Friday, 30 September 2011

Kala Kola - It's the Real Thing

I bought this wonder product from an Indian supermarket, because I couldn't resist the packaging. I didn't actually use it, but I wonder now whether I missed out. Just look at all the things it can do! I'm not entirely sure what Kala Kola is, but it appears that it can cure just about any hair or scalp problem you might have, and make you look glamorous and smell enchanting, to boot! And if that wasn't enough, it will provide 'sound and sweet sleep' as well.

Now, before you start to scoff at these slightly ridiculous claims, you might want to remind yourself about some of the cosmetic advertising we take for granted in the UK.  Just flicking through a current magazine I can see mascara that claims to 'millionize lashes', a 'miracle concentrate' for hair which is a 'restorative elixir', hair colour that 'changes everything', a body lotion with 'non-stop hydra IQ technology' (do we need that, whatever it is?). And then there's the universal get-out phrase 'up to'. 'Lasts up to 48 hours' could mean it generally lasts for 10 seconds. Or how about '7 times more effective'? More effective than what? Hope in a bottle is the same everywhere. 

So, maybe you should try Kala Kola - because you're worth it!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Fruit Babies

These little dolls were sold as 'Fruity Cuties' (of course). Why have they got fruit-shaped heads? I suspect some horrible experiment, rather like The Island of Dr Moreau, only in this case it was The Island of the Man From Del Monte.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Inexplicable Hamster Postcard

A surreal allegory of a postcard. The half-demolished house (or is it half-built?), the pile of bricks, the giant hamster looking in at the window and the play people, working endlessly, endlessly in a nightmare of their own imagining...

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Ten Commandments

I do love a bit of religious kitsch. Here are the ten commandments on a cheap Hong Kong bracelet.
It's okay, because there isn't a commandment which says 'Thou shalt not wear tacky jewellery'.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Candelabra Cruet

What could be classier? It could grace the table of any stately home...

Friday, 23 September 2011

More Crochet by Iris Rathbone

Now I know you've seen plenty of pictures of bad craft books from the 1970s (the decade that taste that forgot, blah, blah), but I rather like 1970s craft books, and I'm always on the lookout for a good one. At first glance, 'More Crochet' looks like a standard 1970s crochet book, with ponchos and flares, as in the photos above. Some photos aren't great...
But as you look through, it becomes clear that poor old Iris Rathbone rapidly ran out of budget for many fancy models or professional photo shoots, like this one. The 'Disco Dress' photo shoot used three models - and two of them aren't even wearing crochet!
It could be that her budget was spent on a surprising amount of academic research in museums all round the country, as the acknowledgements show. Sad then, that her research didn't reveal the correct spelling of 'beret'.
Or indeed, tell her that plonking a string bag on someone's head does not make it a beret.

So, anyway, necessity took over, and plucky Iris decided she could manage with some slightly less professional photos. Despite being a full page close-up, the photo of this hat is so poor, you can't see any stitch detail. Nor can you see any reason for making the revolting thing...
This frightful tie was just plonked on a table top. I don't think it's even been blocked.
I'm guessing this is her next door neighbour in the back garden? (No, I have no idea what he's holding...)
But the photo shoot in the pub car park at night was surely a mistake?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Bollywood Express

I love cheap tin toys, but can this be a toy for children? The photos of Bollywood stars seem pleasingly incongruous, slapped on the side of this wonky train.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


This one definitely comes under the heading of 'What were they thinking???'

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Who or what?

If anyone can tell me who this strange fellow is, I would love to know. This weird plastic figure is on a keyring, which I think we got in Malta. I'll describe him from the top down. A top hat, a grinning face, a hunchback, a bow tie and tailcoat. With his right hand he's doing the devil's horns/ evil eye sign. In his left hand he holds a horseshoe. Instead of legs he seems to have the body of a chilli pepper.

Can anyone enlighten me?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Really Ugly Dolls

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I have to wonder about anyone who thinks these hideous horrors are cute.

And yet that is just what they were supposed to be. For some reason, these 'whimsical' little dolls were popular during the 1960s and 1970s. I think they were meant to be 'cheeky' and 'fun'.

Even more astonishingly, collectors of vintage kitsch today still like these odd creatures, and they are very popular on ebay and the like.

But not with me. Even I draw the line somewhere.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Beeton's Complete Letter Writer for Ladies and Gentlemen

Here's a treat for the weekend. A wonderful old book, with sample letters for every occasion. Or to put it in their own words... 
The examples really are very specific. Take these two negative answers to a proposal - one for a maid servant - 
 and one to refuse an offer from a missionary...
Even more delicate situations in affairs of the heart are also tackled, such as having to write A Letter of Expostulation -
Business letters are also covered, such as applying for this desirable position -
Social letters are unfailingly cheerful -
And there are loving words of advice for a father to send to his son -
If space allowed, I could go on with more gems, such as
- Reminding a Lady of a former Intimacy and inviting her to pay a Visit
- Inviting a Lady to to visit under painful Circumstances
- From a Maid servant answering a cool Letter from her Lover
- Reproaching a Consignee for Sacrificing Goods
- Containing a Matrimonial Proposal from a Gentleman almost a Stranger, etc.

Wonderful stuff!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Random Princess Diana Plate

The world is full of plates with pictures of The Royals on. Mr Kitsch and I like to annoy his brother by buying him china with the Queen Mother on, and it's very easy to come by in charity shops.

But this plate is an oddity. I got it about fifteen or more years ago, from a bric-a-brac stall at a summer fete, with no explanation of where it had come from. Is it a test piece, to try out the transfer? Was it a work by some avant garde artist?

Whatever the case, I liked the random nature of it, and as it is a useful size, being larger than a teaplate and smaller than a dinner plate, we use it all the time.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Cactus Candy

This packet makes me smile every time I see it. There's a happy cactus - who wouldn't smile at that?

In case you're curious, this was bought in Las Vegas. Yes, the candy (sugary jelly squares) is really made from prickly pear cactus. I don't think it had a particular flavour, it was just sweet.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Our Lady of Rain

I rather like religious kitsch. There's a lot of spoof stuff out there nowadays, clockwork nuns and the like. But I find the genuine stuff is extraordinary enough, and have amassed plenty of it from various religious gift shops. This was sold as a sincerely religious ornament. It's a small statuette of Notre Dame de Lourdes. She has a secret. Let's turn her around. 
Can you see? Look bit closer.

Yes, she tells the weather.
Her cloak turns pink when it's raining. To be honest, I could tell that by looking out of the window, but thanks anyway to Our Lady for her weather reports.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Extreme fashion

I can't see it catching on...
(Page from National Geographic Magazine 1929. Click on image to see more detail.)

Friday, 9 September 2011

Spanish Bull

I'm a big fan of tacky souvenirs, and the tourist explosion in Spain in the 1970s gave us many wonderful examples. Judging from these souvenirs, flamenco dancing and bullfighting were the only significant parts of Spain's culture worth experiencing. I don't understand the appeal of bullfighting for people who watch it, but I'm always drawn to the souvenirs.

I'm pleased that the manufacturers of this plastic bull went to the trouble of attaching that extra bit of plastic, to give him 'cojones'. However, they have also added those colourful sharp sticks ('banderillas') in his neck. Once wounded like this, a bull in real life would be about to die. I can't decide if this makes the plastic bull a truly tasteless souvenir, or a brave statement of Spanish culture.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Kappa Kokeshi

You may be familiar with cute kokeshi dolls of kimono-clad girls, like these,
 but traditional kokeshi come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

The one above is a kappa, or japanese water sprite. Kappa are believed to be mischievous, and sometimes dangerous.

The blue circle on the top of his head represents a kind of puddle of water, which the kappa must keep on his head, whenever he is away from water. If the water spills out of it, he is unable to move.

If you are unlucky enough to meet a kappa, give him a deep bow. As kappa are very polite, he will return the bow, thereby spilling the water from his head. He will be unable to move until the water is refilled!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Men Are Scarce

'Men Are Scarce'
This postcard is dated 1907, and was posted from Bridgwater, where I daresay the man shortage is as bad as ever nowadays.

Just one from my large collection of odd postcards, many of which I'll be sharing on this blog, no doubt.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Roy Jenkins China Thimble

Yes! That is what I said - a Roy Jenkins china thimble. No, I have no way of explaining it either.

On one side is a picture of Roy Jenkins, and on the other side are the results of the Warrington by-election in 1981, the first time an SDP candidate stood as a candidate. They came second.

I am not denigrating the achievements of the SDP (and let's not forget the Liberal Alliance, either), but is this really the sort of thing we want to see on a commemorative china thimble?

(And they came second. Number Two. Second banana. Runner-up. Close, but no cigar. Second fiddle. Silver medal. In second place.)

Monday, 5 September 2011

A Giddy Kipper

From a novelty rock emporium at Blackpool. I've said it before and I'll say it again, any object is better when it can be described as 'novelty'. This certainly fits the bill.

When I bought this, I had never heard the phrase 'giddy kipper', but I enjoyed the random nature of a kipper made out of rock. I now understand 'giddy kipper' to be a Lancastrian epithet for someone who's rather overexcited. Who wouldn't be a giddy kipper at Blackpool?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Fancy Dress

A found photo. My guess is that it's from the 1950s. More charming than curious, I think, but the child in black make-up makes it a curiosity today.

It's strange and rather shocking to think that this kind of 'blackface' make-up was seen on TV all through the 1970s in the Black & White Minstrel Show. Why on earth were they so popular? My family always used to watch it. Mind you, watching as a child, I don't think I really made any connection between those bizarrely-dressed, painted white singers, and real black people. But really, the grown-ups at the BBC should have known better.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Cat and Leg Vase

"And now on the Antiques Roadshow, a rare piece of Chinese porcelain. A small vase in the shape of a cat clinging on to a lady's leg. Such fine craftsmanship. Look at the beautiful pink rose, the dopey expression on the cat's face, and the gilt detailing. So...[smiles].... have you thought about the value at all? Well, I can tell you that you should really have it insured for 50p, at least."

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Light-up Souvenir Yo-yo

After leaving this blog untouched for two years, I have decided to revive it, in order to share some of my stranger finds. I am bouncing back with a yo-yo (see what I did there?).

It's not just a yo-yo,  but a light-up yo-yo, which flashes when you use it. A 'Jo Jo Luminoso', as the box says. So far, so good. But then, bafflingly, you discover that it is a souvenir from Venice. It even has a moulded gondola on the side of it, and photographs of Venice on the side of the box.

So every time you swing your flashing yo-yo, you will be transported back to those beautiful Venetian canals and churches....