystery

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This week David Bowie is nowhere and yet he is everywhere. Countless words have been written about his death, his legacy and his life. There have been reminders of his achievements: album sales of 140 million, the creation of his musical alter egos, and the ability to surprise right to the end with an apparent epitaph in the final album. Historic Dutch church bells rang out Space Oddity in a curiously sweet yet grave tribute whilst the video went viral. And there was an unexpectedly comical moment when a Heart FM Radio newsreader announced that David Cameron had died, before quickly correcting herself.

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At significant moments there is usually something for those of us who like lists and this was no exception. In amongst ‘David Bowie’s 24 best songs’, his ‘top 100 books’ and ‘the five best David Bowie songs that you’ve never heard’, Glastonbury’s Michael Eavis said that Bowie was one of the three greatest popular artists along with Continue reading

Not Guilty

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It’s the beginning of another year and I’ve been wondering what to choose for my New Year resolution. People have been doing this for hundreds of years; the Romans saw it as an opportunity to improve their lives and there was a time when I used to sit down on New Year’s Eve and make eighteen resolutions. Yes—EIGHTEEN—three in each of six categories. Relationships, work, home and health were covered and it’s now so long ago that I can’t remember what the other two were. But I do know that the mere act of creating a list was satisfying; a list brimming with the comforting belief that each item would be addressed comprehensively and effectively. This enthusiasm continues today in the form of my treats list, but looking back now, my resolutions list seems ridiculously earnest and I feel guilty about it.

It was naive, too. A study by psychologist Richard Wiseman looked at the New Year resolutions of 3,000 people and found that Continue reading