Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Written in Feline

Everyone knows that cats can talk. They ask for food and they complain a lot. Sometimes you wish that they would just shut up. What is less well known is that some cats - mine included - can also write. Roughly translated, the delicately-chewed script of the above message reads: "This is a formal letter of complaint. You are an hour late with our breakfast. Do something about it!"
Photo: Annie

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Sullen Beauty

Right down to the bed head hair, this portrait of French actress Bernadette Lafont looks quintessentially modern. But it's not. It was taken fifty years ago and Lafont is now 71.
Photo: Jeanloup Sieff

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


With a brightly painted swing as bait, this secluded spot awaits a tiny victim. Surely the local paedo can't be far away...
Photo: Annie

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Boy Wizard Trades Magic for Optometry

Yes, it's true! Harry Potter is all grown up and has landed a steady job at an optician's in Amsterdam.

Photo: Annie

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

My Zen Landscape...

... shot in Ireland a few weeks back. The mountain hovering above the waters of Clew Bay is the Croagh Patrick, a holy mountain where St. Patrick reputedly fasted for forty days. It is also said that after completing the fast he threw a silver bell down the side of the mountain, knocking the she-demon Corra from the sky and banishing all the snakes from Ireland.
Photo: Annie

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Zen Landscape

I love this photo work by the Finnish artist Jorma Puranen, He painted a board with shiny black paint, then went outside and photographed the wintery landscape as it was reflected in the paint.

Photo borrowed from The Year in Pictures, the blog of the New York gallerist James Danziger:

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Amélie Knox?

I was struck by the bright green coat that Amanda Knox was wearing at the end of her trial when she was compared to Amélie, the heroine of the eponymous movie that Knox and her boyfriend claimed to have watched on the night that Meredith Kercher was murdered.

Interestingly, the film is also dominated by the colour green: green lighting, green walls, green furniture and green clothes.

So was this an attempt to create a visual association between Knox and an adorable character whose sole aim in life is to bring joy to others?

If so, it fails completely. Amanda Knox is clearly no Amélie; she's way too weird for that. Worse still, green is definitely not her colour.

Saturday, 5 December 2009


Like the ghosts of young girls waltzing at a spectral ball, these diaphanous petticoats float high above the El-Hamidiyeh Souk of Damascus.
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A Jordanian Traffic Jam...

... where your big shiny car is forced to a standstill by a flock of fleet-footed sheep!
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Like Something out of Lord of the Rings...

...these man-made cave dwellings dug into the soft sandstone of Little Petra, a suburb of its famous big sister and a crossroads of ancient caravan routes.

Photographed by me a couple of weeks ago when I visited Jordan.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Are You for Real?

Is this a handsome young man kitted out for the Venice Carnival or just a lifeless shop front dummy?
Photo: Annie. Click to find out.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Mythical Beast Flies Over Amsterdam

Last week, this lonely Pegasus was spotted high above the Saturday shoppers in the heart of Amsterdam.

Photo: Annie. With thanks to Lidi.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Alien Discovered in New York City

I'm interrupting the reports of my recent adventures in the Middle East with the breaking news of an alien sighting in NYC. No not really. It's fashion diva Daphne Guinness, who is related to both the brewing family and the formidable Mitford girls. Daphne is clad in head to toe Alexander McQueen including the famous (or infamous) "Alien Shoes". God knows what her feet looked like the next morning!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Losing Your Head

Even after being decapitated John the Baptist certainly managed to get around. Or at least his head did. It is rumoured to be located in places as varied as Rome, Antioch, Munich and even Halifax in Yorkshire. However, the people of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus are quite certain that they have the real thing and have built it a shrine of emerald splendour.

The Umayyad Mosque also houses a niche where the head of Huseyn ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammed, was displayed by the caliph who had him executed. According to Islamic texts, "the Heavens and the Earth wept only for two people: John the Baptist and Husayn ibn ‘Alī".

Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A Warm Welcome in Damascus

The multi-coloured fish of the Oriental House hotel rush to greet me a stunning feat of synchronized swimming.
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Waiting for Wisdom

An empty lecture room in the lovely al-Azm Palace in Hama, Syria. It seems so serene, a place where wise people may contemplate subjects such as the perfect, exquisite void of the number zero that was discovered two-and-a-half thousand years ago by the Babylonian mathematicians in what is now Iraq.

The Palace has also seen more than its fair share of trouble, and was extensively damaged in 1982 when the Syrian military bombarded the city in an action against the Muslim Brotherhood, which resulted in possibly as many as 40,000 deaths.

Photo: Annie

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Very Thing?

A couple of weeks ago I met this man in the souk in Aleppo, Syria. Apart from the ferocious looking knife, he is holding a sign in Dutch that reads: "Is this something for your mother-in-law?" From the look on his face I get the distinct feeling that he's not joking...
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A Thoughtful Gesture

Someone has thoughtfully draped a woollen jacket around a statue of the Dutch writer Arthur van Schendel. Just right for the chilly autumn weather.
Photo: Annie

Saturday, 24 October 2009


Caught amidst a swirl of reflections is the latest in swashbuckling fashion from Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester.
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge

Saturday, 17 October 2009

The Aunts

Like the stylish maiden aunts you should have had in your childhood, these two mannikins pose prettily in Comme des Garçons.
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Triumph of Style Over Substance

For 30 years Lou Lou de la Falaise was muse to Yves Saint Laurent and reputedly inspired him to create the legendary 1966 tuxedo. Now she has a shop in Paris, Maison de Loulou, and her own line of cheap but chic accessories, which she sells through the American HSN shopping channel. A surprising move for someone once married to the Knight of Glin, and perhaps even to LouLou herself, who was heard to remark during a recent broadcast 'I always used to say I'd rather be run over by a car than do this'.
Photo: Richard Avedon

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Sam One Sleeve

As I reported recently, photographer Annie Leibovitz is going through a tough time with a threatened bankruptcy and assorted court cases. Maybe that why she (or her people) made the above gaffe. When photoshopping director Sam Mendes, she forgot to include his left arm, which is wearing a dark jacket, while the rest of him is clad in a nice blue shirt.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Saturday, 3 October 2009

One for the Collection?

The Hands Resist Him was painted by California artist Bill Stoneham in 1972. Click the image and you will see countless little hands pressed against the glass door behind the boy and the doll. Spooky? Well, that's not all. In 2000, the painting was put up for sale on eBay with a very strange description. Apparently the two figures move freely around the painting at night and may even disappear without trace. Clearly a case of caveat emptor or "let the buyer beware"!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Elephants of Amsterdam

I met this perky pachyderm on Amsterdam's Damrak and was instantly smitten. He's part of a herd of one hundred that are are to be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to the world's biggest elephant charity. So why do I want him so much, especially as I live in a ridiculously tiny apartment? Because with him in my life, I know I'll never stop smiling!
Photo: Annie

Saturday, 26 September 2009

What a Cheek!

Spotted at the flagship store of Marlies Dekkers, purveyor of fine undies.
Photo: Annie

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

What's Going Here?

Who needs a burglar alarm when you're protected by the dark arts and a scary-looking door knocker? And what is going on in the privacy of this home? Deeds of unspeakable depravity, hopefully...
Photo: Annie

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Should We Take Him Seriously?

This is Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament and leader of the ultra-right-wing PVV party. His latest bright idea involves taxing Muslimas who wear headscarves. Fortunately this proposal has been turned down flat.... for now.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Going to a Concert Amsterdam Style

You take your boat and sail through the city's canals towards the Prinsengracht for its annual concert on a specially-constructed stage above the water.
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Just as You Thought Things Couldn't Get Any Worse

Not only is Annie Liebovitz still in deep financial schtuck, she is also being sued by a fellow photographer for allegedly passing his pictures off as her own in a 2009 calendar shot for a coffee company.

The photo above is an example of what the calender has on offer. A naked lady in your spaghetti? The words "vulgar" and "tacky" come to mind. Understandably Annie L may have been desperate for the money.
Photo (presumably): Annie Liebovitz

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

How Nice They Remembered!

A message in an Amsterdam window intended for the star of such gems as One Million Years B.C. and Myra Breckinridge.

And here is the birthday girl herself. Only in Hollywood do they stay so young.
Top photo: Annie

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Dream Time

This sweet-faced boy is Michael Jackson wandering through Amsterdam in 1977. Of course, the photo is worth a lot of money so it is being prominently displayed in a local shop window where I snapped it amidst the reflections of the city's streets.
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Glamour and Grime

I love the photos of artist Marlyn Minter: very dirty, very sexy.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Look of Love

... and it was mutual. I met this young gentleman while photographing a mothers and babies group at my local bookshop.
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Shot from the Hip

This photo was literally "shot from the hip" so as to avoid attracting the subjects' attention. The seated passengers on this London underground train seem oblivious to what's happening, faintly sedated in fact. But the man standing is another story. He knows full well that his image is being captured. Maybe that is because he, too, is a man of pictures: the Irish painter Francis Bacon.

The photographer is a mysterious person who goes by the alias of Johnny Stiletto. You can find out more about him at

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Corridor of Secrets

My eternal fascination with hotel corridors. The chance encounter and furtive glance, the secret worlds behind closed doors, transience...
Photo: Annie

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Jesus of the Ciggies

A pot of plants with a welcoming Jesus outside a hotel in Connemara. Unfortunately since the ban on smoking in such establishments, it is used for less divine purposes...
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

In the Eye of the Storm

Irish weather is a religious experience everytime!
Photo: Annie. Click to enlarge

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


It's scary what a little surface photoshopping can do to bring out a girl's true nature...

Image borrowed from the wonderful website.

Saturday, 8 August 2009


Daphne Selfe is an 80-year-old model with a 50-year career. I love her strength and beauty that no way denies her grey hair and magnificent age. Here she is stylishly gracing the pages of the Guardian colour supplement.

See also the Profoundly Superficial entry of 18 March 2009.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Little Wolfgang is Profoundly Superficial

From the frothy exuberance of Eine kleine Nachtmusik to the unfathomable grief of the Requiem, Mozart is the Profoundly Superficial composer par excellence. To quote the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky: “I believe that whenever someone employs the light touch, it bespeaks tragedy. Start with Mozart”.

Painting: Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Creative Commons

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Monsieur Ripley, c'est moi!

This enigmatic-looking woman is the writer Patricia Highsmith. She's an important part of my life right now because I'm re-reading her books, the famous being The Talented Mr Ripley. Highsmith has a genius for seamlessly transforming the normal into the psychopathic, good into evil.How does she do it? Yesterday I discovered a clue, a quote from an acquaintance of hers: "She was a mean, hard, cruel, unlovable, unloving person."

Do I care? Of course not. Creative people often "live" more brilliantly, more satisfactorily through their work than they ever do in their lives. And that's what's important.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Me a Bioharzard? The Disappointing Truth...

After extensive testing the answer is a rather disappointing "No, I don't have swine flu". I say disappointing because at least I'd have had something to boast about after a week of misery. Worst of all it has cost me the chance to help out a friend in need. Each month, she eagerly awaits her copy of Vogue only to discover that the local supermarket has scrawled the price in ugly ballpoint across the cover. Naturally she asked the manager to desist from such vandalism, but he just looked at her though if she were fit to be sectioned.

Clearly it was time for direct action, and the plan was to unleash me in the shop sneezing, coughing and gobbing over customers and cream cakes alike!

But it turns out I'm not that poisonous. Moreover, my friend has since discovered that the kind lady at the newsagents is more than happy to provide her with her monthly Vogue in virgin condition!!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Am I a Biohazard?

Last Friday, when I flew from Amsterdam to Dublin, the stewards gave detailed information on how to avoid swine flu: use a handkerchief or your hands when sneezing or coughing, and always wash your hands afterwards. All good advice, I thought, but swine flu is something that happens to other people, not me. Well, fate had bitten me on the bum and I've got sick. My room is full of rubber gloves, masks, tamiflu and the large, yellow bin bag pictured above, which is for all my used paper handkerchiefs.

I feel like a one-woman germ warfare weapon!

Photo: Annie