Sunday, 27 June 2010

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Some Pointers

Arrows can be deceptive. This one’s pointing to the breasts so as to lead the viewer’s eye away from the groin – stop it straying up the skirt.

Now consider this postcard - a film-still - from the Sylvester Stallone movie ‘Cliffhanger’. The unfortunate red arrow coming out of Sly’s groin is a piece of climbing equipment known as a tape. The red arrow’s a warning: Stallone’s got krabs (sic). 
The belt of oblong metal clips - with spring and screw-gates – hanging around his waist are known as krabs. It’s no accident that ‘Krapps Last Tape’ is my favourite Beckett play. 
Stallone’s known as a ‘muscleman’ and the best krabs are harvested from the mussel beds of Sheffield (a ‘steel city’ – landlocked – miles from the sea). Crabs are associated with sand and sand can be found (in bunkers) on golf courses. Stallone’s wearing fingerless gloves: this is wrong. Climbers never wear fingerless gloves. Old man Steptoe: yes. Climbers: no. Are Steptoe and son, Vladimir and Estragon, in ‘Waiting For Godot’? 
I wear gussetless tights when I climb on golf courses, and golfers wear fingerless gloves. Even though fingerless gloves and gussetless tights never meet (touch?), there's a connection (and it doesn’t need an arrow to point it out). You can find arrows on golf courses; you can also find arrows in Francis Bacon's paintings. 
Light bulbs are another reoccurring theme in Bacon’s paintings. But I see the light bulbs in these Bacons as 'false beacons'. For me the real (hidden?) subject of these light-switching-on paintings is: one-arm, one-finger pull-ups: from false beacon Bacons, the finger beckons. And one of the greatest exponents of OFPs was the legendary German climber, the late Wolfgang Gullich (1960-92). Stallone saw Gullich performing one-arm one-finger pull-ups in a T.V. film and was so impressed he employed Gullich as his stunt-double – his doppelganger - in ‘Cliffhanger’. Gullich was killed in a car crash (he fell asleep at the wheel) shortly after completing the movie. 
An OFP from 1987: I took this photograph to the hairdressers the other day and said, "Make me look like then". 

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Crime To Play

A courting couple, caught in the headlights. The discovery of a body, a Sunday school teacher. She had been strangled under the fleet carpet-fitter’s fingers, with a to Die for style that’s fresh as paint." You can see up her skirt (she’s wearing stockings, not tights). This was the start of a sixteen-week murder hunt. Before it had finished police had analysed 50 paint clippings, 35 pieces of car carpet, a pixilated penguin, and the wedding of a painted doll.
The ‘breakthrough clue’ that caught the murder - he was only 10 when he made a public appearance with an accordion band at the Bristol Ideal Home Exhibition, before going on to be, among other things: plumber’s mate, barman and a Butlins redcoat - was a small fleck of paint found on the inside of the girl’s skirt. 

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Courting Couple: Caught in the Headlights: Court in a Skirt

Not, this is not Jimmy Savile and Marthe Fleurant, sitting in front of a Rolls Royce. It’s two more blonds, a courting couple, caught in the headlights. Rolls Royce headlights. He’s holding a cigarette and you can see up her skirt (she’s wearing stockings, not tights). The image comes from the cover of Russ Conway’s record, ‘Time to Play’. Let's read the blurb on the back of the album. "Conway’s showbiz career started when he was only 10 when he made a public appearance with an accordion band at the Bristol Ideal Home Exhibition. But before going into the professional big time he was, among other things: plumber’s mate, barman, Butlins redcoat and a carpet-fitter. On this disc you’ll find all your Russ Conway favourites. There’s that spanking million-seller ‘Side-Saddle’, chartmakers like ‘Pixilated Penguin’ and oldies like ‘The Wedding of the Painted Doll’, bouncing-bright as a button under the fleet Conway fingers. Russ is a top pianist with a to Die for style that’s fresh as paint."
The discovery of a body (in a children's book, 'Science and Crime'): it was known as the ‘little saint murder’ because the victim was a seventeen-year-old Sunday school teacher. Her body was found under a hedge near a village in Lancashire. She had been strangled. This was the start of a sixteen week murder hunt and before it finished the police had interviewed 28,000 people, analysed 10,000 saliva samples, investigated 15 cars, 50 paint clippings, 35 pieces of car carpet, 10 car seats and countless tyres. But the ‘breakthrough clue’ that caught the murder was a small fleck of paint found on the inside of the girl’s skirt. Under the microscope it showed three coats of paint, a red topcoat, a darker red middle coat and a cream undercoat.

To be continued…

Monday, 14 June 2010

My Name In Lights: My Fame In Tights

My name in lights
My fame (frame) in tights
In his poem Fernhill, Dylan Thomas was ‘famous among the barns’. Here, I’m famous among the golf holes: ‘reaching new heights, in laddered tights’. Unbeknown to golfers I go climbing on a golf course in gussetless tights. The greens are all holed. Why not?
Ignore me I’m about to fall, take your eyes off my tights and try to spot the ball. 
Look closely at the two golfers; the one on the right - who looks like a hoodie - is holding the flag, whilst the bent figure on the left (under the leaf) is attempting to hole a putt. Neither is aware of me, up high, my head in a hole in the rock. 
This flag-holding, hole-putting scene is played out the same, day after day. Here's the same scene on the same golf green (but from another point of view) in the 1930's, when plus fours were more fashionable than tights. 

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Name In Lights

Pieced together in the laboratory, the headlamp-pattern of seemingly unconnected - damaged, fragmentary - lives can be pieced together.
The Hand of Sir Jimmy Savile: Unpopular fixer.
Here we find that the long palm, marked with numerous lines of an energetic type, and the short fingers, place Jimmy Savile in the Fire category. The essential characteristic of the fire type is unpredictability, represented both by the form of the hand and the many lines, which give many directions, not all of them productive. So quickly will Jimmy’s emotional faculties work that he himself will often be astonished by what he says and does; sometimes Sir Jimmy sounds like a demented fantasist.  Once, whilst taking a Guardian journalist on a tour of a building site – the site of a new conference venue in Leeds city centre which was to be named Sir Jimmy Savile Hall and house a museum dedicated to his life – Sir Jimmy is approached by a total stranger – a middle-aged businessman – clutching a mobile phone. The businessman asks Jim if he’ll speak to his wife. “No problem” says Jim, taking the mobile handset. “I don’t know who you think this is but I’m the manager of the Golden Hands massage parlour in Manchester. Your husband is a regular face down here and is well behind with his credit”. He hands the phone back to the scarlet-faced fan, pats him on the back and climbs into his taxi, another great Fix It under his belt. Fire type often secretly thinks of himself as a confidence trickster.
The Hand of Marthe Fleurant: Popular singer.
The long narrow palm and long fingers of Marthe Fleurant’s hand indicate that she is essentially a Water type. Although the palm of this type in its pure form is covered with a mesh of lines, the lively quality of Marthe’s lines indicates that she has strong Fire tendencies. In short this means that Marthe is caught between two strong forces: on the one hand, a watery force that requires stability and security, and on the other, a fire force that ‘boils’ the water and creates strong inner tensions. Like Jimmy Savile, Marthe Fleurant has a marked Girdle of Venus, which in part explains he restlessness of her personality and her love of travel.
Both Savile and Fleurant relish the limelight - like to see their name in lights. Marthe has a long line of intuition which is so necessary to one in her profession, but the fact that it is so broken indicates a feeling of insecurity, proper to her type, which her sense of practical requirements and her ambition are constantly fighting. Marthe’s hand is remarkable for its strong contradictory, fragmentary forces – in outward life there is a positive direction, but inwardly this is paralleled with a lack of direction and uncertainty. This lack of direction is no more evident than in the position of Marthe's head in relation to the headlights. Whilst Sir Jim confronts the camera - returns, indeed, radiates 'the gaze' from a central position of confidence, Marthe avoids eye-contact and in doing so comes over as, less a highlight than more of a third headlight.
Marthe Fleurant: a popular singer
Sir Jimmy Savile: an unpopular fixer.
Fluorescence: light emitted during absorption of radiation of some other (invisible) wavelength.
Radiator: any object that radiates energy.
Headlights: a light head, usually attached to the front of a vehicle such as a car, with the purpose of illuminating the way ahead.
Blond: a person with fair skin and hair.
Head lice (pediculosis capitis): infestation of the scalp with lice.  
Forensic science. Forensic means ‘belonging to the courts’ and comes from the Latin forum, which is where the Romans used to hold their law courts.
Palmistry: In palmistry many subjects meet – Blonds, headlights, fluorescence, forensic science, radiators, Fleuant, Savile, crossed-legs, Roles Royces.

Monday, 7 June 2010

All Because An Air Stewardess Loves Being Betrayed

I’m often in oven gloves, but I never light my oven (remember the bird skeleton I found inside the cooker?). I wear oven gloves to prevent my feet marking the ceiling (my ceilings are white, my feet often aren’t).
I got the idea from Sally, an Air Stewardess. No sooner is she airborne than it’s time to serve drinks. Sally’s turns into a drinks dolly: she dispenses small cans of soft drinks, miniature bottles of spirits, and stacks of plastic glasses. On an aeroplane, it is vital that everything takes up as little room as possible. And everything must be lightweight. While the glasses are being cleared away, Sally checks that lunch is ready. The oven trays are so hot, she has to wear heatproof gloves. Sally could wear her oven gloves with her legs wide open: Sally’s single, like her oven gloves.
I train, to hold myself on a horizontal plane (but don’t confuse it with being level); I practice font-levers in my hall - a feat accomplished with oven gloves on my feet - poised in the air, streamlined like an airplane; my body’s so tray-like flat I could hold a in-flight meal, on rather than in, my stomach.
If I die in a plane crash, I want to come back – be reincarnated – as a tray for aeroplane food. I want to be-tray myself. Thanks to Sally I’m already be-trayining. I’ve got to be able to handle myself: the heatproof gloves are on. I’ll probably need them where I’m going. I don’t seriously believe in reincarnation: imagine a fat Buddha traying (sic) to do a front-lever? At least Sufi Dervishes hover.
Coda: If my next-door neighbour - as he posted his sock through my front door the other day - had peeped through the letterbox, he’d have seen my empty oven gloves beneath my pull-up-bar - on the floor - waiting for me to step into them and be-tray myself. Say I’d been gloved-up - airborne? He’d have come eye-to-heatproof glove with me, in a standoff (except that I was horizontal) - a foot-fight between feet-proof gloves and a sub-sock-grenade.  
Boarding an aircraft via the engine! It shouldn't be going on. They'll need more than oven gloves.

Air Stewardess photographs: © Chris Fairclough.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Fashion & Fabrics

If you want to know how you really feel about someone take note of the impression an unexpected letter from him makes on you when you first see it on the doormat”.
And how right Schopenhauer was, but a sort of sock was posted through my letterbox first thing this morning. How would Schopenhauer have felt about such a sock-at-an-early-hour, I wonder? I say ‘sort of’ because the sock had been ‘adapted’ – cut and stitched to form a strange kind of hybrid sock/glove combination. At first sight I thought it was one of my own socks carelessly kicked-off on the doormat. But God it gave me a fright when I tried to put it on. I was pricked - drawing blood - there was a pin left in the toe! I’ve never been so shocked by a sock. I smelled it (smelling socks – smelling salts?) and it was clean. Tried it on my foot, tried it on my hand. Strange thing: it made my hand look like a submarine and my foot, a hand grenade. Talk about burning your boats! Had they got my address right? And who were they? It hadn’t been through the post; the glove/sock must have been hand-delivered - delivered on foot. Part sock, part glove, part submarine, part bomb: who the hell – at any address, would dress – go out - in this?
Eight years ago – shortly after I moved-in – I’d occasionally find used-matches, pushed through my letterbox. I thought some nutter was trying to torch the place so, wearing rubber gloves to protect for fingerprints, I collected the matchsticks in a box (a matchbox) and took them to the police. They said, "leave it with us". Heard nothing for a fortnight, the burnt matches kept arriving, but never when I was at home; then I received a call from Social Services. I was told the postman was none other than my next-door neighbour and that he must be confusing my door with the door he normally pushes his used matchsticks through! “He usually pushes them through 32G not 32H” (my flat), the social worker said. She then went on to explain that my neighbour, once he’d lit a match, couldn’t bear to live with what he described as, “its burnt body”. His bizarre condition was complicated further by the fact that he’d become extremely anxious about how and where to best dispose of these “burnt bodies” - to the point where, after every time he'd lit a match, he’d be on the phone to social services, pleading for them to send someone round to take ‘it’ – one burned matchstick - away.
A workable if somewhat unorthodox solution had been found however. One of the other residents of our block is a retired carer, who upon hearing of my neighbour’s predicament offered to be the willing recipient of these used- matchsticks-through-the-letterbox: she hardly ever leaves her flat and keeps the cat-litter tray under the door to catch them in. My neighbour – he’s getting old – must have been getting confused. I’d asked Social Services why didn’t my neighbour simply didn’t deposit the dead matches in an empty matchbox? “He couldn’t do that, he’d see the matchbox as a coffin – a sort of mass-grave”. “Has he considered a lighter?” I enquired. “That’s not an option either as he has to keep count of the matches he uses every day: he counts-out 15 every morning; 10 are allocated for cigarettes and 5 for the cooker. He wouldn’t know where he was with a lighter” I was informed.
It seems Sock/sub hand grenades are the new dead matches (burnt boats?). Socks match gloves in function, even though it could be argued that the sock is more closely related to the mitten. I’ve spent most of the afternoon adapting the right arm of one of my old pullovers into a glove. And I’ve tried very much to work ‘in the style of’ my sock/sub sender. The pullover's a women’s pullover I found on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path years ago and have been wearing ever since.  It’s been a struggle – the fingers look horrible – and you wouldn’t believe I once did something called ‘Fashion and Fabrics’, at school. I can't live with a thing like this. But I can't bring myself to unpick it either. I know. I'll post it through my neighbour's letterbox. 

Thursday, 3 June 2010

What Not To Wear on a Rock

What Not to Wear on a rock: the twin-set combination of balaclava and mini skirt viewed from the natural angle – up – is never going to flatter; balaclavas are gussetless-knickers for the face. And if Belgium’s going to ban the burka, why don’t we ban the balaclava? Mini skirts and finger cracks: always a tricky combination. But so is an ugly mug and good legs.
However wonderful your appearance - whether you’re climbing a crack, or a pinnacle – if you’re wearing a mini skirt, your overall performance will be marred.