Jul 14, 2011

But soft! What light through yonder window falls on my cuff-links?


True confession:

At 9.15 this morning  I was backing out of my driveway heading to work. At the same time I was struggling one handed to put on my new silver  cuff links. 

Stupidly I continued to struggle with the cuff links as I drove.

As I pulled out of my street into the streams of mid morning traffic, I had no choice but to change gears with my left  knee - for my left hand clutched the steering wheel,  while my right arm crossed over and under my left elbow, the forearm twisted inside out so I could see my right hand, cuff link clutched between thumb and forefinger, trying to line up all four holes in the left cuff and pierce them with the ridiculously blunt end of said cuff link. 

By the first set of traffic lights, grim faced, I'd pierced only one hole, and was struggling with all the dexterity of a drunken entomologist making a bad attempt to artificially inseminate an angry male bee.

Fortunately at the second set of traffic lights things had changed. 

Not only had I managed to get the cuff link stub through another two holes, but even better, I'd managed not to run up the behind of the grey haired lady driving the yellow 1978 Ford Cortina in front of me: a lady who kept jamming on her brakes every time a small bump in the road threatened to rip off her exhaust pipe. (Well I should really avoid the phrase "run up the behind of the grey haired lady" and say, instead "not to run up the behind of the Cortina"- but that's just semantics after all, and you never know, she may have enjoyed it....)

To cut a long story short, by the fourth set of traffic lights I'd managed to finish the job on my left cuff only by pulling over to the side of the road and turning the engine off. 

You see, by then I'd had an epiphany - and realised that who so ever invented cuff links must have had either a butler or manservant - or had a job that required no regular and punctual attendance.

But why am I telling you this? 

Because! Because, believe it or not, it's a blessing for you that I chose this shirt this morning. But I'll get to that in in a minute.

In the meantime, if you are wondering that I am some kind of cuff link fashionista - well I am not in the least. Incredibly, unlike most modern shirts, the shirt I am wearing today has no fail safe buttons at the cuffs. 

In other words I had no choice but to wear the links.

To be utterly truthful, I didn't mind all that much. Over the last few years I have noticed that, whenever I wear cuff links, I am always treated with respect in the shops that matter. 

For example, often, if I wear silver cuff links, I am  served first in crowded sandwich shops - before all those hapless non cuff link wearing office workers. 

Or as an even more important example, let me take (not in the biblical sense) the young girl who works in the newsagent in the next block. Particularly fecund (as DH Lawrence would put it) in that she has several children to several men, on a daily basis, as I stand at the counter, this girl keeps her back turned to me, vigorously chews her pink bubble gum and adjusts the band of her thong underpants (through her dress), until I tap my gold coin on the glass counter to get her attention. (PS to self: must fix this paragraph - she does not have children on a daily basis to several men!)

But when I wear cuff links... quelle difference! This girl actually grunts in greeting as I enter her shop (okay I admit it could be a case of 'wind', or as the French call it, perhaps she is "playing a poor man's piano" at fortissimo.)

Ahh, the glamour of cuff links.

The cuff links, like the shirt, were a blessing today -  I knew I needed some story to fill up the black spaces between these images (they are of a dwarf called Eric who is threatening to leave his Caranavista Shakespearean Troupe in a hissy fit..... and they in their turn are entreating him to stay). And before the cuff link episode I had two themes in mind - fortunately neither of them had anything to do with cuff links. 

The first theme was to tell you how I think the death penalty should be enforced for people who go to the cinema and eat popcorn while watching the movie - or, in fact, eat any other crunch food that should be classified as an  instrument belonging to the percussion section of a large orchestra.

It's a pet hate of mine to be watching (eg) "Mr Pooper and his Penguins", and to be suddenly aurally assailed (from behind usually), in the midst of the movie's most salubrious romantic scene, by the noise of someone's wide open mouth crunching popcorn.

So that was going to be theme numero uno:

But in retrospect, I realised making fun of cinematic popcorn chewers would be unkind - as I understand that many people the world are unable to go for over eighty minutes at a time without food (poor things). Of course it's well known that there is some delightfully esoteric and abdominally erotic subliminal  urge evoked by sitting in a dark room full of strangers trying to watch a movie - and we need to feel sorry for those underprivileged cinema goers who give into their cravings.

My second choice of theme was to tell you about Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "In Memoriam".

As you know, it's that big cantankerous poem full of Darwinian interludes and suggestions of  homophilia that Queen Victoria adopted as her own after the death of her consort, Prince Albert.

 It has such wonderous lines as:

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Of course, in retrospect,  I realised that the relationship between cuff links, pop corn and a famous Tennyson poems is so obvious that it needs no elaboration.

 So.... rather than belabour such an obvious point, I will leave you instead, with another Shakespearean quote, this one from Romeo and Juliet, in an attempt to create 'resonance'.

Footnote: you will be interested to know that the word 'stay' appears 42 times in this play, in various guises and, is, coincidentally, the Illustration Friday word of the week.

Quelle surprise! :)

Thank you for reading and thankyou for looking. I think this will be my 200th post ..... :)

Oh dear, I almost forgot the 'resonance'!

But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon
Who is already sick and pale with grief


  1. HAahhahahahahahahahahahahahahah!!!! You are too much. I wear cuff links. Hahahahah! I have a whole collection. They match the color of the shirt.

    But you did a very dangerous thing. Putting on your cufflinks while driving is equivalent to a woman putting on her eyeliner, or someone eating a quarter pounder with cheese on one hand, French fries on the right hand and an iced-cold drink tucked between your legs.

    When I was an ER nurse, I took care of a woman who was putting on her eye liner and she got into an accident. Her head went through the windshield and her forehead was scalped, including her eyebrows and eyelids. It was terrible. All because of eyeliner.

    Never do that again. I mean never put on cufflinks while driving. I want to be able to exchange letters with you in your 70's or 80's. Okay?

    Your illustration is superb. What a theatrical troupe, just like the old times!

  2. Haha I adore your story!! ...makes me want to wear cuff links!! (Ok maybe it would not have the same result in shops, but who knows!). For the pop-corn crunchers in the cinema, I so hear you (and them!). Just last week, we went to a play (yes, real people, talking on stage...)trying to make their voice loud so that people (like us) on the very back of the theater, could hear something. A woman just behind us had the nerve to open up a bag of ships!! SHIPS!!... and was taking them one by one (into the crispy bag) then in the mouth. That was just ... bad. As my kid would have said: FAIL!! She should have stay... home. :)

    Anyway... back to your wonderful illustration! Always a joy to view.. the light on this one is wonderful. What can I say, I am a fan. Take care Andrew. I will stop now cause this may be the longest comment in history. Best.

  3. I admit it, I like popcorn when I go to the movies. At least I chew with my mouth shut, and popcorn isn't nearly as bad as the people who have to talk through the whole thing or the kid with his feet on the back of your seat. Just the thought of all this makes me want to stay in and watch DVDs.

    Love the light in this piece! Just gorgeous. Also really like your alien bed bug or whatever it is at the bottom. He just makes me smile :)

  4. Love the light all over this. After reading your comments (which do fill the black space between images with a lovely textural counterpoint) I enjoyed your use of "entreating" while looking at the entreaters. Great expressions, postures.

  5. Oh, I read and read and read, and I like the ivy
    oh never tried to use cuff links ... (make me appear very old)
    and I like the ivy
    and the leaves on the floor.♫☺♪♫
    (do you like my rhyme)
    good W-E!

  6. You brought me on idea to wear cuff links again! I vaguely remember the last time when I was wearing it: probably when I was 6 year old. Then I went through some genetic metamorphosis where using cuff links was not possible. ( I mean some formation of stam , leaves and flowers....)
    Your story, however, brought a big smile on my face. Well, some metamorphosis are reversible, so smiling and wearing the cuff links is possible again. But really, my favorit is the last one: Linda calls it "alien bed bug" , I call it a genetically modified rabbit droppings ...
    Greetings and wishing you nice weekend!!!
    Perennial Thistle a.k.a. artichoke or artisjokken

  7. Did you just add that last image? That is sooo coool!!!

  8. Ok, it took me a while to post a response because I could not stop laughing. I can just see you driving along, trying to put on cuff links and making comments under your breath about the little old gray haired lady constantly putting on her brakes in front of you.
    What in the heck is that last image? Very creative and yes, Ces is right, very cool. Very strange,very cool and not just a little creepy, which of course is your specialty. ;)

  9. I was too distracted by the sparkly things to fully comprehend each of the references of assaults on (and from) behinds. Did you say this was "gesture" or "remedy?" Hee hee! ;o)

  10. Dear Andrew, I ALMOST spat out my watermelon laughing at what you wrote about the young lady at the newsagent.: ) And the cuff links - my how dapper you must look and I so enjoyed the Cortina, your dwarf and the fellows who urge him to stay, the Tennyson poem, the popcorn chewers (I am one of them unfortunately, though I do not have my mouth open whilst eating...mom raised a proper gal : )) I just am overwhelmed today reading your post and enjoying the sights (your fabulous illustrations - love the zoomed shot of the dalmation and masked fellow..oh the clothes are gorgeous) and visualizing you walking about with your silver cuff links experiencing life in Oz. It's so fun to be here..thank you for your ever-so-kind visits - I hope all is well with you, my friend!

  11. You know I've always had an urge to wear cuff links, just to feel that little more sharply dressed. Must be fun to be acknowledged more for wearing them too! Anyway, I couldn't help but laugh at your story, hehe.
    And, as always, your illustrations look amazing, I love the way the light is pouring in from the top left, and the shadows cast around the archway. You have such a good eye for detail!

  12. Aww, isn't that nice, you running up the behind of the grey haired lady? Heheh, of all the things you wrote, that part really stuck. You know me... I think the best solution is for you to have a special helper in the car (a lady dwarf, perhaps? Not a grey haired one of course), just to make sure you get all the helping hands you need. :D

    Anyway, I love your theatrical assembly, the lighting is more than perfect as to be expected. But I think I love that gruesome creature at the bottom most! :)


  13. wow, I didn't know cuff links could be that powerful...and dangerous.
    About popcorn...
    WelI have to admit only pay attention to those noises when I'm not eating popcorn too XD
    yes, I confess I eat popcorn sometimes at the movies, well it depends on the movie... I won't be eating popcorn during an Ingmar Bergman film.
    But you're right it's annoying.
    I also hate when people talk during the movie or bring little children to see a movie when they are clearly not ready for that and keep asking what's going on or when are they leaving. Or when a cell phone sounds...no wonder
    why I just wait for the DVD most of the time.
    I love the light in these illustrations,it's beatiful .
    and I really really like that strange creature in the last illustration :)
    see you, Andrew. Have a nice week.

    And be careful with grey haired ladies.

  14. Fantastic story and Great illo!Always usefull for my bad english to read your posts, a great exercise:)

  15. Mon batifolage me rend peu rigoureuse ces derniers temps et il est bon ce matin de te lire et d'admirer cette belle illustration. Une mise en scène qui pourrait se situer à Venise au détour d'une ruelle...
    Sans être "bégueule" j'aime les boutons de manchette... Je voudrais même en porter... mais nos chemisiers ne possèdent pas de trou... Je vais devoir aller m'habiller au rayon homme!!
    Quand à Juliette elle devait être bien belle et avait beaucoup de chance d'avoir un Roméo!
    Ceci dit, je suis heureuse d'apercevoir une oie dans ton illustration... elle pourrait être la copine de celle que je suis en train de peindre en ce moment! Une sorte de Roméo et Juliette!!...
    Gros bisous à toi et bon retour de vacances... Plein de soleil français...

  16. Cela fait la 3ème fois que je refais mon commentaire. Internet est en train de me rendre complètement folle!
    Je t'écrivais que dans cette scène étrange, le fameux rat se garde bien d'intervenir... La neige et la pluie qui se mêlent en opposition à ce majestueux cerisier, signe d'espoir...
    Hier effectivement les coureurs cyclistes ont bien souffert à cause des pluies diluviennes... Aujourd'hui la météo est meilleure.
    Nous avions le soleil uniquement dans le sud de la France.
    Gros bisous.

  17. Hi Andrew i dont eat popcorn at cinemas though it has been a part of movie culture, if the movie is appealing, think i'll be just fully focused and have no time to care about the popcorn chewers :D

    Bye Andrew have a nice weekend and please take care of yourself (while driving)!

  18. ps: it would be nicer if you ran up the behind of some red haired lady

  19. MISTER FINNIE!!!!!

    Excuse me. I need to give myself a sound thrashing for having missed out on so much. Will be back.

  20. Shame shame SHAME on me for having stayed away for so long! I just spent the last couple of hours getting lost in the cinematographic deliciousness of your latest illustrations. Really, I mean it. I can envision a movie camera panning across the scene, stealing a close up of a face and revealing tell tale signs of story and emotion. Oh, someone pass me the bucket of popcorn, pleeeeaaaase! The one with the old man studying the photo of himself and a friend...well, that one gripped me.

    And your stories!!! Oh, how I've missed your stories! Your stream of consciousness and ability to weave together seemingly random things is a mastered skill. I tip my hat to you.

    And then I saw your book. Well, THAT pushed me over the edge completely. The colors. The strokes. Andrew, you are absolutely amazing. I mean, I thought you were amazing before, but now I do not even feel worthy to grovel in your presence. What a collection of paintings! I lingered a looooong time at Judgement Day Tours. I LOVED that one.




    I am so sorry to have been away, truly I am. You are just the jumpstart I need to dive back in and do better.

    See you again soon!

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Hya! Thank you so much for leaving a comment. I appreciate your time and thoughts.