So it’s the girls annual Christmas do. Basil, Parmesan and yogurt soda bread made, guacamole made, presents wrapped and time to decide what to wear!
Would I the Denim or new carwinley dress from White Stuff in a horse and woodland print. The latter won.
Dreamy sweets and chocolates by Sue, Jackie, Zena and Chris
It’s been the year of the selfy, so here go mine!
And then Chris deserved one on her own!
Oh and here’s Helen’s “you can kiss or have ? but you can’t do both” moves!
It was a sad start to the year with the loss of a close family friend. A funeral in January reminded me very vividly of the loss of my dear mum 15 years earlier at the same time of year and of how quickly the years pass by. But January also had us negotiating the purchase of our little house in France.
In February Bella turned one.
And when the Easter holidays came we were en vacance to France to seal the deal at the notaires and become the proud owners of our own little house in France. And it didn’t disappoint, which was one of my worries as we had only seen it once back in October 2011.
In April my god mother sadly passed away, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. She was a lovely lady and this meant another funeral. It was a beautiful sunny day and was a real trip down memory lane at the wake afterwards. Lots of pictures from my old home town and childhood days.
It was Cal’s last year at primary school and so there was an outdoor activity week in February and then SATs in May and then Cal and Hubby went for a few days to France while I was marking. The weather was not so good and it was clear that there can be stormy weather too.
When the summer school term ended it was straight off to WOMAD.
Then back for a few days and then down to London for the Olympics. Such a buzz and an event I’m so glad we didn’t miss.
Once back home Cal turned 11 and there were a few days to recuperate and then it was off to France again. This time in 40 degree heat, so it took some getting used to.
It was also the year that I tasted fresh figs for the first time!
Then in september it was Cal’s first day at secondary school.
Then half term saw us back to France again. Not as warm this time though. Once back to Blightly I was doing my amateur dramatics thing in 3 episodes of Fawlty Towers. A quiet Christmas day with all the family over on the Thursday afterwards. Then new years eve at my good friend Es.
It was also the year that Cal did snow boarding, fencing and started playing table tennis. What a busy boy!
And so that was 2012. Looking forward to an even better 2013. Happy New Year. X
So it’s off to London with my old teaching buddy this weekend. Always love a trip to the smoke and this time staying with a relative of mine in Caterham. So boarded the train in Leeds only to be delayed at Retford for an hour. Reading this book at the moment, set in France just around the corner from where we are, so am finding it very interesting.
Made London by 1.30 and did the usual walk up from KC passed Euston Stn onto TCR. Popped into Heals. We were lured in by some sales of mulled wine syrup at 20% off. So it was up to the toilets and cafe. Very unimpressed 3 toilets very poorly appointed and a cafe where the food was on display uncovered for all and sundry to cough and spray spit over. Needless to say we left. Discounted several other sandwich shops to end up having a salad from M&S. Together with pure pomegranate juice. It was lovely. Got our tickets for Thriller on Saturday evening.
Then to the national portrait gallery to see the Marilyn Monroe exhibition of photos. She really didn’t have a bad side. Would have had a tea there if it wasn’t for the flies on the food yuk! Meal at an Italian in the evening. Meat esters liked their chicken with sundried tomatoes. Bed and very tired but writing this before sleep takes over. Woke early as usual. At home 7am would normally be dog walking time, just can’t shake the habit for waking early.
Took us a while to get going and quite a long journey into London. F was good to take us down to the station. Not sure if we will walk back at 11 tonight after the show. And we don’t.
We get to Ladbrook Grove and come across Jamie Oliver’s Recipease.
Well his toilets were a Crapper but the service was crapper still. We waited over 15 minutes for a cup of tea while the waitress fiddled about drying cups. Complained and were told the drinks were on the house. Made our way to Portibello Road passing a very full vintage jewellery shop on the way.
Had some Bakelite bangles just like the Mississippi mud ones I was wearing.
Portobllo was disappointing but we agreed that this was probably because we were very very cold. Finally made it to the West End via foot and bus. I was no help at all and seemed to take us in every wrong direction possible. Tea at Pizza Express. Every where else full. Then to the Lyric.
Thriller was brilliant. Fantastic singers and dancers, their energy and talent amazing. Had all the audience on their feet dancing . This show is a chronological trip through MJ’s musical career. Would love to take Cal to see it. MJ rules OK!
F made breakfast for us then took us to Purley station to catch train into London. We are going to meet J’s son at Waterloo for lunch. Lovely lunch at gastro pub south of the thames. I had a chick pea dish with aubergines, squash and onions. Couldn’t eat a pud. Then we were dropped off at the bottom of old bond street where we walked through a Christmas decorated arcade onto new bond street and then onto Oxford street.
Super Christmas street decorations.
F had a really eclectic style in her home and I asked if I could take some shots for this blog.
F is an artist too and this is one of her pieces. One of my favourites and just the sort of painting I have wanted for home.
It also brought a lump to my throat to see one of my mums paintings on her wall.
Also recommended a must see French film Untouchable about a quadriplegic millionaire and his immigrant carer.
For me the BLJ occupies a really special place in my psyche. It represents the rebel within that I cannot quite fully release. It takes me right back to my teenage years and the music I loved, punk rock. Anyone who wore a leather jacket could look cool. Well perhaps not anyone. For example, Brad Pitt is struggling here.
And these guys used to look cool but whatever happened to them?
It reminds me of all those strong female musicians of the last Century, like Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders)
Joan Jet from the Runnaways,
And Suzie Quatro, who had her first number 1 in 1973 with Can the Can.
And all the really cool boys wore them too. The bands, the rock artists all looked so cool in their BLJs. It represents strength, and although they are all much the same, there is something individual about a BLJ.
On the face of it, they are similar in style, but they mould to the body of their wearer and can be customised in either ostentatious or very minimal ways.
A man in a BLJ is way too cool for school and a woman in a BLJ can take on the world and not just this one.
I remember searching the markets of Camden for my first leather jacket, it had to be perfect and then I found it in the Freeman’s catalogue (anyone remember these) in the days before the Internet. It was tiny and made of really soft black leather with all the right details and I loved it. Then I loaned it to a friend and it got stolen. My next BLJ had an eighties style to it as did the next one, which was thick and heavy and way oversized, as worn in those days. Then more recently I purchased another BLJ very similar to my first one. It must have been out of the wardrobe all of 3 times. It is quite simply a crime and must be rectified as soon as this blog is complete.
There is no doubt that the BLJ is a cultural icon. Historically it hails from across the pond. Favoured by US police for its waterproof and protective qualities.
It became the ultimate symbol of cool in the 50’s being worn by the likes of Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” a 1953 outlaw biker film, directed by Laszlow Benedek and produced by Stanley Kramer. Brando played the iconic gang leader Johnny Strabler.
James Dean confirmed its coolness in Rebel Without a Cause, a 1955 American film about emotionally confused middle class teenagers, directed by Nicholas Ray.
And later it became the uniform of bikers and Hells Angels.
It was cool way back in the day, worn by style icons like Nancy Cunard and her Barbaric look ivory African bangles.
Lady Ga Ga.
When the TV shows and films of the 70’s and 80’s depicted life in the 50’s and 60’s, they used the BLJ, The T-Birds in ‘Grease’ and
The Fonze in ‘Happy days’ are examples of this.
The BLJ was the subject of a book published in 1985 and written by Mick Farren, chronicling its history over a seventy year period up to the mid 1980s. “The black leather jacket has always been the uniform of the bad.” He sites Hitler’s Gestapo, the Black Panthers, punk rockers and the Hell’s Angels.
And we all remember Arnold Schwarzernegger in The Terminator, when he steels the biker’s outfit from the Hell’s Angels in the cafe bar at the beginning of the film.
The BLJ is clearly an icon of the cool but sometimes I would like to think it all started with a cold female biker back in 1949.
I woke up this morning and thought time to write a new blog. We are in France at the moment, the weather is wonderfully hot at least over 35 degrees and my mind turned to bakelite once again (and why not?). Well I am still bemoaning the fact that I had declined to purchase the most gorgeous little bakelite Box Brownie camera in a leather case from a vide grenier for 5€. But worry not, as this is not another blog about bakelite and not even about people who collect bakelite, as I have previously touched upon Andy Warhol’s penchant for collecting carved bakelite bangles. He also collected cookie jars and had over 175 when he died.
No! I am thinking about when items are gathered together in a collection they always seem to me to be more than the sum of their individual parts and have a significance and beauty all of their own. I am not really considering the psychological reasons why people collect or the very different and wacky things that are collected. Rather than be too Freudian here I like to think that people collect either for fun, to rekindle childhood memories of perhaps toys played with in the past; or for investment, because a collection may be worth something in the future; or for a sense of achievement because it could be fulfilling to complete a collection; or a collection may demonstrate a sense of identity and individualism. Collecting is what we humans do, and it is and has been an essential tool for the historian and anthropologist. If humans didn’t collect then we wouldn’t have the wonderful contents of many of our museums today. And for me, collecting isn’t just having a couple of items that are similar or the same, it is having that particular amount that makes it into a collection. Considering the “odd number rule” I would say it’s got to be a minimum of three items. Anyway having done a little research courtesy of the web I realised that people collect the most weird and sometimes horrible things. From celebrity hair, to tattoos, to used toothbrushes. For those with a nervous disposition or weak of stomach, and that includes me, I shan’t be venturing into this area of collecting. See what you think of the following collections and do let me know what you collect, if anything. (Images mostly courtesy of Pinterest).
If you want to read more on the subject of collecting then check out Marjorie Akin an anthropologist from the University of California, who has written an essay, “Passionate Possession: The Formation of Private Collections,”
Friday – Peatbog Fairies Scottish band on the main stage – lively Scottish jig tunes to a pounding beat. Violins and bag pipes with a disco beat.
Then Jimmy Cliff on main stage, reggae rocks.
Saturday – Correspondence British scat band. Lovely and sunny good vibes and beat. Bit too much base and in need of a sangria. New age ska and manic dancing by lead singer. From here looks like Adam Ant. Fear and delight all the way through the night. Then dub step. Just gave my review to the Guardian newspaper.
Later in evening there was a ska band ska cubana. Really good feel good ska and they are right anyone can dance to them. Even me!
Sunday – Pine Leaf Boys from Louisiana. Blue grass stomping sounds. Then Aussie punk with a hint of Latin.
All these images I hope show why festivals are such fun. Music and much, much more. Hope to do it all again next year.