Thursday, 30 August 2012

W./E ~ movie review

Madonna presents a passionate tale of the search for love and the meaning of happiness in W.E., a rich portrayal of two strong women resolved to find romance.

Caught in a loveless Manhattan marriage, abused and frustrated Wally (Abbie Cornish - Limitless, Bright Star) obsesses over Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough - Brighton Rock, Made in Dagenham), the stylish American divorcee who captured the heart of Edward VIII (James D'Arcy) who abdicated the throne as King of England. As the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis spends the rest of her life in the glare of celebrity exile. Inspired by the Duchess' determination to pursue love in the face of social exile, Wally escapes into the arms of another man (Oscar Isaac - Drive) whose love sets her free.


I will admit that I was very excited when the press releases came out for this film over a year ago. I  am new to the story of Wallis Simpson. No, not the image of a vilified harpie who ruined the Royal Family and, if you believe the opinion of The Queen Mother, lead to the early death of her beloved husband, Bertie.

The actual story. So, I was hopeful when sitting down to watch events unfold on screen. I knew that  it had received tepid reviews when it came out, but I like to make up my own mind.

Flitting between 1998 and the 1930's, with a quick glimpse at the 20's and the 70's, the movie skips back and forth, with the modern day character, "Wally" -  named after the lady herself - living her own life, whilst uncovering "memories" of Mrs Simpson's life through a series of objects that are coming up for auction.

There are comparrisons drawn between the two women and the lives they are living, and at times they speak to one another.

That may all sound a bit odd -  but I do understand the feeling director,Madonna, was trying to create. But for me it fell a little flat.

Although I liked the way in which Wallis Simpson's story is portrayed -  with a flawless performance from Andrea Riseborough, I wish that more time had been spent focussing on Wallis and had left Wally on the cutting room floor.

I just failed to connect with "Wally", her dying relationship with her husband and her interest in Mrs Simpson. I drifted off when she was on screen, despite Abbie Cornish giving her all. It was not the actor -  it was the lines. I just didn't see the point.

Which is a shame, as I am not doubting that there was huge passion for the subject not to mention a decent budget and talented actors.

The costume is amazing. I shall give it that. As is the believabilty of Riseborough in such a famous woman's very fashionable shoes. The acting ability of this woman know's no bounds. She really takes on a character and brings them to life. For me, anywho.

I guess I am left feeling that this was a huge opportunity missed to actually tell the story of Wallis Simpson -  in all its scandalous, stylish and saddening glory.

That said, it has made me want to know more about Wallis Simpson. Why I have not been drawn to her before is beyond my own comprehension. 

Then again, I now have it all to look forward to.


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Life's a Beach

I have not been to an actual sand, sun, surf beach for about 15 years. You know the type, where there are wind-breakers, castles made from soggy sand with shells & pebbles for decoration, the happy screams of young folk and the peaceful dozing of the old.

Enter the Hunstanton coast line in Norfolk and a very warm Tuesday.

The only time I have been to Norfolk was many, many moons ago on a boating holiday and the amusement arcade frontage of Gt. Yarmouth.

Hunstanton Beach was pretty much all sand. And the sea goes out for miles whilst leaving a wonderful shallow area to faff about in.

Due to it's ankle - waist depth  and the sun shine a-shining - the water was pretty warm. I wish I had known - I would have packed something waterproof and gone in proper. To hell with the hair do.

It even tempted the renowned wet-foot-phobic -  The Beard. He rolled up his jeans and protected his bonce with a trusty flat cap. Jokes were made about a knotted hanky. Oh, how we laughed.

The sea was so clear and bath-water warm that I ended up going out pretty far. Until my knickers were soaked by a rather large swell. Which made me feel like I had actually had some sort of downstairs accident.

But. I didn't care, in part because I saw a jelly fish! Puffing itself in and out it's only little prehistoic world. Unfortunatly, this little stinger did scare The Beard back to the  saftey of the shore. 


We then loafed about -  The Beard being one of the aforementioned old folk and having a doze, whilst I read and looked at the brilliant blue sky and adjusted my soggy arse sunwards to dry off.

And all too soon, it was time to head back through the dunes with their rough grasses and picturesque beach cabins, and off to a local pub.

I shall not be leaving it so long until I next visit a beautiful beach such as this. And I shall be taking my cosie. 

Wet underwear rocks not.

Monday, 20 August 2012

James Dean and the Labour of Love

Oh my. 
There are those ideas that take a lot longer to come to fruition than initially thought. 
This is one of them.

My beloved Aunty is a huge fan of James Dean. She has been as long as I can remember.

So, for her 40th birthday, I thought that I would stitch her a picture of him. In a lovely grey and purple colour scheme to compliment her decor.

What I was not banking on, was the fact that what you see before you is not the original one (that was black & white and I royally fluffed it) and that it took me, in all, a number of years to complete.

SEVEN years to be precise. So, I felt it only right to take a photo of the very last stitch.

To get to this stage, as her birthday approached, it took 3 solid days of stitching, followed by 3 solid nights of stitching. I am talking 6am to 2am.

There were moments of delirium, I shant lie.

But, I am nothing if unable to work well under pressure, and do you know what? 
(despite overshooting slightly there on the left. Such a waste of time)

And it was wrapped in 7  layers of paper and ribbon -  one for each year my Aunty should have received it.

(never again)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Once a Land Girl by Angela Huth ~ Review

Disasters, disappointments, dashed hopes ... Doesn't seem that easy, just to find a good man, love him and be loved back. But I shan't give up trying. The war is over, but life goes on for Land Girls Prue, Stella and Ag. While two of the girls are married, Prue, the incorrigible flirt, has no one and is engaged in a quest for a man to provide her with security and gold taps. A year after the girls leave Hallows Farm, Prue finds just such a man and a marriage that protects her from the hardships of post-war Manchester. But she still hankers for the life she so loved as a Land Girl, though it's hard to get work on the sort of farm that provided unimaginable happiness during the war. The lives of her two old friends, Stella and Ag, have moved on and neither visit her. Additionally Prue finds that her newly wedded state and fresh horizons fail to supply the answers she seeks. Yet, in the puzzling world beyond the fields, Prue, in her indomitable way, open as ever to each chance encounter, remains buoyant, optimistic and quite sure that the life she imagines is just round yet another corner.



I had by passed this book on many occasions in various charity shops, because I thought it was just a different title for the authors original book The Land Girls. I realise now that I am an idiot -  but perhaps I was being guided to ignore it on those shelves for a good reason.

Focusing on my favourite character, Prue, from the original novel, and her life after the war, I really loved this book at first. Everything was a bit glum and a bit desolate, but Prue and her hair bows were trying to make the best of it. I thought that this was a fairly accurate portrayal of how a lot of women who has been in service felt after WW2 -  "Well -  what do we do now?"

The other Land Girls, Ag and Stella have gone off and are living their lives, but Prue seems to be waiting to start hers. It is this journey that we follow her on.

And I wish I had not bothered. This book became a bit of a mill stone for me. I felt I had to finish it, out of loyalty to the original and my love of Prue. But, I feel that it was badly written, almost churned out by the author, possibly on account of the first one being such a success. Prue jumps from one lover to the next. It seems as though there is too much drama crammed into each chapter, and fairly rubbish drama at that. When in doubt of something more constructive to say -  Prue says "Cripes". A lot. Which bugged the beejesus out of me in the end and resulted in my launching the book behind the sofa - 2 chapters from the finish line.

Although this gets ok-ish reviews on various on line sites -  my opinion is to avoid. I have had to ward off it's potential to tarnish the original book for me and shall pretend to myself that I did, in fact, leave it on the charity shop bookshelf. 

Whereas I feel The Land Girls crosses over so that any one can read it, I feel like this one has been written very much for a little old lady audience.

A monumentally disappointed:-  

Saturday, 11 August 2012

In my 80's

I have made mention before and I shall make mention of it again. 

I wear dresses from the 1980's. 

I adore the 40's look. I really do. But I have not the breast size, hip ratio nor the bank account with which to maintain an authentic, bona fide 1940's clothing collection.

It just ain't gunna happen.

1980's dress & modern sandals

This does not bother me in the slightest. I do not feel that I do not belong, that I am not period enough or that how I dress is unacceptable in the eyes of others. Regretfully, this does not stop some sniping at others.

1980's jacket & dress -  modern brogues

Sadly, it seems to be a regular occurrence in retro world. Those who declare that others are not aesthetically pleasing. It's on forums, chat rooms, FaceBook. From mocking photos taken on the street and beamed out via Instagram, callous words from an event eagerly tweeted, snide remarks and whispers at meets or biting one liners on blogs.

Supermarket dress, modern shoes & belt, vintage hat, bag & gloves

And it does my head in. I find it an embarrassment to all those who dress with any retro persuasion and a wall to climb for those who want to take part, but don't own a Dior New Look piece or a 1920's dress that has seen more Charlston and Absinthe than you've had hot dinners.

1980's dress, modern brogues, belt & cardigan

Personally, from the virtual land of blogging to real life people weekenders -  I have not encountered snobbery aimed at me. At least not to my face. I love to meet people who have a like minded retro way of dressing -  be it on a day to day basis or not. Be it repro. Be it flares or flappers. Be it 1930's day-out-in-the-country-shooting-party-tweed or swooning-over-Little-Richard-T-Bird wannabe, tattooed to the hilt. 

If you are a genuine person - then you get my time and possibly a drink*

I just don't understand the mean spirited attitude and snobbery that occasionally rears it's ugly head.

1980's dress, jacket & jumper -  modern brogues

The majority of people I have met have been more than friendly and I have kept in contact with most. Despite my 80's frockery. As shocking as it may be to some in the fantasy land of perceived hierarchy, mixing your eras and looks is not a crime. Unless I didn't get the memo. And if I did, I think I would use it to light a smoke.

1980's dress, modern shoes & belt -  vintage hat

Authentic looks rock. They truly do. If you have the period clothes from the age -  fantastic! But, for me, it is the 40's style that is important, and what I chose it to be. I own dresses from the 50's to the modern day highstreet.  I use accessories and hair & make up to tie it together. But, the items that feed my closet the most are from the decade of my childhood. All of which I use to create my war time inspired look.

So what if someones clothing was made in a decade that is different to their chosen style? If you don't like it, if it doesn't float your boat -  that's dandy. Each to their own.

I think this retro/vintage thingymajig is about taking part, being friendly, creating a personal image.

Being yourself. Being nice.

*you have to enjoy a good dark rum. Or brandy. Or cider. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Cycling come Rain & Shine

Upon the Sunday before last, I was invited by my friend Lena of Vintage Guide to London to take part in a Vintage Style Cycle. With the bikes being provided by Tally Ho! Cycle Tours, how could I say no? It will be the closest I ever get to feeling like I own a Pashley bicycle. Trouble is, having now ridden one, I need - not want - NEED - one even more.

When I awoke, the weather was nice and sunny. When I came out of the shower, it was lashing it down. I checked my wardrobe for anything remotely practical for such indecisive weather, and came to the realisation that I own nothing of any practicality for cycling in the rain.

So, I might as well go all out in a dress. And a hat.

My cycling comrades did not let me down. They were all in their finery too.

I have not ridden a bike for well over 2 years. Since, in fact, I bought a 1960s ladies bike of purest, basketed, green. Which I rode home and is now sporting the flattest tyres in bikedom. And has been accessorized with various garments of washing. It's a great airer.

So, I was a tad nervous. Not only to be cycling, but to be cycling in London. With buses and cabbies who can be incredibly impatient - as I was to discover. I could have doffed by hat and batted my eyes, but an expletive and a hand gesture seemed like a language they would understand.

I need not have worried. Riding a bike is something that you truly never forget. The bike was sturdy, the pace was easy and the roads, for the most part, were empty. Unlike the sky -  which as we set off -  decided to offload some the water it was full of. To such an extent that we had to find shelter.

It was not conducive to cycling. At all.

But, not long after, the sun came out and off we went.

 The fact that the Women's Olympic cycle race was in full swing that day also, was not lost on me. Not that my gentle amble can be compared. The only similarities was the weather -  as you can see from the big dark frown that followed us and honked all over us. Again.

In all -  it was an awesome day out. I have never done anything like it before. I have never shouted "Good Morning Korea!!" for a film crew. I have never cycled in London. Nor have I painted my nails in 'Lympic colours or cycled whilst holding an umbrella.

If you would like to see a wee video of it - hop on over to here   - courtesy of Velo Vintage.

Can I do it all again please? Hold the rain.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

50 Years Gone ~ Not Forgotten

I don't think she ever shall be.  The word iconic is often used in relation to her and for many on the retro style road, she is an inspiration. From the curly blonde locks, the hourglass figure, the pouting lips to the well shaped eyebrows.

But, in truth, none of the Hollywood Monroe inspires me. 

The blonde sex bomb look she developed on the road to fame and maintained steadfastly for the rest of her life, is beautiful, but I have no real desire to emulate it. Nor could I carry it off. It is just not me.  The iconic images I first saw of her they may be, but they are not the images that have kept my attention. 

Those belong to photographer Andre de Dienes and were taken when Norma Jeane was transitioning into Marilyn Monroe. In these earlier shots, she has longer, darker, untamed hair. She is sexy and alluring, but not in a curve hugging silken dress kind of way. Her eyes are wide open, or creased through smiling & laughter. She asks you to come and play on the beach as opposed to take her to bed.

 When someone mentions Marilyn, it is this version of her that comes to mind for me. It shall never be the image that graces my TV screen from the whirr of the DVD player.  That shall be all blonde & whiggly,  ditsy & darling, seductive & sassy.

I like the fact that she is frozen like this, in her late teens and early twenties, on the cusp of fame. Before the script readings, the movie deals, the famous marriages, the even more famous love affairs, the barbiturates and that white dress.

I shall be remembering her today, in all her glory. From the beginnings in 1945 to the untimely end 50 years ago.

Marilyn Monroe -  1926 - 1962

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Ightham Mote

It was here, and now it has vanished again. For a brief time, the pavement outside in the south of the UK was not quite be hot enough cook eggs, steak tomatoes, which is a shame as I was planning a oeuf 'n' boeuf showdown, but it was nice while it lasted.

May it return soon. *shakes fist at sky*

On the only summery days of the, err, Summer, where the rain stopped for a whole week , The Beard and I visited National Trust property -  Ightham Mote

I fell in love with this place almost instantly. The Tudor-ness. The moat. Moats always catch my attention. Must be the Princess in me. Or the idea of being able to draw up the bridge against the world.

Not that Ightham Mote, a Grade I listed building which in part dates from the 1320's, had a drawbridge. But the love was still there.

What it does have, amongst many other things, is the only Grade I listed dog kennel. Anywhere. Ever. I know, right? Big enough for a St Bernard, or a small adult and later in it's life 2 Pekingese, I really rather liked how ornately decorated this hound house is.

And anywhere that has Victorian climbing roses gets my vote. 

And this was all before we had even gone in.

It was nice to be inside, because it was proper warm. It took a while for my eyes to get used to the darkness that comes with most National Trust places. Dark because they are old. Enter more love.

With over 70 rooms,I had not realised how vast Ightham Mote is. All of them are not open to the public, but the ones that are suffice. Like the kitchen with it's original electrical switches and the house safe. And those jars. Yeah -  I am wanting me some of them.

We wandered into the Crypt and I happened to pick up the guide book. I am sure pleased I did, as if reliably informed me that during WW2, a German pilot, who had bailed out of his damaged aeroplane and found by the local Home Guard, was held here overnight until the authorities could pick him up.

I wonder what he thought as he was hauled into this formidable looking abode.

As we trailed through the rest of the house, I found plenty of decorating inspiration. I am starting to wonder if I should invest in some nice sheets from the next Jumble Boogie I partake in. I am liking the idea of dark wood and a dais. We have been in our apartment for 5 years this month (FIVE YEARS OF LIVING WITH A BOOOOOOY!!!) and I am feeling the itch of re-decorating. Hmmm.

Upon some of the walls, behold! Wonderful hand painted wallpaper. Oh, it was glorious! And so very well preserved.

Anywhos -  after all this pondering and wondering, we headed to the self contained Chapel.

Which soon put all my trivial home-revamp thoughts to bed....

Now, I have seen these WWI original field crosses in photographs. But, being suddenly presented with one on the wall? Well -  it took all my strength not to touch such a piece of history - but the respectful part of me came to the fore and I just took some photos.

The former owner of Ightham Mote lost his son during the 3rd Battle of Ypres -  or Passchendaele as it is better known -  in July 1917. I found it incredibly poignant that, though he is buried in France, his original grave marker was sent home.

After this, we had a scout around the gift shop and headed off to the cafe where I shared my scone remnants with not only fearless baby birds, but also a small mouse who kept darting out of the railway sleeper flower bed.

I can't wait to go back. Gawd Bless National Trust membership!


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