Sunday, 28 June 2015

Re-enactors at Armed Forces Day

I thought I'd share a few snaps from the re-enactment/history side of things at this year's Armed Forces Day celebrations in Trowbridge. We've got a lot of 1940s re-enactment groups here in Wiltshire, and they always put on a good show. This year the event was due to have a more Air Force leaning, and one of the highlights of the re-enactment area was a Spitfire. During the war Spitfires were made in the town, so it's good to see one on show. I wonder how many of the elderly ladies wandering round had helped put planes like that together?

Thursday, 25 June 2015

RIP, Patrick Macnee

I was watching an episode of The Avengers tonight when I heard Patrick Macnee had died. I love The Avengers: it's one of those bonkers British midcentury series that you either adore or just don't get. Macnee played many roles, but John Steed is the one he will always be remembered for. Immaculately dressed, driving vintage cars and drinking champagne, he was in many ways an Edwardian, perfectly balanced by a succession of liberated, sparky and completely modern female agents. Rarely irritated and never ruffled, he faced the world with a raised eyebrow and a furled umbrella.

You could say that the gentleman adventurer-spy is something of a British archetype, going back to W Somerset Maugham's fictional character Ashenden, John Buchan's Richard Hannay, and even Leslie Charteris' Simon Templar. No-one does private eyes like the Americans, and no-one does gentleman spies like the British. Steed joins that lineup of suave, moneyed adventurers, and influenced similar ones in popular culture afterwards: if Harry Hart, Colin Firth's character in Kingsman: The Secret Service, wasn't a nod in Steed's direction I'd be very much surprised, especially given the Kingsmen's use of umbrellas.

It's saddening to say goodbye to Patrick Macnee so soon after Christopher Lee - and Macnee did twice play Watson to Lee's Holmes. Here's hoping no more of that era's best-loved actors pass away any time soon...

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Crinoline Robot's vintage bimblings

I haven't done many big things in the past couple of weeks, but I've been having a fun time bimbling around. I have finished all the knitting on my fair isle cardigan, which just leaves the making up to do. I don't detest sewing seams as much as many knitters, but there are SO MANY ends to weave in on the cardi that I admit I've been dragging my feet over it a little. I've started knitting a turban hat from a wartime pattern as a bit of light relief. Somehow watching telly doesn't seem half as lazy when I'm making something at the same time!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Lucky seven?

I wear this dress a lot, but I wear
the cardi so much more!
How many times do you wear your clothes before you give them away , sell or bin them? Every time I look at my clothing spreadsheet – started because I felt I was in a rut and wanted to see if I really was wearing the same things all the time, and continued now out of habit and because I might find it interesting to look back at in another decade or two – I wonder if it's not a bit odd. And it is a bit odd, but it has done the job I intended it to do, namely helped me analyse my wardrobe and get more wear out of things that would otherwise go neglected. Because of that, and because I love charity shopping, I was quite interested to see this report by Barnardos that says British women wear garments an average of seven times before getting rid of them.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Chart Toppers of the Thirties [CD]

Different eras seem to trend on the vintage scene – a few years back the 1940s seemed top of the heap, whereas nowadays there seems to be more 1950s to be seen at events, especially with a heavy pinup feel. The 1920s seems popular for themed events, but very few people do it every day, and the 1930s seem pretty neglected, which is a great shame as some fantastic films came out of that well-mannered era, and many of the clothing styles are very wearable still. The music, like the music of the 1920s, is possibly more difficult for modern people to engage with, when you step away from swing. Much of it is as smooth as a marcel wave, as elegant as Carole Lombard in a satin gown, and possibly equally as disconnected from current styles and tastes. Nowadays the place I imagine you're most likely to hear it is one of those 'vintage tea shop' places with mismatched china and embroidered tablecloths. Hmm. Like good embroidery and deco plates, it does have real style and doesn't deserved to be left in the bunting-draping hands of the incorrigibly twee.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

RIP, Christopher Lee

I know I'm not alone in being saddened by the death of Christopher Lee. (Melanie's already done a tribute over at The Folly Bird.) I think what I've found heartening is how many people have really good memories of him, and how many have favourite films - and how different those films and memories are. He seemed to deliver so much entertainment to so many people in so many ways.

I had a big crush on him in my teens, and Christopher Lee remained a favourite of mine to the end. I still have the photo I bought of him when I was at university (tn those pre-internet days, you could buy pictures of movie stars from special catalogues), plus a whole stack of videos.

Elegance is a rarity in men nowadays, but back in the Golden Age of Hammer, that little British studio had two incredibly elegant actors sharing the screen, Christopher Lee and another favourite of mine, and 2014's Bloofer Gent, Peter Cushing. Lee was the perfect choice for Dracula, tall and aristocratic yet able to convey a hint of threat... which would boil over. Some of my favourite films of his include Dracula 1972AD, The Wicker Man, Gremlins 2 (seriously, it's brilliant), The Man With the Golden Gun and all three Lord of the Rings films. Not sure whether to include Beat Girl on this list... oh, why not? The Last Unicorn, for which he provided a voice, makes me cry still.

In real life he'd been a Nazi hunter, and was in Special Forces in the Second World War (some of his work is still classified). He released his last heavy metal album last year. Frankly, if you told someone about Christopher Lee without naming him, they'd say you were making it up. And so farewell to the sinister sauceboat whose real-life exploits matched up to the unforgettable screen personae.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Time travelling In Retrospect

Toot toot! That is the sound of me blowing my own trumpet, because I have been told I should do it more often. Why am I blowing it? Because I have a feature on art deco travel destinations in the latest issue of In Retrospect magazine.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Vintage Nostalgia 2015 - my review

Vintage Nostalgia Show festivalgoers
There were some lovely dresses to be seen
This was the third year Mr Robot and I had gone camping at the Vintage Nostalgia show. It's interesting how much it's grown; in 2014 weekend camping tickets sold out fairly quickly, and this year they sold out waaaay in advance. I'm not surprised at that in some ways, as it's a small, friendly event in the beautiful Wylye valley in mid-Wiltshire.