Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!

To all and to everyone, the very best wishes for 2011.

A question of time, or: Where did the last ten years go?

As this first year of a new decade draws to an end it would seem to be a suitable opportunity to write about an anomaly that has been in the back of my mind for a while now. This is not just going to be a blog bemoaning the speed in which the last 10 years have passed – although I do find myself more and more wailing “It wasn't that long ago, was it?!” – but something linked to the passage of time.

To put it another way – if I were to say “80 years ago”, what time period would you think of? I, for one, still think of eighty years ago as being 1920-29 but it’s not, is it? Eighty years ago would put us firmly in the 1930s. Seventy years ago the Second World War was raging; in a little over a year’s time it will be the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic and two years later 100 years since the beginning of the First World War. This is what I can’t get my head around; my brain – my internal historic clock, if you will – is stuck. I still think of 70 years ago as the Thirties, 80 years as the Twenties and so on. It’s as if, linearly, the last ten years are meaningless. Go back even further and it gets even vaguer – 100 years ago still conjures up images of the late Victorian period; any time between 1880 and 1900, really, when again 100 years ago is actually 1911(!).

It’s then that it suddenly occurs to me that the eras of which I am most fond are drifting further into the mists of time – very soon I shall be hankering after the clothes, the manners, the machines of one hundred years ago! How did that happen?! If I still think of it as 70-80 years ago, it doesn’t seem so bad somehow. And I wonder, as time marches on, whether these periods be forgotten by all but those of us with an interest and if others will look upon us vintage enthusiasts with even greater puzzlement as our favourite eras become ever more removed from the present. When the last World War Two veteran dies, will our memory, our understanding of that time change? Or is there something about those early decades of the 20th Century that still resonates with us today and so will ensure a more permanent place in our minds?

Speaking as a vintage aficionado and history buff I find that immersing myself in my chosen period as much as possible keeps it fresh and ageless as well as sometimes, as I mentioned previously, leaving me feeling out of step with the modern age. A good example would be: music. I tend to listen to more music from the ‘20s and ‘30s than from any other time period, although I do of course listen to and enjoy some modern artists as well. The upshot of this constant Jazz Age soundtrack is that I forget that the music is so old – it takes on what I imagine must be the same characteristics as modern music does to most other people. Even when I hear a tune that is new to me, I don’t think “that’s an old song but I’ve never heard it before” but rather “wow, that’s a new tune!”

So I may have just answered my own rambling question – if you really feel an affinity to a certain period, then the passage of time since is immaterial. Again we are not trying to pretend that the last however many years never happened or that somehow then is preferable to now but that by living in the image of the best of those times we are in some small way keeping their memory alive.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

A World's Fair look into the future

A World's Fair look into the future

This originally came to my attention last week just after I had posted my "last blog before Christmas", so I held it back until now. It seems more fitting to do a post about retro-futurism as the new year looms, anyway.

What it must have been like to have attended one of these fantastical shows I can scarcely imagine. It amazes me that, with the Depression in full swing and another world war looming, they were put on at all. It's almost as if a blind eye was being turned against the troubles of the world but then, that is was escapism is all about really. It is a wonderful testament to the human qualities of hope and imagination that, even in the face of so much trouble, people were willing to dream and look to the future in so grandiose a fashion.

We mostly look back now at these visions of the future with a mixture of derision and regret. By applying Thirties Modernism to conjure up an idea of the future as it then was these fairs created buildings, machines and furniture in a style that appeals to us vintage fans today. Streamlining, geometric lines, dark woods mixed with metals and giant domes and spires makes what we have today look cheap and staid by comparison and leaves us wondering - why couldn't it be like that now? On the other hand the idea of a smoking robot housekeeper is a rather far-fetched bit of silliness. Still, this is what retro-futurism is all about - to us, some aspects of the present haven't turned out as well as forefathers envisioned they would, so we look back and marvel at some of the designs and inventions that people 70 or 80 years ago thought we would be using today.

It remains in a sense a snapshot of the period for, although this was a glimpse into the future, it was done using the styles of the time so it is only the past's idea of another age (confused yet?). However you choose to look at it though there's no denying that they were amazing yet sadly unfulfilled flights of fancy.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christmas comes but once a year

Well here we again, what? Another Christmas over all too quickly and the year fast waning. I hope you all had a marvelous time, whatever you did and wherever you were. Christmas and Boxing Day were spent at the old family abode with just a small gathering of my nearest and dearest. Next year is lining up to be quite a busy one almost straight from the off, with many good (and, on the face of it, less good but necessary) things planned, all of which will hopefully conspire to make 2011 a far better year than this one but which meant that a full-blown family Christmas wasn't on the cards. Still, I have high hopes for next year - 11 is my favourite number, after all! - and it is my wish that we will all have happier times ahead.

To return to a lighter note, despite being a rather subdued affair over rather suddenly it wasn't a bad Christmas. Although we didn't have turkey this year again (lamb last year, beef & ham this) I was able to introduce a pheasant to the table for the second year running to add a bit of vintage fare to proceedings. This year mater discovered the delights of close-harmony female vocal groups so one of her presents included CDs by The Andrews Sisters and The Puppini Sisters (or, as she will keep calling them, the Panini Sisters!) so maybe I'm finally starting to rub off on her a bit! They provided a great soundtrack to the day along with the selection of recently posted vintage Christmas tunes (which even had my nan bopping away as best she could!). Needless to say I borrowed the CDs immediately to pop on my own iPod so they were almost a joint present in a way.

Here you can see my little haul of gifts which included some lovely surprises - a vintage Christmas card (above) and some silk pocket squares from my aunt in America, a Lancaster bomber calendar and a print of the map of my home town 200 years ago from one of my sisters. CDs of one of my favourite [modern] artists, Bruce Hornsby, and Caro Emerald - a recent discovery I've mentioned before. A DVD box set of one of my favourite Fifties TV programmes - The Phil Silvers Show, starring the inimitable Phil Silvers as M/Sgt. Ernest G. Bilko, and a Steampunkesque computer game round it out. I shall be entertained for some time to come, methinks!

As I look forward to a quiet New Year's Eve in, I wish you all a happy and healthy 2011 and look forward to another year in Blogland. For now, tinkerty-tonk!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night

This will almost certainly be my last post before the day itself, so it just remains for me to wish you all - family, friends, followers and readers from around the world(!) - compliments of the season, a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday.

It has become something of a little tradition with me to have a mini-marathon of Christmas-themed episodes of my favourite TV programmes in the days running up to the 25th. So to finish up with here is a run-down of my pre-Christmas viewing thus far:

The episode of A Nero Wolfe Mystery, the much underrated adaptation of the Rex Stout novels that ran for far too short a time between 2001 and 2002 (plus the pilot in 2000), entitled Wolfe Goes Out. Interestingly in the original North American airings it is actually shown as two separate episodes - Door To Death and Christmas Party - but for the European version they were spliced together and some previously unseen footage added in the middle to provide a seamless transition. I love this series; there are some great ideas for men's - and ladies - fashions, there's a brilliant use of colour and Maury Chakin and Timothy Hutton are perfect as Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. That it was cancelled after only two seasons, is barely shown in the UK and is not available on Region 2 DVD is an absolute travesty.



Anyway, putting that aside, my next treat was The Blue Carbuncle, the Christmas episode of the 1980s Granada TV adaptation of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Starring the incomparable Jeremy Brett this is a smashing story, with a delightful Victorian Christmas ambience.

For a bit of light relief I turned to a series of Laurel & Hardy shorts, beginning with their most well-known Christmas-themed film, Big Business. For those of you not familiar with the plot, our heroes are Christmas tree salesmen plying their trade in sunny California(!). They fail to sell a single tree and end up involved in a running battle with one particularly reluctant customer, which ends in destruction and hilarity.

In The Fixer-Uppers Stan and Ollie are Christmas card salesmen who, in their own inimitable fashion, try to help one female customer win back her husband, only for after several funny misunderstandings to end up facing him in a duel!

The films Below Zero and Laughing Gravy make no mention of Christmas but are set in the winter and do feature a lot of snow! In Below Zero the Boys are buskers trying to make a dime or two in the freezing conditions, before the chance discovery of a dropped wallet and a run-in with a cop leads to predictably side-splitting results. The wonderfully-titled Laughing Gravy has Stan and Ollie in all sorts of trouble as they try to hide the existence of Stan's pet dog of the title (and what a great name for a dog!) from their landlord as a blizzard rages outside.

Laurel & Hardy also posed for several publicity shots with a Christmas theme. Here are a few:


Starting shortly on Channel 4 (2:20pm) is the original 1947 version of Miracle On 34th Street, so that's another Christmas classic taken care of - I shall certainly be settling down to watch that. The 1994 remake, which is quite decent, is on ITV1 tomorrow at 12:55pm as well.



Then tonight I shall finish off with Hercule Poirot's Christmas, the 1995 Christmas episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot, starring the peerless David Suchet. Tomorrow morning I'll be off to the family pile to spend Christmas with the old folks, so whatever you may be up to may your Christmas bring joy, happiness and good cheer (plus plenty of food, drink and presents of course!) and I'll be back before the New Year.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Travelling in snow - 1920s style!

Sitting inside looking out on a vista of snow-covered cars and rooftops, watching news reports of cancelled trains and impassable motorways, I was suddenly reminded of my vehicle of choice that I would use to overcome these conditions - the Ford Model T Snowmobile!

Designed and sold by a New Hampshire Ford dealer in 1922, the Snowmobile could apparently travel over snow 2½ feet deep at a speed of about 18mph. Sounds like the perfect machine for this weather, doesn't it? Just imagine sailing past everyone on the M5 in one of these!



The conversion kit (donor cars were standard Ts) was expensive, though - almost as much as the car itself! Still it was popular with country doctors, utility companies, public services and anyone who lived in areas subject to heavy snowfall. Over 3,000 were built between 1922 and 1929 and many still survive today.

Thankfully I don't need to go out today so I can stay in, cosy and warm, and marvel at these historic solutions to problems that continue to trouble us even now. If it's still like this when I have to go out, I'll wish I had a Model T Snowmobile waiting in the car park!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Monopoly celebrates its 75th anniversary



I came across this short film yesterday (and again, apologies to those of you outside the British Isles who may not be able to view it) which reminds us that 2010 is the 75th anniversary of Monopoly. Inspired by this and Tickety Boo Tupney's series on traditional family games I thought I would base a post around this King of board games.

Monopoly has long been one of my favourite board games (I love the '30s vibe I get every time I play it) which makes it all the more galling that no-one else in my family enjoys playing it ("It's too boring and long-winded" seems to be the general consensus. Booo!). I'm lucky if I get the chance to play it more than once or twice a year with friends (*sob*). As a family we used to have a donkey's years old basic version - board held together with sellotape, banknotes torn, that sort of thing - which was originally one of 3 that my grandparents had for some reason.

A few years ago I treated myself to my own new Monopoly set, the wonderfully traditional (and austere!) Nostalgia Edition (or, as the teenage girl behind the Argos counter called it, "Noss-, noz-... Nosaltalger Edition? Yeah, whateva!") - a half-price bargain at only £10! As you can see it comes in a lovely wooden box (complete with little grooves to hold the money), simple wooden houses and hotels and little brass tokens, including a steam train in lieu of the battleship. Although most of the Chance and Community Chest cards are familiar, a few are brilliantly of the period and always make me smile.

Of course, my dream Monopoly set would undoubtedly be the 70th Anniversary Edition from five years ago, which is a beautifully Art Deco rendering of this classic game. The board is suitably embellished, the hotels look more like skyscrapers and the tokens are gorgeous (right). I can't say I care much for the modern redesign (a circular board, digital counter, property prices in the millions? - pah!) or the myriad themed versions that seem to spring up every other week but then, I am a traditionalist (in case you hadn't guessed!).

It is understandable though, as the film makes clear, that board games - and particularly Monopoly - have to move with the times and reinvent themselves if they are to hold the attention of the Playstation generation. Just so long as they keep producing the original version and designs like those mentioned above, I shan't complain. As the report also suggests, Monopoly's continued popularity may be down to the fact that, however much London may have changed in the past three-quarters of a century, the streets and landmarks still exist in one form or another and so provide a tangible link to the game. (When Waddington's bought the European rights to Monopoly from Parker Bros. in 1935, the managing director and his secretary toured the streets of London to come up with British equivalents. For a humorous yet fascinating insight into the history of Monopoly and its London locations I recommend the book Do Not Pass Go: From the Old Kent Road to Mayfair by travel writer Tim Moore). Plus, in these cash-strapped times who wouldn't like to own an hotel on Mayfair? As long as there are recessions, there will be a place for Monopoly, I feel. Now all I need to do is find someone to play it with!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A snapshot of life in Britain more than 50 years ago

I'm sure most if not all of my UK-based readers will have been watching the Time To Remember series that has been running for some time now on BBC Four. For those of you outside the British Isles or without digital television, this programme consists of a selection of 1920s-30s British Pathé newsreels on various subjects which in the 1950s were spliced together and narrated by some well-known actors of the day including Ralph Richardson, Basil Rathbone, Anthony Quayle and Roger Livesy. These have now been reworked into half-hour long shows with the odd bit of modern narration between the excerpts. Suffice to say they have all been captivating and I am well and truly hooked.



It was with some interest, therefore, that I read yesterday (I won't say where, or provide a link this time, because the original article was so biased and patronising that it actually incensed me - thankfully it was not one of my usual sources) that the British Film Council is releasing a series of cultural and educational films about British life in the 1940s and 1950s, which have been recently digitised having languished in the archives unseen for over 30 years. These 15- to 20-minute films were originally intended to be shown abroad, and to explain and promote the British way of life. A sort of 1940s tourist information advert, in a sense.

At the moment only 13 have been uploaded and are available to view, but apparently there are 160 in all - yes, one hundred and sixty! - and all of them will eventually be added to the archive website. One other good thing to have come out of this project is that some of the people working on it are funded by a charity set up to help the young unemployed.



These three are my favourites so far, but I think you'll agree that they're all a fascinating insight into life in Britain 60-70 years ago and I can't wait to see what else is to come. There are many values on display (not to mentions fashions!) that we'd all like to see making a return in today's lifestyle. Some show an existence that has long since vanished in this country, some show activities that continue in some form today, a few remain informative and relevant even now; all are spellbinding.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

What does vintage mean to me?

There has been a great deal of talk about the "modern vintage scene" on the vintage blogosphere recently and at least one troll has come up from under their bridge to attack one of the finest proponents of the vintage lifestyle. Rather than repeat my point of view on half a dozen blogs, I thought instead that I would write a post about it.

"What sparked your interest in vintage?" is another popular question at the moment and for me it started at an early age. Around the age of 8 I started watching Laurel & Hardy and Harold Lloyd comedies. I loved not only the comedy but also the fashions, the cars, the cities and the buildings; in short, I became enthralled with the 1920s and 1930s. By the time I was eleven I was listening to the likes of Glenn Miller over more popular modern music and reading anything I could lay may hands on that was set in or about the period.

Where this fascination came from I have no idea as there's no-one in my family who's shared this interest (in fact I have long been described as "weird", "strange", "odd" - charming, eh?!). I enjoyed staying with my grandparents and going with them to their social club far more than I ever did socialising with my peers, but whether that is a reason or just a product of something that was already there I can't say. I have always had old-fashioned manners and clear-cut morals, probably from my father's side; there is also a slight theatrical/musical history on my maternal family's side that perhaps may account for some small influence in regards to my interest in period fashion and culture, although it's only been in the last 3 or 4 years that I've started seriously looking at proper vintage fashions and ideas for myself.

"You were born in the wrong era" is something I too, along with many others I've found, have been told time and again and this seems to be the crux of the discussion. Now, I'm a scientific, rational kind of chap (although I like to think I keep an open mind) but there have been times in my life when I have seriously wondered about past life, forms of reincarnation, that sort of thing. There have been occasions when a song, a film or a news item from 80-odd years ago has engendered such a sense of affinity in me that it feels like I've lived it and I suddenly feel really out of step with the modern age. That kind of thing and the lack of any real outside influence on my interests sometimes makes me wonder but it is a whimsical theory, nothing more.

What I would not have liked, in accordance with pretty much every other vintage blogger it seems, would be to go back and live in that time permanently. I think the reasons why are fairly clear and have been done to death on other blogs; in my own case having been up and down health-wise in the last couple of years I may not have even survived in the '20s and '30s. Even we vintage aficionados know that we have a lot to be thankful for in the advancements of science, medicine and social mobility. This (finally, you'll be pleased to hear) brings me to the nub of the matter for me and, I believe, the majority of vintage fans: we look back and appreciate from the time what appeals to our tastes - the fashions, the machinery, the architecture, the art etc. whilst acknowledging the bad parts - poverty, racism, war etc., take the best parts and transpose them into our lives today. If that's having your cake and eating it, then all I can say is - YUM!

This is what has also led to my interest in the Steampunk movement and retro-futurism - the marriage of Victorian (Edwardian, 1920s through 1950s) morals and aesthetics with modern technology. It is also what drew me to the Chap movement; although somewhat tongue-in-cheek and self-deprecating behind it all there is a kernel of truth. I think we would all agree that present-day society is lacking something compared with that of 60-100 years ago - manners, morals, politeness, style. These are the things we see in the past and long for again and for me keeps me interested in trying to live the vintage way, in the modern world.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Allard J2X MK II Roadster to go on sale in Europe

Allard J2X MK II Roadster to go on sale in Europe

Well, after quite a few personal posts of late it's nice to get back to some vintage news from elsewhere on the interweb. This story originally broke a month ago but due to the aforementioned posts and a dearth of retro news items recently, I'm blogging about it now.

Allard cars were originally produced in Britain for 30 years between 1936 and 1966, the company having been founded by one Sydney Allard. Primarily a sports car manufacturer, although a few saloon models were also sold, Allard produced its own designs in London and used big American Ford V8 engines and mechanicals to create lots of power in a lightweight body making the cars ideal for racing. Indeed Allards driven by Sydney Allard himself won the 1949 British Hillclimb Championship, the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally, came third in the 1950 Le Mans endurance race and were owned by the likes of Steve McQueen and Carroll Shelby (almost certainly influencing the latter in the creation of the Shelby Cobra). The zenith of Allard's race-bred motor cars could be said to be the J2X Roadster (above) but somewhat paradoxically it is one of the rarest, only 83 being produced between 1951 and 1954.

However it has been possible for some time to buy an accurate "recreation" of the J2X from the new Allard Motor Works, based in Montreal, Canada. Staying true to Sydney Allard's original ethos, the J2X MkII is painstakingly hand-built by Allard in Canada (and north-east America) and still uses a big 'ol American V8, albeit this time a GM unit (the same engine that's in the Corvette, as it happens). So accurate and traditional are the product and methods that the British Allard Register recognises these cars as though their own and awards each finished vehicle a certificate and fully-sanctioned serial number. Although it has always been possible to unofficially import one of these "new" Allards into the British Isles as this article explains they will now be available through a proper UK dealer.

It is always a delight (for me, anyway) to see a successful marriage of classic vintage style with modern practices and this car is another perfect example of that. Now they will become [slightly] more readily available in Europe and hopefully ensure the continued success of Allard Motor Works and the memory of Sydney Allard.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Decking the halls

Around the second week of December was when my family usually brought out the Christmas tree and decorations and it's a tradition that I've continued in my own home. So today was the day earmarked for getting out the decs and my little artificial tree.

The tree itself was actually left behind by the previous occupant of my flat and is just the right size for the living room, not to mention surprisingly sturdy and realistic. So right from the get-go I had the most important decoration all buttoned up, with no need to worry about getting another every year and spending all of Christmas vacuuming up dropped needles, plus there was some decent tinsel included as well.

The rest of the decorations were almost all purchased a few years ago from the once great and much-missed high street emporium that was Woolworths. They were doing a 3 for 2 offer on all decorations in the run-up to Christmas, as I recall, so I was able to amass 24 red and gold baubles (turns out the tree is only really big enough to take half that number, but it's always good to have spares!) 3 of these lovely gold reindeer bell rings (proper jingly ones too!) and three stars including the main one for the top of the tree, all for about £10. Oh Woolies, whyfor did you have to go bankrupt?! ;-(

Around the same time Past Times were doing a similar offer, so I was able to get a set of three Victorian-style candles, this wonderfully traditional Father Christmas and his sleigh, plus this delightful glass fairy.

Perhaps unsurprisingly I'm a sucker for an old-fashioned Christmas tree of red and gold, so I was lucky to find all these items in those colours. I never tire of that combination and I like to think that, with my limited means, I've managed to create a pretty decent looking Christmas tree. Not bad for a chap, eh?


All set for the festivities to begin now, methinks!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Book of the week(end)

Or rather, books.

This weekend I visited my parents and Saturday found me in the local library returning a book. The perennial book sale trolley was by the door and at a glance appeared to contain all the usual suspects - 6-year-old travel guides and computer manuals, large print mystery novels and - I had to laugh - a mint copy of Katie Price's autobiography. Ah, schadenfreude! Still, I had a closer look; there was a pile of books toward the back that looked promising and it always pays to have a delve about, even if nothing automatically catches your eye. It turned out to be one of those funny yet welcome occasions where the first couple of books were nothing of interest, then - oh! that's a good one, and the next one too, ah! and the third... I ended up uncovering four books in a row from this little pile that I cradled in my arms and took to the desk.

The first was a clean copy of Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, the final Poirot mystery by Agatha Christie. I've a few Poirot stories in my collection (not to mention the David Suchet DVD box set!) but I haven't read this one since I left college almost 10 years ago. I look forward to reacquainting myself with this final story.

Then came Philip Reeve's award-winning 2001 novel Mortal Engines (left). I'd heard good things about this story from the Steampunk community as apparently it is set in some far-off alternate future where cities have become giant floating airships(!). Although ostensibly a children's book, many are written in such a style that they can be enjoyed by adults; certainly I have read several supposedly "children's" books - most notably the Biggles stories - and found them engrossing and not at all unsophisticated. Mortal Engines is the first of a series of 4 books, so I will be interested to see if I enjoy this with a view to reading the others.

The first of the big-money books (by which I mean "jackpot!" rather than expensive - at 50p each they certainly weren't!) - Fashion Sourcebooks: The 1940s. This little gem contains 329 duotone illustrations charting the year-on year progress of men's and women's fashions from 1940 to 1949 in wonderful detail. Split into Day Wear, Evening Wear, Sports and Leisure Wear, Accessories, Underwear and Wedding Wear, each picture has detailed descriptions and summaries of colours, cut, necklines, lapels, sleeves, pockets, fastenings, buttons - you name it! I shall certainly be drawing some sartorial inspiration from this book, let me tell you! There is also a 1930s edition (and ones for every decade up to the 1970s), which I shall be keeping a lookout for.

By far the greatest find, though, was this mint (well, the library's plastic jacket was torn, but the book itself was fine) hardback The Orient Express: The History of the Orient Express Service from 1883 - 1950. A veritable treasure-trove of facts, figures, enthralling stories and over 100 rare photographs. One that particularly caught my eye as I leafed through it was this photo from 1929 (below), rather apt considering the recent weather conditions I thought! The Orient Express has always held a fascination for me and it would be my dream to travel on its spiritual successor - the Venice-Simplon Orient Express - one day. Until then I can now lose myself in this wonderful book.

It never ceases to amaze me how the library service can come to part with such recent, fresh copies of books like this but a glance at the infrequent loan history on the inside page gives a clue as to why. In many ways it's a pity but then, their loss is my gain! The whole lot came to less than £1.50 (the Orient Express book alone was £16.99 new!) and I came away a very happy chappy.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Caramba...! Tintin!!


According to Blogger Stats, by far and away the most read post since I started this blog was the news back in November 2009 that the new Tintin film - scheduled for release next year - was "finished" (in that all the dialogue had been recorded). Over 100 views in 24 hours (the next most popular was only 10!)!!

Perhaps this is not so surprising - even after 81 years Tintin still has a loyal following all over the world; not just here, in France and his home country of Belgium but as far afield as Canada, India and Tibet. So it was only a matter of time before the stories were turned into a film but it is only now, having bought the rights after the death of Tintin's creator Georges Remi ("Herge" was his nickname, derived from the French pronunciation of his initials read in reverse - "RG") in 1983, that Steven Spielberg has embarked on a movie venture.

Tintin holds many happy memories for me and I have no hesitation in naming him as a role model when I was growing up. I fondly remember, as I'm sure many of my readers do too, watching the 1991 series The Adventures of Tintin - the box set I now have on DVD! The first 1974 series Herge's Adventures of Tintin is also well-remembered by older members of my family. Despite the comic-book origins, I love the realism of the stories and particularly the time period and settings. The exotic locations that Tintin travelled to on his adventures have a real sense of immediacy and as a boy introduced me and drew me in to a whole other world - a world of 1930s aeroplanes, cars and ocean liners, of strange tribes and evil foreign villains! I have read - and still do read - all the books and am in the process of collecting all the stories again.


If this film can have the same impact on today's children then that would be brilliant. It certainly sounds incredibly promising - a trilogy based on 3 of the books (The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure), the first to be directed by Spielberg, the second by Peter Jackson and the third by the two of them. Motion capture 3D (a live action Tintin series was tried in the 1970s, I think, but was unsuccessful), Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Sherlock) one of the scriptwriters and with a great voice cast - Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, King Kong) as Tintin, Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Burke & Hare) as Captain Haddock, Daniel Craig as the main villain and Nick Frost & Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) as Thomson & Thompson, this could easily be my film of the year. The pictures that appear throughout this post were released recently and they only serve to heighten my anticipation. Roll on 2011!



N.B. In case you're wondering, the title of this thread comes from one of my favourite (and there are many!) exclamations from the books and series, usually uttered by some shady Latin type on the appearance of our hero. I admit that I sometimes try to work "Caramba!" into everyday conversation. ;-)

Friday, 3 December 2010

I must be doing something right...

...because I've just received another blog award, once again from generous Jenny over at The Life and Times of a Vintage Obsessive. Aren't I Mr Popular all of a sudden?! Thank you Jenny!

I'm flattered to receive a second award so soon after the first and any lingering doubts I may have had that this blog was for my benefit alone - in that it saves me from drowning in a sea of newspaper cuttings like some cranky old man - have been well and truly dispelled. Thank you all for your continued interest; I love reading your comments and seeing which posts are popular - so keep 'em coming!

Same deal with this award as with the last one - acknowledge the bestower, post the award on your blog, then pass it on to 15 fellow bloggers. As I mentioned previously, I had a struggle finding 15 blogs to pass the previous award on to (not through lack of talent, I hasten to add) so this time I'll have no chance unless I repeat myself. Many awarders have the same problem, though, so the of selecting fewer than 15 blogs is commonplace. I have therefore chosen 5 new and fairly disparate blogs that I enjoy following:


Crinoline Robot

Dieselpunk

The Vintage Knitter

This Old Life

Webomator Blog


Congratulations, thanks and have a great weekend everybody! Tinkerty-tonk!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The family business

An aunt of mine who has lived in Pittsburgh for the last 16 years has recently taken to visiting estate sales (or house clearances, as they are known here) in west Pennsylvania. Many of my readers - mostly in America, where it is more commonplace - will be familiar with the concept; there's often a bargain or two to be had at these things, so I understand. I wish we had more events like that here in Britain, some of the things my aunt has found are amazing!

Anyway, this aunt has got quite adept at spotting many a great find at these clearances, so much so that she and her gentleman friend have set up shop at both eBay and Amazon. By all accounts the venture is a roaring success and most days find them travelling up and down the state attending various sales. This has resulted in an eBay store that in a way is a bit like this blog - a variety of articles of a vintage nature. Great care has been taken to research the history of each and every item and descriptions are accurate and detailed; needless to say everything is fair and above board.

Now, this blogger is not above a little bit of harmless nepotism (!) and it occurred to me that many of the items featured in the store would appeal to my readers. So from now on if you scroll to the bottom of the page you should see a little widget (or blidget, or eejit, or whatever these things are called) detailing a few items and linking to my aunt's website. Or just click on the picture at the top of this post.

There are a whole host of items that, as I said, you might find really tempting. Even I have to restrain myself when browsing - but don't worry, my favouritism doesn't extend to having things "kept back" for me(!). It's all fair here! Highlights for me include this portable wind-up gramophone (right) and this tea and coffee pot set (above) but there really is something for everyone. Hats and jewellery for the ladies, razors and cameras for the chaps, and a whole host of other items in between!

So whether you're after that something a little different for a Christmas present or, like me, just enjoy browsing places like eBay for vintage and longing for half the items that get thrown up, there's now another store for you to look through. Thanks for reading!

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