Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.
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Net-a-porter UK

Friday 19 June 2009

The right to bare arms in Iran

In 1979 I went to a meeting Vancouver and heard thrilling accounts from Iranian socialist feminists about how they donned the chador to organise the revolution and depose the Shah. One cynic asked if they would be able to take the chador off again and was quickly shushed. I wonder where those Iranian feminists are today.

In 1996 I visited Iran on assignment for the Guardian. One small detail of life there I observed was that it was women in their forties and older , women who had been in their twenties and up before the revolution, who had managed to tweak and subvert the dress codes and were the most fashionably dressed. Invited to attend a wedding in Isfahan, where there were two, segregated receptions, the women without their black cloaks were dressed in a riot of colour, spangles and low bosoms.

A doctoral student at the University of Tehran who was working with the team that was bringing the internet in Iran told me that the internet would be the undoing of the regime.

The Guardian has been doing a fine job of providing live rolling coverage of what is going on which you can read here

In the same paper, Azadeh Moaveni writes of the Ahmadinejad era:

Late that summer, authorities launched a full-scale campaign of intimidation against young people they accused of un-Islamic appearance. Within a few short weeks, police detained 150,000 people, and all the women in my life went out to buy the shapeless, long coats that we had worn back in the late 1990s. Though the campaign targeted young men as well, authorities singled out women with particular brutality. The government's disdain for women increased by the day. Though Iranians fretted about the impact of western sanctions, the government turned its attention to a bill that would facilitate polygamy. Soon after, it announced a plan that would supposedly solve Iran's marriage crisis. It called the scheme "semi-independent marriage", and it amounted to a hollow version of the institution that would secure men legal and piously sanctioned sex, while denying women the security and social respectability of conventional marriage. On internet news sites and newspapers, women reacted scathingly. A girlfriend of mine, whose English classes had recently been segregated by gender, complained the government was imposing seventh-century rules on modern women

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Man in suit talks about ties

Amongst the recent frenetic media coverage of the juvenile behaviour of some of Gordon Brown’s former cabinet members The New Statesman has recently given us a first rate interview with the new Home Secretary , Alan Johnson.
I was aware of Mr Johnson’s working class West London roots, and his rise through the union ranks following his career choice as a postman.
But I wasn’t aware that he had been in not just one, but two, rock and roll bands.

“Within the space of three years, I left school, played in two bands, cut a record, got married, had two kids. That’s a lot to do in a short time. It was just a buzz, a real buzz, a really exciting time. I’ve never [recaptured] the excitement of playing in a band. Nothing has re-created that for me ……“it’s been kind of downhill all the way from there”.

He has an articulate take on the current political scene, and given the shenanigans that the media are so obsessed by his words and opinions are refreshingly to the point.
And how often, I wonder, does a man in a suit, let alone the Home Secretary, answer a question about his tie.
Not for him the embarrassed response of ‘oh, I don’t know where I got it / the wife gave it to me / clothes aren’t important to me. But,…..
‘Today, he wears a patterned Kenzo tie, although he insists it is “just a cheapo one. The Vivienne Westwood’s my favourite.”

Monday 8 June 2009

Thoughts on the European elections

A new MEP (elected)

and what we might do about

Saturday 6 June 2009

Harry Misses a Party

Because life has been unstructured of late, what with hospital visits and live televison appearances ( a slight exaggeration) I missed another social event the other week.
It was Mick Kidd’s birthday. I met Mick last year. He is one half of the incomparable cartoon duo ‘Biff’, who have been going for a long while , and never cease to entertain me.

Their cartoons often suggest that they have been eavesdropping on conversations and dinner parties that I might well have been at ( or pleased not to have been at).
If you are not familiar with their oeuvre then there is a treat in store.
I was especially delighted to find on their website that they appear in a rather recherché magazine called The Chap ,and reveal a rather astute awareness of the finer points of menswear which I never before suspected. As it has strong literary associations I feel compelled to share it with the discriminating readers of this blog.