Wednesday, 1 December 2021

The Unknown Soldier

 

On Monday Lord Jon was up at the same time as me. He's participating in a clinical trial for the NHS over the next two years and had blood tests on the other side of town at 8am so he left me to my Wii Fit and a solitary breakfast of tea and toast. 

Although I'd felt a bit rough the previous day, the drugs and brandy had done the trick and I was feeling almost normal. The temperature hovered at around -1°C for most of the morning but I was cosy in my layers.

I braved to Kinky Shed to pull out the stock I'd sold over the weekend and wrapped it ready for Jon to drop off at the Post Office after lunch. Not fancying any outdoor photography, I used the landing wall as a backdrop for some vintage lingerie which I spent an hour ironing.

Jon got back just as I'd finished, with plasters on both arms as the nurse had trouble drawing blood, and bearing a £10 gift voucher as a thank you from the NHS for taking part in the trial.  After I'd listed the lingerie on eBay I spent the rest of the afternoon reading in front of the fire. Jon made Aloo Chat for tea and we watched more of The Americans.

After breakfast on Tuesday, with unseasonably warm temperatures of 13°C, I felt ready to face the world so we drove over to our favourite Black Country town for a charity shopping session. Mask wearing in shops & on public transport in England had again become mandatory at 4am and we were pleased to see that almost everyone was wearing them. 

We came back with some fresh stock for the Kinky shop, a handmade 1970s suede jacket, two hand-knitted wool cardis and a pleasingly chunky Aran one, a Past Times burn-out velvet scarf (I used to love that shop!), a paisley button-down shirt by retro Manchester brand Pop Boutique and a 1980s zip-off sleeve bomber jacket by Rumours.

WEARING: Dilli Grey block printed midi dress, vintage felted wool hat & Doc Marten Darcie Diva boots

A crazed street preacher took a dislike to me when I declined her leaflet, yelling about vanity and how my only chance to avoid eternal damnation was to repent to the Lord and be saved. Vanity! I had to laugh, I'd not combed my hair since Saturday and was dressed from head to toe in other people's cast-offs. 

Jon spotted this Victorian photograph of an injured boy soldier propped up next to the counter in one of the charity shops and the manager said it had only just been donated but he could have it for £2. We spent ages researching military uniforms and collar badges but, so far, have failed to discover the poor lad's origins. 


I woke on Wednesday morning to the sound of torrential rain and my cold completely gone. I did my Wii Fit workout then dashed to the Kinky Shed to collect the eBay stock I'd sold overnight and wrapped it ready for the post office run. After breakfast, the rain seemed to have stopped so we walked into town as I wanted to drop off another pair of boots at the cobbler for reheeling. 


Of course, we had to visit the town centre's four remaining charity shops, coming home with a pair of wool berets (one with the Accessorize tags still attached), a 1990s Calvin Klein denim jacket, a Quiksilver surfer shirt, a West African waxed cotton kaftan (with pockets!), a pile of books from the hospice shop's 5 for £1 sale and a DAB clock radio to replace the alarm clock I bought Jon back in the 1990s - now he can wake up to 6Music instead of Radio One.


I wore the Naked Generation dress I'd bought from eBay last week (another ethical brand I love), along with the 1970s crepe-soled Italian sheepskin boots I'd found in the clearance charity shop on Sunday morning. Jon had rubbed a pencil lead along the zips as they were a bit stiff after 50 odd-years of wear and they were as good as new.


I did wear one of my cable knit cardis and a suede coat over the top of my dress as the forecast was for another icy cold day but I was sweltering walking back up the Hill of Doom.


Lord Jon framed Malachi, The Maimed Boy Soldier in a Victorian frame we'd found behind a wardrobe when we emptied the parental home and hung him in the bathroom alongside some of my dead ancestors.


I love that when you're a charity shopper your home (and wardrobe)is always evolving and taking unexpected turns. Who'd had thought a few days ago that I'd have a long-departed young man watching over me whenever I visit the loo?


I'm off to catch up with Blogland before the bar opens. Well, it is Wednesday!

See you soon.

50 comments:

  1. Your Naked Generation dress is lovely - they are popping up on EBay sometimes now. Your little soldier boy looks lost and sad, I think he will feel loved at your house :)

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    1. Thanks, Betty! I was so excited to see a Naked Generation dress in my size pop up on eBay. They are just as beautiful in real life as they are on the website. xxx

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  2. Hi Vix,
    Just a thought, I don't suppose the young man's uniform could be a convalescent uniform? I have a photo of my Grandad in one but not the same as your photo.
    Maybe the preacher's comment is a compliment really - your "other people's cast offs" look fabulous to me...
    Norma x

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    1. Hello Norma! How lovely to hear from you and thanks for the compliment. A great suggestion reagrding the convalescant's uniform. It turns out that the bow on his arm is actually part of the outfit worn at a Catholic First Confirmation so he's not injured after all! xxx

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  3. You always look stunning Vix. Crazy preachy lady was paying you a compliment.. even if she didn't mean to. :-)

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  4. I'm glad to hear your cold has upped and left and you're feeling your usual energetic charity shopping self again. That injured boy soldier's portrait is so poignant. I'm loving that you've named him Malachi, which really suits him.
    We've had our fair share of manic street preachers (I definitely would have used manic rather than crazed :-) here in Antwerp, but I haven't seen one of them in ages. There was a woman shouting Jesus Can Help you at the corner near our office and there was a man going through a complete catholic mass on the tram!
    Even with unwashed hair, you are looking fabulous in all three of your outfits.
    Good score on the DAB alarm clock, and oh, I loved Past Times too. xxx

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    1. Thanks, Ann! I'm so glad to see the back of that pesky cold, I'm glad it didn't hang around for long!
      Apparently the young boy is dressed for his Catholic Communion and he's not maimed at all, a kind commenter suggested the white bow is part of the dress code. Ain't blooging the best?
      Manic Street Preachers! Why didn't I write that? I was obsessed with the band for years and have lost count with the number of times I've seen them play! I blame lockdown and too much time spent alone and on the PC for the rise of conspiracy theorists and religious nutters.
      I wish they'd bring back Past times, it was such a fabulous shop! xxx

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  5. Is it happy hour Vix??? I'll have some drugs & brandy please to ward off any colds. What saucey vintage lingerie - tres Mills & Moon! I never visited a Past Times shop, but used to love looking through the little catalogue that came free in my folks' weekend paper. Oh how lucky you are to find berets! I am down to one raspberry beret, but feel like I am in a Prince song when I wear it... because I did indeed find it in a second hand store :0

    Ignore that crazy preacher. I used to be accosted daily by one on my lunch hour. Every day the end was nigh. "Oh good, when will nigh be" I used to ask. Monsieur is pretty good at warding these folk off, especially when he wears his 'Down' T Shirt (Jesus smoking a spliff). The funny thing is, when we moved here, our local vicar stopped Monsieur one day, whilst walking up the hill, and said "really cool band". They got talking about music, once Monsieur had got over the shock! Have a fab evening. Lulu xXx

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    1. It was Happy 3 hours, Lulu!
      Past Times was such a treat, I used to kill time in there waiting for my bus home from Birmingham back in the 1990s. I do get excited whern it turns up in charity shops, I could never afford it at the time.
      How funny about the vicar admiring Monsieur's tee shirt. There's more crazed preachers than chuggers in Walsall town centre lately. xxx

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  6. I nearly spit out my coffee at Crazed Street Preacher! We had crazed park preachers attempting to reform my whole family at my brothers birthday bash in October. My brother in law might rightly be damned as he sent them on their way with pretty strong words. As always, your hauls are quite unique and special. I'm glad your cold is better.

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    1. Oh no, the last you want is a religious crazy trying to convert the family when you're supposed to be celebrating. I think a lot of lonely people have either become obsessed with religion or conspiracy theories since Covid started. xxx

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  7. Dear dear Vix, firstly SO sorry not to have popped by for absolutly AGES! life has taken twists and turns(including a cousin diagnosed with the dreaded cancer and having to ring Mum in Aus and tell her her friend had passed with Covid) and tonight I thought blow it lets escape to Vix world, so glad I did. Firstly I see in past posts vix now does cardigans! Your cold frog mate here is always in woolies which I know you detest but I just have to be warm. that is noble of Jon to be doing the trial for our wonderful NHS (had a breast screen done today) and I was thinking how grateful I am and in countries all over the world women are not as well looked after as we are here. I am sorry to hear you weren't well but glad you are back to form. Love your dresses today and your bathroom always makes me smile so unique x here's cheers and thanks for the break from reality. Shazxx

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    1. It's lovely to hear from you Shaz. I often think of you and wonder how you are. You're always welcome in Vix World!
      I'm so sorry about your cousin's cancer diagnosis and having to break sad news to your mum.
      I can'rt believe it's been a year since my breasy screening, well done of getting it done and out of the way. Jon's clinical trial is attempting to detect certain types of cancer much earlier so will make a huge difference to so many people's lives. We really are lucky living where we do.
      Keep safe and carry on with the cardis, I shall be wearing mine today once I've changed out of my yoga gear. It's beautifully sunny but bitterly cold out there this morning. xxx

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  8. Oh, the poor lad. He looks so young...I'm sure he'll feel right at home with the dead ancestors.

    Love the outfits and the new boots are fabulous. I loved the vintage lingerie; I have 2 full slips; one needs a few stitches at the shoulder but I wear the other one quite a lot under knee length dresses.

    What great finds at the chazzas. Seeing the Phillipa Gregory book reminded me that I gave the one you sent me to my cousin Marian along with another one by her called 'The Sheltering Sky' set around WW2. Marian ia a PG fan, too, and luckily hadn't read either of the two I gave her.

    Well done, Jon on taking part in the research and I'm glad your cold is gone.

    I'm sorry to hear you're damned - I was damned many years ago by a similarly crazed street preacher on the top of No.6 bus; for being a Jezebel - I guess that was the red lipstick - but I was only 17 and was terribly embarrassed...
    xxx

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    1. You can't beat a full slip, can you? I bought a very sheer dress from ebay and the seller very kindly sent me a flesh coloured slip to wear with it, they add a bit of extra warmth, too!
      I loved The Sheltering Sky. Jon and I stayed in the Continental Hotel in the Petit Souk in Tangiers where the film was made! I was very pleased to pick up that PG trilogy. That should keep me out of trouble if we do get any further restrictions slapped on us!
      Oh poor teenage, Vronni. That must have been quite traumatic as a young girl. Strange way for "Christians" to behave, isn't it? xxx

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  9. We have very few street preachers here, but lots of rather scary homeless people (do not make eye contact).

    I love Malachi, your newest edition to the loo portrait wall. I agree - I like that my home is ever-changing as I find new things in second-hand shops. I always love seeing what you find in the shops - I loved Past Times! I still have a ring from them (L bought it for me in 1996, I think) and I thrifted a pillow (His Lordship) a few years back for $1.99.

    That's a lovely collection of vintage slips and lingerie - I'm happy to see you're selling well on eBay, Vix! Enjoy your mid-week happy hour!

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    1. The crazt street preachers seem to have increased in number since lockdown. They're worse than those annoying chuggers who accost you and try and make you sign up for regular charity donations just lately.
      I remember seeing something by Past Times on your blog. I used to kill time in the Birmingham branch when I was waiting for my bus home from work back in the 1990s, the jewellery and textiles were gorgeous! xxx

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  10. Love your wednesdays. We have to have covid IDs - 2 vaccines - this week, as our shops and things slowly open. Plus masks of course. Social distancing. Etc. Can't find a hairdresser who will answer my phone calls - I'm desperate!!!!!

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    1. I'm so pleased to hear that NZ is slowly and cautiously opening up. I hope you manage to get a response from your hairdresser. Salons here are all back to mandatory mask wearing after months without, it makes me a more confident to book an appointment. I've not been for over six months! xxx

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  11. Your blog is amazing and all the things you share with us all over world. I wonder if boy could possible be school uniform. I start to write more info on back of photos for those in future, will know more about there past. I have photo I'm clueless about.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

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    1. Thanks so much, Dora, that's so kind of you.
      I've just published a comment suggesting the photograph is from a European Catholic Confirmation, the bow on his arm being part of the dress code - I'm glad he's not injured!
      It's a brilliant idea to write details on the back of your photos. When my Grandma was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's, my mum made lots and lots of photo albums with details of who the people were - it's been a real help when i was tracing my family tree. xxx

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  12. Rather than my usual brandy, last night's medicinal tipple was Baileys - it is almost Christmas after all. I'm still coughing though.
    Love your felted wool hat. Lily has one similar - clearly she's much more stylish then me :)

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    1. Nooo! Bailey's and its creaminess really is the drink of the devil, sounds like we might face eternal damnation together! I hope you manage to shift that cough.
      I bet Lily looks far better than me in her hat! xxx

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  13. I love the picture, I would love to know the story behind it. He looks so somber in it. As if it was no big deal. Imagine one of your young ones that age fighting in a war I would be worried no end about them.
    I have a Japanese Alexa. We got it free off a free as it fit her decor how vain!! I do get bbc radio. Don’t tell Lynn but I like listening to tony Blackburn which is on an evening when the kids go to bed. I just love that era. Paul bought me Boney M the other day and I was over the moon. And then produced a lightning seeds cd I was looking for as well. I do love a good range . Hope you survived the storm!!

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    1. Hello Allie! The staff in the charity shop were appaled by that photo, they thought it was too scary and reckoned Jon was crazy to buy it! I'd love to know more about it, Leen's comment below yours is really interesting.
      Gah! Radio 2 does my head in. We used to play it when I managed the chiropractic clinic as my boss said it was gentle and didn't upset people in pain, I'd have to plug myself into my personal stereo during my lunchbreak and listen to some trash metal to get away from the niceness!
      We've got a few branches down in the garden but nothing too bad, thank goodness. xxx

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  14. Dear Vix (if I may), Thank you for your inspiring blog. Like you, I love vintage clothing, old houses,big gardens and living independently. The boy in the photograph seems to be wearing a white bow on his sleeve? In that case, it is a photograph of him on the day of his catholic Confirmation. In antique shops in Belgium you sometimes find these white satin bows, boxed and cherished for a long time. Have a nice day.

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    1. Hello Leen. Thank you so much for your comment. It's lovely to meet a like-minded soul and I've just added your fascinating blog to my Bloglovin feed.
      I'd assumed the bow was some kind of medical dressing, how interesting that it might be related to a Catholic comfirmation, something of which I have no knowledge whatsover. I shall investigate further. xxx

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  15. glad that your cold went away.....
    ....and you could grace the streets in your fabulous looks again! (guess the street preacher says harsh words to everyone who don´t want hear her lessons)
    cool stock for kinky melon! ironing this undies must be quite the task!!
    i too think the white bow on the little "soldier" is something decorative/symbolic - not a bandage - even the uniform may be symbolic.....
    xxxx

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    1. I'm so glad that cold was short-lived. I don't like brandy but it sure did the trick!
      Ironing that stock wsa no fun at all, I managed to melt one of the petticoats. xxx

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  16. Crazed street preachers make me shudder - puts me in mind of the burning times when zealots and misogyny = accusations of witchcraft.

    On a lighter note, Past Times was just an EXCELLENT place for Christmas pressies. I have many lovely jewellery pieces (marcasite addict) and a couple of their ornate jackets. I loved their mail order catalogues.

    I'm glad your young man seems to be wearing finery rather than bandages - also, that photo frame is charming.

    Going up to the attic in search of my big coats - brrr

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    1. I blame lockdown - if they're not obsessing about conspiracy theories they're becoming consumed with religious fervour.
      Past Times was fabulous. The Ntional Trust ought to relaunch something similar. I found the most marvellous lawn cotton Victorian style nightie of theirs in a charity shop a while ago which I stupidly sold!
      I think I'll need my big coat tomorrow to explore the wilds of Derbyshire, it's bastard freezing! xxx

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  17. I am so glad that you are recovered! You look absolutely beautiful, yet homey and cozy in your bohemian dresses, and I love that colorful cardi! How fun to discover that you watch The Americans - I was just now writing about it! And I am somewhat relieved to find out that the soldier boy wasn't wounded after all. :)

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    1. Thanks, Natalia! I love that we're both enjoying The Americans! xxx

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  18. Glad to hear that you're recovered!, and also glad to see you looking so fabulous!, so lovely dresses and lovely accessories and hats!, love particularly the way you belted your cardi, and how it matches those orange-rusty shades in your dress!, so gorgeous!
    And also love your joyful Dilli Grey midi dress, so delightful print!
    Totally agree about having an always evolving wardrobe and home!, it's one of the reasons I love so much charity shopping!. And love Malachi in his victorian frame, and so interesting to read about the meaning of his bow. I knew absolutely nothing about this, even if I live in an unwaveringly catholic country and studied in a religios school for thirteen years (with unexpected results, I'm afraid). Children still dress up in fantasy military uniforms (sailors particularly) when they make their First Communion (girls are dressed up like mini-brides), it's a massive and ridiculously expensive celebration.
    I always admire the Kinky stock and your fabulous finds, so many lovely pieces!, the vintage lingerie look really stunning in that collage!
    besos

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    1. How interesting that you weren't aware of that Catholic dress either. I was convinced it was some military thing so I'm quite relieved he was posing for a joyous occasion. How silly that people spend so much money on these religious ceremonies - the average cost for a wedding here is about £25,000 - I can think of a hundred better ways to spend my money! xxx

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  19. Nice of Jon to take part in that study. Most men I know are afraid of drawing blood, I cannot imagine them taking part. I was part of some voluntary medical studies once or twice, it's good to help science if we can. I'm happy to hear you're feeling better. The soldier boy photograph is haunting but in a beautiful way. I'm glad to read that it is a first communion decoration and that the boy wasn't maimed. I wouldn't know anything about the uniform and I don't remember seeing such decorations. When I received first communion, we would rent suits and dresses from the nuns for next to nothing. The dresses were amazingly beautiful and hand made, the one I selected had lace sleeves- I remember it in perfect detail.
    As always, I loved seeing your outfits. You wear maxi dresses so well. I think the crazy preacher lady was jealous of your impeccable style.

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    1. Jon's better at giving blood than I am. I always amange to faint! I'd still take part in a medical trial if invited though (i'd have to warn the nurse first!) Hopefully's Jon's trial will eventually lead to certaon cancers being detected early which would make huge differences to people's lives.
      I don't know much about Catholicism save for the wedding I was invited to in Goa about 20 years ago and a couple of funerals. The sleeve bow seems very odd - I was convinced it was a sling! xxx

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  20. Malachi is a lovely addition to your wall, and I'm glad to read that he wasn't injured! I have a couple of vintage photos I've found in thrift shops on display and my apartment would not be nearly so interesting to look at without my secondhand shopping finds.
    Nice to hear your cold was a short-lived one and you are feeling up to snuff again.

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    1. I was so relieved to discover poor Malachi was celebrating rather than convalescing!
      Homes are so much more interesting when they're allowed to evolve rather than everything bought new every year to fit in with current trends. xxx

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  21. Drugs and brandy alway does the trick.

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  22. You have a wonderful view out that window! I'd be gazing out instead of getting my work done!

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  23. I think your street preacher may have been a tad jealous Vix! Because you look amazing - you certainly don’t look like you’re wearing cast offs! The frame you found for Malachi is a perfect match for the photo. I love the fact that your blog is free of Xmas excess. And well done to Jon for taking part in the trial! Jayne xxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Jayne! The street preacher seemed like a very angry lady, maybe I should have whisked her away from her shouting and chosen her a pretty dress from the charity shop opposite!
      No Xmas excesses here, my blog is always a turkey & tinsel-free zone! xxx

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  24. It always rather saddens me when I see homeless photos of anonymous people. How fantastic it would be if somebody recognised the young lad and we could learn his story. Arilx

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    1. If I'd been in the shop minutes earlier I'd have seen the person who donated him and would have been able to ask aboout his story. I must admit I inherited boxes and boxes of photos when my parents died and was so overwhelmed I had a huge bonfire. I am destined for hell! xxx

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  25. Have you explored the uniforms of the Franco-Prussian War (1870)? Something about those lapels is speaking to me in a language other than English.

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    1. I did think his origins were Eastern European, Beth.We've got a large community here of Polish and Ukrainans and I've occasionally picked up soviet uniforms in charity shops. It turns out he is European but the garb is associated with Victorian Catholic first communions, probably a happier outcome than war! xxx

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Lots of love, Vix