Thursday, 9 December 2010

Christmas Special Number 1 - Family Circle 1988

It's getting towards Christmas. Advent is on us. And this blog is over a year old. I think 5 posts is a good number to have after a year - it shows I'm selective with what I post. Or that, in fact, I like in an uncluttered house and this blog was a stretch when my front room just contains one vase and one stool. And a sense of ennui.
Just behind that sense of ennui, though, lurks the Christmas 1988 issue of Family Circle. It cost 70p at the time. And, presumably, eBay would see this icon go for at least 75p with free postage and packaging. It is a little dog-eared but that just shows it's been loved.

We start, naturally enough with the Editor's Letter. I'm sure you will need no reminding that 1988 saw Jill Churchill still firmly seated in the editor's chair (According to Wikipedia Family Circle was still selling 580,000 copies every issue in 1984 - wowzer) and she provides us with a cracking letter.

First she clears up something that must have been troubling a great number of people, 'If you were travelling between Little Snoring and Great Snoring on September 1st, here at last is proof that you didn't dream the scene below! Father Christmas did pay an early visit to this sleep corner of East Anglia.' Good that she's cleared up that which Anglians had put down to a mass hallucination, but THREE months after it happened? Oh I'm sure she had such fun thinking of the confused farmers presuming mental deterioration had set in early.
Good to know, however, that apart from 'startling a tractor driver' this passed 'otherwise without incident'. Jill conveniently ignores the fact tractors are incredibly powerful machines and a startled driver of one could easily kill hundreds. Never mind that Jill, ey? You had your japes. Jolly old Jill.

Anyway, after callous Jill's retelling of her calculated decision to inflict mental and physical torture on a sleepy part of East Anglia we have Reader to Reader, a collection of tweets basically but LONGER.

Oh what gems lie here for the modern woman who wants to look her best:
'A reader who had lost inches off her thighs through continually stepping over her toddler's safety gate asked for an equally effortless way to flatten her stomach. One answer is to constantly tighten and relax tummy muscles (and bottom, while you're at it) while standing doing the washing up, peeling potatoes, etc. A frequent, painless and effective exercise.' Mrs JC, Burton. Looking through Heat magazine and mumsnet I fail to see this piece of advice. This could explain why women are fat now. Come on, ladies, have a bit of respect for yourself, do the goddam washing up and get yourself thin. 

Don't worry, though, the past doesn't just let you look good. It also helps your child be repeatedly bullied at school Mrs SD from Buckinghamshire hated her 11 year old daughter so much that she basically wrote, 'my daughter doesn't like friends and she hates you most of all' on the party invites and now she boasts about it infront of 580,000 people:
'Stuck for small gifts to give my daughter's 11-year-old friends at the end of her party, I bought a pad of coloured writing paper, a pack of similar envelopes, and two packs of pens. We arranged four sheets of paper with matching envelopes and pen, nicely angled on a stiff piece of card, wrapping the whole in cling film. An atractive gift for less that fifty pence.' Mrs SD is a liar. This is not attractive. Nor is it a gift. I have literally NO IDEA what she was trying to make. The idea sounds so fucking abhorrent that my head won't let me visualise it. She is 11, she has probably just started secondary school. She has to spend at least 5 years with these people. They will shape her life. AND THIS IS HOW YOU LET THEM REMEMBER HER. How unpopular were you at school, Mrs SD, that you have to take it out on your child. Jesus Christ, even I went to Camelot and McDonalds for my birthdays and I did actually hate the children I went to school with. 

Finally Mrs KV of Doncaster offers advice for all you women (I say that as if any girl would listen to me speak and then think, 'Hey, I'd love to hear more of his foul-mouthed borderline misogynist shouts.' - they only think that because women don't understand irony): 'At a party recently I was talking to a young woman who, when asked if she was married, replied: 'No, I'm a bachelette.' Although said as a joke, don't you think it ofer and attractive alternative to spinster, as well as sounding more positive than single, with its unpleasant 'on-the-shelf' overtones?' What Mrs KV, despite her good intentions, doesn't realise that we men don't judge women on what words they use but what they look like. Oh, pretty little simple creature.

Here we get into typically creepy territory:

As much as I applaud any company that gives a modern take on just wiping your bottom after the toilet I dislike the fact it's now made me worried that I was just wiping where Hakke Moists would have really cleaned. I alos dislike the fact that they've got naked children in their advert. That doesn't seem cool. That family should not be that comfortable together and if they are not a real family that's probably a little bit weird.

This wasn't really Christmassy was it? I do have Christmas games to play. They will go in an edit. Maybe. 

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Annual for the hippest young girls

Everyone loves making innuedos out of words from The Past - the innocent time that we can sully with our brain diseases of filth and misdeed so happy times here in My House whenever I find an Annual for girls from sometime long ago. Like the 50s. This was before all the youngsters were posting themselves naked on Facebook in a totally ironic way and before they were having children just so they could fit them in their Hello Kitty lunchboxes. (I promise I definitely didn't pick this out because I thought it would be full of classic 1950s racism. Nothing in the title hinted at that)

Oh these girls knew nothing of the 'Ways of the World', which is why these girls are smiling, rather than running, when 'Over the Ridge appeared four panting grey faces'. In fact one of the girls (I can say that, rather than 'women' because that was fine in The Past) seems to be offering the men to a game of croquet even the creepy man, shuffled away at the back, peering at their ever so bare legs.

How do these girls know how to act, though? How do they know that when a hoarde of men come ambling over a hill that they are not to run but that they should offer them for a bout of a quaint English sport? Well fear not dear reader, your ignornace is to be addressed here! All female humans in the 1950s were sent to Canada for 'Girls-in-Training' Camp.
In order to know these girls better we are given hitherto unseen access to the girls most private of thoughts on how they have learnt how to be a girl. However, as this is the 1950s we will observe protocol and not actually read any of these letters as their thoughts will be nonsense. Instead, we will look and make our own, male, minds up. These girls are content. Girls like sitting by a lake, it makes them believe they are the Lady of the Lake ready to give Arthur his Excalibur - this is every girl's fantasy. We can see the sitting down girl is even doing the raised hand action as she tries to perfect her Lady of the Lake thing. She is not allowed a sword as the weight would drag her under the water and this would be a very different annual.

These girls were gone an awful long time training to be proper girls - what did they do in their spare time? Get your mind out of the gutter and stop harbouring the fantasies seen in smutty films with pillow fights etc, this is no place for that. No, these girls would retire to their room and nothing untoward or saucy would happen. We notice in the innocently titled, 'Escapades with Audrey' that 'the prettiest girl [Audrey] had ever seen or imagined...slipped into the room'. These girls are now going to do each others hair and talk about dolls. There is no reason for you to be thinking otherwise. These pretty girls being imagined slipping into each others room is perfectly acceptable behaviour in the 1950s before Barbara Windsor and her smutty entourage got their way with our morals. The decadent Cockney.

Everyone knows that when these girls were off enjoying each others company whilst away from home, in their camp rooms, they were really just wanting one thing - to be near their daddy. This is highlighted with suitable subtlety in the piece entitled, 'The Daring of Daddy'. Really I think all we need here is to read the first paragraph, as I don't wish to spoil any of the story for you:
'It really was astonishing of Daddy, indeed, Patsy was not quite sure that she approved until she reached school on the Monday afterwards and found the girls loud in his praise.' Well what comes after can only be very daring by daddy, very daring indeed.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Peter Jackson's First Calendar

Calendars are good because you get new ones every single year, or if you exist in my house, 4 or 5 a year depending on special offers. This leads to lots of funny, scary, weird, cool things that hang on walls but need changing and so need boxing up (note: not throwing away, this is very important if one day you want to collect enough stuff so that your son can write a blog that no-one reads about it).
I believed this calendar would give me a long blog post. unfortunately, after the monumentally fantastic outside cover it deteriorates into competently drawn pictures of J.R.R. Tolkien's ideas so The Shire and what not. Shame. So here is the outside cover. Looking at it again really hammers home the disappointment that this wasn't 12 pictures of Tolkien in various, gradually sexier, poses:

You know the best thing about this? The 'The' - this implies there was one released every year. If you have the full set, keep it to yourself.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Still Finding Stuff...

...After an initial flurry of 3 posts that no-one read this blog died an unmourned death but now, like a Jesus of miscellany, it rises with acres of crap to fling at the internet.
We start, dear reader, where all good things should start - with a look at the classic April 1976 issue of Womancraft.

First off, of course, you will fill with envy as you note the fabulous flirty shawl and realise that, with this being over 30 years ago, it will no longer be available from whatever the high fashion shops of the day were - Swap Shop or Woolworths probably. But look closer, below the hat, into the arrow pointing into the snappily dressed lady's face and you notice that this shawl can indeed be timeless! For inside, preserved on this shiny dead tree is instructions on how to make it.
Oh, 1970s woman - how we love your quaint ideas of making things - with your hands! You despicable, sexy animals!

But what did the 1970s eat? Surely we cannot find both their fashion and their food in one handy bible aimed at the woman who wants everything? You fools! This is the 1970s - when real woman couldn't just multi-task they were actively forced to by their men. See this wholesome dish inspired, no doubt, by the retro chic of rationing throwbacks - Stuffed Cabbage. Oh Ambassador, with this stuffed cabbage, you really are spoiling us:

Of course, this magazine isn't just for bored housewives, it is also an essential toolkit for the child killer inside everyone of us

'Remember Mandy from the December issue?' I don't have the December issue to hand but I presume Mandy was one of those children who just didn't know when to keep their goddam mouth shut so now in April we're making a doll out of her skin! Yay! Why not give it to your favourite neighbourhood child to endear yourself to them and make sure they know when not to speak out of turn. I cannot be certain but I think this may link in to the front cover's promise of 'Clever Cover Ups for the home with something to hide!'

The highlight of this issue is hidden amongst all the dolls of skin and sexy shawls it is 'Learning About The Law' - do they have amusing little ideas for women to try? Maybe I can take an ironic swipe at them sitting on my throne of 21st Century knowledge? No, it's the lady's name. Gay Search. GAY SEARCH. In a article on the law - there are so many jokes. Well, one. I think you may need to move your face closer to the screen to see it

Thursday, 29 October 2009

I am not grumpy

I got this as a present from my then girlfriend, I think it may have been for my 21st birthday or maybe my 20th. She'd meant it as a joke because I was, apparently, and still am, apparently, a rather grumpy man. I was not so keen on being viewed as the irritable, dour face of misery - certainly not when I lived in Scotland, and Dundee at at that - showed my annoyance at the gift which did not really help my cause. I didn't think I was being either unreasonable or too moody regarding it - I just plainly stated that I was not grumpy and as such the gift made little to no sense with maybe a frisson of irritable tone behind it.
She offered to take it back saying that she was sorry to cause such offence - but oh, how she said it, in that biting way. I said it was fine and my party continued - everyone turning away from the hissed words to get drunk and celebrate the day a man who's personality can be summed up by a blue Roger Hargreaves 'Gift Collectable' was born.
It broke about three days later. Not properly broke, just fell off the desk and left it a bit wobbly. As you can see, there is a crack just above the base and it's slightly unsteady - it makes more sense why he is so grumpy now. I obviously couldn't say this to my girlfriend as it would seem rather suspect. So, it was just a case of making sure he was strategically placed where she would see him but not notice him. I realise now that she probably wouldn't have a given a toss if he had a minor crack on him or even a massive crack. It was a minor present just there to offset the actual presents she had got me (that I don't really remember now).

He sat just below my computer monitor for about a year. He's only small - he doesn't take up much space and he just sat there. I took him to my next flat as well, where he sat at the edge of my desk - once again daring the world to push him off and complete the job. I never did. He seemed to be fine now, I didn't really have many objects on my desk apart from cups and post-its, etc. that I was too lazy to move but nothing sentimental. I suppose he, just by virtue of me being unable to tidy up, had become a sentimental trinket.

I do like this one as he looks rather domineering. Less Mr Grumpy and more Mr Dictator.

We broke up (the girlfriend and I not the Mr Man [sidenote: is it 'the Mr Man' or is it 'one of the Mr Men'?]) about 6 months later, or about a year and a half after she gave me the Mr Man and I moved out of my flat a few months later. I still had the box, which was surprising, so I packed him back up in the polystyrene and this is the first time I've taken him out since - the crack is in the same place, of course, nothing has changed. And I'm still not grumpy

Friday, 16 October 2009

Bardell versus Pickwick - Dickens

I love tiny books. I love old books. I bloody love tiny old books. This doesn't have a publication date so I don't know how old it is but I think well weathered is a fair thing to say. It smells lovely too.

It even has a nice little picture inside:

And look, it fits into my hand, that's for scale you see. Just so that when I said tiny you didn't think properly tiny but rather this is acceptably tiny. It's ridiculous if you need a magnifying glass to read it - it just gets distracting:

I like how it finishes as well, "HERE ENDS NUMBER THIRTY-ONE OF SESAME BOOKLETS", more books should end like that. As if it was a mass. Who wouldn't want that? No-one, that's who.