Monday, March 30, 2009


I spent part of Saturday afternoon at another art auction. I freely admit that I am a sucker for these things, since I like art and it's always interesting to see the psychological and aesthetic forces flowing back and forth.

I just wish I could attend some auctions run by a different house. There is a tiny, focused subculture attached to the auctions run by this particular house. The same people attend, and are well-known to the staff. The same artists come up again and again. The works are of differing quality but even the good ones tend not to be very exciting.

Oh well. I content myself by buying the occasional good picture; something that I like but which doesn't hit me with a thunderous 'ker-pow!'

As is often the case I was out-bid on most of the few items I liked, but I was the only one to put my hand up for this abstract study by Harald Vike. I picked it up for $58.25, including the 16.5% premium for the auction house, which I think may have been the lowest price of the day. While Vike is well thought of in some art circles, I'm not particularly interested in his work, but I like the obscure austerity of this little watercolour. Given that his other works up for auction sold for several hundred dollars each, I was surprised that no one else wanted this one, but their loss is my gain.

Everything else I liked soared quickly out of my price range. I don't think that ordinary people realise just how much money there is in certain quarters of society. There's a sizable contingent at these auctions who seem to regard dropping a grand at the art auction as just a pleasant afternoon's diversion, no different to dropping a grand at the casino. Two women sitting behind me twittered inanely to each other all through the auction, gushing over pictures not because they were beautiful but because they had ballerinas or flowers in them. And yet they managed to spend well over a thousand dollars, by my reckoning. How did these witless creatures get a thousand dollars? I assumed that either one of them had married fortuitously or they were the sole beneficiaries of a sizable inheritance.

All of this just gives me a greater desire to find out about other auctions with more challenging works - I might still lose out to the wealthy, but at least I'd see some really good pictures while wallowing in my comparative poverty.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


It's traditional, as part of AndressFest, to invent a new cocktail in honour of the woman of the moment. For AndressFest '07, it was the Golden Ursula. For AndressFest '08, it was the Dirty Ursula. And for AndressFest '09, I created the Creamy Ursula.

The Creamy Ursula

One part butterscotch schnapps
One part creme de cacao
One part cream
One part tequila

Shake vigorously with ice and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with a triangle of toblerone.

I wanted the cocktail to represent the woman herself. So I chose schnapps and chocolate to represent her Swiss heritage, cream to represent her lovely skin, and tequila to represent the fact that she was a dirty, dirty girl.

Of course the Creamy Ursula was just one of the delicacies of AndressFest '09. Some people may detect a certain Ursula-related theme running through the snacks.

Such people should be ashamed of themselves.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


If you go onto eBay and do a search for Ursula Andress movies, you won't find an even distribution of her work. ‘Secrets of the Sensuous Nurse’, for example, is rare and commands prices over eighty dollars. ‘Stateline Motel’, on the other hand, is for sale in every second listing, and can be picked up for ninety nine cents.

There is a reason for this. 'Stateline Motel', our third and final AndressFest '09 movie, isn't very good.

The curiously-named Fabio Teste has been incarcerated in the living hell that is the Canadian prison system: nothing but bilingual signs, maple syrup and socialised medicine for six months. When his sentence is finished, rather than physically deporting him back to the States the Canadian authorities merely inform him that he has 48 hours to get out of Canada, and apparently trust that he'll do the right thing.

He does not do the right thing. He gets picked up from the prison gates by Eli Wallach and driven directly to a local jewelry store, which they proceed to rob. Somehow I suspect that the whole rehabilitation part of the Canadian prison system didn't quite take with him.

While Eli disposes of the getaway car and flies back to the States, Fabio drives another car towards a remote stretch of the border with the jewels. He is, however, about as dumb as you would expect someone named Fabio Teste to be, and manages to crash the car near a tiny village. He's forced to stay the night at the local hotel while the car is repaired, and there he meets Ursula Andress, who is the wife of the proprietor and the only woman who could rock a Mickey Mouse T-shirt without looking like a superannuated Chinese schoolgirl.

Given that he's Fabio Teste and she's Ursula Andress, it's pretty inevitable that they'll get their nude on, and sooner rather than later. Cue the wocka-chicka-wocka music and the predictable closeups of Ursula's boobies. Fortunately I already knew that ‘Stateline Motel’ had a little nudita gratuito, and I'd prepared something to help maintain the high moral standards of the assembled AndressFesters.

We initially tried censoring Ursula's boobies, but that proved to be kind of boring, so we changed to censoring everything except Ursula's boobies, which was a lot more successful. Or at least more crowd-pleasing.

If you ever have the misfortune to be watching ‘Stateline Motel’, I can wholeheartedly recommend censoring Fabio Teste wherever possible.

But back, reluctantly, to the plot. After his night of steamy passion, artfully shadowed to conceal R rated body parts and traces of cellulite on Ursula's 37 year old thighs, Fabio discovers that his stash of jewels is gone. Ursula strenuously denies taking them. Fabio, having fallen hastily in love with this Mickey Mouse-clad temptress, is torn between his feelings and his $500,000 worth of gems.

Meanwhile Eli Wallach has grown crabby and impatient waiting for Fabio to arrive with the jewels, so he crosses the border again and tracks him down. Eli's character is supposed to be a murderous badass, but with his middle-aged paunch and loud mid-70s jackets, he looks like a neurotic lawyer who's escaped from a Woody Allen film. He's about as formidable as a baby aardvark wearing legwarmers. And about as attractive, too.

Eli Wallach, attorney at law.

But that's ‘Stateline Motel’ for you: an Italian playing an American, a Swiss playing a Canadian, and Eli Wallach playing anything other than a lawyer. No one is even remotely believable in any role. Even Canada didn't quite convince me that it wasn't really just New Hampshire with a funny accent.

In the end we discover that Ursula did indeed steal the jewels, but she was probably going to give them back to Fabio once she'd run away with him. Unfortunately before she can do this the jewels are stolen by the girl who does the cleaning at the hotel, and Ursula is strangled by Eli. The film ends with both Ursula and Eli dead, Fabio bereft of both his woman and his money, and the cleaning lady showing off her newly acquired jewels to her boyfriend.

Well, at least somebody ended up happy - that's pretty good for a 70s film.


Our second movie for AndressFest '09 was the 1965 French/Italian co-production 'La Decima Vittima', or 'The 10th Victim'.

Some time in the indeterminate but very groovy future, the Masoch Club organises live human hunts in which a Hunter and a Victim chase each other until one of them manages to kill the other. Apparently this cathartic release of aggression keeps all of the world's psychopaths entertained, allowing the rest of us to get on with our normal lives and individual interests. Given the set design, it seems that most future people's interests will run to plastic furniture, free-form jazz and watching Ursula Andress dancing about in a bikini with guns hidden in the brassiere cups. And who can blame them?

Caroline Meredith (Ursula Andress) is an old hand at this human hunting game, and is looking forward to winning her 10th hunt, which will give her fame and one million dollars. Her partner for this 10th chase turns out to be Marcello Polletti (Marcello Mastroianni), but as she tries to lure him into her trap, and he tries to come up with a clever way of killing her, they discover that they're falling for each other. Will love win out over fame, professional reputation and one million dollars?

To tell the truth I'm not sure. The ending was sort of weird. Of course that may have had someting to do with the number of martinis I'd consumed by that point.

'The 10th Victim' was based on a novel by Robert Sheckley, a very well-respected American sci-fi writer. However judging by what ended up on screen, it wasn't so much a dramatisation of his book as an excuse to go crazy with the zany 60s fashions. Mary Quant, eat your non-Italian heart out - costume designer Giulio Coltellacci knows what the movie going public wants to see. Like all good fashion, each one of the costumes communicated a couple of lessons about the modern world:

1. Black is wonderfully slimming.

2. Some sunglasses should be left on Bono's nightstand, where they belong.

1. In the future, Ursula Andress will have her own army of sexy go-go girls.

2. The future will not be as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

1. Dr Evil did not invent the breast-mounted machine gun.

2. If you have to die, being shot by Ursula Andress' breasts through a silver foil bikini is probably one of the greatest ways to go.

1. Giulio Coltellacci was the greatest fashion designer the world has ever known.

2. End of story.

Monday, March 23, 2009


AndressFest is over for another year. As usual we had three of the most questionable films in modern cinematic history, a big pile of snacks, and enough strong booze to stun a hippo. For about half of our guests it was their first AndressFest, and I can only hope that they got home safely after several hours of non-stop Ursula action. I didn’t see anything in the newspaper the next day about anyone having a car crash while screaming “Make her stop! Or at least act!”, so I’ll assume they’re all alright.

Ironically enough, we actually started AndressFest ’09 with one of Ursula’s best movies… possibly because she had little more than a cameo in it, thus restricting the power of The Curse of Ursula. It was the quintessential French sex farce, 1965’s ‘What’s New Pussycat?’.

Michael James (Peter O’Toole), a young man living and working in Paris, is in love with Carole (Romy Schneider), but he has commitment problems. He is irresistibly drawn to other women, and other women are irresistibly attracted to him. This includes kooky American stripper Liz (Paula Prentiss), ice queen Renee (Capucine) and ravishing lady parachutist Rita (Ursula Andress). Meanwhile Michael’s friend Victor (Woody Allen) is also in love with Carole, and pretty much anything else in a skirt, but unlike Michael he is entirely resistible.

In desperation Michael seeks the help of noted German sex therapist Dr Fassbender (Peter Sellers), but unfortunately Dr Fassbender has more problems with sex than anyone, and he sees Michael as more of a role model than a patient. Michael is basically on his own as he tries to curb his urges long enough to marry Carole.

There’s a lot to love about ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ It was Woody Allen’s first feature film as a scriptwriter, and it’s filled with absurdist comedy and his trademark quips. There’s the deliriously chic mid-60s French setting, the cool clothes, the sexy clubs… and a sunny innocence to the whole farce that would soon be lost in the nihilism and cynicism of the 1970s.

There’s also Peter Sellers’ hysterical performance as Dr Fassbender. He’s a lecherous, frustrated man with a Mary Tyler Moore haircut and a range of skinny velvet swinger suits, who rants and rages at his Brunhilde-shaped wife, his dysfunctional patients and his own thwarted hormones. But he’s so convinced of his personal studliness that no amount of rejection can keep him down for long. He’s rightly considered one of Peter Sellers’ greatest creations.

When I think about it, I suspect that part of the appeal of ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ for me is that I want to be Michael James. Not so that I can seduce every showgirl from here to the Moulin Rouge (although now that you mention it…). I just love his lifestyle. He has a great job as the features editor at a chic magazine. He has a great apartment which looks like an interior design spread from Playboy circa 1963. He goes to a great gentleman’s club, where beautiful women perform seductive dances (as opposed to a modern “gentleman’s club”, where skanky tattooed junkies lapdance their way into degradation). He even has a great car – a tiny vintage convertible sports car with a mysterious power to attract any Ursula Andresses who happen to be falling out of the sky. What’s not to envy?

But if you forced me to choose the single best thing about ‘What’s New Pussycat?’, I’d have to admit that it was Ursula herself. She was a distinctly limited actress with a densely unfathomable accent who couldn’t convey any non-sexual emotion if her life depended on it, but when she was just dumped into a scene and told to be sexy, as she was here, she was dazzling. She didn’t have to do much more than flirt with a couple of men and race from room to room in skimpy tangerine-coloured underwear, but even so she stole the show. It seems that flirting and wearing skimpy underwear were two of her core strengths. Who knew?

So at the end of the day, in order to effectively review ‘What’s New Pussycat?’, I can think of no better suggestion than that offered by The Flatmate:

Me: I’m a bit stuck on this review. How can I best describe ‘What’s New Pussycat?’

The Flatemate: Just put up a picture of Ursula Andress in her underwear. That’s all I remember about it.

Me: Hmmm. Makes sense.

So there you go - as much of a review as any man needs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Various neo-con bloggers, including the incorrigible Tim Blair, have posted about this statement by Islamic scholar Muhammad Al-Munajid, made in an interview on Al-Majd TV:

INTERVIEWER: What is the position in Islamic law with regard to mice?

SAUDI CLERIC MUHAMMAD AL-MUNAJID: The Sharia refers to the mouse as “little corrupter” and says it is permissible to kill it in all cases. It says mice set fire to the house and are steered by Satan. If a mouse falls into a pot of food, if the food is solid, you should chuck out the mouse and the food touching it. And if it is liquid you should chuck out the whole thing. Because the mouse is impure. According to Islamic law, the mouse is a repulsive, corrupting creature. How do you think children view mice today - after Tom and Jerry? Even creatures that are repulsive by nature, by logic and according to Islamic law have become wonderful and are loved by children. Even mice. Mickey Mouse has become an awesome character, even though Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases.

I wouldn't have said that Mickey Mouse was all that awesome, but I'm a little out of touch with what the kids are into these days. That aside, I'm appalled that Tim published this little snippet of the interview without including the followup questions, which place the cleric's contentious statements in a clearer context. In the interests of fairness to Muhammad Al-Munajid, I'd like to post the rest of the interview, in which he clarifies his position on mice and other rodents:

INTERVIEWER: Well, what about rats? Aren't rats worse than mice?

AL-MUNAJID: Assuredly! Rats are the Handmaidens of the Evil One. They spread disease and eat through electrical cables and write for 'The Village Voice', espousing loose morals and wantonness.

INTERVIEWER: What about gerbils?

AL-MUNAJID: Sons of the Sodomites! Agents of the Great Satan! Take your eyes off them for two minutes and they've logged onto your computer and installed a Naughty Nurses screensaver.

INTERVIEWER: And squirrels?

AL-MUNAJID: Insidious fiends! They must be covered in kerosene and set alight! Otherwise they will steal all the food from your bird feeder, then smuggle Jews into your house to drink your children's blood.

INTERVIEWER: Porcupines?

AL-MUNAJID: Pointy whores!

INTERVIEWER: Chinchillas?

AL-MUNAJID: Filthy vermin responsible for 85% of all email scams.

INTERVIEWER: And capybaras?

AL-MUNAJID: Adorable.


AL-MUNAJID: Simply adorable. So fat and cute and cuddly. I just want to grab them and pinch their chubby little cheeks.


AL-MUNAJID: No. Really they are the Nephews of the Devil.

I hope that this puts the cleric's words in context. Peace be to all you goodly people and mouse-smushers.

They that call the Prince of Darkness "Uncle".


Today, in Great Epic Fail Moments in Interior Design...

What the twee designista meant: HAND MADE LOVE

What it actually says: MADE HAND LOVE

I honestly don't know which is worse.


Somebody handed me a slightly worn USB flash drive at work today, so that I could transfer his power point presentation onto my computer. It had evidently been a promotional gift from Johnson & Johnson, and it had a 64Mb capacity.

I almost laughed at him. 64Mb? Can you actually fit a power point presentation onto something that small? I recently bought a 2Gb flash drive for six dollars. At that rate, this one was worth less than 19 cents. Way to impress, Johnson & Johnson!

Of course it was a couple of years old, and it took me a little while to remember that it was only nine years ago that no one had a flash drive of any size. Indeed, ten years ago I still had a film camera, a cassette Walkman and a CompuServe account. I am in no position to mock to technological obsolescence of others.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


When a movie has the following tagline, it carries a certain weight of expectation:

"The most horrifying syndicate of evil in history!"

There have been many horrifying syndicates of evil in history - the Nazi inner circle, the Chinese industrialists who poisoned thousands of babies with melamine-tainted milk, any congregation of three or more Avon ladies - but this is the most horrifying one of all!

Well, except for the fact that it wasn't. Not on any count. There wasn't any syndicate. There were no particularly evil plans. And I've had pancakes that were more horrifying.

If anyone went into 'Circus of Fear' expecting actual fear, they were in for a world of disappointment. In the interests of truth in advertising I suppose they could have called it 'Circus of Disappointment', but of course then it'd be hard to differentiate from any other circus.

As you may be able to tell, I am not a huge fan of circuses.

Top 10 Things About 'Circus of Fear' That Were Scarier Than Anything Covered In The Actual Plot

10. The presence of Klaus Kinski. He was a weird, ugly man, who didn't so much play a character as hang out on set and occasionally get caught by the cameras. No wonder it was a circus of fear - you'd be disconcerted too if you saw this lurking outside your trailer:

I'm here to kick ass and devour souls, and I'm all out of souls.

9. Gina's giant polyester hair.

I just extruded my hair and I can't do a thing with it!

8. The fact that this is the sexiest outfit in the movie:

I don't think the costume designer quite got the appeal of the whole slutty showgirl idea.

7. Gina's hairy-backed lover.

So Gina's lover is the circus' gorilla?

6. The circus' interview technique for prospective employees:

Circus Guy: Now then, what’s your name?

Klaus: That’s my business

Circus Guy: I see. Have you ever worked with a circus before?

Klaus: Maybe.

Circus Guy: Listen boy, you’d better tell the truth. Why have you come here?

Klaus: I just told you. All I want is work.

Circus Guy: If I do have any work I’ll let you know. Where are you living?

Klaus: I’ll be around.

Circus Guy: Okay, let’s have your name and address.

Klaus: Forget it. I’ll be back.

So there you have it – post-war British industrial relations at their very best. Literally.

5. The British automotive industry circa 1966.

If I had one of these, I'd push it into a lake too.

4. The inappropriate soundtrack. What sort of composer looks at a scene full of angry, dangerous circus lions and thinks, 'I know what this scene needs! A ponderous waltz!'?

3. Footage of the great British public thrilling to the lamest circus performances in the entire universe. I suppose that in 1966 it was either this or a 'Carry On' movie (pauses to repress shudder).

2. The pictures of sad clowns on Gina's wall.

Hi! We're here to devour any souls that Klaus Kinski doesn't finish!

1. The absence of actual clowns in the circus. The only thing more frightening than seeing clowns is NOT seeing clowns, if you know what I mean. Talk about the most horrifying syndicate of evil in history.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Recently while browsing through the shelves of my local charity shop I discovered a dozen classic bad cinema DVDs for $3 each. They all seem to have belonged to the same collection - presumably some other afficiando of bad cinema in this city lost his nerve and gave away his collection. Either that, or he died during a particularly excruciating Ed Wood film and nobody bought his DVDs at the estate sale.

Still, his loss was my gain, if indeed one can call movies like 'Circus of Fear' and 'Revolt of the Zombies' "gain", and on Saturday night JC, The Flatmate and I watched the first of these DVDs, 1936's 'The Cocaine Fiends'.

Me: Hey all they needed was an 'r' and we could have been watching 'The Cocaine Friends'!

JC: Cool!

Me: It'd be the story of a group of happy little forest critters who run around having fun! Very, very fast! For 30 hours straight!

Sadly, 'The Cocaine Fiends' is the far more prosaic story of a rural waitress, Jane, who gets tricked into taking a so-called "headache powder" by a gangster who comes into her restaurant. Jane's a sweet, naive girl, which may explain why she's willing to snort an unspecified white powder up her nose when it's offered to her by a complete stranger. In a later decade she might just as easily have joined the Moonies or sent her lifesavings to Nigeria. At least in ‘The Cocaine Fiends’ she gets a couple of belts of blow for her trouble.

Having enjoyed the effects of the "headache powder", which appears to do nothing more sensational than make her fractionally perkier, Jane is beguiled by the smooth gangster. Soon she's run away to the city, where she thinks she'll marry him and live a long, prosperous, headache-free life. Of course he has no intention of marrying her, and by the time she's worked this out she's hooked on the happy dust. To hide her shame she changes her name to Lil and attempts to make a career out of being a gangster's moll.

Meanwhile her brother, Eddie, has come to the city with the twin aims of finding his sister and getting a good job. He's not very successful at either, as he fails to recognise his sister when she crosses his path at the diner where he works. He’s the archetype of the 1930s clean cut young man, at least until his coworker Fanny offers him a little pick me up. Fanny is obviously making a lot more in tips than he is, as she can afford to buy "dope" and give it away like it was candy.

Fanny: Tonight I'm gonna take you on a sleigh ride with some snow birds.

Eddie: Sleigh ride? Snow birds? In summer?

Fanny: Gee, you ARE dumb!

Me: He may be dumb, sweetheart, but at least he's not a grown woman wearing a bellhop costume.

Soon enough Eddie too is a jittery hophead, obsessed with nothing more than his next fix. When he and Fanny are fired for their poor work performance, they end up in a dowdy boarding house, perpetually strung out and incapable of holding down a job. Eventually Fanny realises that there’s only one avenue of employment for a junkie, and hits the streets for a lucrative career as a crack whore.

Eventually Fanny falls pregnant, and Eddie callously rejects her because his only love is the White Lady. With his rejection Fanny realises that hey, she's an unmarried pregnant drug-addicted hooker, and sensibly gasses herself in their room when Eddie goes out for his fix.

It’s at this point that Jane and Eddie are reunited, and Jane decides to find a way to get Eddie home.

Jane: You must get away. Back to the country and sunshine. It isn’t too late for you.

Eddie: Yes. Yes, yes, we’ll go home now.

Jane: No. No, it’s too late for me. Girls can’t come back.

Me (as Jane): Girls have to stay in the city. To be near the shoe stores.

Which brings me to one of the central problems with ‘The Cocaine Fiends’. Throughout the film, one might wonder why Jane and Eddie don't hightail it back to Mudflaps Arkansas, or whatever lunk headed town it was they came from. However it seems that the shame to their family would be too great. Unfortunately all that the modern viewer will take from this is that shame, rather than coke, is the problem.

I wonder if they ever made a sequel called ‘The Shame Fiends’? About some young people who are hooked on shame, and yet it turns out that snorting coke is their biggest problem?

Probably not. I guess it’s never too late, though. Excuse me while I go phone Paris Hilton’s agent.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


About three months ago I acquired a trio of fifty year old movie posters via eBay. Back in 1960 and 1961 they briefly advertised three forgettable exploitation films in American cinema foyers, then spent the next half century folded up in storage. Now they've been very carefully unfolded and flattened, given high quality professional frames, and hung along my bedroom wall.

They all fall into the "untamed youth" category, with shady boys and bad girls drinking and fighting and getting their hormones on. It's the equivalent of those TV current affairs programs that advertise stories "that no parent should miss". However in these movies the frantic warnings are delivered with a knowing wink, as opposed to the modern conceit that they've offering some sort of public service.

Co-eds: This is about what you won't tell - that you mangle grammar! That puts the booze and the making out into perspective. I find myself wondering if anyone was ever really titilated by all of these faux-naughty shennanigans. Then again, when the alternatives were '101 Dalmatians' and 'The Parent Trap', I suppose one took what titilation one could get.

Platinum High School, 1960. The high school where money can buy you anything... even the storekeeper's daughter! This would all sound very scandalous and risque but for the presence of Mickey "The Harmless Gnome" Rooney. It'd be like watching a new Die Hard movie in which Woody Allen takes over from Bruce Willis.

College Confidential, 1960. This film has Mamie van Doren in it - how confidential could it possibly be? Steve Allen plays a sleazy college professor who dares young co-eds to touch his theme, as it were. I don't know about the movie, but this is the best of the three posters; a snappy stylised exclamation mark design printed in vivid colours.

The Explosive Generation, 1961. "Never has youth gone on such a rampage... never has a motion picture gone so far in telling their raging story". With a title and a tagline like that, it's either an amusing exploitation movie featuring a young, pre-Star Trek William Shatner from 1961, or a painfully earnest SBS documentary on suicide bombers from 2009.

Given that the poster features a blonde in a bathing suit being mauled by a couple of boys, it's probably the former.

It's amazing how cheaply one can pick up these vintage posters on eBay. How cheaply, you ask? Let's put it this way: framing them cost twenty times more than buying them. Suffice to say if I buy any more of them I won't be framing them.

Monday, March 02, 2009


As the astute reader will know, I've been looking for a new couch for some time. Actually as I look back over my blog entries I see references to my search in August 2007, May 2007, August 2006... it's been a while.

With each passing year, as I rejected yet another couch because it was too expensive, or too short, or too badly made, or too ugly, my old couch was succumbing to the ravages of time. It was quite the stylish piece of furniture when I bought it back in 1992 - a shellbacked 2.5 seater upholstered in a dark green linen. But seventeen years does terrible things to a couch. The upholstery split on both arms, shedding bits of yellow foam into the cushions. The left cushion frayed and burst, bulging white cotton wadding. The arms became discoloured from years of grime and wear, and in humid weather they became unpleasantly sticky with the accumulated ick.

The old couch in 2006, already past its prime.

Just in the last few weeks I realised that, short of some serendipitous moment, I was never going to find the sort of couch I wanted. Not in Perth, a city with a baffling devotion to shoddy bad taste. I realised that if I just bought the cheapest near-enough couch I'd seen, it would serve me well enough until my one true love appeared in the window of the local antique store.

So on Saturday The Flatmate and I took his Saab convertible to IKEA, there to wrestle a Sater leather sofa into the back seats. The Flatmate gleefully predicted that I'd be pulled over by the police for driving around with a two metre long sofa jutting out of the back of the car, but by taking the back roads and keeping the speed down to 60kph, we managed to get it home without either the police pulling us over or the sofa falling out. Once we heaved it inside, it was just a matter or removing all of the packaging, throwing the instructions out the window and screwing on the legs.

The new couch, getting to know the Eames chair and the rug.

It does most of the things I want my couch to do. It's long, it's low, it's comfortable, it's brown leather, it's firm, it's not overstuffed, and it has a low back and a minimalist profile. It has a sense of masculinity without being heavy; a hint of the bachelor pad circa 1962. It's not a vintage piece, the cushions aren't attached, and that cheap leather will eventually crack rather than soften... but it's good enough for the moment.

And if anything sums up this wretched city, it's things that are good enough for the moment.