The Mistress Contract
Royal Court Theatre
“She - a highly educated, divorced woman with a successful career, three children and a history of involvement in the feminist movement - asked her lover to sign proposed the following terms: He would provide her with a home and an income, while She would provide ‘mistress services’ - ‘All sexual acts as requested, with suspension of historical, emotional, psychological disclaimers’.
[Women want talks, breakfast and walks (and security) while men want sex (a very traditional role playing)], but He agreed to her terms, and they found a kind of happiness that more traditional forms of commitment had never provided.”
It wasn’t the most spectacular production (although I thought Danny Webb as He was really convincing), but it was the story and dialogues that provided much food for thought.
I mean, if a man pays for woman’s home and expenses in exchange for sexual acts [which she doesn’t particularly enjoy] – does it make immoral as some believe prostitution is?
What if they love each other in a strange ‘non-committal’ way?
What if the woman is a feminist? And she proposes the contract as a matter of principle to ensure the equality of the parties involved – “everyone gets something they want and need.” Does it make it less immoral and more acceptable?
And if so, then is morality of “sex for money” is a matter of the intentions of the people involved or their character? If She is a drug addict - its wrong, but if She is educated feminist - its fine?
Or perhaps its also a matter of nationality / culture? I am sure French are much more comfortable about such arrangements…
I am still thinking about it so it must have been a good play after all.
At the Royal Court Theatre until 22 March 2014 (Mondays all seats £10)
Anonymous comment: “Signing a contract focuses minds and sets the rules meaning that everyone knows the expectations.” A good article on why Sex Workers Should Have a Right To Refuse in Guardian yesterday can be found here.
Kasper Holten’s Gon Giovanni at the Royal Opera House divided critics. Some loved it, some hated it. The talk of the town was Luke Hall’s video designs, Bruno Poet’s lighting and Anja Vang Kragh’s costumes. While video projections are very much in vogue on London stage these days (Chimerica, War Horse, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time etc), I must agree with Keith McDonnell that “Hall’s video designs and Bruno Poet’s lighting, Devlin’s box of tricks comes alive and certainly the most accomplished, lavish and ingenious use of video I’ve yet seen in an opera house”.
Anja Vang Kragh’s costumes were contemporarily opulent and very much in tune with the stage design creating a homogenous visual framework for Mozart’s music. I didn’t care much that they lacked “chronology” and “social accuracy” as noted by Andrew Clements in the Guardian.
Holten presents an interesting interpretation of Don Giovanni – a very lonely man losing his sanity. Hell is not where fire is burning your feet, but where you are left on your own with your thoughts, doubts and guilt.
The performance of the British soprano Elizabeth Watts singing Zerlina was really enjoyable - lively, animated and full of character. A good balancing act to the heavy drama.
I also could not help but observe how beautiful, slender and polished all the singers were. Gone are the days of gluttony opera?
You can see Don Giovanni until 24 February 2014 at the Royal Opera House
In the international climate debate on fair effort sharing between the countries, GDP is prominent as an indicator of who should do the heavy lifting in terms of addressing climate issues.
A timely article by prominent economist Diane Coyle at Foreign Affairs magazine discusses the appropriateness of GDP as an indicator.
Beyond GDP: What the Measure of Economic Performance Misses About Economic Performance can be found here.
Shakespeare’s tragedy of a very proud and uncompromising Roman warrior Caius Marcius Coriolanus who refuses to subject himself to the endorsement of the common people (plebs) and ends up challenging Rome and his own family but not his beliefs is still fascinating and relevant in current political context.
“The private war of personal integrity and popularity” that Coriolanus suffers is at the heart of every public figure even today.
It takes a bit for the ear to adjust to Shakespeare’s English, but soon you pass it and get completely submerged in a very intense drama and compelling performance.
And can I just say that – Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus is brutal, powerful and magnificent.
Absolutely thrilling. My full recommendations. We saw it via National Theatre Live broadcast in Chelsea but it is still showing at Donmar Warehouse in London.
Paul Klee (now showing at Tate Modern) is not a matter of pleasure but a matter of educational necessity. Artist whose prolific output is chrestomathy of early 20th century modern European art (expressionism, cubism, surrealism) it’s easy to spot traces of Kandinsky, Miro or Picasso’s work yet the visit to Tate on Friday left me little satisfied…
Is it me or is it Klee?
Sale at Orla Kiely is on. I couldn’t have missed it for life. Love the brand. (Shame Kate Middleton loves it too. Makes it mainstream).
Naturally, most of the sizes were gone, but I managed to squeeze myself into size 6. Woohoo! – I thought…. until I had lunch today and I felt that my digestive system is disturbed by restricted waistline…
So here is a modern “uptown problem”: should we buy a little too big (to feel good later), or a little too small (to get ecstatic at the shop) if “just right” is not an option?
Instant rush vs long term enjoyment…
(PS. This is not meant as an insult to anyone, or to myself, or offence to female kind, so I m not fishing for comments such as ‘you are beautiful as you are” etc)
Some of the most intelligent and full of conviction people I know tried and failed to become politicians. It turns out that the fallacy lies in the fact they are simply not businesspeople… or lawyers.
As the Financial Times printed an article on intellectual vacuum in politics, it made me wonder what does make a good politician.
"Cynics who say power is all that counts in politics forget that power without ideas is just improvisation. It is ideas that enable leaders to impose a direction on events." writes Michael Ignatieff in the FT.
He continues - “In the past 15 years, few politicians have imposed their will on our times. We can blame the current crop of leaders for that, but the deeper cause seems to lie in the waning power of ideas. Politics is more polarised than ever, but behind the party stockades, diminishing bands of believers repeat partisan incantations that no longer describe the world, let alone change it.
Margaret Thatcher’s death last year reminds us what it felt like to be led by a conviction politician. Some hated the UK prime minister’s direction, but no one doubted there was one.”
So what makes an effective politician?
"The great German sociologist Max Weber thought that certain professions were not well suited to making the switch to a career in politics. One was professional soldiers, who were prone to become schematic and unimaginative politicians. Another was academics: far too thin-skinned and unworldly for the rough-and-tumble of political life. Weber thought the best way to learn about politics was to do politics. But failing that, the likeliest background for a successful politician was either the law or journalism. Both these professions had the advantage of teaching ruthlessness combined with adaptability.” - says David Runciman in Guardian. Margaret Thatcher was a lawyer, but I think businessmen are well hardened by the economic environment to thrive as politicians.
In fact in the poll carried out by the Economist in 2009 shows that the most common professions for politicians are law, business and diplomacy. (Journalism 5th)
In the question whether or not an individual will succeed as a politician his or her background counts. But what counts is not only the wealth, upbringing or the strength of conviction, but also his or her experience. And some professions seem to equip candidates for public office better than others.
Perhaps, the fact that academics simply don’t cut it as politicians, but businessmen and lawyers do, has some bearing on why there is an intellectual vacuum in politics.
“For those who understand the importance of academic freedom to a free and prosperous society, the European Humanities University (EHU) is a beacon of hope—the only Belarusian university that has succeeded in escaping the Belarusian government’s ideological control—and an engine for the future integration of Belarus into the family of democratic nations.
Based in Vilnius since its forced closure in Minsk in 2004, EHU provides students from Belarus and the region with an education in the humanities and social sciences in a free and democratic environment—an opportunity no longer available in Belarus today.”
I had a privilege to become a friend and a supporter of EHU in 2012.
“Friends” support EHU so that the university can fulfill its mission of providing a high quality liberal arts education that stresses personal responsibility, critical inquiry, and academic freedom. But I also had my own reasons to join the effort in helping to educate students from Belarus to use their talents to move their country in the direction of openness and democracy.
Having born in Soviet Union, I was grateful to have a chance to study liberal thought at universities of Sussex and Cambridge and subsequently participate (albeit very humbly) in the making of my own country by developing green policies.
I feel that the future of any country depends on fresh ideas and thinking, so it is important to nurture and support liberal arts and studies such as philosophy.
In 2013, with a generous help of friends and fellows support, we managed to raise sufficient funds for a philosophy phd student grant.
I wonder how that young Belarusian philosopher looks like…
The statement seems to be loaded but even gems go mass production with Iphone 5C.
What’s next? Beluga caviar with every Mulberry bag?
Today is my friend’s birthday.
I wanted to wish him something special but wasn’t sure what though… He seems to be fit, good looking, happy, healthy, influential and all the rest of it.
Wishing ‘whatever you wish for’ would be lame.
So I’ve done a typical female move – wished him what I want for myself.
And right now, oh no, it wasn’t “the peace in the world”, (its not going happening, so no point in wasting a perfectly good wish for that). Rather I wished him a “sapphire home button”.
Can you imagine?!
Home button would be sufficient, but a sapphire one - that’s awesome!
I think the idea of sapphire home button is so absurd and yet so fascinating that its strikes me as a touch of Apple genius for inventing and patenting it.
Thanks to my mother, I haven’t wasted any time dwelling on whether I’m brilliant or a fool. It’s completely unprofitable to think about it.
Everything that you value, whether it’s Shakespeare, Beethoven, da Vinci, or whatever, will be gone. The earth will be gone. The sun will be gone. There’ll be nothing. The best you can do to get through life is distraction. Love works as a distraction. And work works as a distraction. You can distract yourself a billion different ways. But the key is to distract yourself.
Read more: Woody Allen Interview 2013 - Blue Jasmine Director Woody Allen on Movies, Success & Life - Esquire
Published in the September 2013 issue Esquire
Allen was photographed on June 3 at his office in Manhattaan. His forty-eight picture as a director, Blue Jasmine, is now in theaters. Interviewed June 4, 2013
Rohin Dhar argues well that “diamonds are bullshit”, particularly from the perspective of economics.
He notes that “as a society we got tricked by De Beers since 1938 and now for about a century into coveting sparkling pieces of carbon, but it’s time to end this nonsense. A diamond is a depreciating asset masquerading as an investment. The market for them is neither liquid nor are they fungible. Plus there are other considerations such as conflict diamonds funding wars, supporting apartheid for decades with our money, and pillaging the earth to find shiny carbon.”
All points being valid, I stick to the belief that there is nothing wrong with buying a card for your beloved on a Hallmark manufactured love day A.K.A. “Valentine’s” and nothing wrong with a diamond ring if its ethical, or a white dress at the wedding for that matter, even if it was “popularized” by Queen Victoria in 19c.
There is a very fine line between “manufactured” customs and ones acquired “naturally’. Many traditions of social interaction invariably have economic foundations. For example, there was a point at which someone came up with an idea of dowry. The concept that perhaps brought no less human suffering particularly to poor females than conflict diamonds. And in some regions continues to do so.
Don’t get me wrong, I m not propagating diamonds per se. (And I haven’t been paid by De Beers to post this). I simply believe in having a choice. Everyone should have a right to buy what they want (if they are in a position to so) provided that goods (luxury or not) are sustainable: ethical and environmentally sound. Price considerations should come into play as well but that’s another discussion.
So while Dhar’s arguments deserve a merit, I am happy that my future husband didn’t rationalise the marriage proposal in purely economic terms. I know my ring is ethical and more of a piece of art than a solid piece of rock. Even if it is not worth as a commodity or as an investment as much as it was paid for in monetary terms, it invaluable to me and I hope to build in emotional value by being able to pass it on to the future generations.
PS. I am planning to wear white at my wedding;-)
I don’t amass rubbish. I m not a hoarder. I promise. But sometimes, on a special or adventurous day or night out, I involuntarily collect used theatre tickets, contact cards of shops I visited and restaurants I eat at, random business cards, taxi receipts, notes - a sort of memorabilia of a metropolitan-esque excursion. The day after, when I open my handbag, with the heavy head searching for my phone, its as if my consciousness is staring back at me in the form of paper clippings from the depth of the leather well.
My consciousness always has a price that reveals itself the next day: both paid and desired. You see, not only I collect receipts for the things I ACTUALLY bought, or eat, or drank, or smoked, but also business cards of luxury stores with the codes of pieces I adored with the price indication and the greetings of the sales assistant on the back of them.
For example: Bentley & Skinner, By Royal Appointment of Her Majesty the Queen, at 55 Piccadilly, London W1J. A Georgian diamond floral tiara No.21162M £125,000.00. John Hamilton 07876566577
No. 21162M is the code of the sin I haven’t committed but certainly had an intention to, if not a financial or moral position. The scraps of paper in my bag become the evidence of crimes of consumerism and/or desire. Guilty mind or Mens Rea, as my law professor would say in Latin.
As a catholic, naturally, I feel guilty. But I have been shy in the matters of confessions since I was a child. (It would require a separate entry to explain why but for the purposes of this note it’s sufficient to say that it’s nothing to do with abusive priests but rather with ecclesiastical anxiety).
To solve the problem of a modern catholic like myself, where a disclosure of one’s sins is required for the sacrament of reconciliation, I wonder whether church could start admitting paper evidence in the form of receipts and cards instead of compelling a poor sinner to confess in person.
If it works with taxes, it should work with indulgences.
If you are self employed, you go to a taxman, submit the receipts, pay for their time, and the welfare of the state. In the matters of consciousness - you submit evidence, a priest, having assessed “the memorabilia of a metropolitan-esque excursion”, prescribes how many times you A.K.A. “the sinner” should repeat Lord’s or any other prayer.
Cartier ring - desired = 3 times Lord’s Prayer.
Cartier ring - bought = 5 times Lord’s Prayer and a donation to the local church.
In practical terms and from the administrative efficiency perspective, a taxman should pass on the information with all the receipts to church automatically. You tick the box in your self assessment form and there we are - accounted to both: the state and God.
Guilt is something that I live with while paying taxes and without Cartier ring.
I know. “Uptown problem”, as my friend says.
"Simplistic approach to Catholicism" - said the other.
I hope it is ok to contemplate our faith and religion in the context of modern world. It makes me no less spiritual.