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ONE MAN'S VIEW

On Thursday each week my column appears in the Euro Weekly News. My opinion is just that, an opinion. Feel free to put your oar in but in a constructive way if you please. Thanks so much. - Michael

THE TRUE AGE OF ELEGANCE
26 December 2013

THE TRUE AGE OF ELEGANCE

Mike Walsh

 

Was there ever more elegance and style than when women wore fur stoles, veils and dress gloves. I am reminded of U.S. President Reagan’s wife Nancy Reagan when being received by the Pope. Wearing a veil this otherwise ordinary lady is transformed into an almost saintly figure.

Actress Sophia Loren expressed femininity as few can, especially when wearing a face veil or stole. Approaching her eightieth birthday she still adds to her allure by wearing a broad-brimmed hat and veil. So did countless other fashion icons such as Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn, the opera diva Maria Callas. Given these stars enigmatic beauty and presence can today’s fashion icons hold a candle to them?

Actresses and film stars, even at the beginning of their careers, could flaunt it immodestly. All that was necessary to turn heads and attract admiring glances was to toss a fur stole over their shoulders with a certain élan.

Pulling on filigree-laced elbow-length dress gloves underscored elegance and style. For added allure surely a fashionable hat and pretty face tantalisingly half hidden by a veil. This was at its most effective when decorously done as did Princess Diana.

Dress gloves showed real taste. Their being seductively pulled on or off exposed a man’s weakness for a woman’s slim hand and forearm. A real lady never removed her glove to shake a hand, men were obliged to. It put emphasis on the difference between the genders.

Shawls are another social matter. I never met a woman who wasn’t devoted to either her shawl or stole. Stoles were worn for style in high places whilst shawls were for those considered less fortunate. Popular in Spain too, flamenco artistes swirl a shawl with mesmerising effect.

Of course, the donning of such fashion accessories demanded confidence without which the gesture was rather pointless. Oh, they had plenty of that too.

I recall being a passenger in a New York yellow cab; I was a sixteen-year old sailor at the time. The lights changed and the world stopped for everyone in sight of her. Fascinated, we all watched a young woman, almost certainly a film star, as she crossed Fifth Avenue to approach Macy’s department store.

Dressed in what passes for fashion today she would not be an exceptional woman. Not on this occasion. She was taking Errol Flynn’s advice. Walk like you own the earth. For a few brief moments she did so.

With her sweet nose in the air and aware that all eyes were on her she flaunted her femininity as few can: Marylyn Monroe comes to mind. The image of her as she flamboyantly crossed that busy city avenue stayed with me all these years. The Beatles crossing Abbey Road could never match her panache.

 

NOTE: Those who find Mikes Walsh columns of interest have easy access to several hundred of them. Go to Euro Weeks News online. Click columnists then click michael walsh.

 

 

Michael Walsh. Quite_write@yahoo.co.uk



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THE AFTERLIFE IS IMMEDIATE
19 December 2013

THE AFTERLIFE IS IMMEDIATE

Mike Walsh

I have attended my fair share of funerals, services, graveside eulogies and visits to crematoria. Sombre occasions, tears are shed and thoughts shared with relatives we haven‘t seen for years. Funerals are best avoided, especially one’s own.

Eastern Europeans take death and its rituals far more seriously than do Westerners. When in Latvia I was invited to a graveside memorial service. From the four corners of the nation relatives travelled to a cemetery situated in the almost impenetrable forests on Lithuania’s borders.

An annual event, the emotional service was to commemorate family members who had passed on a long time ago. I presumed the placing of a few bouquets and brief prayers would be whispered. Duty done, we would be soon dearly departed too.

Not so fast. The graveside service with its acclamations was heart-wrenchingly long. Whilst twenty or so family members circled the graves a lone violinist played laments, prayers said and tributes were made.

When my Ukrainian wife’s mother, Liudmyila shrugged off her mortal coil I was quite unprepared for the raw emotions exposed. Passing on is no passing matter. For Russian Orthodox Christians there is a sequence of rituals following the death of a family member. The only cutting corners is in the internment. This takes place within 24 hours of a natural death.

A glass of water and bread is placed on the sideboard for the departed soul’s needs. On the day of the funeral the Orthodox priest with small choir arrives at the family home. Hymns accompany the service. The curious do not peer from windows, balconies or cross in front of the cortege. Donations are made to pay for the funeral bills.

In the family home all glass, mirrors and glass framed pictures are covered by white sheets. It is believed that the soul of the departed remains in the family home for nine days after which the coverings can be removed. The spirit then departs to Hades; weeks later be admitted to Paradise.

The morning following internment the family gathers around the grave to share breakfast. Whilst doing so the deceased will be implored to join them. Enjoy a glass of wine but no toasting each other.

For approximately 40 days, the period being determined by the priesthood, a monastic period of mourning will be expected. A church service of remembrance takes place on the fortieth day. This will be a substantial gathering, a sad occasion unlike that of Irish tradition. Many Celts see death as re-birth, therefore balance is drawn between woe and celebration. ‘I am no more afraid of death than I was of being born.’ Spartacus.

There is nothing mawkish about such rituals. If cynical or bemused by such traditional ritual I imagine our fellow Europeans are equally baffled by clinical quick-fix funerals and our get on with life approach to life after death.

NOTE: Those who find Mikes Walsh columns of interest have easy access to several hundred of them. Go to Euro Weeks News online. Click columnists then click michael walsh.

Michael Walsh. quite_write@yahoo.co.uk



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THE DARK SIDE OF THE ENGLISH CHANNEL
11 December 2013

THE DARK SIDE OF THE ENGLISH CHANNEL

Mike Walsh

I have long suspected that Europeans and the British are far more than fish and chips apart. Are those who retire to Europe better Europeans than those we leave behind? Are we returning to our roots? Most of England’s people can trace their lineage back to European ancestors.

However, many keep their Anglo-Saxon roots firmly fixed in what was once Celtic soil. As far as mainland Europe is concerned there is an ‘us and them’ detachment about Little Englanders.

To them, Spain appears to be a holiday theme park along the lines of the other one in Florida. Most British visitors enjoy their holidays then add, ‘but I couldn’t live here.’

Was it ever thus? During Queen Victoria’s reign it was commonly thought that civilisation stopped at the English Channel. Any ill-fated person born on the far side of Dover’s lapping shoreline was regarded as ‘Johnny Foreigner.’ An oft repeated phrase was, ‘”He’s a foreigner, ‘eave ‘alf a brick at him.’

My Great Grandmother would be as familiar with the Napoleonic Wars as we are to World War Two. Legend has it that a monkey on board a passing French ship, for entertainment purposes dressed in military uniform, survived the ship’s sinking on England‘s east coast.

Soon afterwards Hartlepool’s alarmed citizenry discovered the shivering creature. These worthy folk had been forewarned about the diabolical intentions of the French. Having little desire to speak in such lingo the beachcombers decided the hapless monkey to be a French spy.

The doomed monkey was duly questioned and its fate decided. At the close of the improvised trial, the hapless creature was hanged from the cobble mast of a nearby fishing smack.

Such anti-European prejudice was set to continue. The beastly Germans, it was said, passed poisoned sweets to children during the Great War. Dachshund dogs were stoned and in 1939, the Press depicted the same breed of dog with swastikas crudely drawn on their backs.

Is mainstream media responsible for anti-Europeanism? On November 21 the worst imaginable human tragedy in northern Europe struck. Fifty-four shoppers were crushed to death when a Canadian designed, German built supermarket collapsed in Latvia’s capital. Riga is roughly the length of Britain away from England.

The indifference displayed by British media was grotesque, its disdain for all things European laid bare. It was day two before many papers reported the story. I first heard of the scale of the calamity on Face Book and Russian media.

A comparatively minor event in America, a storm, a mall shooting or unusual murder is given far greater coverage. The UK media hangs on every word stemming from Congress whilst Europe remains the dark side of the channel. Neither European nor American, has Britain lost its identity and if so where lies its future?

NOTE: Those who find Mikes Walsh columns of interest have easy access to several hundred of them. Go to Euro Weeks News online. Click columnists then click michael walsh.

 Michael Walsh. email keyboardcosmetics@gmail.com



Like 2        Published at 21:30   Comments (8)


WHO IS THIS MAN THEY CALL PUTIN
05 December 2013

WHO IS THIS MAN THEY CALL PUTIN

Mike Walsh

Russian President Vladimir Putin this year emerged as the world’s most influential man. He has outmanoeuvred his Western critics whilst returning Russia to superpower status and sponsoring Orthodox Christianity. Intriguingly, the Western media lampoons and criticises him but this hardly dents his growing popularity in the West.

Face Book’s For Mother Russia portal uses images of the Russia leader to poke fun at U.S. President Barrack Obama, yet over half FMR’s friends are Americans. The ex-KGB officer Vladimir is arguably more popular in Britain than is PM David Cameron and whatsisname.

It is nothing if not astounding that a man born in 1952 to a sailor, his mother a St. Petersburg factory worker, could have risen to such heights. His name is now associated with Russia’s rise from the political and economic ashes.

President Obama and David Cameron are not the only ones to despair when Vladimir appears. His schoolteachers cringed when each morning the 8-year old rebel emerged from his council flat. The youngster was the only student barred from membership of the Young Pioneers, the Soviet version of the Hitler Youth, for his rebelliousness. A keen sportsman, he is a martial arts enthusiast.

Upon leaving school in 1970, Putin studied international law at St. Petersburg State University. Then, after graduating, he pursued his dream to work in the field of intelligence. Today, he makes fun of the U.S. for their notoriety in surveillance. However, the enigmatic Russian leader was himself once charged with monitoring foreigners and consular officials. He served in Soviet Occupied German from 1985 until their pulling out upon the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Putin lost his job in 1991 during the KGB coup d’etat against then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. It was then that he and his earlier mentor, Anatoly Sobchak, Mayor St. Petersburg became reacquainted.

Political life beckoned. During his tenure in office Vladimir Putin was not to be bought. His enemies conceded Vladimir Putin’s unwavering integrity. Self-exiled arch rival Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky is cited by media as saying, “Putin never took bribes during his time in office.”

In 1996, he was invited by President Boris Yeltsin’s administration to serve as head of Russia’s Intelligence Service now renamed the FSB. Appointed as Prime Minister in 1999 Vladimir Putin became the fifth head of government in 18 months. Afterwards elected with 52.94 per cent of the vote he made an impression by demonstrating his no nonsense approach to domestic terrorism. Faced down by Chechnya terrorists, Putin is on record as saying he would hunt down and kill militants ‘even when they were on the toilet’.

Such was his popularity that he was to later win 71% of the peoples vote and had an approval rating of 80 percent. The West has denigrated this achievement but they would wouldn’t they. Superman had arrived and the rest is - not quite history.

 

NOTE: Every week 400 to 500 browsers read this column. Those who find Mikes Walsh columns of interest have easy access to several hundred of them. Go to Euro Weeks News online. Click columnists then click michael walsh.



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