Friday, 29 March 2013

Pullover, it's Captain Hastings!


When I first started doing posts on the wardrobe of Captain Hastings a little over 2 years ago I good-naturedly complained that, unlike many of Miss Lemon's outfits including that ubiquitous bow cardigan, I (or rather those in the family with the requisite skills, i.e. mother) couldn't knit the good Captain's numerous 3-piece suits and other similar ensembles.  Although the second episode to receive my attention, Murder in the Mews, did feature two items of clothing that could be more easily recreated it wasn't until recently that I was able to have something similar made up in the same style.  Those two items were the lovely jumpers sported by Captain Hastings during the golf course scenes and later at the dénouement (as seen above and below). 


Rather than put mater to the trouble of knitting both I settled on the idea of having the shawl-collar one (above) in the colour of the golfing one.  As her pattern collection already contained just such a [modern] design it made even more sense and so the Captain Hastings Combination Jumper was born.  Last week it was delivered and these pictures are the result:

I'm afraid even one of Hastings' much-coveted suits wouldn't imbue me with half of his stylishness and ease (although I can easily do "vague and confused"!) but as my first real attempt to replicate the Captain Hastings "look" I'm not at all disappointed.  It might be a slightly chunkier knit than the ones worn by our favourite chap and, as it was pointed out to me, the armholes' positioning differs slightly (mainly a result of the modern pattern, although I don't deny the effect would be lessened if I were a bit more heavier-set!) but overall - and seeing it next to the screen shot of the same design - I think it's very close.  It doesn't show up very well in these pictures (I really need to think about getting a new camera) so you'll have to take my word for it that the colour is almost an exact match for Hastings' first jumper - much more a burnt umber hue than the coral that seems to have come out in the photos. 

Now all I need is a golf course/London flat and a Belgian 'tec with whom to investigate crimes and I'm away, eh?!

In the meantime, I have just this afternoon got off the 'phone with the creator of this garment who tells me that she has found a '50s pattern almost identical to the golfing jumper.  Perhaps that, in the grey of Captain Hastings' shawl-collar example, will become a suitable companion piece.  Certainly with the recent haul of '30s/'40s patterns we picked up I hope to have some more knitteds to show you in the future.



The Captain Hastings posts will also continue, of course, with The King of Clubs next in line when I get a quiet moment (and, ladies, where have the Miss Lemon posts gone?  I'm almost missing that cardi!).

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Hewing the wood and drawing the water and so forth...

Since I started this blog at the tail end of 2009 I've been able to devote a good amount of time to it (with the exception of The Great Hiatus of May-August 2011!) and finding the odd stories to write up on here, not to mention reading the myriad excellent blogs that I've discovered down the years, has become a welcome part and parcel of my week.

Alas Life, as it so often does, sometimes intervenes - as it has done now.  A chap has to pay the rent, after all, and to facilitate such I have just this week re-entered the world of full-time employment.

What this means is, sadly, that I shan't have as much time to blog as I used to and while it pains me to cut back on here it is more than likely that Eclectic Ephemera will in future be updated only at weekends (with the odd mid-week post if possible).

So don't despair if this blog goes 5 days at a time between posts (and please don't leave me in your droves!).  I'll still be thinking of you (and of subjects to write about) during quiet moments at my desk and will look forward more than ever to reading your posts when I get home.

In the meantime, I leave you with a topical exchange from Jeeves and Wooster that never fails to make me smile:

Lady Glossop: Do you work, Mr. Wooster?
Bertie Wooster: What, work? As in honest toil, you mean? Hewing the wood and drawing the old wet stuff and so forth?
Lady Glossop: Quite.
Bertie Wooster: Well... I've known a few people who worked. Absolutely swear by it, some of them.

Friday, 22 March 2013

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Sunday, 17 March 2013

1930s Art Deco cinema saved by the community


Regal Cinema in Melton Mowbray reopens following closure

Another story of an historic building saved now, although this one keeps its original purpose - as a cinema.  Not only does it remain a film theatre, it also retains its original 1930s Art Deco features both inside and out!  With so many Thirties cinemas succumbing to the wrecker's ball, or else being turned into bingo halls and the like, it's wonderful to see one survive in this way.

Nicknamed "the finest cinema in England" the Regal Melton Mowbray now more than lives up to that moniker thanks the hard work and investment of the local community and owners past and present.  All of them have obviously appreciated the striking Art Deco facade and the general history of the building and I'm pleased to see that this has been added to on the inside with many existing fittings refurbished and sympathetic additions put in elsewhere.

From facing bankruptcy and closure to now reopening in its full glory this latest episode in the history of the Regal Cinema has rightly been described as a "whirlwind" but one that has resulted in a gem of a building being saved by the local community, its function preserved for the town's future enjoyment.  A hearty "well done" to everyone involved - it's great to see what can be achieved when local people pull together.  It is certainly is a splendid cinema you've got there, Melton Mowbray - I'm rather jealous!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Abandoned Victorian toilets turned into London café


Source: Uploaded by user via Peter on Pinterest

Abandoned Victorian Toilets Turned Into London Café

Top marks to the chaps in this latest article, who are behind the conversion of these disused Victorian toilets in London's West End.   Now instead of remaining an unused and unseen relic of the past, this classic example of a 19th century public convenience has found a new lease of life as a coffee shop and sandwich bar!

In well-executed style the derelict underground gents looks to have been successfully transformed (and thoroughly cleaned up!) into an eatery with a twist.  It is splendid to see, too, that the new owners fully appreciated the existing high-quality fittings & decor that were still in place (I've written before about the Victorians' propensity for embellishing even the most humdrum of structures, and here's another prime example) and have ingeniously incorporated it into the café's layout.  (I'll leave you to make up your own jokes about drinking at a urinal!).



Pictures of the renovation are most interesting and the new owners are to be congratulated on what looks like a job well done.  I'm sure The Attendant, as the place is now known, will prove to be once again to be a valuable asset to the Fitzrovia area - albeit in a completely different form.  I wish them every success and will be sure to stop in should I find myself in the W1 postal district.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

'Antique pop' duo Victor & Penny breathes new life into old standards



'Antique pop' duo Victor & Penny breathes new life into old standards

It's an obscure source I have to thank for becoming aware of the singers who form the main subject of this post and I'm certainly glad to have done so. 

Hailing from the American Midwest, Kansas City musicians Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane - aka Victor & Penny - have formed a wonderful act performing songs from the 1910s, '20s and '30s in splendid style.  They've really captured the feelings of the period, as is mentioned, with their choice of songs but also proved how immediate and popular they can still be.  This is reflected in the term they have coined to describe their music - "antique pop"!  (I suppose it's as good a description as any; I've often wondered about the idea of shifting musical categories - what is classical, jazz, pop etc. relative to the passage of time?).

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Regardless of how you'd define it it's certainly got a great sound about it, with both performers really acquitting themselves well in all aspects - vocals, ukulele- and guitar-playing.  Not to mention being an attractive couple, decked out in the proper clothing too!  It sounds as if they are proving popular in the States too, with two albums of songs under their belts and a hefty national tour in the offing. Obviously professionals who enjoy what they're doing, it's jolly nice to know that such music is still appreciated so much today both by artists like Victor & Penny and the listening public alike.  Good luck to Victor & Penny in 2013, say I, and perhaps we will see them come across the Pond one day in the future?

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In other vintage music-related news Dutch singer Caro Emerald - who I first mentioned on this blog back in 2010 when her debut album (which has since gone five times platinum in her native Netherlands) made it on to B.B.C. Radio 2's playlist - has released her new single Tangled Up, which previews her upcoming second album The Shocking Miss Emerald due for release in May.  I think we can safely say from this performance that she is on fine form and if the rest of the album is as good then she's got another best-seller on her hands.  Have a listen and tell me what you think:



Thanks also to my listening to Radio 2 I've also had the good fortune to hear another young girl singer, this time from the UK, who is very much in the same vein as Miss Emerald - Hannah Garner, aka Miss 600. Jolly nice too, I think you'll agree!



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As one final thing before I finish up this post, I feel bound to mark the passing of noted British musician Kenny Ball who passed away last week at the age of 82.  Performing with his Jazzmen he was at the forefront of the "trad jazz" movement that proved surprisingly popular in the 1960s and '70s, in 1962 even scoring a Number 2 hit both in the U.S. and Britain with his band's recording of Midnight In Moscow.  With his contemporaries Acker Bilk and Chris Barber, among others, he was instrumental (no pun intended!) in the jazz revival that began at the height of 1960s Beatlemania.  A popular musical guest on The Morecambe & Wise Show throughout the 1970s he continued to work right up to a few weeks before his death, touring the country and performing both solo and with his trad jazz peers.  He was also an Essex lad like myself, living in the same town that I did for about 10 years (and which is still only ten minutes from where I am now) and passing away at my local hospital.

Thank you, Kenny Ball, for helping to keep the music alive.


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Hindenburg mystery solved after 76 years



Hindenburg mystery solved after 76 years 

Last week various news wires were abuzz with the findings of a group of aeronautical scientists who, after a series of painstaking experiments and recreations, claim to have finally laid to rest any question of what exactly caused the airship Hindenburg to explode over Lakehurst, NJ, in May 1937.

I'd intended to post this link - probably the best of the bunch - at the time the story first broke, so as to tie in with the TV documentary that aired recently on Channel 4 (and previously on the Discovery Channel) explaining fully how the discovery was made and which precipitated the news.  My cold(s) put paid to that idea, though, so here I am a couple of weeks later hopefully still in time to spread the fascinating discovery further.

Thanks to the efforts of British scientist Jem Stansfield and his team of engineers one theory above all others has been shown to be the most likely - and it appears to have been accepted by most historians (and the wider world).  After nearly 80 years of theories and conspiracies and with that iconic image of the Hindenburg burning above its mooring mast never having gone away, one of aviation's enduring mysteries looks like having been put to bed.  One wonders what other historical events and unknowns are just waiting to be resolved with the aid of modern science.

The airship industry has taken as long to recover from the Hindenburg disaster but, as other articles about modern airships featured on this blog have shown, they certainly still have a future and the final solving of the 1937 riddle may go some way to cementing it.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Still hacking around



Apologies for the near-two weeks of radio silence - no sooner had I got over the last bout of sniffles when I got in the way of another cold late last week, this time a real humdinger (the perils of winter and an immune system taking a knock from other recent health matters!).

As I'm sure you can appreciate I'm therefore not feeling quite able to do this blog justice in my current state, so I'll leave you with this topical song as a filler and to let you know I haven't forgotten you all.

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A few more days' worth of Lemsip and hot chocolate should have me feeling better and I hope before long to be back to full blogging strength!  On the subject of cold & flu treatments (and as purely unsolicited testimonials!) two splendidly old-fashioned products have also stood me in good stead both now and many times before.  Should you have the misfortune to find yourself with a heavy cold/cough, I heartily recommend Allens Pine & Honey Balsam (an acquired taste, but by God it works!) and Jakemans Menthol Sweets.

All being well I should be back with a couple of planned posts later in the week; in the meantime, take care out there - especially those of you suffering the late winter snows!

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