Saturday 8 October 2011

Well, I'll be bowed...

Just when I thought it had finally been forgotten about, up pops that flippin' red-and-white bow cardigan again - as originally sported by Miss Lemon in an episode of Poirot.  This time it is the turn of the utterly charming and achingly authentic Nabby of This Old Life to take inspiration from this ubiquitous garment.

Not only that, but she has been kind enough to pass on a blog award to me.  The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award, no less!  Thanks awfully, Nabs!
Now the familiar caveat with this gong is that I have to share 7 random facts about myself.  Bearing in mind I struggled to think of seven interesting things the last time I got one of these awards, this could easily turn into something of a snore-fest.

(i) I used to do quite a few mountain walks and fell climbing in my younger days.  Mainly in Britain; such stunning locations as the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, the Peak District and North Wales but also to places in Austria, Switzerland and Germany.  I've climbed "unaided" (haha) up to 3,000 feet (and it was great fun watching the training aircraft from the local RAF station flying past a few hundred feet below were we were) and in Switzerland I went to the top of Mount Titlis (no giggling at the back!), via cable car I hasten to add, which is a staggering 10,000 feet high!  All this when I was still in my early teens.  Health permitting I would like to take it up again one day.  I still have my trusty fell-walking stick!

(ii) I also used to be something of a speed walker.  Never took it up as a sport, but being rather long of leg I would whiz from point A to point B quicker than you could say "Jack Robinson"(!) - without ever breaking into a run ("a gentleman will walk but never run", as Mr Sting sang in that favourite song of mine).  Although I've been forced to slow down a little in recent years I still find myself outpacing most people, and as a consequence I can't stand dawdlers (only if I've got somewhere to go, of course - if I were browsing the high street or strolling in the park I might check my pace a bit) or folk who wander about seemingly in a daze, stopping in the most inconvenient of places.  By Jove, that gets on my nerves!  Oxford Street had the right idea a few years ago, trialling a "fast lane" and "slow lane" on the pavements there.  If I were in charge, that would be rolled out nationwide!

(iii) During one of my aforementioned walking holidays, being a huge fan I visited the Laurel & Hardy Museum in Stan Laurel's home town of Ulverston, Cumbria.  The curator was an absolutely splendid chap and actually let me wear one of Stan's bowler hats that he used in some of their films!

(iv) As well as the three books mentioned previously as being the pride of my library, I also have a copy of Modern Boy magazine from 1933, it being the prize I won in a competition run by the Biggles fan club, of which I am a member.  It was the periodical in which the first Biggles stories were serialised, but it also contains many other wonderful articles and adverts which I shall try and fashion some posts around.

(v) I enjoyed my own Biggles experience about three years ago when I took a flight on a 1930s Douglas DC-3 Dakota (or C-47 Skytrain, in its military guise).  A company called Air Atlantique (as it was then) owned one of the few airworthy DC-3s in Britain and were taking it around the UK on a "farewell tour" as some stupid EU regulation was about to come into force forbidding DC-3s to carry passengers.  So I'm one of the last people to ever fly in a DC-3 in this country!  Taking off from my local airport we buzzed around the local area for about an hour, and it was absolutely great!  Someone on the flight had a camcorder, so there's even film of it:

(vi) The United States of America is the only country I have holidayed in where I have actually been given money in exchange for absolutely nothing at all!  Travelling through Pennsylvania we stopped at a rural arts and crafts store and I got talking to the shopkeeper.  I just mentioned in passing my hobby of collecting old money when she said "Wait there a minute".  Disappearing into a back room, she reappeared moments later brandishing a mint $2 bill.  "These are quite rare, I don't think I've ever seen another" she said.  "You're such a nice guy, I've so enjoyed talking to you, I'd like you to have it".  I didn't even buy anything, as I recall!
So now my collection includes an unusual $2 note, which will always remind me of my American holiday.

(vii) I don't own a car, I don't even own a full driver's licence!  I did take lessons a few years ago and even went for a couple of tests, but failed them both. ;-(  It could have been a case of "third time lucky" - on the other hand, it may not have been and by then I didn't fancy finding out!  Plus had I gone ahead, passed and got a car I would most likely still be typing this from my bedroom in my parents' house rather than in my own home - a car costs an absolute fortune to run these days.  I'll happily stick to public transport for now - bus and train (not to mention Shanks's Pony!) can more than suffice if one knows how to get the best out of them and there's still remnants of camaraderie and community spirit in some local bus services, something that many people more used to being cocooned in a motor car often overlook (not to mention the atrocious driving I see on the roads nearly every day - it actually makes me glad I don't drive!).  Time was when few people could stretch to the luxury of a car and good old public transport was the only other way to get around.  The way things are going, we may end up reliving that time again.  I'm just ahead of the curve(!).
I haven't even got to the ironic bit yet - I work in the motor trade!  (But in front of a computer screen, not underneath a bonnet.).  I do have a real interest in and love of cars, just not enough to really want to know how to drive one(!).  I see the motor car more as an amazing piece of technological tour de force and marvel at its various abilities, incarnations and history.  That and the knowledge I derive from it is enough to let me do my job.  People do find the disparity a bit odd sometimes, but it works for me!
My only regret in not having a driving licence is that I couldn't drive this...

Finally I should pass on this award to some fellow bloggers, in the time-honoured fashion.  However I will have to refrain in this instance from doing so, as it is proving difficult to find any bloggers that I haven't given an award to before, or who haven't received this same award from someone else!  As much as I am delighted to have received this award, I also can't help but notice its rather feminine style.  From female to male blogger (or vice versa) this presents no problem, but for a chap to give another chap the "Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award" is, I would say, not quite the done thing(!).  Still, here are some more recent of my favourite blogs - and should I be mistaken and any of you fellows (and lady) are happy to accept this award, here's where you may collect it.

Electric Edwardians
Mister Midwester
Tales of a Southern Retro
So thanks again to Nabby, but before I wind up this post, don't think I've forgotten what I said I'd do the next time I espied a Miss Lemon-themed post!  Murder in the Mews was the next episode of Poirot I intended to focus on, so here is Captain Hastings in that very one:

Set around the time of Guy Fawkes' Night, so some heavy winter wear makes an appearance.  I've always loved the way Hastings turns the collar up on his overcoat (and what an overcoat - it knocks the spots off Japp's!).  The scarf sets it off brilliantly, and is properly thrown round the neck - none of this modern "Q-knot" nonsense.

It's even firework-proof!  (Poor old Hastings.  I always smile at this scene).

Captain Hastings reminds us that when working on one's motor car, a proper set of overalls (and the assistance of a small boy) is invaluable.

Another great scene, as Hastings shows Poirot the finer points of golf.  The orange jumper paired with brown slacks is the ultimate casual, sporting look.

A closer look at the jumper.  A useful couple of pockets (properly buttoned, of course!) and the collar is just right to show off and compliment a bit of tie.

More jumper goodness, this time in grey-blue.  Another lovely collar design, quite redolent of men's knitwear of the period.  I actually had a jumper a bit like this as a boy, but sadly I was at a time in my life when I didn't fully appreciate its aesthetic qualities.  Besides which it almost certainly wouldn't fit me if I still had it!

I hope you've enjoyed this super-long, rather rambling post, encompassing blog awards, facts about yours truly and a little Captain Hastings fashion.  It's been a while since my last post as I suddenly found myself awfully busy, not to mention still not always feeling quite the ticket, but I've got a few articles lined up and a bit of free time in the offing, so it shouldn't be more than a week 'til my next post.  Until then, tinkerty-tonk!


  1. I was fortunate enough to also have a flight in a Dakota on AA’s farewell tour. It was one of the best and worst days in my life! I was forced into being interviewed for a local TV news thing, so it really spoiled the trip for me…. suppose it was my own fault for being in 40’s garb- hey ho, I will never forget it (including all the embarrassment!).
    Tups x

  2. Congrats on the award, I just love Nabby's blog and her look is truly excellent!! Dear Captain Hastings is quite the country gent in these episodes! X

  3. I love Hastings' orange woolly, it looks so perfectly autumnal.

    Lovely to hear all those facts about you.


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