Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Shrove Tuesday Self-Portrait

I can't believe we are nearing the end of Pancake Day and I still have to start any flipping at all. This is the problem with Easter being so early this year; usually Shrove Tuesday falls shortly after my return from New York, at the end of February, when I am therefore still on holiday and have all the time to start the day by flipping pancakes, usually both plain and treble chocolate ones. Today instead I was already at work at my desk well early in the morning, with a call from abroad as punctual and as inescapable as the Council Tax bill. Even though I promised myself that I would hit the kitchen 'in ten minutes', it is now past 5 pm and I still haven't done so. Pancakes aside, this day is Mardi Gras, or Carnival. I don't know about you but for me carnival has little to do with Rio and Brasil and itsy-bitsy feathered bikinis and dancing until dawn; for me carnival is all about La Serenissima, also known as Venice.

It's a curious thing because I have never even been to Venice, and I never ever harbour any desire to go at any other time of the year, but come carnival an uncanny feeling sweeps over me and surprise myself thinking of canals I have never seen, streets I've never treaded and sights I have never enjoyed, all punctured by flamboyant, feathered, full-face papier marche masks. I have a few of these and I often observe their apparent delicacy and their breathtaking beauty. Mine are wall decorations all year round, even though last October I wore one to a masked ball. I have all sorts of masks around the house, not just Venitian ones (what I otherwise call 'proper' masks) because they have always fascinated me. I enjoy the disguise and the veiled other, as I discuss in my PhD in the chapter about horror, of all things. The pic above was taken a couple of years ago. I am holding up a mask that I bought at Zitomer in New York and that is purely for home decor, even though it worked out as a pretty disguise for this picture. More recently, I bought this other one at Harrods as a Christmas decoration.

It looked fantastic on the Christmas tree that I also decorated with peacock feathers I picked when the resident peacock at horsey shed all of its tail at the end of last summer. I particularly love purple and green with purple. I think it's a lethal combination as also these fetching shoes, my absolute favourites, demonstrate:

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