Friday, 31 March 2017

Not with a bang, but a whimper

A tabby cat trying to steal dan dan noodles
Not for cats!
My local butcher is closing. You have no idea how upset that makes me. Happily, it was an odd, outlying branch – the main shop is in Devizes – and the staff have been given work at the main shop, but I'm still really unhappy. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Things that are making me happy

Three midcentury handbags
The three I'm currently switching between - and I
didn't pay more than £6 for any of them!
I was going to come on here and grumble – summer is coming, and with it my annual flail about being fat – but you know what? Grumbling's no good to anyone. It won't solve my problems (not unless I flail at aerobic levels for at least 30 minutes a day, at any rate) and it won't brighten your day. So, instead of that nonsense*, here are some things that are making me happy.

My handbags
Like perfume and most jewellery, handbags always fit. (Actually, my 1930s bride's book would probably disagree as it was very strict about larger ladies not carrying delicate bags, or petite ones carrying large bags, but never mind that.) I spent most of the winter toting my leather crossbody bag around out of sheer laziness, so it's been wonderful to get back into carrying my vintage boxy bags again. Switching cards, lipsticks, keys and so on in the morning can feel like a faff, but a nice and appropriate bag certainly brightens every day.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Professor Elemental and His Amazing Friends [music]

Hop-hop isn't my thing at all, so I'm still not sure why I like Professor Elemental. Perhaps it's because I've seen him live, in the company of steampunks, and he always puts on a fantastic show. Perhaps it's that the samples he uses are often from vintage music, little snippets of trumpet or clarinet or jazz piano, which echo the music I listen to normally enough to feel accessible. Perhaps it's his sense of fun, singing about animals and tea and the joy of simply being at home. Whatever. I like it. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Bright Young People [books]

It's taken me a while to finish reading this book charting the lives of the 1920s 'Bright Young People'. I don't know why; the 1920s as a decade fascinate me greatly, and the men and women who made up London's most newsworthy social set at that time in many ways exemplify what we think of when we imagine the period.

Possibly I didn't immediately get to grips with the book because on the whole I like stories, and the Bright Young People were more numerous than you usually encounter in stories featuring fictional characters, and real lives don't rarely have neat and tidy beginnings and endings. DJ Taylor gets round that by opening with the event that was possibly 'peak Bright Young People', the Bath and Bottle party thrown by Elizabeth Ponsonby, 'Babe' Plunkett Greene, Eddie Gathorne-Hardy and Brian Howard, held in a swimming pool with attendees in bathing suits. While the exact pattern of the rise of the BYPs might be debatable, and their lives after the early 1930s all move off in different directions, that party was unarguably one featuring all the central figures, with all the press attention and notoriety that characterised the group. Nonetheless, with so many people and places popping up, at first everything felt (to me) rather chaotic.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

RIP Chuck Berry

I was saddened to hear Chuck Berry had died. Admittedly, all the music of his that I listen to is from the 1950s and 1960s, but still, there's such joy in it. Chuck Berry's music is something I reckon everyone could do with now and again, even if they don't realise it.

Despite not being a teenager when he brought out his best-known records, there's still something about them that captures the happiness of being young, that time when you have less to care about yet somehow everything matters so much more. As I age, I simultaneously mourn the passing of youthful passion and drive, and am glad it's gone because if I had to care about work and my mortgage and the state of the world in the way I once got annoyed at people's perceptions of goths and not being able to find the right sort of boots, I'd be an emotional wreck. Chuck Berry seemed able to recapture that youthful drive in his music - listen to the utter frustration at not being able to make out with his girlfriend because of a broken seatbelt in 'No Particular Place To Go' and tell me that isn't the very essence of being a teenager right there.

So, don't rest in peace, Chuck Berry: wherever you are, I hope it's got guitars and diners and seatbelts that work properly. And your music is out there somewhere on the Voyager spacecraft, so wherever it is, it could well outlast our whole planet.

Friday, 17 March 2017

A day out around Wiltshire

16th-century houses in Devizes
16th-century houses in Devizes
We haven't been out much this week, having had DIY to do. However, as part of our ongoing (neverending!) work on the house, we really want a cabinet to go in the dining room to hold the plates and so on that we keep buying from charity shops. Having finally got rid of the 1950s Prestcold fridge, we decided to go to Chippenham to check out the two furniture chazzas there - one British Heart Foundation, and one Dorothy House (local hospice charity).

While both shops had some great stuff (if you're looking for a 30s-looking wardrobe or 1950s dressing table, Chippenham has what you need) neither had the sort of cabinet we were looking for. Our search is complicated by the fact that our dining room radiator doesn't leave much width, but we need the cabinet to be deep enough to hold plates. I found a lovely display cabinet that looked quite 1920s-30s to me (not deco, just of that time) in the BHF shop, but it simply didn't have the depth.

As we hadn't spent masses of time in Chippenham, we drove home via Devizes, thinking perhaps we needed to start looking in proper antique shops rather than in charity shops.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

New sofa and chair

Our lovely new sofa and chair got delivered from Old Boot on Monday. We'd been looking round for a sofa with very straight sides. Our living room is pretty small, and the current fashion is for sofas to have curved arms, but they take up too much room. When we saw this design, we knew it was exactly what we wanted.

The sofa is a hand-finished deep red, and the chair vintage tan. Why different colours? Well, the chair doesn't come in red, and anyhow we didn't want too much in the room all looking the same. (I know, me taking the non-matchy option. Who'd have expected that?)

Friday, 10 March 2017

Games outfit silliness

 Outfit posts aren't my strong point, probably because I wear the same things over and over and, to be honest, I'm not very confident about how I look right now. However, there's been lots of games-related tat ending up on the free stuff desk in the office this week, as we're refurbing and so all the magazines are having a clear-out. Next week we move up one floor to shiny newly-decorated offices, so all the tat must go. And because I've been feeling silly, I've been wearing it for Instagram photos.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017


Hear that sound? That hollow 'thunk' is me smacking my head at my own stupidity. Bianca did a great post recently about making accessory sets, so you've always got a go-to set of matching accessories when you need them. How had I never thought of doing this? I can't bear it when things don't match, yet in the past I've always tried matching everything to my dress. That sort of works, but I really come unstuck with separates, and always end up falling back on black because 'black goes with everything'. (It doesn't, it's just the least noticeable way of not going with things.)

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Legion: modern meets mod

David meets his sister Amy in Legion.Long-term readers of the Robot will know I love a bit of action, whether it's Edwardian tales of derring-do, 1960s spy-fi or modern comics movies. But I always try to keep things vintage for the blog, so you won't catch me waffling on about, say, Guardians of the Galaxy or Agents of Shield here. New Marvel series Legion has, however, left me in a bit of a quandary because it's not 60s – yet in a way, it is.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Birthday fun

It was my birthday on Sunday, and I had a splendid meal. We went to the Olive Tree in Bath and had an eight-course tasting menu. Eight courses sounds like a lot, but the portions are very small, so you're never overwhelmed with food. The menu we had was virtually the same as the sample one on the website, except that there was rose veal instead of the beef, and lemon instead of the rhubarb. I'm not a big fish eater, but I think the two fish dishes - crab lasagne with basil, and brill with cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms and dashi - were my favourites.The romesco cauliflower was ever so slightly charred, which added interest to the flavour.