Monday, 8 September 2014

At peace... and quiet

Evenin' all, and apologies for the two weeks of radio silence. I'm well aware I promised a post a week at the least and I must admit I'm beginning to get a bit frustrated that I can't find the time to write something at the weekend.  However I am but one man and there are only so many hours in the day; hopefully things will start to fall into place and a posting pattern will start to work out before too long.  Of course, it helps if I have interesting news of a vintage flavour to blog about...

Speaking of starting work my endeavours in that department continue to go well, much to my delight after so many years of health and employment struggles.  The downside, of course, is that I get to spend less here and on other blogs but this new place has a very generous IT policy so once I've settled right down and got my six months "probation" behind me you might even find the odd post appearing at lunchtime(!).

I had planned to do a post around about my birthday on the 19th August featuring the usual present haul and jollity but sadly this wasn't to be.  Presents (and, indeed, my birthday itself really) became the last thing on my mind because heartbreakingly my grandmother - my last surviving grandparent, an ever-present part of all the family's lives for generations and the last direct link to an era I find so enthralling - passed away peacefully in hospital on the 21st at the age of 87 after gamely fighting for three weeks against pneumonia (not to mention a litany of other ailments built up over the years), as stoically as she had always done against adversity throughout her life.  So you can imagine we as a family were preoccupied with that over anything else.  I hope to do a proper commemorative post about Nan in the near future, since she was a young woman in the 1940s & '50s; there are pictures of her in those times that I had never seen before that I know many of you will appreciate and that I'd like to show you.  Here's a taster (badly copied here I'm afraid, a scan of a scan but it will appear again better later on):


I hope to return to happier things with the publication of the next couple of posts, which should feature certain aspects of belated and potential birthday presents.  Not to mention a celebration of my Nan's [early] life in 1940s London.

Thanks for sticking with me here at Eclectic Ephemera during this transitional period and rest assured, I'm going nowhere and still enjoying reading all your blogs!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Nicholas Parsons starts a one man crusade to bring back the cravat

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Nicholas Parsons starts a one man crusade to bring back the cravat

Considered by some (wrong-headed) people as something of a "naff" personality, Nicholas Parsons - best known on these shores for fronting the long-running B.B.C. Radio 4 comedy panel quiz Just A Minute for nearly 50 years since its creation in 1967 and for presenting the British version of the game show Sale Of The Century during the '70s and '80s - initially might not seem the best chap to lead a resurgent charge in cravat-wearing. 

But that would be to underestimate the sublime Mr Parsons who, at a frankly amazing 90 years old, is showing no signs of slowing down and certainly could teach the younger generations a thing or three about dressing well.  His comments at this year's Edinburgh Festival regarding the cravat (or ascot to our North American cousins) versus the open-necked shirt are a masterfully accurate summation of all that is wrong with the modern man's "smart casual" look and how it could easily be rectified by the splendid little length of neckcloth that was all the rage in the 1930s, '40s & '50s and can trace its origins back to 17th century Croatian mercenaries.

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Mr Parsons is spot on when he questions the "attractiveness", or lack thereof, of an open shirt with a suit and the fact that a fellow's bulging Adam's apple is not necessarily what one wants to see walking down the road towards them.  He is the very man to start the revival of this noble yet casual form of neckwear and I can assure him that his "one man crusade" has in fact many followers and that, yes, there are chaps out there who definitely share his point of view.  I for one have made no secret of my love of cravats; I certainly don't want to subject the general public to my scrawny neck, nor that same neck to a cold-inducing stiff breeze.  I would not for one moment say that I have a weak throat/chest, but I have certainly found in the past that an open shirt in anything but the hottest weather has invariably led to a cold.  (The latest example being not three weeks ago when starting my new job, which as I mentioned operates a "no tie unless receiving a client" dress code, where I went open-necked for the first 10 days and then promptly caught a snorter of a cold.)  With this new work rule I have found myself turning to my [limited] selection of cravats more and more, with a view to adding some new ones to my wardrobe with some recent birthday money.

Even Superman wears a cravat!
Friend and fellow blogger G.M. Norton recently wrote a review of one of the U.K.'s newest and most talked-about purveyor of cravats, Cravat Club.  I can do no better than point you in the direction of his post (even the Beeb quote him!), having not had any experience of their products yet - something I hope to rectify soon!

Online shops that sell cravats are few and far between in this blogger's experience but other than the aforementioned emporium I can only suggest two or three others.  If you want to go down the traditional route and wear proper vintage cravats then that well-known provider of original men's fashions from the 1920s onwards, Savvy Row, has a jolly decent selection of rayon examples from the '50s and '60s - in a wonderful array of colours and patterns - for very reasonable prices.

1950s/60s Vintage Red/Gold Paisley pattern
rayon cravat, £12 + p&p @ Savvy Row
Modern examples that rival those on offer at the Cravat Club can be found courtesy of Swagger & Swoon - in a bewildering number of styles, some quite psychedelic if that's your bag!

Another online store with a fine selection of cravats is Woods of Shropshire.  Although not quite as wide a range as the others and with more than a couple of wedding-style "scrunchies" in the mix, there's a fair choice of patterns at a more than fair price.

Darcy Clothing, of whom I have had some previous experience albeit not in the neckwear department, also have a small range of cravats - mainly in the ubiquitous polka dot style, although there is nothing wrong with that!  As befitting a company that also supplies costumes to period dramas they also have one or two from the 18th century if channelling the spirit of Beau Brummell is your ultimate aim!

Quest For Fire Yellow Fine Silk cravat,
£34.99 (free delivery) @ Swagger & Swoon
The one company with whose product I have had repeated first-hand experience of - from whom all my cravats have so far come, in fact - is (somewhat misleadingly) Tom Sawyer Waistcoats.  As their name implies they largely provide that other splendid item of gentleman's clothing, the waistcoat (mainly the wedding variety), however they do have a small but excellent cravat department.  One aspect of their cravats that I particularly like is that a number of them are made of 100% cotton.  Now while the cravat is traditionally supposed to be made of silk or similar - and the cooling properties of those fabrics are, as Norton says, one of the major plus points for wearing them in summer - this could easily lead to a ruinous dry cleaning bill.  Unlike other neckties, cravats are of course designed to be worn next to the skin and sadly no amount of silk will prevent a chap from perspiring if the ambient conditions call for it.  With a cotton cravat at least I can pop it in the washing machine after a few wears, safe in the knowledge that after a once-over with the iron it will be as good as new and ready to wear again.  The prices are also much more conducive to more frequent, regular purchases than would be the case with silk ones.  Tom Sawyer's Richmond Check, of which I own an example, has a particular 1930s vibe about it I feel and is excellent quality for cotton.

Richmond Check cotton day cravat, £16.99 (+p&p) @ Tom Sawer Waistcoats

So, provided one knows where to look (something I hope I've helped you with today!), there's really nothing to stop any tie-phobic johnnies wishing to add a bit of colour and panache to their otherwise unattractive shirt and suit joining Nicholas Parsons, G.M. Norton and myself (plus I'm sure many others - make yourselves known gentlemen!).  I've even thought of a great hashtag whatsit to help spread the word - #bringbackcravats.  Come on chaps, you know it makes sense!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Historic Lancasters' tandem flight takes place in Lincolnshire



Historic Lancasters' tandem flight takes place in Lincolnshire

Well here I am again, having survived a second week at the Temple of Mammon (I'd love to write this blog as a full-time job but would struggle to make it pay, I'm afraid!), with the exciting vintage news of the moment - the arrival of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's Avro Lancaster in Britain!  The only other airworthy example in the world after the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's City Of Lincoln, C-GVRA Vera (or FM213, the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster) has joined its sister in the UK for a month-long series of displays - the first time two Lancasters will have been in the air together for over 50 years.

As reported earlier in the year Vera was flown across the Atlantic Ocean in stages before landing at RAF Coningsby, the home of the BBMF and its Lanc.  Having undergone various post-flight checks and practice formations, it has now begun being displayed around the country in the company of the British example

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Following a departure display for the press at Coningsby (with the planned flyover of Lincoln Cathedral on the 13th sadly postponed because of bad weather) the Lancs spent this weekend at Airbourne, the Eastbourne International Airshow in Sussex, plus several other displays around the south-east.  Over the next month they will appear at various events around the country, including Duxford, Shoreham and Goodwood - plus two special invitation-only events at Humberside International Airport in Kirmington, Lincolnshire.  I'm also delighted to note that, as I'd hoped, the pair will go to the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre where a third powered Lancaster - Just Jane - is based and perform a fly-past while Jane does a taxi run.  What an image that will be, I'm sure!

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A full list of the planned displays is available on the CWHM's website - I hope there's one near you?  Clacton's probably my nearest, although it's on a weekday so I'm unlikely to make it ;(.  Perhaps Duxford, we shall have to see.  Or I could just camp out in my parents' garden since the flippin' things flew over them yesterday(!), no doubt on the way back from one of the Kent shows.

At any rate, the press is rightly making a big thing out of this once-in-a-lifetime event and there is bound to be more coverage as the month goes on.  It really is quite an amazing sight to see these two four-engined monsters in the air together, made all the more poignant by the thought of how much they represent - the 125,000 pilots who flew in RAF Bomber Command during World War Two and the 55,000 who did not return, plus the 7,300 Avro Lancasters that were built between 1942 and 1945 of which only 17 survive today.  It is a fitting homage to all these men and machines that these two aircraft should fly together again, as the veterans' comments prove.  I hope in their appearances around the country they will inspire and enthral onlookers and remind each generation of the sacrifices their vanished comrades made, and that this will not be the last time two or more Lancasters are seen in the air together at one time.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Now at work, rest and play

Golly gosh, I'd forgotten just how time-consuming a full working week can be!  Still, here we are again, what?  The first week of a new job is under my belt and now I've got some time to sit down and write a few lines of this and that - all that has been leading up to this week just gone.

The week previous - that is, two weeks ago now - I spent some time nosing around my local branches of Debenhams, Marks & Spencer and BHS hoping to score some bargain items for m'wardrobe in the summer sales.  I was not disappointed, either, as Debenhams' sale was in full swing (they don't seem to call it the Blue Cross Sale any more, unless they're saving that for Christmas/January?) and I picked up two smashing pairs of cotton trousers that will go well with the majority of my jackets for a casual summer look.  Most importantly, Debenhams' men's trousers go up to a 34" inside leg - perfect for the long of limb such as myself!

Maine New England Navy twill chinos, £12 from £20 at Debenhams
(**sold out**)

The navy blue is a nice, muted colour - giving off an almost workmanlike vibe - but the terracotta twill is my absolute favourite, adding a welcome and different dash of colour to my outfits.

Maine New England Terracotta twill chinos, £10 from £20 at
Debenhams

Marks and BHS had less on offer (and M&S wonders why its year-on-year clothing sales keep taking a battering - definitely a "could do better" on the men's clothing selection, at least) but I was still able to score this beautiful "Autograph" knitted silk tie for a frankly unbelievable £4 (it was actually still marked up at £7.50 on the ticket - I do like pleasant surprises!).

It actually goes quite well with the terracotta trews, don't you think?  It's wonderful to the touch, of course, and knots well too - something that's not always a given with knitted ties, I've found.

Saturday last found me in Rayleigh for the town's first ever Antique & Vintage Street Market, run by the same people who put on the local Runnymede Vintage, Antique and Retro Fairs that I have been to many times in the past and enjoyed, as has been mentioned on this very blog.  Alas I can't see this street market becoming a regular one as it was really very poorly done with barely half a dozen stalls in the high street (which had not been closed as I was expecting), largely selling stuff that would have better been described as bric-a-brac.  There were supposedly more stalls around the corner outside the local auction house (Stacey's, occasional star of Antiques Road Trip and Bargain Hunt) but we - mother, sister and I - we so disappointed we didn't bother with that but instead hit the charity shops.  There I was able to pick up a nice T.M. Lewin shirt for £3.50 and an interesting CD for £1.

Twenty-four songs from The Radio Rhythm Club, a name I'd never come across before but actually that of a B.B.C. programme broadcast during the Second World War.  The Radio Rhythm Sextet was led by a young Welsh clarinetist called Harry Parry(!) who greatly admired American bandleader Benny Goodman, to the point where he emulated him with his own group of top British instrumentalists of the time.  Sadly Harry Parry died in 1956 at the age of 44; The Radio Rhythm Club and Sextet seem to have been lost to the mists of time, since I can't seem to find out much about them.  The Benny Goodman influence is obvious (but just with a soupçon of British smoothness) and it maybe this overt similarity, plus changing musical tastes after the war, that ensured The Radio Rhythm's obscurity.

Still, after all that, I'm glad I bought the CD as it certainly does bubble along.  I do like the Benny Goodman sound anyway and was only recently thinking about finding some more 1940s music, so this ticks the boxes.  Have a Boogi to this:



What else has happened?  Oh yes, I marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War on the 4th August with a single candle and the "lights out" motif, as did most of the country I think.  The B.B.C.'s coverage was rather good, I thought - slightly reserved rather than overdone and all the better for it.

This was the same candle that I burned (we were all given one) at my granddad's
funeral back in 1997. 
I'd never lit it since but it somehow seemed right to use it on the anniversary of WW1

Well, that's all for now, I think.  There's going to be a bit of disorder around here for a little while longer as I continue to settle back into a 5-day working week and get comfortable in the new job but as long as I can post at least once every weekend I'll be happy - and hopefully you, my readers, will be too!  I've already got posts planned featuring the two surviving Lancaster bombers flying together for the first time in 50 years, plus a 61-year-old woman driving a 110-year-old car across Australia!  In the meantime I do still enjoy reading your blogs when I get the chance - usually now a special treat after work! - and I hope you'll continue to stick with mine during this transition.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Keeping cool in the 30s

Serving me well on my 30th birthday last year
While I (and, I suspect, many others) have been enduring the heat of a glorious British summer as this country continues to swelter in temperatures consistently in the high twenties (centigrade) - and sometimes uncomfortably into the 30s - I find my mind turning to more casual, lightweight vintage fashions for the chap.

My go-to wardrobe staple in warmer weather is my trusty and well-worn brown linen suit, purchased from Primark (as a two-piece; alas neither of my local branches had the waistcoat in stock!) and which has served me well for what must be coming up to eight years now.  Paired with a linen or cotton shirt, a cravat, brown leather shoes and Panama hat, such an ensemble has helped to keep me cool through various summers while giving me a semblance of vintage style in what have been some lean times.

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The light-coloured, lightweight suit has long been the standard outfit for gentlemen during the hotter months and such a look is still my ultimate goal - although with my lemonade budget it may yet be some time before I reach it!  Fortunately, as has been noted before, menswear has by and large changed little over 100 years so it is still possible to approximate a certain decade's look using some high street items.  For example, I have several pairs of cream cotton trousers (chinos, as they are known today) acquired over the years that I like to mix with the linen jacket, or a navy blue single-breasted blazer - the latter of which is one of my favourite current outfits.  Again in the longer term I would dearly love a proper brass-buttoned double-breasted number as sported by Bertie Wooster and Captain Hastings.


Further inspiration for ideal summer wear is drawn from my Pinterest board Gentlemanly Attire, where light suits and Twenties & Thirties styles are dotted throughout.

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A spiffing illustration of a couple of Jazz Age summer suits, double- and single-breasted with peak lapels, finished off with some topping hats and - of course! - co-respondent shoes.  Here's an actual example from 1931, too:

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Brioni S/S '12
As I've mentioned before the only problem with white, cream or off-white suits - at least in my experience in Britain - is the danger of being likened to Michael Jackson, Martin Bell or The Man From Del Monte by those who haven't been exposed to their wider use and for whom standard summer attire consists of shorts and flip-flops.  Still, that hasn't put me off and nor should it you.

The peak of today's white-suited sartorialism comes courtesy of high-end names like Brioni and Polo by Ralph Lauren - clothing that I fear will forever remain aspirational to the likes of me(!):

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Ralph Lauren S/S '13
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Ralph Lauren S/S '12

Of course white isn't the only cool, summer colour.  Linen doesn't always have to be white, cream or beige.  Blues and browns look just as good.

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Lightweight clothing is, after all, more about the weight of the fabric than the colour and even a suit in a lighter wool fabric - say, 8oz or so - can have cooling properties. 

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Boating blazers are another summer option that can come in a bewildering array of colours.  Some tend to be more gaudy than others so it can be a matter of personal taste what colours you prefer, if any. 

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Jasper Conran navy college stripe blazer
£49.50 @ Debenhams
Jasper Conran navy narrow stripe blazer
£29.70 @ Debenhams (currently sold out)












One of the best places I have found for decent boating blazers in recent years is Debenhams, whose Jasper Conran concession usually has a couple of styles each year.  Their current stock includes two rather fetching blues and I can attest to their quality, having tried couple on in my local branch last weekend.  Alas sizes are limited and my humble purse cannot quite stretch even to sale prices, so I've yet to own one of these beauties.

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Finally I want to touch upon the more casual vintage summer look - an area that I freely admit to having little knowledge of.  In the back of my mind I feel sure I have seen pictures at some time of men in the 1930s (including Noël Coward, Fred Astaire et al.) wearing open-necked short-sleeved shirts while at the beach or on holiday.  Yet my most recent researches can throw up precious little imagery or information beyond the usual sporting [tennis] wear, such as that in my 1940s Fashion Sourcebook.  Certainly this is an aspect of vintage menswear that deserves further investigation, as it would be nice to get a more casual Thirties look before I wilt in the next heatwave.

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On the subject of tennis shirts, my parting offering comes courtesy of Miss Rayne's Vintage Chic blog, which I have followed for some time and which Google happened to throw up as a result during my searching.  This knitted tennis shirt from the 1930s looks a pip, doesn't it?  I've tried getting mater to have a bash at it but she remains firmly unconvinced, not least because we can't work out from the pattern whether the needle size is correct, which needles to cast on with and what wool to use - any suggestions?

There, then, are my thoughts and desires on what the vintage-loving chap can wear to survive global warming.  As it's forecast to remain warm for at least another month (and in the long term get warmer still if climate change scientists are to be believed) I hope to be able to employ some of these smashing styles.  I'd love to know what you think, and what you're doing to keep cool!  Anyone for Pimms?!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Amelia Earhart mystery – 1937 photograph could be clue to her fate

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Amelia Earhart mystery – 1937 photograph could be clue to her fate 

Back in June of 2013 I blogged about the news of the latest evidence pointing to the popular theory regarding the disappearance of noted aviatrix Amelia Earhart and her co-pilot Fred Noonan during their attempted around-the-world flight in 1937.  This theory has it that Earhart and Noonan missed their scheduled refuelling stop at the tiny (< 1 mile square) Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean and flew on in their twin-engined Lockheed Electra until forced to come down on one of a group of then-uninhabited atolls known as the Phoenix Islands - probably the larger Gardner Island (now known as Nikumaroro).

This hypothesis is by no means a recent one - Gardner Island was identified as a potential emergency landing ground almost immediately after the Electra's disappearance and reconnaissance flights were made over the atoll during the initial two-week official search, with pilots noting "signs of recent habitation" but no "answering wave from possible inhabitants" when they zoomed low over the rocks.  Later private searches including around the Phoenix Islands produced no evidence of pilots or machine and their ultimate fate has been the subject of investigations and conspiracy theories for three-quarters of a century.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHER) - a non-profit organisation founded in 1985 for "aviation archaeology and historic preservation" - have been pursuing the Gardner Island theory for several years now, culminating in last year's expedition to Nikumaroro where sonar scans of the surrounding sea bed threw up an odd shadow 600ft below the waves that could be the remains of the Electra.

Piece of metal may offer clue to disappearance of Amelia Earhart's plane

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Now TIGHER are following up another lead with the discovery of a previously unknown photograph (which can be seen in the original Miami Herald article) of Earhart's Lockheed Electra at Miami Municipal Airport on the 1st June 1937, shortly before take-off for the next stint of the journey to Puerto Rico.  In it, a detail not seen in any other photo of the time - a sheet of metal covering what would previously have been a window.  More intriguingly, no record of this repair exists among all the documentation linked to Earhart's flight.

Among the many artefacts that TIGHAR have brought back from Nikumaroro - which include a 1930s-style woman's shoe (similar to ones worn by Earhart), bearings & tools, metal zips and pieces of Plexiglas almost identical in shape and design to that used on the Electra - is a section of aluminium panel bearing 1930s construction techniques.  It is this piece of metal that researchers are now closely comparing to a computer-enhanced blow-up of this never-before-seen image in the hope that they can match the rivet patterns and so prove beyond doubt that Earhart and Noonan did not crash into the Pacific Ocean but did indeed make it to Gardner Island, where they may have even survived for a time before succumbing to starvation and exposure.

If it can be proved that the aluminium panel seen in this new picture matches the piece recovered from Nikumaroro then it must surely settle beyond doubt one of the most enduring mysteries in aviation history - one that has remained unsolved for 77 years.  While this would not be the first bit of tangible evidence suggesting the Electra landed on Gardner Island, and with the Pacific Ocean ditch still a possibility, if the rivet patterns do match it will - taken with the other items found - be as conclusive as possible proof that the last resting place of Amelia Earhart, one of the greatest women pilots of the 20th century, has been found.  I for one certainly look forward to finding out!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Eyes on the prize

More time than I would have liked has passed since my last post - for various reasons, some of which will become apparent as they take the form of this entry.  I've still got a few exciting posts planned for the next few weeks, including the latest twist in the 77-year-old mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance and the 75 years since the first appearance of Batman, but in the meantime I feel a post letting you know what I've been up to in the last couple of weeks is a good idea.

You may have noticed that I tend to disappear from the blogosphere for a week or so at the beginning of each month - this is when I help a friend and [ex-]colleague out with the new(ish) business that he's helping to get going, and which has constituted my "working life" for the last 3 years as I've slowly recovered from the attentions of various doctors.  Alas I think even my friend would agree that starting a new company can be a painfully long and drawn out (and often unsuccessful) process so I've been spending an equal amount of time searching for a longer term guaranteed full-time job, especially now those same doctors are practically giving "get a job" as medical advice and there are bills to be paid (not to mention the obvious social and mental benefits of gainful employment).

Well dear reader, I've got one!  The plans for earning a living as a blogger/freelance writer with an online vintage shop will have to be put on hold indefinitely (!) as I return instead to my "career bread-and-butter" - research analysis.  I received the offer yesterday and start on the 4th August, which at least gives me time to get everything in order and prepare myself for my first proper full-time job in 3 years.  Wish me luck!

A casual office, sadly, so not much of this. 
I'll have to be more creative in my work attire,
at least for the first few weeks...(!)
What this means for Eclectic Ephemera is, of course, the introduction of a proper posting schedule - most likely along the lines of one or two posts at the weekend (and maybe the odd one mid-week if I can find the time).  I feel sure this will work out well in the long run, as I know many of you work to a regular timetable in order to fit blogging around a normal 9-5 job.  I mean, Norton Of Morton sticks to a Saturday at 4'o'clock and he's just won Best Vintage Blog at the 2014 National Vintage Awards, so this could be just the thing, by Jove!  Rest assured that whatever happens I've no intention of going anywhere and I continue to look forward to reading your blogs and your continued patronage to Eclectic Ephemera.

Timeless/verging on retro, or dangerously postmodern/
looking like an architect...?  Either way, they're sitting
in a drawer in two pieces now.
In other news, I visit the local optician next Friday for my biennial eye test and - whatever the result - a new pair of spectacles.  This is on account of my existing glasses breaking in a boring yet bizarre fashion  (a gentle application of hand to brow during a giggling fit at the latest edition of The Chap proved too much for a pair of specs that must have been at least 6 years old and metal fatigue finally claimed them - right across the nose bridge but at a point where it was impossible to repair them).  It could not have happened at a worse moment (although it was bound to at some point) - the afternoon before my first job interview last Wednesday!  A frantic dash to the optician only confirmed that they were indeed beyond help, with a two day wait to have my current lenses fitted to new frames.  Fortunately I still had an ancient pair of specs from a previous prescription that have been pressed into service once again, although after six years of smaller, lighter glasses these are frustratingly over-sized and heavy.

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One step closer to this...
I made my appointment while I was there - somewhat presciently it was almost two years since my last test anyway (and a reminder card popped through the letterbox a day later) - and had a look at the frames on offer.  I was pleased to see that my local optician has finally jumped on the "vintage" bandwagon by offering a selection of retro frames but disappointed to note that the selection took up all of two display columns, out of the 40-odd in the place.  Tucked out of the way, with two laminated "Vintage" and "Retro" signs wedged above them, the majority of specs were either 1960s NHS/Austin Powers/Michael Caine or nondescript 1980s/'90s styles.  I hummed and aaahed over some pairs that were either the same as my old ones or the rounder tortoiseshell style that I've fancied for a while now, before finally making my decision.  The ones I've picked are round but not too large and in a dark tortoiseshell.  Not too dark either, as the two caterpillars that have set up home above my eyes make black/heavy-framed glasses a no-no, but these are thin enough that I ought to be able to get away with it.

I'll maybe try and debut them on here next weekend, after which I'll be looking forward - through new spectacles - to a new job and a fresh start this summer.

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