Monday, 31 October 2016

Happy Halloween

It's that time of year again when we need another sexy witch, so here is one by American pin-up artist Ren Wicks from 1964.  As you can see this particular witch disguises herself as an old crone whereas in reality she is a fetching redhead.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Something for the weekend...things I haven't done

The ladies of Oxford University Women's rugby team

Well, the Legatus has done quite  a lot of things in his fifty-six years but given the surprise expressed by my Foreign Office friend the other day that I hadn't been to a rugby match it got me thinking about some of the other things I have never done (there will be nothing to do with interaction with ladies in this post, you will be pleased to know, as I have done everything in that area).

The key thing with these is that they're not things I haven't done and would like to, they are things I haven't done and have no intention of trying!

So I have never:

1 Been to a rugby match.

I can actually see that rugby is a good game (unlike football, which is tedious) but I have never been to a match. Partly, it is because I have never been into the tribal elements of team sports.  I used to follow athletics quite closely (and I have been to quite a few athletics events) but it is still horribly drugs ridden so have largely given up on it, except for when the Olympics comes around.

2 Been to a cricket match

Now this is a key pillar of British (do they play cricket in Scotland or are all the pitches marred by caber impact craters) cultural history, so I should be in favour of it but, again, it is stupefyingly dull.  I have been invited to a couple of Test matches (in the UK and Bombay) but I turned them down. I went to the Oval for a conference earlier this year and even the sight of the pitch made me start to doze off. 

3. Played golf

I have played crazy golf on the Isle of Wight a few time with the family but it stresses me out as I have no hand to eye co-ordination.  I can't imagine trying proper golf, let alone watching it.  If you do take it up you immediately lose all your dress sense and start to look like you have stolen your clothes from a dead clown or Rupert Bear.  I once had lunch with the Council of Lloyd's in the eighteenth century Adam Room, which, curiously, tops Richard Roger's construction kit insurance headquarters, As we were sitting down, Lord somebody or other, who was sat next to me, asked if I played 'goff".  When I said that I didn't he ignored me for the rest of the lunch.  It was like saying that I wasn't a Mason in a construction industry event. 

On the subject of attendance at other sports events, I did once go to a football match (Arsenal, just before they moved to their new conference centre/apartment block, sorry, football ground). I was invited with my, then, ten year old son by a former General Secretary of ASLEF because he felt I was ignoring Guy's education. It was stupefyingly boring. Given I used to live in Wimbledon I did go there for the tennis once (dragged there by a girlfriend) and while I enjoyed the sight of tall, fit looking women in short skirts on court it is another tedious game and is, basically, sport for girls.

4, Been hunting, shooting or fishing

I don't really approve of bloodsports and anyway it is fabulously expensive.  My particular friend. Sophie, happily blasts away at all sorts of poor wildlife around the world but she is Canadian.  She also doesn't shoot anything she can't eat, which is where I would draw my ethical line.

5 Been to a pop or rock concert

Until I was seventeen the only non classical or jazz records I had were three Beatles records given to me by my aunt when she got married.  Although I have some pop on my iTunes, there is very little past 1985 (and most is sixties).  I never really got the hang of rock because most of it is so musically bankrupt.  I have about 450 rock tracks (out of 24,000) on my iTunes and more than half of that is Mike Oldfield (who I do like).  Again, like sports, I am not into the shared experience thing of going to a concert,  I don't like classical concerts either, mainly because I like to whistle along with the tunes (which is why I don't like Bruckner - it has no tunes).  I have been to three concerts in the last thirty years: Stacey Kent, Clare Teal (both jazz singers) and the Barry Gray concert at the Festival Hall where I got to chat with Gerry Anderson.

As I get older I am getting more and more resistant to the thump, thump, thump of modern music which seems to pervade Britain.  I am amazed, when watching the Eggheads quiz on TV, how almost none of the contestants can answer basic questions on classical music.  Do they not realise that pop music is all low grade, commercial juvenilia?

6 Been in a helicopter

I have been in far too many aircraft but I have managed to avoid those flying death traps, helicopters.  I nearly went in one once to get from Vancouver to Victoria but I pulled out at the last minute and went in a proper plane instead. I will never, ever, go in one of these!

7 Been in a hot air balloon

Flying is awful but sometimes you cannot avoid it but the thought of taking to the air in a piece of eighteenth century technology for recreational purposes (after all you can't go anywhere specific in one) is beyond me,  Oh look, an unexpected power line!

8 Been in a light aircraft

Both my children have flown light aircraft a number of times.  Charlotte flew upside down over Oxford once at the controls of an RAF trainer and she also did a free fall climb and dive (she had has quite a few flying lessons).  I turned down a lift in a light aircraft back from St Malo with a Royal Yacht Squadron member once, much to my wife's annoyance.  I also turned down a flight in a two seater Spitfire, owned by a friend of my father-in-law.  I was almost tempted by this but you know that these pilots who "want to take you for a spin" want to fly upside down and do loops.  The cemeteries of the world are full of light aircraft pilots and their passengers.

9 Ridden a motorbike or scooter

Driving a car on the roads is one of the most dangerous things you do regularly.  So why make it even more dangerous? Added to this, motorbike riders seem to think that the normal rules of the road don't apply to them but always get furious when some poor car driver knocks them off their naturally unstable conveyances, probably because they are trying to do something they shouldn't. 

10  Driven a van

I have more than enough problems driving a car (I hate it and let the Old Bat do all the driving) and my biggest stress points of the winter months are driving over to Eric the Shed's in the dark.  I probably only do about thirty minutes driving a week, so have very little road sense, can't parallel park and can't back into car park spaces.  Why would you back in anyway?  Surely you want to do the backing into the widest space, i.e, out, not into the narrow space.  It baffles me, this one.  In supermarkets, I always look for those triple slots, where you can leave a car's width on either side.  Trying to do any sort of manoeuvering where you can't see behind you and have a wide vehicle to deal with, as in a van, would be beyond me. 

11 Hired a car

Given my total lack of driving ability I wouldn't dream of hiring a car, which always seems to be an expensive, complex and stressful process anyway, as the rental people always seem to want to tell you that you have nicked the paint so they can charge you extra.  Good job I don't live in America, where they have no public transport!

12 Smoked a cigarette

Not once.  Ever.  Not even been tempted to try. They are just disgusting.  Sophie has been known to smoke a cigar, occasionally and, oddly, I don't find that smell to be as offensive as cigarette smoke. Wouldn't want to try one, though.  There are enough things that can go wrong with your body without significantly adding to the risk.

13 Taken any illegal drugs

Because they are even worse for you than smoking and also they are illegal.  Where do all these hip and trendy metropolitan people think their drugs come from?    Because, by taking them they are directly supporting organised crime, violence and murder.  Very hip.  Having spent a lot of time in Colombia and seen what the drugs trade did to the ordinary people of the country, this one gets me really cross!

14 Been caving

Recently, a friend went on one of these management team building courses where they had to go into a cave at night. Not a nice, open, hole in a cliff sort of cave but one of those wriggle through a tight gap ones.  I am very claustrophobic (I got about thirty feet into the Great Pyramid with Lady Brewer once and we both looked at each other and bolted for the open air again) so the thought of pot holing terrifies me.  I don't even like watching it on TV.   I asked if anyone had refused to do this and he said no.  I would have refused!

15 Been rock climbing, bungee jumping or abseiling

What do you think?  As you may gather, I am very risk averse (I was in a bad accident when I was small and spent a lot of time in hospital) and anything involving precipitous drops seems idiotic to me.  Some people are thrill seekers and get a "rush" from this sort of thing, I am told.  Many of them are dead. I went ski-ing once but it was cold, wet and dangerous.

16 Been camping

Honestly, I get uncomfortable if I have to drop down to a four star hotel, so the idea of sleeping in a tent seems ghastly. A couple of years ago my wife bought a tent and took the children for a few nights down to Hayling Island.  She put the tent on eBay as soon as she came back.

17 Been scuba diving

Actually, I have always wanted to try this but I am a poor swimmer and don't like being out of my depth.  Also, it's one of those activities that is more complex and technical than it appears, so my chances of drowning would be quite high!

18 Been white water rafting

Great opportunities for drowning or getting concussion while suffering motion sickness. Horrible!

19 Been on a roller coaster

Recent events at Alton Towers have shown how dangerous these pointless things are.  I get motion sick on a carousel so the thought of careering around on a vertiginous, narrow track maintained by bored students holds no appeal whatsoever.

20 Been go-karting

I don't like going fast in anything so being close to the ground on a tea tray with a lawnmower engine does not sound very appealing.  It's all a bit corporate team building, too.  I am not a team person!

21 Been paintballing

This also has more than a little of an IT consultants awayday about it.  Guy used to go a lot but it doesn't seem like very good value and can be painful.

22 Played darts

I would be completely useless at this and as darts seems to be popular in a certain sort of pub it is unlikely I would be found in an environment where it is going on.  I did go ten pin bowling once and my brother in law has a snooker table but I was as good at both as you would imagine.

23  Stayed in a youth hostel

I didn't go abroad on holiday without my family until I was twenty three and by that time I was earning enough to stay in proper hotels. I do not want to sleep in rooms with strangers, unless they are female and they have asked to be there!  I went on a car ferry to Jersey once and had a shared cabin with a stranger, so I went and slept up on deck.

24 Been to Iceland

Not the shop where third rate celebrities pretend to buy disgusting looking frozen desserts (although I haven't been there since it was called Bejam) but the country.  I haven't been to Cyprus, Bosnia, Montengro, or Macedonia either but the one European country I have no desire to visit is Iceland.  It's basically Mordor. A dark, grim, treeless nation inhabited by puffin eating cod snatchers in dubious sweaters who can't keep their volcanoes, fishermen or investors under control. Britain's new enemy in Europe.  

25 Played poker or bridge

As anyone who has played against me in a wargame can attest I have no gaming ability whatsoever, so card games are quite beyond me.  I used to play Sooty snap with the children but I wasn't very good at that either.  I also don't enjoy board games and always lose at them.  Basically, as a wargamer, I am a (blodgy) painter.

26 Learned to play a musical instrument

I am quite musical (I am told) but don't have the patience to learn a musical instrument   I don't enjoy learning how to do things.  If I can't do something straight away I lose interest. 

27 Ridden a horse

One of the most dangerous pastimes there is. Being in close proximity to large animals makes me very nervous.

28 Owned a pet

I never could understand the appeal of having an animal in the house which would then die after a few years.  I quite enjoy the visits from Harry the Cat next door but that is because we don't have to deal with all the slaughtered birds, mice, moles (this week) and rabbits he brings home to our neighbours  Basically, the only good animal is a cooked one.

29 Sung karaoke

Oh dear, that sounds like IT consultants awayday again.  This was arranged for a work Christmas party once, so I didn't go.  You only have to watch the X-Factor to see how many people think they can sing and can't.  Torture!

30 Been to a dance 

A slight rider, here.  I have danced (if you can call it that) on New Years Eve 1975, at Brasenose College Ball in 1980 and in the bar of the Reval Hotel in Lithuania with Swedish Anna (who I had just met) in 2006. I was very drunk on all three occasions. The thought of going somewhere with the sole purpose of dancing would be horrific. I don't enjoy dancing and, am very suspicious of men who do.  As my father used to say: "dancing is for women, children, homosexuals and black people".  Dancing is ridiculous and you look ridiculous doing it unless you are very, very well trained. Although I love Strictly Come Dancing, dancing is, fundamentally, about showing off and there is nothing worse than a show off! Fortunately, dancing in 1975, when I first tentatively did some with a girl called Debbie on New Years Eve seemed to involve gently jiggling up and down with your arms bent and your hands held up at shoulder level. Then came Saturday Night Fever which encouraged show offs all over the planet and, from then on, made dancing, particularly for men, an embarrassing minefield   I couldn't then (as I still can't) understand why dancing was supposed to be fun; it was totally ghastly.

It is often said (usually by people on Strictly Come Dancing, for example) that anyone can dance but I actually don't agree with this.  I think dancing is an innate ability, like being musical, having ability in languages, being good at maths or drawing. While you can improve a little through teaching, if you don't have that basic ability nothing that anyone does for you can help. It is best just to acknowledge your limitations, therefore! If you are no good at something you should not do it!

So,there are my thirty things in life I have no intention of trying!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Something for the Weekend: Paintings by Angus McBride for Mayfair magazine.

It's slightly shocking to realise that it is just over nine years since the death of Angus McBride, whose wonderful illustrations graced more than 60 Osprey books (more if you count compilations) over the years.  I am sure that many of us bought some of them simply for the illustrations, having no intention of collecting armies for the period in question.  

I first became aware of McBride's illustrations in the sixties when his pictures regularly appeared in Look and Learn magazine.  His first work for Osprey was in 1975 but just before this he did a series of illustrations, cartoons and even a comic strip for Mayfair Magazine.  I have posted two of these paintings before (above), which appeared towards the end of his time working for Mayfair and appeared in the October 1975 issue.  The top one was an illustration to a story and the bottom one was a cartoon.

The first illustration of his I can find in Mayfair is one for a story and dates from their June 1974 issue.  It demonstrates the wonderful detail he put into his pictures:  The damp parts of the tub where the water has run down to pool on the floor, the cat and dog facing off, the discarded stockings, the wonderful lighting provided by the fire and, above all, the expressions on the two figures which tell you everything about their two characters at a glance.

The next one is a cartoon from two months later; August 1974,  This one is the first of several of his Mayfair works which contains a lot of figures and the first one showing pubic hair.  Looked at from the perspective of today this is really quite dubious, if not downright disturbing.  It seems to say, basically, that if you go through the park, girls, you will be pursued, thrown into the pond and raped by a gang of men (some of whom sport even more dubious Peter Wyngarde mustaches).   The fact that the women seem to find this slightly inconvenient rather than terrifying tells you everything about attitudes towards women in the seventies.  

September 1974's offering is just as bad.  Here a miracle drug (decades before Viagra) has apparently made all the men in the hospital ward desperately horny.  So what should they do?  Assault all the nurses, of course!  Even here the attention to detail is tremendous, with McBride including a drop of liquid shooting out the top of the hypodermic syringe which appears to be about to be driven into the bottom of a nurse being pinned down on the bed; presumably for having the temerity to wear tights rather than stockings.  We hope that McBride didn't think up the subjects of these cartoons himself but was working to a brief provided by someone else.  We really hope. 

September 1974's issue eschews assault for a catastrophic picture of hunters falling off a cliff, enabling McBride to illustrate lots of accidentally revealed female skin, including quite a graphic spread legs picture.  At least the women here being pawed are being so 'accidentally'.

This November 1974 story illustration also seems to show a lady being flung to the ground by an ardent suitor but at least this appears to be in the imagination of the male character.  The barely concealed pudenda is much bolder than any photo Mayfair would have had in its pictorials as, unlike the other men's magazines in Britain at the time, they did not take part in the ever increasing move to more explicit shots.

Rounding out the year, in December 1974, we seem to have two young ladies, looking around a stately home, whose clothes have been removed by (presumably) a man hidden inside a suit of armour.  At least we have a military element in this one.

Jumping the two illustrations from January 1975 at the top of this post, we have accusations of impropriety on a frozen pond, showing women of the time getting their own back on a suspected peeping tom.  His expression is such that you think there may well be something in the lady's suspicion.

A pile up on the Helter Skelter for March 1975 and at least no-one is assaulting anyone else.  Typical McBride detail in this one being the flying button from the crotch of the central lady's undergarments.

April 1975's cartoon has a barely dressed lady being threatened by a phallic fireman's hose as the firefighters prepare to give her a good...soaking.

May's offering is really McBride's most overtly sexual cartoon to date with the lady of the house appreciating her decorator's brushwork.  Hopefully, she is voluntarily interacting here. The kicked over mug of tea is a typically clever detail.

In March 1976 we have, at last, a woman in charge who know what she wants, She is positively primly dressed compared to his other women.  This is the last of McBride's Mayfair illustrations.  From this point on, having moved to South Africa he would work mainly on Osprey illustrations.

September 1975

Before this swansong, however, McBride produced a short-lived comic strip for the magazine called Adam's Eves, which debuted in September 1975.  This first episode contained one of McBride's characteristic piles of bodies as Adam's clueless girlfriend causes chaos on a staircase.

October 1975

Such full colour strips were not new in British men's magazines with Penthouse running a strip called Wicked Wanda from 1973 until 1980, which was produced by another Osprey stalwart Ron Embleton.  That, however, was a series of ongoing stories.  McBride's strip featured the eponymous Adam, an older bearded man, with the strip presenting a different girlfriend every week.  Here we have the misadventures of a nymphomaniac cellist.  The Legatus had a girlfriend who played the cello when he was at college.  She was 6' 3" tall, quite scary and while very friendly was not a nymphomaniac.

November 1975

Like Mayfair's own Carrie, which was originally the work of Don Lawrence (the man behind The Trigan Empire in Look and Learn), Adam's Eves was a complete new two page story every month.  Here an old flame who runs a massage parlour takes umbrage when Adam delivers his latest Eve for a rub down.

December 1975

Unlike Carrie, where the story was told in pictures only, Adam's Eves had (largely cringe worthy) text.  December 1975's episode had a Christmas theme.

January 1975

The fifth and final strip appeared in January 1975 and featured an older lady who, nonetheless was revealing rather more than her predecessors.  I don't know why the strip didn't continue; maybe it was stylistically too similar to Carrie, maybe having a male figure in it didn't appeal or maybe it was because McBride had moved to South Africa.  Or maybe it was because it was a bit rubbish.

None of the obituaries of McBride mention his work for Mayfair, even though they cover his other work (such as his Lord of he Rings paintings).  Perhaps it is just that much of it is too politically incorrect for today.  The seventies really were a different world.  It is, at first, quite odd, seeing McBride's distinctive style for these saucy confections, just as the Legatus finds it odd to see some of Don Lawrence's Trigan Empire faces appearing in the adventures of a girl who can't keep her clothes on in Carrie.

Another day we will look at Ron Embleton's Wicked Wanda, which was a work on an altogether bigger scale.