Sunday, 29 August 2010

Dig for Victory: the photos

Some photos my husband took at DfV. Enjoy!

Oh no! Incendiary bomb!

We were bemused when someone asked to borrow my husband's lighter for the 'incendiary bomb'. Suddenly an air-raid siren went off and everyone rushed outside, where we discovered what the bomb was. As you can see, it's landed in the victory garden. What's to be done?...

Happily the Land Girls were on hand with a manual pump to put the thing out.

The ladies in the home front tent were happy to chat about knitting. They had some really tempting-looking patterns, too - and I've been desperately trying to resist bulk ordering yarn ever since as I now have a yen for my own 1940s-style jumper. They've certainly made me determined to dress the part if I go to another event like this.

Knitters are always brilliant people to be around, and I discovered the same was true about the re-enactors at DfV. It's great that people with a genuine passion for something are so happy to share it.

To quote lolcats, WANT. There's not much more tempting to me than vintage knitting/sewing paraphernalia. Possibly film magazines, but I'm not 100% sure. Patterns or film magazines, patterns or film magazines?... it's a tough call.

I'm not really into military vehicles, but marvelled at the love and care that has gone in to keeping the ones on show in working order. And as this is a British event THERE MUST BE TEA.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Made it after all!

Well, I made it to Dig For Victory after all. It was a much smaller event than I'd anticipated, although there was a dance in Melksham yesterday evening and I suspect Saturday would have been the busier day. I didn't dress up; I've been too poorly to look at doing things properly.

We had a quick wander around the military displays, then sat and had a cup of tea in the home front tent, where there was (recorded) music playing. A couple came and danced for a bit on the dance floor, and then Mr Robot was asked to lend his light to light the 'incendiary bomb'! This was a smoking thing in the middle of a little Dig for Victory garden. Cue the ladies from the Land Army display, and one who I think may have been 'French Resistance', getting out the buckets and hand pump to douse it, after which a gentleman had a few goes at picking it up with the appropriate hardware before giving in and pitching it manually into a bucket.

I had a brief chat with a chap about why people do 1940s recreation as Germans - the ones at DfV got into it from collecting other stuff. It's good to see other nations recreated, whatever side they were on, because it's important to remember that wars involve real people, not faceless 'things'. I'd love to see a wider selection of Allied forces. We have a large Polish community in this part of the UK; it would be super if a bunch recreated one of the Polish air squadrons. It would also be fab to see the Commonwealth side of things represented. I guess that's for people to decide for themselves to do.

The ladies knitting in the home front tent were happy to chat to me about vintage knitting - like me, they love the book of resized vintage patterns, A Stitch in Time. I was tempted to ask for a riffle through their patterns, but decided against it, instead nattering about resizing, appropriate yarns, and the joys of getting patterns from car boot sales.

There were a few stalls, but we only bought one thing: a 1952 medium-format camera in a really adorable brown leather case. It needs repairing as the shutter won't open, but Mr Robot has an uncle who can keep a 1930s car roadworthy so we reckon he'll be able to give sound advice on repairing it. We bought a (modern) photo developing set up a few weeks back, and Mr Robot's wanted a medium-format camera for some time, so we'll have great fun with the whole lot eventually.

I'll put up a link to some photos, or post some here, once they've been sorted through.

Saturday, 21 August 2010


Well, you won't be getting a report on Dig For Victory from me (I keep mistyping that 'Dog for Victory', which is something I have no wish to contemplate!) I've been ill since Thursday - some sort of vomiting bug - and don't feel up to walking around. On the plus side, I may get into that dress sooner than I expected as I'm living on hot water and yoghurt...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Lady of Burlesque (DVD)

Based on a novel, The G-String Murders, by Gypsy Rose Lee, Lady of Burlesque stars Barbara Stanwyck as Dixie Daisy, a burlesque artiste who becomes a suspect when two of her co-stars are killed.

Nowadays viewers seem to expect their thrillers to deliver a corpse in the first five minutes with more following at regular intervals. Lady of Burlesque won’t give you that. Instead, as in the thriller novels of the era, there’s a slow build up, allowing you to see all the possible suspects, and very little gore or forensic science. To be honest, the film is as much about Dixie Daisy as it is about the murders. Stanwyck’s Daisy is hard-boiled yet good-humoured, keeping her head even as fellow performers are found strangled, G-strings around their necks. The performance isn’t especially risqué, but it does hint at the real stage shows that inspired the story, especially Daisy’s signature song ‘Play it on the G-string’.

My favourite of the other characters is Alice Angel, a lovely dumb blonde played by Marion Martin, who was actually a very well-bred young lady who took to the stage after the Wall Street Crash wiped out the family bank account. Daisy’s rivals, pretentious opera singer Lolita La Verne and fellow stripper Princess Nirvena are both satisfyingly annoying: if sweet Alice Angel had been caught by the strangler, the film would have been a much sadder, darker one. (I am not suggesting that in reality some people deserve to be killed; this is a film and the less-likeable characters are the ones to get murdered. Fiction.)

I really like this film, although I’m not sure why. As a thriller it’s not particularly thrilling and the stage acts are rather tame. There’s just something about it I enjoy.

If ever there was a film that deserved to be made into a stage show, this is it: one for a small-scale venue, with a real burlesque artiste playing Dixie. It could easily be reduced to three sets: ladies’ dressing room (including roof), backstage and stage, and if need be the lights or curtains could come down for a quick chorus number between scenery shifts. Fingers crossed that someone will do it one day, eh?

Note on source of DVD: this was a birthday gift from my husband, so it’s all been fully paid for. I suspect he got it from Duck, Son and Pinker in Bath, possibly my favourite shop in the whole world. Don’t be fooled by the website; at the front of the shop there’s a wonderful selection of vintage music CDs and old film and television on DVD. I never walk out of there empty handed!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Buy a bit of Mad Men style

I haven't seen Mad Men, I must confess, I'm just addicted to reading Tom and Lorenzo's analyses of the clothes on the programme on their blog, Project Rungay. Anyway, British Vogue has run a news story on the Mad Men eBay auction in aid of a Californian charity. There's a lot of furniture up for grabs, although that's not really the sort of thing that interests me – if I had to have office furniture, it would have to be 1930s streamline. However, there is a trio of dresses, one each for Joan, Betty and Bobbie Barrett. Unsurprisingly Joan's is currently the one with the highest price.

Reading these analyses has sent me off on a bit of a 1960s tangent. I'm not so fond of a lot of the more casual clothing, but I do love the early 1960s evening dresses and suits, and the flowerpot hats. Still, my heart is still somewhere around 1932...

Saturday, 14 August 2010

To dress up, or not to dress up?

I'm planning to go to Dig For Victory at Lacock next weekend. I'm not so into the war recreation side of things, but I love the music of the era and just want to sit and listen to a band for a bit. Now, I've already made the error of ordering a Mary dress that's exactly the same size as my body and therefore a tad too tight to look good. I really don't think I can wear Mary. I have a 1940s-feeling dress, albeit a modern one, with a bib front, all in chocolate brown with tan pindots, and I'm toying with wearing with that instead.

Here's my dilemma: I'm not a proper vintage fan. I read and watch lots of vintage stuff, I have a keen interest in clothes, and I've been wearing bits of vintage clothing for years (my wedding dress was a late 30s ivory silk evening gown). Now my knitting skills have reached a level where I can create the things I want for myself my wardrobe will probably look much more vintage. BUT I don't do it full-on, all the time and you're more likely to find me in a black shift dress than anything else. I don't know if it's okay to go to an event like this that nods at a time period but isn't an original or even a full-on recreation. Is it better simply to go in something modern? They do have hints on the Dig For Victory site about getting the look, and my brown dress is very like a 1940s tea dress. I guess I'll have to hunt out a pair of gloves, knit myself a 40s-style hat and hope everyone is kind. In truth, most people are.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Swag [books]

I love my local Oxfam bookshop. Okay, it can be pricy, but I found a real treasure there today: Modern Decorative Art by Maurice S. R. Adams from 1930. Maurice Adams were decorators, furnishers, architects… a firm people with money went to when doing up their home. This book is a guide to furnishing one's home in a style that was modern in 1930, and while almost all the photographs are of things made by Adams' own firm and money is not a consideration, it's an interesting volume nonetheless. To start with, while the furniture is streamlined it bridges a gap between the more ornate art deco of the 1920s and the moderne style of the later 1930s – possibly because this is not machine-made, and customers buying this sort of furniture would not consider mass production desirable. There's almost a 'smoothed-our Regency' look to some of it.

Someone has left a page from a newspaper or old furniture catalogue in the book; it's stamped '1936' and is clearly aimed at people of a lower social class than the book (probably still rather wealthier than my own family was, I must say). Some things look much more typically 1930s, in particular the upholstered settees and chairs with thrusting, curved arms like the wheel arches on a 1930s car. Others still show hints at past ages; just as the 18th-century ancestry of Adams' furniture shows, so there are tables with twisted 'barley sugar' legs and sideboards with Chippendale-style animal feet. People were modern… but very few went completely modern! A touch of something familiar in our homes is human nature, perhaps.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

New dress!

Being a bit of a fat robot, it's hard to find vintage clothes that I like and that fit me. I can find things that are one, find things that are the other, but getting both in one outfit is tough. I started reading Fleur de Guerre's blog 'Diary of a Vintage Girl' around a couple of months ago, and decided to investigate some of the firms she'd linked to. One was Heyday, and they were selling the 'Mary' dress. Mary is a versatile lass, she comes in black and brown and red and pink and floral, but she also comes in my favourite sort of green. Do you know the green pottery from the 1920s-40s? A bit chunky, a little art deco? I don't know the proper term for it, but I've been hankering after a vase in that glaze for years. (I really should buy one.) That's the sort of green this dress is.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Bradbury and Bradbury wallpapers

I've been in love with Bradbury and Bradbury's repro wallpapers ever since I first saw them, although the chances of me ever having either the money to buy some or a house that will do them justice are pretty slim.

As my personal tastes lean towards stylised looks, the art deco and 1950s atomic styles are my favourites. The 'Atomic Doodle' reminds me of the wallpaper in my husband's Professor's office when he was at university - it was only 15 or so years ago, but I suspect that wallpaper really had been up since the 1950s! My absolute favourites are 'Volute' and 'Mirage' from the 1920s/1930s designs, however. They're so intricate and elegant. I could just sit and trace the graceful lines with my eyes all day!

Note: I am in no way affiliated with Bradbury and Bradbury, nor am I making any money from this post. I just like the papers.