Category: Entertainment

It’s only Bunty but I like it…

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Can you name the ladies above? Can you name the comic they appeared in? I certainly can as I read it voraciously as a girl. As did many girls before me. Bunty comic was first published in 1958 and ran until 2001. It featured lots of serial comic strip stories – tales of servant girls in Victorian Britain, jolly japes at private school with the Four Marys (There you go – did you guess it?) and brave alpine vets to name but a few. It also had it’s own annual produced every Christmas

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I fancy the stories then were very wholesome – although they did appeal to the feminist in me. In Famous Five books Anne and George always seemed to get left behind at the denouement when the boys headed off to confront the art thieves in the castle basement. In Bunty the girls were the heroines of the day – they saved goats from mountain ravines, fought local councils to save that oak tree in the school grounds or worked through the night to perfect their routine and show that injured, bitter gymnastics mistress what they were really made of. They made me believe girls could have adventures too. They showed me that you could fight the system and win and that, well, sometimes it took a really, really, ridiculously good female vet to figure out how to move an angry hippo from one zoo enclosure to another…

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Of course Bunty went through changes trying to keep up with the times. The magazines got bigger, glossier and even Bunty herself changed her style. I still read it but it wasn’t the same and once the Four Marys had had a makeover and were eventually axed I conceded it was time to move on. With their competitors Just Seventeen and Mizz having columns like ‘Position of the Fortnight’ and problem pages full of girls not sure ‘how’ to kiss, Bunty was looking more and more like the Maiden Aunt with the twinset and pearls.  I think a snigger from a classmate finally made me put down my Bunty and ask for a different magazine. Shame on me…

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My Mum read Bunty, I think my sister read it for a bit, I still have some annuals and I will pass those on to my children to read. Goodness knows what they’ll make of the ballet school stories and the governess adventure stories but I hope they’ll find them as charming and uplifting as I did.

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It is with a yearning to show that grouchy ballet mistress I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!

It’s only ‘Back in time for Dinner’ but I like it…

I’m doing this post a day early because I want to share something with you before it’s too late. I had a call from my Mum a few weeks back. On answering she merely yelled “Put BBC 2 on!” And hung up.

This is something we do in my family. It is perfectly normal to bring a TV or radio programme to someone’s attention by yelling “Put ITV on, now. NOW!” down the phone in the manner of the navy clearing an area due to a nuclear waste leak. As kids, if someone’s favourite song was on the radio we’d run at said person, brandishing the radio like a weapon.

Anyway, this odd but endearing trait paid off this time as, when I figured out what was on BBC 2 at that time, I was actually quite intrigued.

Let me introduce you to ‘Back in Time for Dinner’:

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The premise is that the Robshaw family have their homes, clothes and diets transformed into those of a different decade. They begin in the 1950s and it is actually quite a shock to see their very basic kitchen – no fridge, washing machine, even toaster. We watch them munch on  basic and bland post war rationing meals. The rather rough whole meal ‘national loaf’ being the apotheosis of the grimness.

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After 10 days the family enter a new decade and the transformation from the 50s to the 60s was quite a shock. The Robshaws take each new indignity with good humour and, to soften each blow, they do get a few encounters with celebs. Mary Berry sells them their first gas oven (is there no end to her talents?) and one of the Hairy Bikers helps Mrs Robshaw to make some really rank-looking gelatine dishes.

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They are good sports this family – even the children show willing and there are some fun moments – especially when things go wrong. Spotting the fashions is fun, I love it each time they make changes to the house decor and even some of the foods and recipes are interesting.

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Grab your shopping basket and head over to iPlayer. You won’t be disappointed…

It is with a desire for a pea and gelatine side dish I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!

It’s only Joan Holloway but I like it…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that anyone who has watched Mad Men must have a little crush on Joan Holloway. Except for me. I have a HUGE crush on Joan.

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I love the whole Mad Men phenomenon, I really do. I do remember finding the first series a little slow and difficult to get into, I frequently scream at the screen when I see the chauvinism and double standards many of the male characters display, but all of this is part of what Mad Men is. I don’t even need to mention the fantastic 50s and 60s sets and clothing. I once invented a drinking game where you have to drink every time you see a dress you’d love to wear. I’ve never played it. I’d be dead.

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Joan is the Office Manager at the advertising agency which is at the centre of the TV series. She manages the day to day running of the office and is something of a mother hen to the many secretaries who work there. If by mother hen you mean a bitofabitch. Which I do. She is a strong sassy character who is efficient and does her job well. She also has the best breasts in the office. Or in any office I suspect. Without a doubt. Not least due to this fact, she is sleeping with her boss, an activity that continues until he has a heart attack and thinks better of it. Well, for a bit anyway.

In season 2 Joan gets married and you can see she is torn between enjoying her job and not wanting to give it up, fearful she will become a bored housewife. It must been a dilemma for many women in those days. Not anymore, we are expected to juggle both. As the seasons roll by Joan’s marriage falls apart and she becomes a single mother. She takes on more and more responsibility at work and proves herself to be more than capable.

So why style icon? Well Joan is a strong woman. And I think women like strong women. Well, I do anyway. We have needed them at multiple points in the past and we still need them now. She works hard to play a difficult game in a world which, as a woman, she has little power. The female characters in this world are expected to prove themselves and be grateful for every opportunity that is thrown their way. She can give as good as she gets, she can be warm and she always. looks. amazing.

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Comments on her clothes are many and varied but I will share my two favourites: Roger Stirling ( her boss) teases her about a man who has the hots for her, stating: “he was all over you that time you wore the red dress, the one with the bow on the back, that makes you look like a present, could you wear it?”

I also love that fact that she spends most of her time swanning around the office with a little gold pen on a chain around her neck nestling suggestively in her décolletage. No biros for Joan! A colleague comments: “She even wore a pen around her neck so people would stare at her tits.”

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Joan’s clothes are great and she does use her sexuality to help her get on. I’m hoping that’s not what women have to do now – I certainly haven’t, but then I’m not as well dressed as Joan and I’m in a different business! Most of her outfits would not be deemed appropriate for the classroom.

She knows how to dress according to her curves and the effect is devastating. The camera loves her and I swoon almost every time she is in shot. Christina Hendricks plays her superbly, and her character is not one-dimensional. She is a girl: she has guts, she is brave and strong, she messes up, she makes questionable decisions about the men in her life, she is kind and all of this adds up, for me, to make her an icon. Go and watch it, go and read about her, there is a lot written about her character which is much more succinct than I could ever hope to be.

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I salute you, Joan.

It is with a huge crush I say:
It’s only vintage but I like it.

It’s only The Box of Delights but I like it…

We needed a stimulus for some independent writing at school this week. We wanted to show the children the beginning of a story and then let them continue it in any direction they chose. I’d done this before using The Polar Express movie, but, because most of them had seen that, I just ended up with 28 identical stories that were all the plot of the film! I racked my brains and something made me think of The Box of Delights, a story by John Masefield, that was beautifully dramatised by the BBC in the mid eighties.

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I looked up the transmission dates and I was only 4 (nearly 5) years old when it was shown and yet I remember parts of it so clearly. It captured me completely and one of my work colleagues – who is the same age as me – felt exactly the same. When we looked it up on youtube, just the opening titles gave me a strange excited butterflies-in-my-tummy feeling!

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The book was first published in 1935 and the evocation of the period is lovely, as you might imagine from the BBC. My students noticed clothes, steam trains and old fashioned luggage to name but a few things.

The story centres on Kay Harker who is just home from boarding school for the Christmas holidays and runs into a few eccentric characters on his journey. He becomes embroiled in a plot to steal a magic box. Patrick Troughton gives a memorable and perfectly pitched performance as Cole Hawlings. I love the theme tune which sounds like it’s played on a music box. The series is creepy in parts and quite odd, I remember finding certain scenes and characters quite frightening when I first saw it, but there is something beautiful and warm about it at the same time. The children loved the first 20 minutes that we watched today and I have promised them more in the next few weeks… It definitely stands the test of time and when I get my DVDs out of storage (or Tat’s Mum’s garage to give it it’s proper name!) I will definitely be rewatching it.

It’s a little vintage treat to tickle your fancy in the run up to Christmas – give it a go!

It is with a sense of deep nostalgia I say:
It’s only vintage but I like it!

It’s only Mrs. Miniver but I like it…

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A little while ago I decided I should watch some 1940s films to get a feel for 40s fashions and see if it inspired me. I grew up watching lots of old films and as such, I don’t find them as slow or stilted as I have heard them described by many. Having a look at lists of most popular 40s films I saw the name Mrs Miniver cropping up lots. This brought back memories of watching this one Wintry afternoon as a child. I did watch a lot of war films as a child! My Dad, being a child of the 50s, must have been brought up on them I think, and he shared them with us. I liked  Miniver when I first saw it and I must say, I enjoyed this time around too.

It is not without its twee moments, surely, but I find these endearing. Dr P and I still quote over dramatic moments from Brief Encounter which we watched multiple times last summer preceding a visit to Carnforth Railway station where parts of it were filmed.

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It was nice to see a familiar face in the form of Henry Travers who you may recognise from his role as Clarence, the bumbling guardian angel in It’s a Wonderful Life.

The film centre around The Miniver family. Pre-war, Mrs Miniver has little to think of except flamboyant hats and trips to town, which she recovers from afterwards, lying on her bed with stockinged feet and chatting on the telephone. When the war hits the family is effected in many ways and this is what we focus on. Mrs Miniver’s son sees active service, her husband helps the Home Guard and she herself has a close encounter with a German.

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There’s a lot of jolly-hockey-sticks nonsense but on the whole the films shows the hardship and loss that must have been all so common a tale during the war. I even had a few teary moments, especially the final scene, when the community gather in a bombed out Church to worship together.

I didn’t pick up many fashion tips, but I came away with a bit of a crush on Mrs M. She always knows what to do. And she has a cracking line in hats…

it is with a massive case of hat envy I say:

its only vintage but I like it!