Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Brit. Inst.

Another one from my record collection of misfits and mysteries. This is a 7" single which says it was first published in 1961. I'd never heard of Tony Fayne, but picked this record up purely because of the odd cover picture, with the strange accoutrements of 'Britishness'. Tea, cricket, umbrellas, I get that, but the tigerskin rug? I suppose it fits with a particular kind of Englishman. What would you have nowadays? Tea, telly, and a sofa from DFS, perhaps.

The British Institutions that he explains on this record are Garden Fetes, The Police, and British Railways. I actually preferred the record when the whole thing was still a mystery to me, but I made the mistake of googling Tony Fayne, the man on the tigerskin rug.

So, if you're keen to acquire knowledge, I can tell you that the sleeve notes tell us he was a 'well-known broadcaster', and I've now discovered that he was from Bristol (being Bristolian, I thought I knew of every local 'celebrity' however obscure or however tenuous the link, but he's a new one to me), he worked with Norman Wisdom, amongst others, and died just two years ago. You can read his obituary here.

If you're really very keen you can hear the record here, but I wouldn't honestly recommend it.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Plastic Taft

You may well be wondering if this moustachioed figure is actually Hercule Poirot, 'ze belgian detecteeve'. But no, it is actually a plastic figure of W.H. Taft, 27th President of the United States (1909-1930).

Presumably there was a whole series of American presidents to collect. You can just imagine some poor kid, hoping for Washington or Lincoln, and then going - 'Oh no, not Taft again!'.

However, I was rather pleased with the random nature of this figure when I found it in a collection of small plastic toys I got from Etsy.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Postcard Friday - It is...

"We dream about it.  We fantasise about it. We chill out on it. We fall in love on it. And, when it is over, we never forget it. It is...  your perfect holiday."

I think that's pretty much what the owners of  Dolphins Caravan Park in Charmouth had in mind when they produced this postcard.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Indian Figure

Today's object is rather wonderful, and only falls into the curious category, because I have no idea what it is. I've had it for many years, it's painted wood and I'm pretty sure it's Indian, but that's where my knowledge ends. Do let me know if you know more about it.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Doll Lamps

Sometimes, you see something in an online shop that just sings out to you. Something which you know you are destined to own. That's how I felt about this slim volume dedicated to the arcane craft of making doll lamps. I had to wait impatiently for it to be sent from the States, but now it is mine, and all is right with the world.

Look at the hairdo on that Southern Belle! It is a thing of majesty. Imagine having such a lamp in your own home! I tremble at the thought...
 Oh dear God, I can feel my coulrophobia coming on again...
I mean, who would really want these? Where? Why? They defy rational explanation. That granny doll is SO creepy. No wonder the other kids are praying.
But most of all, I feel sorry for this Boy Scout who is so scared of grizzly bears, he has to sleep with his eyes open. 'Must... stay... alive...to get.. my...merit.. badge.'

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Difficult Case

Do you think we are influenced by the toys and other objects around us when we are young? I think we must be, but I often hope not, when I see some of the grotesque stuff that gets foisted on children.

Twas ever thus. Let's just take a better look at the truly nasty illustration on this vintage child's suitcase.
Had a good look? I have been sitting here for several minutes wondering where to start. Really. I mean, really. It's just so...

No, it's no good. I can't bring myself to comment on it.  As an image of girlhood, it leaves much to be desired. The trouble is, and here is where I feel very conflicted, I know some people think this is really cute. In fact, I sold this case to a collector in Canada. 

That's the thing about kitsch, one woman's lovely is another woman's loathsome. This is just as well or I'd never be able to part with anything.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Pope Pen

I got this pen in Rome, and as far as I am aware, it was intended as a genuine souvenir for Pope fans.

Yes, it's a floating Pope pen. As you tip it up and down, 'il Papa' glides smoothly across the facade of St Peter's.

I'm not entirely clear why anyone would choose a floating pen to honour the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, and Sovereign of the State of Vatican City (or Benny to his friends). But, hey, why not?

As you might guess, I am a sucker for pens like this, and I find I am gathering quite a collection of pens where strange people or things float up and down.

Let's be grateful this one isn't like those ones where the man's underpants fall off.

Oh, haven't you got one of those? Just me, then.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Postcard Friday - Sooty the Dentist

I have a soft spot for Sooty, and fond memories of the old TV programmes with Harry Corbett. Despite every programme being the same, there was a certain comic skill in Harry squirting himself with water, or throwing flour in his own face, whilst hampered by a glove puppet. (But I refuse to speak of Corbett Jr, who was EVIL.)

So I find this postcard rather wonderful. Who knew Sooty was a dentist? Or is he just being naughty and playing a trick on his snakey friend (called Ramsbottom, I believe)? Did Sooty remove his fangs? Will the dentures fit?

Given that someone has gone to the trouble of constructing miniature instruments and gas canisters, don't you think they might have provided some rather more professional-looking posters for the wall? And I don't think that snake can be feeling well - his tongue has started fraying. Sssss!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Narkover School Badge

At first glance, this is just an old enamel school lapel badge, with the school motto at the top - 'Up Narkover'.  However, if, like me, you're a fan of old British comedy films, you'll know that Narkover School was where Will Hay's schoolmaster character taught, in the film 'Boys Will Be Boys'. The symbols on the badge - a pick and shovel, handcuffs and prison uniform arrows - denote the sort of future Narkover boys were likely to have. Some of the schoolmaster humour is dated now, but I really like the cheerful anarchy of Will Hay's films. ('Oh Mr Porter' is a classic.)

When I first found one of these badges, I was very puzzled as to what it might be. A promotional item for the film, perhaps? Later, I discovered that these badges were used by Will Hay to raise money for charity. I would love to think that my badge might have been handed out by Will Hay himself, but there are so many of them around, I think that's pretty unlikely. An obscure bit of memorabilia, but one that pleases me very much.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Going Bossa

One of the things I love about easy listening albums is that the perpetrators artists involved are never too much in awe of great music to doubt that they can improve on it. Yes, you can listen to the Beatles or Bach in the original version, but why would you, when you can hear them in a 'Bossa Nova Style'?

Add to that, some awesome fashions on the cover (the orange trouser suit is spectacular), and you have a long-player that's hard to resist.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Bear is Butcher

Sometimes, the curious catches your eye in odd places. Parked behind this butcher's van, I was confused and unsettled by their logo. Seeing that they specialise in providing 'Scotch premier beef and fine meats', I didn't expect to see this -
Is it just me? A teddy with a meat cleaver and a jaunty boater seems so wrong. I'm a bit afraid that he means to do some harm to that dog. The dog is just plain odd, and letting a pet serve the sausages does not indicate a well-run butcher's shop to me. And why is the last sausage white? (But oddly, on the other door of the van, it's blue?)

I'm probably over-thinking the whole thing...

Incidentally, apologies for so many scans and old photos lately, but it's difficult to take new photos of objects in these dull, dark days of winter.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Libby's Happy Families

 I love these vintage promotional cards for Libby's canned goods. I only class them as curious objects because of the weird characters they have created, with their tin can bodies, and heads of fruit and so on. Enjoy!

A cow with a body made of a corned beef tin is definitely a curious object.

 I was going to point out a case of the cannibal animal - as Mr Libby's Salmon is going fishing, but salmon do eat smaller fish and krill, so I suppose it's actually quite authentic. Apart from the hat. Salmon generally prefer a trilby hat.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Postcard Friday - On the Hearthrug

A couple more of those strange European postcards, showing happy scenes of family life. In the picture above, Granny and Grandpa are in their dressing gowns, as they have forgotten to get dressed. Instead, Granny is criticising the stitch quality of Mama's crochet work, and Grandpa is trying to recommend the benefits of pipe-smoking for toddlers. Papa, pushed to the floor, lashes out with his feet, in an attempt to knock the pipe from the old man's hand. Ummm, yes, I'm pretty sure that's what happening.

But hang on a moment! In the next photo, on the other end of the hearthrug, Mama has changed her dress and taken up with a new man.
She also has a new child. But the same plastic skittles. And is new Papa wearing a see-through shirt?? Oh, those continentals!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Brazil - Where the Nuts Come From

Every time I see this this doll, I start to sing 'Bra-ziil, La,la,la,la,la,la,la,laa!' Ah, the old songs are the best! Not when I'm singing them, necessarily, but still good.

I've never seen another doll quite like this one (are you surprised?). She looks like a caricature, but on her base is an old label which says "Bonecas de Feltro, Priego, S Paulo, Industria Brasileira", so presumably she was made by Brazilians, albeit for the tourist trade.
She's very kitsch with lots of detail - earrings, coloured beads, chains and a plastic pendant in the shape of a hand or fist (not sure what that's about). She has a basket of fruit on her head, and platform shoes. So very Carmen Miranda. Perhaps I should be singing 'The Lady in Tutti Frutti Hat'.
Much as I love her character and uniqueness and utter barminess, she is a large doll, and I didn't have room to keep her, so I sold her some time ago. Seeing the photos again, I wonder if I should have kept her...

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Pumpkin Perfume

This is one of those 'lost in translation' sort of items, where you just scratch your head and wonder. Do I want my hair to be oily and smell of pumpkins? Well, not especially, but I bet if John Frieda launched his 'Frizz-Ease Pumpkin Oil', we'd all be buying it.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Dolly Bubbles

Did you get any bath products for Christmas? I believe it is compulsory for all women to receive at least one gift of bath stuff from their loved ones at Christmas. I'm not complaining - I like it, especially if it's good stuff. 

However, I'm not sure if anyone would have welcomed a bottle of 'Dolly Liquid Bubble Bath' as a gift. I would have liked to have seen the actual liquid - I'm imagining some sort of lurid pink stuff. I have a vague memory of some very, very pink bubble bath when I was little - and some bright blue stuff too. That's taking me back...

Well, whatever the product was like, it was a genius idea in my book to stick a plastic dolly head on top of the bottle. And then to make her a sophisticated fur collar from some dyed sheepskin. She's a fancy gal...

Monday, 9 January 2012

Ibiza Soundtrack

It's the traditional time of year for all those holiday adverts on the telly, although I think the idea of booking a sunny summer holiday in January is probably a bit old-fashioned now. We're all far more likely to be contemplating a 'romantic mini-break' in Berlin or a hen weekend in Prague. Or staying at home and worrying about your carbon footprint/recession. And if anyone mentions Ibiza, you are not going to think of picturesque fishing villages.

But this LP goes back to the time when an album of songs to remind you of your holiday in Ibiza was not about house, trance or techno. (In an attempt to appear hip, I actually tried to look up music genres, to see if I could find anything that would make it sound as if I knew what I was talking about. Confronted with this list, I soon gave up. I feel very old now.)

But it was not all Spanish folk songs, even back then, as, top of the list of tracks, we see 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep'. All together now! "Where's your mama gone? ..."

Friday, 6 January 2012

Don't Waste a Day

A resolution I would really like to keep this year is to have more fun. I often let things get me down for no reason, and quite simply, I forget how to enjoy life.

This extract from an old Ellisdon's joke catalogue is headed with a very wise saying -
A penchant for tawdry plastic jokes is probably not quite so wise...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Hope for the Short and Bald

More help with self-improvement. I'm baffled by the advert above. 'No appliances, no drugs, no dieting'. So how is it supposed to work? By will power, presumably. I think that if your new year's resolution is to think yourself taller, you may want to consider, is this really a SMART objective?

There's never any doubt about these adverts, is there? The 'Ross System never fails' and apparently Dehydrocholesterol is a 'proven remedy' for hair loss.  And not just proven by anybody - by a 91 year old lady and an 89½ year old man (89½??), who, despite their great ages, have both taken so much trouble over their flowing locks.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Readiest Road to Health

Today, I have a couple of suggestions to help you keep that 'keep fit' resolution. These advertisements both date from 1896, and I got them both as mounted prints many years ago.

No need to join an expensive gym, when you can try 'Road Skating'. I'm thankful there is a 'Practising Saloon for Ladies'. I wouldn't want any gentlemen to see me on those contraptions!

But perhaps it is would be more decorous to follow the example of H.R.H. the Princess of Wales, and go for a quick trot, canter and gallop in the privacy of your own drawing room.

Judging from the picture below, you can exercise on Vigor's Horse-Action Saddle without even having to undo your coat buttons. How extremely civilised.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Fascinating Womanhood

If you're unattached, you might wish that the new year will bring the chance of meeting someone new.

But quite frankly, what hope have you got, unless you learn the 'cherished magic of our sex'?

Of course you will also need to solve 'the problem of personal daintiness'.

And always remember that 'Hygiene Brings Happiness'.

And you might benefit from some 'female pills'.
They 'fulfil all that is required', but quite what that is remains a mystery.

Monday, 2 January 2012

No exercises, no starving, no harmful drugs

It's that time of year again, when we all feel the need to improve ourselves and make some New Year's resolutions.

If, like me, you're pretty weak-willed, then you might need some help. So I've scoured my stash of vintage magazines to find some easy solutions to help us.

This week, I'm going to share all these self-improvement miracles with you. Today I'm starting with the body beautiful.

First entrant to pitch for your slimming business is My Big Fat Gypsy Secret from 'Petulengro'. This 'Famous Radio Romany' will send you a herbal secret for half a crown. Not sure what 'no "starving"' means. Those inverted commas are worrying...

Next up we have the true-life story of 'Mrs Guppy'. Nothing fishy about this one.

(Sorry - couldn't resist that.)

Apparently, eating Bisks with 'butter or cheese' will 'satisfy your hunger pangs'. Well, yes, I imagine they would, but as your arteries harden, will you actually lose weight?

The photos are odd. Did she lose the weight simply by divesting herself of a small child?
The next pair of adverts are from the same company.The first one is for Beautipon 'the amazing Vegetable Flesh former'. I'm not sure why you would want vegetable flesh on your bust (unless you literally want a pair of melons), but I seriously doubt their claims.

I do feel sorry for the poor droopy woman in the 'before' picture, not so much for her flat bust, but because she appears to have grown spaniel ears on her head.

However, the manufacturers of Beautipon (the amazing vegetable flesh former) also make Slenderettes 'the Slimming Tonic Tablets'.

It makes me think of Alice in Wonderland - 'One side will make you larger and one side will make you smaller'. (A slight misquote, but we seem to be in the same magic world of wonder drugs.)

Apparently Slenderettes 'activate the fat-controlling gland' (I wonder which gland that is?), but contain 'no thyroid or dangerous chemicals'. A medical marvel indeed.

I'm not sure if I can wait for them to work, so I might just send off for their 'Slimming Belts and Bras'.

I could certainly do with a 'miraculous change in my figure'!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

Today, I bring you New Year greetings from around the continent.
Was there ever a time when people really thought that a photo of a brightly lit still life was a cool thing to have on a card? This certainly was not the case in the early 1980s, when a Polish pen friend sent me this postcard. (I acquired said penfriend inadvertantly, when a friend of mine secretly sent my photo and address to the 'Find a Friend' feature in Blue Jeans magazine, as a student jape. How it got to Poland, I can't remember, but I was sufficiently intrigued to exchange a few letters.)
The card above is from Turkey. As a predominantly Muslim country, I have no idea how all the Christmas decorations fit in to their New Year celebrations.

The card below was printed in Italy, where they like to lean their clocks nonchalantly against the pine-clad wall, unshoe their horses, and celebrate with a glass or two of something bubbly.
Happy New Year!