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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 22, 2006 / 22 Adar, 5766

Bottle-beauties and the globalised blond beast

By Paul Johnson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The hair colour gene MCI-R has seven European variants, one of them blond. It is rare and becoming rarer.


A World Health Organization survey calculates that the last true blond will be born in Finland in 2202. Do you believe this? Nor do I. A different lot of scientists argue that this gene emerged over a comparatively short period about 10,000 years ago, with food shortages — and shortages of men — speeding up the natural selection process to the advantage of blonds. A touch of old-style Hollywood here?


Certainly not the present dump — which Betty Grable would find unrecognisable, Marilyn Monroe chilly and Mae West distinctly hostile — making bad movies to advance its agenda: to them, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a racist insult.


Yet it is a historical fact that gentlemen, and cads for that matter, do prefer blondes, ceteris paribus. The business of 'going blonde' is very ancient (and by no means confined to women). In the Royal Book of 1484 there is an assertion: 'They arrange theyr heer lyke wymmen and force it to be yellowe, and yf they be blacke, they by crafte make them blonde and abourne.' According to the OED some philological historians believe that the original Teutonic word 'blond' actually meant 'dyed', 'the ancient Germans being accustomed to dye the hair yellow'. My guess is that the Anglo-Saxons, who were predominantly blond, triumphed over the Norman-French ruling class in the 13th and 14th centuries partly because of hair colour, the rich and powerful selecting wives from the blonde gene pool. The replacement of French by English was due as much to blonds as to the vigorous superiority of the English language.


Charles II, who was brought up partly in France, noticed the English preference for blondes and deplored it. He was very tall and dark, being described in a parliamentary 'wanted' poster — while on the run in 1651 after the battle of Worcester — as 'Charles Stuart, a black man two yards high'. His height he got from Queen Anne, his tall Danish grandmother, and possibly also from his great-grandmother, Mary Queen of Scots, who was five foot ten, an alarming height for a mid-16th-century lady.


(She was taller than all three of her husbands, as well as miscellaneous lovers.)


Charles got his dark looks from his French mother, Henrietta Maria, who was 'black as my hat' as people used to say when I was a boy. Charles was swarthy, perhaps saturnine is the word. A great theatregoer, he complained that at Drury Lane and Covent Garden the 'goodies' were always played by blonds and the 'baddies' by dark-haired and dark-skinned actors. Once in the theatre, disgusted by a production of Macbeth in which the murderers were noticeably dark, he exploded, 'Pray, what is the meaning that we never see a Rogue in a Play, but, Godsfish! they always clap him on a black Periwig? When it is well known one of the greatest Rogues in England always wears a fair one.' He was alluding to his bitter enemy, the Earl of Shaftesbury, a Blond Beast.


And come to that, what about the Blond Beast? The term occurred in Friedrich Nietzsche's Zur Genealogie der Moral (1887), as follows: 'Das Raubthier, die prachtvoller nach Beute und Sieg lüstern schweifende blond Bestie.' Shaw wrote in Major Barbara, 'Nietzsche is the victim in England of a single, much-quoted phrase, "big blond beast".' That was true, but Shaw spoiled the effect by writing, later, of himself, 'My auburn hair was never really Highland red like my sister Agnes's. But I was a "blond beast" of the Danish type unmistakably.' In fact, Shaw was not the blond beast type at all, and nor of course was Nietzsche himself, either — a moustachioed mongrel mess, rather. To get the blond beast type, you have to 'bottle up', as poor Laurence Olivier did so disastrously when he dyed his hair to film himself in Hamlet. 'Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt, Thaw and dissolve itself into a dew!' That got a big laugh, I remember.


Dyeing is, to be sure, a funny business. Is it true that some Byzantine emperors dyed their hair blue? Or was it that they wore blue wigs? I recall the time when old Ted Heath, on the advice of Cecil Beaton, I believe, tried the experiment of a little dye in his old, grey noll. That produced a titter too, and was soon abandoned. Yet the amount of dyeing that now goes on is immeasurable. When I first went to Italy in 1948, travelling up and down the country, I don't remember seeing a single blond.


True, there were redheads in Venice — one or two, not many. They had been there for many centuries, possibly because of Venetian connections with the Dalmatian coast, Ragusa (what is now called Dubrovnik) being a place where red-haired women were to be found. The term 'Titian red' was used, though in my view it is closer to auburn than genuine red.


Auburn, I think, was the colour of the hair of Byron's 'last attachment', Countess Guiccioli. He met her in Venice at an evening party given by Countess Benzoni, early in April 1819. Byron's best biographer, Leslie Marchand, writes:


'There appeared in the door to the grand salon a petite girl with rich auburn curls falling down to beautifully moulded shoulders. Her bust and arms were plump and full but well shaped, and her complexion was fair and radiantly fresh. She had a voluptuous and yet na've face, a handsome nose, mouth and chin, and melting softness in her large eyes.'


Curiously enough, Byron never refers to Teresa's hair as auburn or Titian red. He calls her 'fair' and 'a redhead'. The various prints and portraits of her suggest a blonde, rather. Who is to say? Italian girls of 18 were capable of fiddling with the colour of their hair even then. Now I calculate that Italian women are the most notorious dyers on earth. The last time I was in Florence, I did some counting, later augmented by figures I got in Rome. Of 50 Italian women, 49 were blonde. That is dye for sure. Not one in a thousand Italians is a natural blonde, and virtually all of them, of all ages, resort to the bottle.


What I want to know, and prurient readers may now turn the page if they wish, is: did Byron's Teresa dye her pubic hair, as well as her head hair? He often demanded of his girlfriends a snip of pubic hair for his archives, and it was willingly provided. Indeed it was volunteered in some cases, notably by Lady Caroline Lamb, a curly blonde to judge by her portrait 'in page's costume'. A coureur des dames once told me: 'A bottle-blonde who does not dye her pubics is a careless creature, to be avoided.' That is a harsh saying. But the most successful artificial blondes certainly do so. Jean Harlow did. So did Marilyn Monroe.


I note that the first bottle-blonde Chinese, from Hong Kong, are now appearing on the English scene. There will soon be hundreds of millions in Asia, as the unslakable male appetite for blondes marches across the continents. And once we contrive to manipulate genetics to the point where blond babies at will are possible, globalisation will follow. Far from that Finnish girl of 2202 being the last, she will be lost in a blond mist of beauties and beasties.

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Previously:

03/08/06: Kindly write on only one side of the paper
02/28/06: Creators versus critics
02/21/06: The Rhino Principle

© 2006, Paul Johnson

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