I'm feeling a bit Russian today, in the mood to sit in a sleigh and fall in love with some random bloke on a horse, then hurl myself under a train. Hang on, that all sounds a bit tiring. I might just have a vodka and orange, then call it a 'screwdriver' to appear classier than I actually am. Anyway, if I do end up in a sleigh, I want to look like this...
|Portrait of an Unknown Woman (1883) Ivan Kramskoy|
Look at the blue on the edges of her muff (those that thought 'it must be the cold' can see me after class), isn't it heavenly? The canvas is a harmony of brown and cream, from the velvet (or leather) of the seat, through to the foamy off-white of the feather on her hat, echoing the snow trim on the buildings around her. That blue just jumps at you, deep and rich as the night sky, but as unexpected as a kiss on a cold day. It's uncertain whether or not Kramskoy meant this to be an actual portrait, as he created a few images that are a mixture of portraiture and genre, the viewer left to deduce the character of the subject from the evidence left by the artist. This is a young woman, beautiful and haughty who is literally looking down on us. Are we not good enough for her, or has she slowed her sleigh to see us despite the difference in our status?
Especially for my friend Vix, here is the perfect thing for when you are pretending to be a Russian lady in a sleigh. Imagine how nippy it must be, rushing around to the sound of 'Troika'. You need a dainty muff warmer to ward off the cold that will no doubt creep into every nook and cranny. I love the fact that they felt the need to add the word 'dainty', as if there was such a thing as a hefty muff warmer. Anyway, this little ceramic flask is filled with hot water and slipped into your muff for a warm glow all day. I'm not boasting or anything but I once took a hot water bottle into the cinema shoved up the back of my jumper. There is no greater comfort than something warm pressed against you on a chilly day. If you can't make the warm thing another person, make it a Dainty Muff Warmer.
My present suggestion for today is sadly not a dainty muff warmer, but another film. Talk about pressing someone warm against you...
Starring the Rossetti-Millais from the hilarious Effie Gray, Far from the Madding Crowd is gorgeous and emotional and, unusually for Hardy, has a reasonably happy ending. It also features luscious landscapes and the marvellous Michael Sheen, so buy some crumpets and cider and settle back under a blanket for some Wessex magic.
Far from the Madding Crowd is available everywhere now and my review is here.