Goth Glamour & Sinister Sleaze: The Favole Tarot

Art by excellent Spanish artist Victoria Frances

Got this lovely pack for Christmas from the even lovelier Ruth, full of moonlit glamour and sinister sleaze (the pack, although Ruth is, too, come to think of it).

This is just right for an armchair Goth – especially if, like me, you doesn’t need black make up to look undead.

The Death card is a drifting woman reminiscent of Millais’ Ophelia, which I’ve always felt drawn to. The Chariot is a Venetian gondola, which may remind you of the deeply disturbing art movie Don’t Look Now. This is a pack of dark intrigue, sinister undercurrents and the macabre.

There’s strong vampiric topnotes of blood and absinthe throughout and plenty of corseted cuties and dashing young blades, some of whom may be existentially challenged – living? dead? why be so picky? – to quote Some Like It Hot, ‘nobody’s perfect’.

The suits are crosses for swords, black roses for cups, opera masks for wands and butterflies for pentacles. From a better reviewer than me, Irene Cunningham on Aeclectic, pondering whether butterflies should correspond with pentacles, discs or money, ‘butterflies feed on excrement, and they are here today, gone tomorrow – a life as short as cash-flow’.

A perfect antidote to a Jolly Hockey Sticks Christmas with Miranda or whatever the BBC is offering.

A sizzling Saturnalia! A Nordic Hail from original gangsta Odin! (aka Santa) 25th Dec
get those bonfires burning. Get the sun back where he belongs.

Watching War Films With My Dad Al Murray

Worth the price of admission purely for ’90s Tory Bad Boy Alan Clarke’ described as a ‘grimly louche chancer’ this is a fun memoir with some serious reflections on families, war and mortality.

Al Murray is a History graduate from a military family, an entertaining host throughout this Fever Pitch for military buffs. He has read widely on this vast subject and can also draw on his experience in the Cadet Corps or filming military documentaries. There are musings on the nature of history, how it may be shaped by political or academic fashion. There’s psychological insight into stiff upper lip chaps like Monty, the contrast between him and General Patton and an affectionate portrayal of the author’s Dad, a stickler for detail with an encyclopaedic knowledge of where the movies get it wrong.

Alongside intriguing theories there are fascinating facts. The chapter on benefits of war informed me that MDMA was invented by Merck for battlefield surgery – like many people I thought it had been intended as an appetite suppressant.

So if you like a good FACT HUNT!, this is as enjoyable as the audience shouting out that title from Al Murray’s telly quiz, (something worth bellowing if George Galloway is in the vicinity).

Also good to see Chomsky put to the sword. If you liked Mr Murray’s excellent war documentaries you’ll dig this.