Saturday, 23 September 2017

Lust - by Roald Dahl

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have bought a set of four books by Roald Dahl that 
explore human nature’s darker side.

It was difficult to decide which book to start reading first and finally settled for what I believe is the easiest of the titles to understand. So I found myself opening the one called Lust, still unsure of how the author would present that feeling in his ten short stories about the subject.

I do not have a clear idea of what it is I expected out of the tales. I assumed it would be about lovers, cheating, sudden attraction, the heat of the moment. Instead I read through the first story to find that Dahl was very much into presenting a more subdued and everyday version of how Lust can interfere in, or take over, our life.

His writing is detailed and vivid, making the reader want to turn the page every time, even when the characters are idly sitting around a table in the bar. There is something comic about the way the scenes are presented and the very dialogue of the characters big and small. In the first story it is as if the narrator, though not one of the characters, is nonetheless in their minds. He presents whatever is going on in a way that is in keeping with their characters. In fact, two out of the three main characters are always called by their nickname, as they would call each other in 'real' life.

In the second story, he presents the beautiful Natalia, the cheating wife, exactly as she would be. There is no cooing and luring of the narrator as despite his attraction to her, she cares nothing for him. She is dismissive instead and surprised when he takes up her offer to be a guest in her mansion, which she made out of politeness during small talk rather than with any intention that he would take it up. Later on, when she is caught (even literally!) in the wrong, her allure vanishes and her panicked self shows through.

Reading Dahl’s short stories reminded me of those by Graham Greene, only the latter is purposely depressive in his presentation of the stories. Dahl, on the other hand, plays with his imaginative narratives in a way that suggests he thinks his characters’ situations are absurd. It is almost as if he is laughing at the ridiculous situations that people are ready to get into for lust.



Saturday, 16 September 2017

When The Colour Changes...

I used to love the colour blue. I actually once wrote a blog post about the colour blue (read here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2014/04/colour-my-life-blue.html). I even had a guest article on ivillage.co.uk about coloured walls and distinctly mentioned blue walls (read here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2015/03/a-question-of-colour.html)

https://www.pinterest.com/crismartinez984/
violet-flowers/?lp=true
So it was a wonder even to myself when I first started to like also the colour of red wine and burgundy some years ago. Still, I insisted I loved blue primarily and would hesitate whenever someone asked me what colour I was buying something, unable to decide most of the time between the two types of colour.

Then my son was born and I was shopping around for a dress for his Baptism Ceremony. I looked around the clothes shops for a non-existent dream dress that would not only hide my post-baby tummy but also make me look like a princess, as is always my target when choosing formalwear (I guess I still have a bit of the little girl in me!). I browsed through endless selections and tried on multiple choices, all of them 'iffy' dresses that did not have me convinced. Then in one shop, when I was all ready to postpone what seemed like an impossible task to a future date, a salesgirl finally pulled out a stunning purple dress that I knew was 'It' even before I'd tried it on. The dress fit like a dream, the colour complimented my skin, hair colour and eyes and I left the shop as a very happy young mother who was wearing no boring suit to her son's Christening. And so my love affair with purple began.

I wore that dress so many times and it always made me feel confident. Partly it was the colour, that rich and deep hue that alternately reminds me of passion and young princesses, a contradictory colour that looks naive and experienced all at one go. Soon it was not just the dress that I owned in some shade of purple, but also makeup, an iPad cover, more clothing, jewellery, the storage containers in my wardrobe, my stationery, even my car! I eventually dyed my hair purple a couple of times and started buying the purple version of the 'She' deodorant range which curiously enough is that one spray smell I love and want to wear.

https://www.pinterest.com/explore/
the-color-purple/?lp=true
As I have probably mentioned before, colour is to me a very important part of life. Well, that is evident even in my blog's name! So for years I tried to understand how the love of blue that had accompanied me since early childhood could so suddenly disappear and give way to its darker cousin, which ironically is the very mixture of blue and the deep wine red that I mentioned earlier. It seems to me nowadays that the colour I so love, in all its different gradients and hues, is the colour that I would attribute to a person's soul. Blue is cold, unnervingly so, but purple has borrowed enough of the warm colours to lend its velvety look to unearthly deeds it seems.

As a result, it is only lately that I have perceived just why my colour changed. It is because I have changed. The blue was a primary colour, devoid of experience, untainted and unexplored. It was the colour that obeys and is unchanging, a colour to trust for its calming effect. Once I became a mother, it was like my very soul had changed, and later still the changes came, piling up, making me who I am, both in terms of family life as well as shaping my very being. In fact maybe that is why I only lately felt that my transition from a Blue-lover to Purple-lover became acceptable and complete a couple months ago. It has to do with finding oneself and oneself after all can always change again. I am the first to admit that I am ever-changing and suffer from itchy feet, crave constant change and am always up for a new challenge. Then again, maybe the colour purple is itself like that in character, and might accompany me as a wilful companion through my life.

https://www.pinterest.com/abbey3759/purple/?lp=true

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Happiness

From https://www.theodysseyonline.com/
happiness-is-your-right-claim-it
As I have mentioned of late, I am currently starting out my new life as a single woman. It has given me food for thought and I went through a whole process of finding myself all over again and with that, discovered all the things that make me who I am. One of the things I much enjoyed previous to settling down in a relationship and routine had been writing and speaking different languages. So lately, given a certain twist of fate, I found myself rediscovering the Italian language in all its beauty. Knowing we are learning and practicing something for our own well-being and personal fulfilment rather than just for exams makes it all the sweeter and usually helps us strive more towards that achievement. So I decided today to share with you a paragraph I wrote in Italian to practice my writing. Unfortunately the person who was meant to edit it never returned the text to me with any adjustments so forgive me for any errors of spelling or grammar. Meanwhile, for those who do not understand Italian, I have included a translation to English just below it.



La Felicità


Se qualcuno mi chiedesse, “Cos’è la felicità?”, io direi che non c’è modo di quantificarla o descriverla veramente. Però se ci devo propio, allora direi, essere felici è una passeggiata lungo il mare, o forse è il canto degli angeli nel celo; quel canto che si sente quando c’è l’amore nella vita, quando ci sono amici che sai non ti lasceranno mai, che ti terranno la mano quando ce n’è bisogno e asciugano le lacrime quando tutto va male. La felicità è nell’ essere genitore, vedere crescere i propri figli, dovunque siano, lontani o vicini. Si sente la felicità infatti nell’ essere parte di una famiglia, nell’ abbraccio della madre, anche quando siamo digà adulti. Ci sono tante versioni dell’essere felici, ed è diverso per tutti l’idea di che ci farebbe di più felice nel mondo. Pero credo che dopo tutto, qualunque risposta darei a questa domanda, quella più corretta sarebbe a dire, “È l’amore, in tutti i suoi veli diversi, che è la vera risposta per la felicità.”




From http://brucerosenstein.com/the-summer-of-happiness/


Happiness


If anyone were to ask me, "What is happiness?", I would say that there is no way in which if can be quantified or described properly. But if I really had to do that, I would say, being happy is a walk along the coast, or maybe the song of the angels in the sky; the song that one can hear when there is love in one's life, when there are friends that you know will be there for you always, who will hold your hand when you need it and dry your tears when everything seems to go wrong. Happiness is being a parent, seeing your children grow, wherever they are, be they far or near. In fact happiness is felt when one belongs to a family, in a mother's embrace, even after we grow into adulthood. There are many versions of happiness and each one of us has a different idea of what would make them the happiest person possible. However after all, whatever reply I give to this question, the correct one will always be to say, "It is love, in all its different forms, that is the true key to happiness."