Dancing By Night, Dying By Day

Last week I RSVP’d to a reception that will be attended by Cabinet Ministers, elected members of the Commons and the House of Lords. I have never attended an event like this before. It’s true that upon first meeting me people usually get the impression that I’m posh. I am not going to feign surprise at this for one moment because I am aware that I have a cut glass accent and to negate it with insincere, self-effacing humility is ridiculous. I have been called ‘posh totty’ more often than I care to remember, but those who know me will tell you how silly that is. Yes, I went to a public school (obsolete British jargon for exclusive, fee-paying schools) but there isn’t a drop of blue blood in my veins, nor did I grow up in Downton bloody Abbey or have anything in common with the Upper Classes, so don’t let my accent fool you.

While I have attended many soirées in my day, especially when I used to work for an NGO, I have never been personally invited to a reception of this calibre. Oh, it isn’t terribly exciting; I’m a supporter of a certain high-profile society and it’s their annual members’ reception. It’s not like I’m about to meet the members of Def Leppard for a cold one. Now that would be life changing. But it is exciting enough for me to plan wardrobe and accessories months in advance, not to mention book a salon appointment on the day so that my hair is just right. Which is just as well, because I am hopeless at doing anything besides a messy updo that wouldn’t look out of place at an East Harlem Target opening. Pair that with my assortment of Deep Purple shirts and I look more like a member from the cast of Hair than Lady Mary Crawley.

It has occurred to me that I have never attended an event like this alone before, and this is not the place you take a friend or a casual date to. What do you do in a situation like this? Busy yourself with the canapés? Drink enough champagne to irrigate a desert? Poise yourself around crowds of strangers and wait for an opening? What would Hyacinth Bucket do? I don’t think my social skills are up to the task. I would probably be cordoned away by men in suits and end up in a psychiatric ward. My social etiquette could do with a refresher course, and if any of you have any tips or suggestions, do let me know. Manners are a form of currency and the more you know of them, the better. I know not to tread on toes but equally how to upbraid people who do. I am passionate and knowledgeable about my pastimes, but I never boast or impose about my knowledge on to others uninvited.

Thankfully, I’ll be able to get in a little practice before the event as my social calendar is brimming with engagements and they’re not all doing vodka shots at my local bar or wrestling the natives for a touch of sunshine. I am very excited about a Haydn symposium I am attending in a couple of weeks, and last weekend I went to see Beethoven’s 9th with my dear friend Karin. Though I would hardly call an evening out with her an exercise in social etiquette; we normally end up covered in red wine and hobbling merrily along the South Bank frightening the tourists. I think we were propositioned the last time, which was especially shocking given that we had only just partaken in the holy pageant of Handel’s Messiah. Much as I love to perpetuate my wild child notoriety, the truth is that I feel most at ease in the company of books, art and gentlefolk. Refined decadence, even, but one that does not dictate the abandonment of beauty and common decency. Philosophers have argued that through the pursuit of beauty, we shape the world as a whole. For Plato, beauty was the path to the divine. By walking this path we come to understand our own nature as spiritual beings that strive for a peaceful balance and connectedness with our higher selves.

Victoria (Vix) Regina © 2013

But our world, it seems, has turned its back on beauty and surrounded itself with ugliness and alienation. Where artists once sought to glorify the world, art is now taken over by provocation and protestation. Feeding our appetites and addictions and wallowing in self-disgust. Since the world is disturbing, art should be disturbing too. Those who look for beauty and aesthetics, like me, are out of touch with modern reality. Sometimes the intention is to shock us, but what is shocking at first is boring when repeated. Ideas can and should be interesting, but this does not justify the appropriation of the label of art. If a work of art is nothing more than an idea, anybody can be an artist, and any object can be a work of art. And, if that is the case, then there is no longer any need for skill, taste or creativity.

Is there such a place where the real and the ideal exist in harmony? In my version, each person would be free to live and love as they like without the devastating weight of political correctedness snuffing out original thought and respectability. In fact, respectability would cease to be the dirty word it is today. Thinkers of the enlightenment saw good graces as ways in which we save ourselves from a life of ordinariness and rise to a higher level. I am not calling for the reinstatement of obsolete social rituals such as bowing and curtsying, but I do feel that society would greatly benefit if we practiced a little more graciousness, civility and humility. And it doesn’t cost a penny.

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Victoria (Vix) Regina © 2013

It has been one year since I pricked my finger on a spindle and sallied forth into a dance with three Wyrd Sisters. This is how I feel about my blog’s first anniversary. Twelve months and 800 followers later, my experiences can be surmised as a happy if occasionally manic tailspin of exploration and creativity. I am grateful for the friendships I have made along the way, and for the trust that has been placed in me by my readers.

It has not been a simple journey; I am a very private person. This will come as no surprise to those who admire my John Locke style of blogging, which I have recently diversified with offerings of a more personal nature. I aim to strike a healthy balance between the two; the former for my soul, because I am, at my core, a frustrated philosopher, and the latter because I feel it is necessary to offset my passions with the candour and simplicity of daily life. And, much as the taste of ergot upon the cerise mouths of poets, every single blog I write feels like dancing and dying in a neverending spiral of reinvention. Thank you, my dear readers, for making it worthwhile.

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19 comments

  1. Die Todesrune

    Your blog keeps getting better and better (no pressure!) and I’m not surprised you have so many followers. I think the balance is right, but what I like most is the way you personalise each subject you write about. You really draw people in and I think that’s the hallmark of a gifted writer. When I read your last post (the one about the Goths/Romans) I could see the story unfold before my eyes and was totally engrossed. I was actually disappointed when you ended it where you did! Hehe. Mooooore!

    Happy anniversary. Btw, I’m thinking of starting a blog too (I’ll probably have only 6 readers given the focus–which I’ll email you about) and wondered whether you had any tips for the aspiring blogger?

    • D'arcy

      Oh my, do I even want to know? Will I understand? Please don’t tell me it has something to do with haemoglobin or white blood cells; I don’t think I’m up to the challenge. My life is weird enough as it is. Thank you my dear for the lovely feedback, as ever. And naw, no pressure at all. *downs a tumbler of bourbon* I do have some tips; you may have just inspired my next blog… 😉

  2. I’m more than convinced that I’ve been born on the wrong continent. Thanks be to the Heavens, for the blessed day of the spindle’s prick. Happy Anniversary, to you, and to us… for the Treasure of You.
    It is a supreme honour to see these photos accompany such sublime art, and craftsmanship, which we’ve come to expect. And always, somehow, a better person after immersion.
    xox Always.

    • D'arcy

      I second that Vixie baby. Oh dear, that’s it, from now on you’re my Vixie baby. And it may be the wrong continent, planet or solar system, but here we are! Intercepting space/time with grace and panache! Thank you for all the lovely things you say; I am moved and grateful. xoxo

  3. I agree about the lack of beauty and representation in art. A sad loss.

    My accent would never be perceived to be anymore than South London at its best, yet my age and upbringing have left me with a sense of manners, and of generally doing the ‘right thing’. As for your forthcoming event, I can offer little of value, as I have never been in that position. However, given what I have seen of you in your writing over the last year, I feel it is the others that will be on their guard, not you, as I am certain that you will have no problem in such surroundings. I hope you enjoy it, and look forward to reading about it, should you decide to share the experience.

    We celebrate out first year of blogging at the same time. Very different blogs, and very different journeys, though there is a connection that cannot be denied.

    Marvellous writing and observation as always. My best regards to you A. Pete. x

    • D'arcy

      Pete the Exalted! Such a darling you are, my blog twin. June 2012 was an auspicious month for us both, and as you said in another place, here’s to many more years of wordsmithing and shared experiences! BTW, I’m glad you enjoyed my Jack the Ripper idea. 🙂 Hugs, D

  4. Well, you are full of surprises! Now I think that my home-made nail *art* (irony intended) may have shocked you…. Irony apart, I second your view on what art is. That’s why I find it so difficult to love most contemporary art, even though I can (and do) appreciate it.

    And by the way, congratulations on your blog’s first birthday! I enjoy reading and I wish I had discovered it sooner.

    See you soon! xxxx

    • D'arcy

      Shocked me? My dear F, I found it positively dazzling! One day I shall coax you into doing my nails too; in return I can provide you with a muse, tea, beedies, vegan biscuits, and my endless love and gratitude. Which is pretty sound currency in some circles. See you soon, I can’t wait! xxx

  5. Vippy

    Yes, drink enough champagne to irrigate a desert. Would you expect any other advice from me? 🙂

    I believe you don’t need any crash course in manners and social etiquette; It’s about being a good interlocutor, which you are. Let’s hope some people there will be just like that and can rise above the meaningless chit-chat which is expected in this kind of seemingly stuffy affair. I would have loved being there with you and and go all AB Fab!

    By the way, you mention the Age of Enlightenment as opposed for our days’ sensitivities and mentality, but lately I’ve been thinking that maybe the ‘Original Sin’ was committed exactly then, and what you see today is the fruits of that Age of Enlightenment. Maybe casting away any ethereal believes and putting man at the centre of the universe is the cause of our grief. Maybe we can’t be humble when we believe that we are both the source and the vessel for everything. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about that (in referring to creativity) in the her Ted Talk and I think you’re going to love it.

    Really enjoyed this entry and very proud of you for doing this blog in general.

    • D'arcy

      Daaarling, I’m rather surprised there’s any drink left at all after you and I conspire to break bread and morals. I agree that casting out the ethereal and deifying man is the root of our current predicament, but I don’t quite see why the seeds were sown during the Enlightenment? Indeed, thinkers of the Enlightenment preached the reverse. If anything it’s our good friends Byron, Baudelaire et al and the Decadents who glorified the urbane and the industrialisation of our souls (recently came up with that metaphor, which I find very appropriate). At any rate, thanks for reading and supporting my blog this past year; it means a lot.

      • Vippy

        Oh, as far as I understand It was in the Enlightenment era that we put Man in the centre of the universe, philosophically and psychologically speaking. I actually read the Romantics countered that in a way, and I can see why. Wonderful – we have a really interesting debate to look forward to when we next meet, with the assistance of J. Daniels and others 🙂

  6. I find your writing/blogging to be thoroughly enjoyable and refreshing. I for one would be honored and quite pleased to be anywhere, among anyone, with you even it were simple polite and short. And that is from a sincere soul who ultimately cares less about ‘social classes’. 🙂

    • D'arcy

      Prof Taboo… Or is it Reverend Sin? I’m still in bits and knots about you being a Texan with a small bishop. You might have to prove the contrary to me one day. Thank you for your kind words; that you find my blog refreshing is wonderfully disconcerting. The feeling is terrifically mutual.

  7. I’ve never attended a government event, but… just be yourself, Angel, and remember people love to talk about themselves and hear honest praise (politicians probably even more than actors).

    • D'arcy

      Ha, it’s not a governmental event; rather a glitzy soirée attended by senior politicians. But there will be a swing band, and I can pretend I’m watching Artie Shaw while sipping a manhattan. Mwah!

  8. Congratulations on your first blogging anniversary! I’ve been having similar thoughts recently on the value of what you sum up as ‘graciousness, civility and humility’. Being fiercely independent, I’ve never allowed feeling very ‘uncool’ or ‘unstreet’ to tempt me away from being the kind, courteous and calm person I am. Since when did such qualities become boring?! The world would be better for our embracing and celebrating them, and as you point out, it wouldn’t cost a penny. So folks, what’s stopping us?

    • D'arcy

      What’s stopping us? Sensationalist media and a darkly cynical preoccupation with the ills and evils of this world instead of celebrating the good, the civil and the graceful. If all we do is bitch, criticise and tease out the rotten apples is it any wonder that we forget to embrace joy and magnanimity? Simplistic? Perhaps. But there’s a hard grain of truth there that is difficult to ignore, and I feel this bears a direct consequence for the way we behave and treat one another, too.

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