Friday 31 May 2013

In Praise Of Hoarding

 It's a gorgeous day here but being the chaotic woman I am, after a quick trip into town to get my eyes tested and pick up a busted platform from the cobblers, I'm be spending the day indoors, sorting my stock for the two vintage fairs we'll be trading at this weekend.

That's one of my newly repaired shoes. The cobbler saw the state of the damage and asked if I was drunk when I did it, my reputation precedes me.

When I was rummaging through my collection of handbags to see if any could be sold I rediscovered my owl saddle bag so it got an outing. 

Grandpa as a young man, 1938; Outside the family home in Stone, Staffordshire, 1925; My Grandparents wedding day, 1940; First birthday in the family garden, 1914

Tuesday marked 100 years since the birth of my Grandpa (Mum's dad). Coming from a long line of hoarders I've boxes of family photos, daguerreotypes, certificates, paperwork, clothing, jewellery and ephemera going back over two centuries. 

 One of the best things about trading at vintage fairs is the friends I've made along the way. I spent a massively educational afternoon yesterday showing Vicky, a fellow lifelong collector of curiosities and organiser of some great collectors fairs, some of the weird things I've inherited.

Call me dim but I never thought the stuff I grew up with and took as commonplace would be so desirable and sought after. 

Miniature prayer books, Whitby jet, jewellery made with butterfly wings and dead people's hair. 

It's nice to know I'm not the only weirdo in the world.

 Vicky said it was a shame not to enjoy these family pieces passed down the generations so I took note and wore a few today.

This locket is monogrammed with the initials, AC, after my Grandpa's mother, Alice Chapman. She's actually wearing the locket in the picture inside. The dapper chap with the 'tashe is her husband, Thomas Harris. Nice to see that my female ancestors were also fans of bastard massive jewellery. Nothing dainty in our family!

The enamel bluebird and Victorian butterfly brooch have been in my jewellery box since childhood. 

1970s cotton maxi dress and waistcoat (The beautiful Lucy), 1970s suede platforms (£10, eBay), 1970s Ted Lapidus sunglasses (£1.95, Acorns Hospice), Tooled bag (£2, Islamic Relief charity)
If you're in the Midlands this weekend do come and say hello. We'll be HERE in Birmingham on Saturday and HERE in Pelsall on Sunday.

Right, off to do some work!
Have a fabulous weekend.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Getting Hammered

At every vintage fair I hear the same lament, Oh, that's gorgeous but there's no point in me buying it because I don't go anywhere nice enough to wear it. I tell them till I'm blue in the face, you don't need a special occasion, a day without dressing up is a day wasted.

I've been frantically scouring the walls and cupboards round the house to replace the stock we've sold over the weekend. Am I dressed in a skanky pair of jeans to perform such a mundane task? Fat chance, it's vintage all the way.

This 1970s maxi may have been designed by one of Liz Taylor's favourites, Gina Fratini and the V&A may have some of her dresses in their archives but there's no reason not to wear it around the house to hammer in nails and upend drawers. Saving stuff for best is a futile exercise, live for now, who knows what could happen tomorrow?

Despite making some decent sales, the weekend was very quiet. No matter though, for once I had the chance to explore the rails of other sellers, pose for photos, eat Jon's cheese sandwiches uninterrupted and spend some quality time with my vintage family. 

This was Sunday's work wear. Last week the lovely Jennie kindly sent a link to the eBay seller who'd listed this 1960s pure silk maxi as "Vintage dress, size 6, stained" with no reference to the Dollyrockers label. A few hours later I'd won it for £2.99 & the "stain" came out with a damp sponge. Isn't she a star? I feel a bit like a Trechnikoff lady in it.

Roland Joyce maxi skirt worn with '70s gypsy top (75p, Salvation Army), tapestry belt (Helga the Great), Frida Kahlo pendant & African trading bead earrings (Handmade by fabulous Tamera), hair flowers (made by me) and an armful of second-hand plastic bangles.
I snapped up this fabulous Roland Joyce skirt on Sunday for £8 and wore it to work yesterday, Frida Kahlo style. 

I bought this 1970s cowboy shirt for Jon three years ago from a local chazza. It was the first outing for it yesterday, what took him so long?

These are some of my fellow traders and dear friends, too! Claire (in the 1970s green tea dress) and Maisie (in the 1960s mini) are both wearing Kinky Melon purchases - could I ask for more beautiful models? Gorgeous Sharon (in the aqua polka dots) organising Sunday's vintage fair and it's going to be massive!  

I bought the trio of kitsch wooden deer from a jumble sale last year and rediscovered them in the back of a cupboard in the utility room this morning. I've re-jigged my Wall of Random to accommodate them along with the big Vernon Ward swan print I bought for £1 from a car boot sale last Autumn which has languished in the cupboard of doom ever since.

Fratini Designs gauzy maxi dress (£15, yesterday's vintage fair), Lamani coin choker (haggled with a roadside vendor in India)
After two days of work our weekend started last night. It's wine and The Apprentice tonight and pub, beer and curry tomorrow.

Cheers and see you soon!

Thursday 23 May 2013

Welcome To The Jumble

I've spent this afternoon helping out at the monthly jumble sale and there was trouble. The lady in charge decided to raise her prices and there was a near riot.

40p an item? Bleeding daylight robbery. I'm only a pensioner, you know. 

It's cheaper to go to f*cking Primark!

...and the usual, Bet you've 'ad all the good stuff. When I look at their stained fleeces and baggy leggings I want to say Love, look at how you and I are dressed, do you really think we're going to want the same clothes? But instead I bite my tongue and smile sweetly.

What's a jumble sale? A fund-raising charity event held in community centres, schools and church halls. The doors open at a set time, you pay an admission fee (between 5p - 20p around these parts) and then you rifle through heaps of clothes, accessories, bric-a-brac, books and toys piled high on trestle tables, grabbing what you can. You hand over your finds to the helpers behind the tables who then bag it and tot up what you owe. Merchandise is seldom labelled but it's rare to pay more than £1 for a single item. It's over within an hour when the last straggler leaves, then the doors are locked, the leftovers are bagged up and sold to on a rag merchant.

Joan (on my left) is 84 and has been running the jumble sale since the 1960s. Tracey (on my right) is my jumbling buddy, we're always chucking stuff at one another, "Old and weird" in my direction, "Flouncy and blingy" in hers.

We weren't as busy as normal today. The weather is unseasonably cold and there was a terrifically violent hailstorm 15 minutes before the doors opened, which probably put a lot of the regular elderly punters off leaving their houses, but we'd shifted a fair bit of tat merchandise by closing time.

I look bloody knackered. Lugging trestle tables around, sifting through dirty knickers and stained bedding and being abused by the Black Country grannies is hard work but a fair trade off for snaffling lovelies like these. 

Dallas Simpson framed print, a pair of vintage suitcases, 1960s plaster lamp with original ribbon shade, 1967 Max Factor make-up set, a Mary Quant scarf and a ceramic swan.

Naturally, my purchases caused much hilarity amongst the other helpers. 

Bloody hell Vix, you buy some vile stuff, only you could get excited about that pile of crap.

Not so ugly now it's in place though is it, ladies? (I know you read my blog!)

The evil print is hanging from the Wall of Misery, the lamp is scrubbed and illuminating my skip-salvaged bookcase, the boxed make-up is in pride of place on my dressing table & the suitcases have stuffed with my winter clothes and stowed away on top of the wardrobe and the naff swan is on the kitchen windowsill, 

 ...and I based today's outfit around the Mary Quant scarf.

1960s St Michael Madras check nightie (Krista-licious), Velvet dirndl top, worn backwards (Maisie's Closet Vintage), Turquoise suede boots & tiger bag (Queen Helga the Great).
There were clothes, shoes, bags, music, books and vintage car parts, too but right now I need a long soak in the bath!

See you soon.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Ageing Disgracefully?

Yesterday I went into town wearing this cropped top, 1960s mini skirt, platform shoes and a ton of jewellery. My hair was parted down the centre and hung down to my waist, I wore false eyelashes and painted my nails & lips in Barry M neons. 

I was honked at by passing cars, asked out to dinner by a stranger, got a discount from the braid man on the market and another trader slipped a few extra tomatoes into my bag. In fact the reaction was no different at 46 than it was when I dressed the same 20 years ago. Us older birds are constantly advised to "tone it down" but, if we're happy, why the feck should we? If I'm lucky to still be alive and kicking at 70 I can't see myself fading gracefully into the background.

Its more fun dressing like a floozy at over 40, with my bionic hip replacement I can run away from amorous admirers, as a 20-something cripple I could only limp.

 Anyway, lets talk about shopping. Who says you can't get reasonably priced vintage stuff in charity shops these days? Not me. 

This is what I brought home after my day out with Liz on Friday.

1980s era French Connection shirt, 1970s Berketex pleated midi dress, 1960s oversized vinyl handbag, 1970s Cape sleeved maxi dress, 1970s Astraka fake fur coat, 1960s Daisy trim mini, 1950s leather winkle pickers, 1980s fringed leather waistcoat with rose appliqué , 1950s raw silk shift dress, 1960s leather and suede shoulder bag. 

I snaffled this trio of insane West German 1980s leotards yesterday.

...and most of it's all destined for Kinky Melon.

But before you congratulate me on my restraint I have added a few new items to my wardrobe as the lovely raven-haired Lucy sent me a delectable parcel of joy. Along with the skirt I'm wearing were two pretty vintage scarves and a sexy slip and what looks like it's going to be my 2013 festival bag of choice. 

1960s suede mini (Lucy Nation), cropped Aztec top (£3, off the market), Suedette platforms (£1, car boot sale), 1930s Lucite choker (Inherited), Ultraviolet opaques (Xmas, 2011)
I'm back over at the family home again today, waiting for Banardo's to collect some furniture and for the skip to be emptied and I'll probably playing with my brother's rediscovered stash of 1970s action figures. I'm determined to find Starsky's missing moccasin and Hutch's bell-bottomed jeans before the week's out.

Thanks for the lovely comments, message and emails following my last post, it means a lot. There's been some terrifically shitty times over the past few years and your friendship and support have kept me sane.

See you soon.

Sunday 19 May 2013

My Dad, The Adventurer

I've spent most of the weekend bare-faced in a pair of skanky leggings as I'm getting stuck into sorting out the family home. We've already filled one skip which is pretty good going as there's so much to keep me, Jon and my bro distracted....1970s action figures, old photos and jars of spices bought in the 1960s to name but a few.

Yesterday I cracked on with emptying Dad's bureau and was riveted. A man of few words, as his dementia worsens my father has spoken more to me in the past 18 months than in my entire life. Born to a mining family in 1929 he won a scholarship to grammar school, served with the Royal Air Force in Canada and lived under canvas climbing the Alps for 2 years. 
With a penchant for fast cars and glamorous women Dad drove an AC Cobra when he met Mum and an MGB GT in his retirement. I've no idea who this lady is but he's still at it at almost 84, holding hands with a female nursing home residents and wandering out of the wrong bedrooms. From conversations he's had with the nursing staff several are convinced he was a spy - maybe that's where I get my enthusiasm for espionage thrillers from? 

Dad is on the far right
As a sales engineer his career led to him travelling extensively and as children we rarely saw him during the week. In 1975 civil war broke out whilst he was working in Lebanon and, after days without contact, he was presumed dead, eventually turning up six weeks later live and well. I don't think Mum was never the same again.

He was mountaineering most weekends well into his 70s.

In the 1957, nine years before he met my Mum, he and two friends set sail from Littlehampton Harbour in Sussex intending to sail to New Zealand in a 9-ton schooner.

The first attempt ended in disaster when they hit engine trouble, were rescued by coastguard and it was discovered that there was a female passenger, Miss Pamela Fuller, a 19-year old trainee press officer, who apparently was "not engaged" to any of the men and was simply hitching a ride to Brixham in Devon.

The second attempt didn't fare much better, the shipwreck made front page news in The Times.

They did get rescued in the end though, these photos were from a Spanish newspaper.

I've never seen him looking so dishevelled. 

Did he ever make it to New Zealand? That's something I can't tell you. I'll show him these pictures when we visit Dad this week and see if it jogs any memories. 

I'll be back with what I bought from Liz and I's chazzing day of adventure shortly.

See you soon.