Thursday, 25 July 2013

Red and Black

This week's theme, as per the title of this Post, seems to be colours.  We'll start off with the good stuff, but not with Red, but Black.

Last weekend it was a visit to the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, for their first full-scale 1940's event.  Sadly, for those fetishists among the readers, it was another scorching day, so far too hot for stockings.  Booo!  But at least the weather was simply gorgeous.  This was also my first visit to the Museum, and I have to say that I was totally bowled over by the event and the museum itself.

Dexi - Independent Escort - Black Country Museum 1940's Weekend
When first arriving the venue doesn't look too impressive, but stepping through the entrance gates is a little like stepping through a time warp - straight into the middle of last century.  If visiting, I would strongly recommend keeping the map that you are given on entry, as there really is so much to see.  I took a walk down towards the old village first - complete with old shops, canal and narrowboats and a pub.  It was fantastic, made even more so by the numerous re-enactors around, giving the village a real 1940's atmosphere.  I felt a little under-dressed, even in my original 1940's Hawaiian dress, but was still glad I wore it due to the heat.

Dexi - Independent Escort - Black Country Museum 1940's Weekend
The shops were open, stirring the nostalgia even for me - an old pharmacy, gents outfitters, hardware store, general store, sweet shop and motorbike dealer were full of memories, and the attention to detail was breathtaking.

Dexi - Independent Escort - Black Country Museum 1940's Weekend
 Occasionally, a period tram, bus or car trundled by, and for a brief moment I felt like an extra in a Foyle's War episode.  To complement the shops, there were numerous houses, all in period style, around the vast museum, giving a real insight into the hardships of day-to-day living.  Yes, I love the glamour and style of the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, but they are seen through very rose-tinted glasses, and I'm sure that the reality for some was very different to the fantasy.

Further on from the village I found an old funfair, again with period rides, and a lovely old petrol station, complete with old petrol pumps and cars.

Dexi - Independent Escort - Black Country Museum 1940's Weekend
Exploring further I found a canal-side walk, a lovely church and even a tiny cinema - all within the grounds of the museum.  Right at the other end of the museum, and near to the entrance, was sited an old car dealer.  From the outside it looked lovely, but inside there were even more treasures to see - old vintage cars and motorbikes, all lovingly restored and frequently used.

Dexi - Independent Escort - Black Country Museum 1940's Weekend
The last decision of the day was a difficult one - catch the trolley bus or vintage coach back to the village to get a ginger beer in the old-style inn before heading home.  The vintage trolley bus won, and in truth I struggle to see how Manchester's awful Metrolink has improved on this old design in any way at all.  Comfortable, with some real style, and totally silent on it's rubber tyres.  So much more peaceful to ride in and have trundling next to you through congested streets.  Those that have had the 'pleasure' of listening to Manchester's shrieking, clamouring, rumbling and ugly metro system will, I'm sure, share the sentiments.

Dexi - Independent Escort - Black Country Museum 1940's Weekend
The ginger beer was absolutely worth the extra trip back to the pub, and a perfect end to a truly outstanding experience.  Sadly, I could not make the evening event, but will be back next year if they repeat the weekend.  The thought of spending an evening in those lovely streets, lit by soft gaslight and providing some rather nice and secluded corners is very hard to resist...!

Well, that was the good bit.  Now onto Red and Black.  Needing an evening to rest, I decided to watch the recent film 'Les Miserables', starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.  Now I've never been a huge fan of Ms. Hathaway, although she did a pretty good job in the last Batman film.  However, after watching the film and reading a few pieces online, I have to say she's got under my skin a little.  The reason?  In the film, she plays poor destitute Fantine who has to - *shock! horror!* turn to prostitution in order to survive and provide for her daughter.

In researching the role of Fantine, Ms. Hathaway did some 'investigation' into prostitution and the sex trade and trafficking of girls, because, as we know, all girls are in this game against their own wishes, and so has now come out with some very helpful comments regarding her new knowledge.  Comments like, well, "I'm so happy, it was hard to play a miserable whore," because there aren't, of course, any happy ones.  Heaven forbid!  She is now so upset that she has joined the One Billion Rising campaign - the global movement against violence against women.

Now, as with all of these 'campaigns', the principle is wonderful.  Yes, there are some truly shocking stories out there regarding the treatment of women (and men, of course, but that doesn't quite stir the same emotions, does it?) and I am thankful that I do not have such a story to tell, but again this movement seems to make the same standpoint that all women are in prostitution against their will.  It does become tiresome to be labelled as such a sad stereotype, and sad that I can't even be more open about what I do in a so-called progressive society, but it seems that everyday our society loses more of it's sexual liberties, rather than moving forwards.

Anyway (and just to show how low the opinion of prostitution is), Fantine only resorts to selling her body after selling her hair and some of her teeth, which is a fairly worrying order to choose, if I'm honest.  I'd rather keep my hair and teeth, thanks, and choose an hour's entertainment with a gentleman first.  But that's me, I make my own choices, I'm independent, and a little bit, well, badass.  Unlike Fantine, but, strangely, very much like another Hollywood heroine.  But which one?  Oh yes, Ms. Hathaway knows.  Catwoman.  "I loved Catwoman’s sense of humour.  I love how sly she is.  I love how she, to use a cat metaphor, walks the fence and you don’t know which side she’s going to come down on.  She’s totally independent.  And let’s face it, she’s badass."  Odd.  Both characters end up turning to *the dark side* (not my opinion, of course) in order to survive in their respective environments, but one she admires, the other is a "miserable whore."  Strange, too, that the one she admires dresses in a skin-tight outfit, complete with steel-heeled leather thigh boots, promising excitement, BDSM, and evil sexuality, and who has also turned to breaking into people's houses and stealing - but that's still obviously preferable to the utter degradation of the selling sex between consenting adults.  Ah, but maybe that's the issue - Catwoman only promises these things, and never delivers on that sexuality - because bad girls, even in Hollywood, need to keep some decency.  Much easier just to stereotype the girls who do play the game, then.  As always.  So why can't One Billion Rising take this double-standard mindset on, too - some real education regarding all women's rights, including the real badass girls, might actually do some good.

Sorry?  What was that?  What did I think of the film itself?  Well, it's a bit of a cultural phenomenon, with great costumes and sets and has been a massive stage success.  But... well, it was shite, really.  'Songs' like Red and Black (I know, the link was a long time coming!), etc, aren't really songs with melodies, if you know what I mean.  Give me a musical, even an opera, with some real melodies in it, anytime.

Thinking of Catwoman and musicals means I can sign off this post with rude thoughts of two of my favourite crushes over the years...

Dexi - Independent Escort - Oooh lala!
... Olivia Newton John in those skin-tight leggings from a musical with songs, and the very best and sexiest Catwoman of them all - Michelle Pfeiffer.  You're the one that I want, indeed!

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