Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Maybe Slightly more than Seven (Deadly-ish) Sorts of Sins...

Seven Deadly Sins -Tableau de mission - François-Marie Balanant (1862-1930)
Having recently being nominated as a Versatile Blogger (thank you Miss Simmonds!), I now have to carry out the following missions, if I've understood correctly:

  • Write down seven things that are (or rather were until now) little known about myself...
  • Nominate a certain number (15) of other new-ish bloggers - this could prove difficult... 
  • Let the nominees know of their nomination, so that they too may continue the process...
  • Link back to the  person who nominated me in the first place... 

At least that's what I think I'm supposed to do - I may well have got this wrong!!! Thank goodness I'm not in charge of the Oscars!

Strangely enough, most of my seven 'things' seem to be linked to some form of sinful behaviour or another, but don't appear to find a direct animal symbol (well, maybe a few 'obvious' ones...). In the old tableaux de mission spiritually-errant individuals were reined back in from the temptations of evil and sin through imagery that needed little interpretation to be understood, even by the most incalcitrant (would-be) sinner...In the subsequent scheme of things the toad came to symbolise Avarice; the snake - Envy; the lion - Wrath; the snail - Sloth; the pig - Gluttony; the goat - Lust; the Peacock - Pride...

Beach-combing started seriously at a tender age... Two spades - not just one.
It has long been recognized that most frowned-on behaviour first manifests itself in early childhood. Such negative traits and tendencies may have developed through Nature and/or Nurture. They are therefore either brought about by detrimental external influences, or simply through genetic makeup -  so that we are congenitally corrupt and riddled with mini time-bombs of vice even before birth.... Someone or something has a lot to answer for!

1/ Beach-combing and general magpie-style scavenging.
One of my earliest memories was that of being 'spotted' trying to wrongfully enter the peacock enclosure via the undergrowth in the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham - determined to get my grubby hands on some peacock feathers. I will never know whether this determination would have led me to actually pluck any stray samples still attached to the resident peacocks because the squawking of the women deterred me somewhat and I left empty-handed! Ever since then I've been obsessed by peacocks... I even saw a white peacock a few years ago which duly opened out its fan without any prompting or coercion - truly magical! It was probably a good thing for both of us that a rigid metal fence made sure there were no close encounters of any kind. My fingers were positively itching...

2/ Nymphomania...
My friend and I were fascinated by the painting 'Hylas and the Waternymphs' by John William Waterhouse, 1896, and used to race off on our bikes to the local beaches after school to bathe in our suitable nymph clothing (red mini dresses, as it turned out). This was, of course, a purely seasonal activity (too cold in winter) that we soon grew out of once we'd got 'proper' boyfriends of our own to drown. Similarly, the film 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' was responsible for our 'churchyard phase' when we momentarily took to draping ourselves over ivy-clad graves, striking atmospheric poses for photos in black and white.
Hylas and the Waternymphs - J.W. Waterhouse (1896).
3/ Chocolate factories...with or without Willy Wonka.
 Discussing our life ambitions at the (not so) young age of 11 years, I remember being unimpressed by my friend's aim of living in America, though I don't recall how she responded to my seriously-stated objective of working in a chocolate factory. Sadly I don't know if she ever made it to the U.S; I certainly never became a Cadbury employee, but have been on several visits to the Bournville factory since those early days. Wafts of chocolate smells literally lead you up to the main building - sensations worthy of the great Roald Dahl book! Cadbury has itself now gone largely 'Yankee' and living in France means that supplies of 'real' chocolate are in short supply, and are at astronomical prices. Since a girl has to make do with the things at hand, I have resorted to Nutella to fill that vital gap.
 Actually I do have a long-standing relationship with Nutella... Having heard that you could lose vast amounts of weight by simply eating one type of food, and nothing else for several days, I decided to combine duty and pleasure by eating nothing but... Nutella. Funnily enough the diet didn't work, if I remember rightly, and my boyfriend was rather annoyed (it was his pot of Nutella, after all). However the good news is that the experience failed to put me off this foodstuff-of-sorts and now I just raid my children's stock whenever I need a chocolate fix or the fancy takes me.

4/ Hard as Nails...
When I was at school I read an article about South-American drug-addicts who grew their little-finger nails in order to use these home-grown tools to shovel up cocaine for 'snorting' purposes. While I had no interest in this usage, I did want to see just how long a nail could grow and so endeavoured on my own nail-growing mission. The nails proved to be most resilient and didn't break once in the two-year stint. Nevertheless they finally met their demise when I had to cut them off for fear of frightening the children that I looked after as an au pair girl. My dad promptly made a silver fixture for the nails which I promptly wore as earrings!
These look like miniature yellowing walrus tusks now... Yuck!
5/ Life has its Ups and Downs...
My life is pretty pedestrian these days, but I did accomplish a few notable ascents and descents in my comparatively adventurous past. I think the most spectacular Up moment was climbing to the Temple of the Moon near the Machu Picchu site. We got trailed from the outset by one of the stroppy resident llamas who proved to be difficult to shake off and seemed to be particularly surly because we didn't feed it. I was hoping not to experience the spitting capacities of this stalking local at first hand and at close quarters.
This wasn't actually the Indian temple, but still... I certainly wouldn't have been grinning like that if it had been!
One of the more memorable Downs was the race to descend from another high-perched temple. This one was situated in Southern India, and had boasted an early-morning feeding session for the Holy eagles that soared in the skies above the surrounding hillsides. On arrival we had to remove (and leave behind) our shoes before ascending the never-ending stone steps that wound their way up to the temple's feeding platform. Then we simply had to wait till the eagles deigned to present themselves. Fine, except that on the day of our particular pilgrimage the eagles simply never turned up... By the time we finally decided to abandon the mission the blazing midday sun had transformed the stone steps into burning coals destined to test the faith and endurance of any mere mortal - not to mention bare feet. With the wind at our heels we sought damage limitation by running back down as fast as possible but were not entirely successful. Firewalking, indeed.

6/ My meaningful 'other'... A feline friend.
Our cat is a Siberian whose characteristics include, amongst other things, having incredibly tufty paws. These may have afforded he and his fellow Siberians ample protection from the vigours of the Russian winter climate, but they aren't wholly adapted to life as a flat-dwelling feline where smooth surfaces are made all the more slippery due to felted 'Hobbit' feet. Drawing to an abrupt halt is virtually impossible as Krasnogorsk (or just plain 'Oggie') continues his trajectory, willing or not, and often ends up crashing into things or sliding off the edge of launch/landing pads.
His favourite early-morning trick is sucking my right ear to the point that the lobe actually became rather distended at one stage.... This certainly beats the traditional alarm clock.

7/ Queen Bee...
In this particular hive it is, indeed, I who rule. As Queen I try to reign with a steady hand and steely will but despite my unstinted efforts there is frequent civil unrest which manifests itself periodically over the thorny issues of housework/homework. Here are some workers photographed at the beginning of their long-term training programme. Although considerably older now, they still need to be re-directed and reminded of their tasks with great regularity to the point that 'droning on' takes on a whole new meaning in this household; I'm the drone.
Work-shy workers from the hive of activity.
Here is my list of nominated fellow bloggers. I've found this part tricky to draw up as most of the blogs that I follow are well-established and the writers probably wouldn't really wish to state their seven personal facts (deadly or otherwise) and certainly wouldn't really want to read about those of a whippersnapper blogger like myself... I'm not actually sure the nomination receivers below will be too thrilled either, but there you have it!
Anyway, here are a few blogs - though the list doesn't meet the 15-nominee requirement. Sorry! 

And so a final Thank You to Miss Simmonds...

I also love looking through people's windows...that can get you into a lot of trouble!


  1. such a brilliant post! Your nails are rather creepy but brilliant. 7 very fascinating things and I think I'll be following some of the blogs you mentioned.

  2. Thanks so much for the nomination..your blog looks right up my street,i will be back!!

  3. Thank you soooo much for the nomination. sadly I am unable to participate at the moment as I am working 10 to 12 hour days!! It isn't for long, but I have a lot to do in preparing for the exciting auction. This is my dream job and I need to give it my all! Lizzie


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