Monday, 31 October 2011

I Married a Secondhand Wolfman

(Apologies for poor quality phone photo.)
Saw this display in a local charity shop last week. The Wolfman has a kind of Dr Who vibe going on, I think. And yes, they're next to a double bed.
Happy Halloween!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Arcade Magazine 1970

Every time I see this magazine, I can hear a deep, butch voice saying "Arcade... For Men!"  The Sexy Lady in the Towelling Hotpants just makes it look that way, doesn't she? But look at the features - doesn't that say 'Thora Hird'??

I found this odd little magazine in a pile of vintage knitting magazines I bought recently. It seemed a bit out of place, until I discovered it was published to promote the Provident (the financial services company still going today). It can't seem to decide whether to appeal to sexist men or housewifely women. So there's Thora Hird...
A beachwear feature that gives you a look at 'the styles - and girls'.
A man and a woman moaning about each other's driving...
A chance to look at all the stuff you could buy with a Provident loan.
And how to traumatise the pre-teens with eye-watering outfits. (And I don't just mean the psychedelic fabric - look at that poor lad's short shorts!)
As well as the split personality, the magazine is very thin, and I can't believe they had the cheek to charge a shilling for it. You could have got a copy of 'Woman's Weekly' for that.  But you wouldn't have got the sexy cover, misleading though that is. All in all, it's a sheep in wolf's clothing.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Cocky the Cockatoo

Sometimes I lose sight of my collection of kitsch and curious things. I get so used to having things around the house, I forget that they're really a bit odd. For example, I forget that not everyone has a light-up cockatoo in the living room. But we do, and he's affectionately known as Cocky.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Prized Possessions

The scene is a fairground in 1958.
"Oo-er, George, you are clever, shooting all those ducks down! Have you won the cut-glass vase, do you think?"
"Well, let's see, Doris."
"Well done, sir! You've won a prize! The vase? Oh no, I've got something better than that. Here you are sir, a lucky pup for a lucky pup, eh sir?"
"Here you are, Doris!"
"Oh, George. I'll treasure it always."

You see, the thing about these especially shoddy plaster animals is not just that they are badly made, but that anyone kept them for so long. I got these just a couple of years ago at a car boot sale. Even if the owner got them as late as the 1980s (because some of those fairground prizes hung about for decades), that would still mean someone gave them house room for 20 years. Perhaps those wonky eyes and malformed features brought back happy memories of a day at the funfair?

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Evil Monk Scientists Postcard

OK, these monks are not really evil, but they don't half look sinister, working away in their laboratory. Are they planning to let loose some strange potion on the world? Well, sort of...

This is a postcard of the perfumery at Caldey Abbey (on an island near Tenby in South Wales). I went to Caldey Island many years ago, and bought this at the time. As a holiday postcard, the sight of these bespectacled monks and their equipment is certainly... unusual.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Creepy Hand Hand Cream

There's a certain logic to putting hand cream in a hand-shaped bottle, but a disembodied hand has its own strange overtones.

Oh well, the manufacturers of 'New Improved Linc-o-Lin' decided to go with the novelty angle, and I, for one, salute them! 
[This blog has been rigorously edited to remove all bad puns about 'coming in handy', 'lending a hand', etc. It was difficult, but I forced myself.]

Friday, 21 October 2011

Cooking with Seven-Up

In 1957, in what now appears to be a very desperate attempt to boost sales, the Seven-Up Company published this little booklet to promote the idea of cooking with Seven-Up.
Yes, Seven-Up, or 7-Up, the fizzy lemonade. "A new dimension in cookery", indeed.
Apparently you can baste your roasts with it, or add it to your pancake batter. 
Cook baked beans in it...or cheese-filled pancakes. 
OK, now I'm starting to feel a bit queasy. What next? Make a fruit flavoured jelly, then top it with a salad dressing (also containing 7-Up). Oh dear God. (Why do Americans see jelly as salad ingredient?)
Still, let's carry on. Apparently, "you'll have guests asking you for this special recipe. What is it?
'7-Up Cheese Aspic'?? Excuse me, I have to leave the room....

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Wait a Minute, Mr Postman

Yes, stop, wait a minute 'Mr Postman' -  as you are clearly an imposter! His disguise is almost perfect... but look at those correspondent shoes!! Obviously he could not find any proper postman's shoes to fit his ridiculously tiny feet. I'm not too sure about the cap, either, on his ridiculously large head. And a yellow tie? I think not.

The yellow pillar box is another mystery - perhaps he has an accomplice hiding in the fake postbox. As foreign spies in the 1960s, they had only ever seen black and white photos of Britain, and mistakenly supposed the postboxes to be yellow, as they are - in Lithuania!

Fortunately, the children are merely baffled by the messages of communist propaganda he is handing out. Some of them are too young to read, and the others are disappointed because they thought he was Tufty the road safety squirrel.

I think this child's hanky was made in the 1960s, and was possibly made as a warning to children to beware of spies in the street. Or not.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Jimmy Young Hair Clips

'What's the hairdo today, Jim?' If you only remember Jimmy Young as a Radio 2 DJ, these hair clips seem even more mystifying than they already are.

In the early 1950s, Jimmy Young was a popular singer, and, I suppose, something of a heartthrob. (It was before my time, so I'm only guessing...) So presumably his face could sell hair clips to music-loving young ladies?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Singing Picture

A lovely old postcard of Blackpool is made even more splendid when you discover that it is also a record. Tricky to photograph the surface, but I hope you can see. 
I've had it such a long time that I can't remember if I ever played it, but the reverse tells me that the song is 'Witch Doctor'. Ruddy marvellous! 

Monday, 17 October 2011

On the Shelf

At a local supermarket. Nothing more to say, really...

Friday, 14 October 2011

Fun With Junk

God, I love this book. It's a masterpiece, a work of genius. An insane journey into the murky underbelly of crafting. This is what happens 'When Craft Goes Bad'!
Please do click on the photos to see them in their full glory.

The unusually talented Sawako Goda manages to take some quite ordinary pieces of glassware and china, and with just the addition of wire, beads and wax, she turns them into things beyond imagining.
 Her innovative interpretations of Benjamin Franklin (above) and Madame de Pompadour (below).
 This one, naturally, is called 'Pasiphae and the Bull'.
Can anyone fail to be moved by the haunting 'Pomeranian with Water Wings'?
'Best in Show' captures canine beauty in all its glory.
And last but not least, the imperturbable features of 'Stony-face'.

I could show you every page of this wonderful book, but I don't want to overwhelm you with riches. Maybe I'll show you part two another day. It was published in 1966, and, as the jacket blurb says, 'Here is a book which falls into none of the usual categories'. How very true.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Two Little Pigs

Cheap plastic toys in badly printed packaging will always find a home with me. I know I'm not the only person to have a packet of these pigs, as they are available from International Quality Kitsch, a familiar seller at vintage fairs.

The pigs themselves are fine examples of poor quality vintage toys, with their laughable hats and insane eyes, although personally, I question their dress etiquette.(A tie may be optional, but trousers are de rigueur, surely?)  However, the packaging is even odder, I think.

Let's look closely... 
What on earth is supposed to be going here? Under a palm tree, there is a snow-covered sign for the outdoor toy stall, where a wolf (?) dressed as an American soda jerk is selling what looks like an iron(?) to a rabbit and a ...? Nope, I cannot figure out the animal on the left. A dog's tail, maybe, but the head is just freaky. The happy mouse and the parrot are positively normal by comparison.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Souvenir Punk

Can you still get these in London souvenir shops? I wouldn't be surprised. The thing I like most about this is that they've still used the same baby-faced doll that they used for beefeaters, and guardsmen and policemen, and Scottish pipers and Welsh ladies and every other British souvenir doll. Only this time they've added different accessories.

I could have a moan about how this stereotype runs counter to everything that the original punk DIY ethic ever meant. How 'punk' now just means black leather with studs, and nothing exciting and original, like the good old days. How the first person to use safety pins as jewellery was a punk, all the others were just mindless sheep. How every youthful rebellion is eventually viewed as a harmless fad. How it makes me feel old....

But I won't, because in the end, this doll is just plain funny.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Strange Case of the Cannibal Animals

This is a paper bag from our local chip shop (hang on a minute, there's a Homer Simpson voice in my head going 'Mmmm, chips...'). Sorry. Anyway, can you see what's wrong with this picture? The fish has the knife and fork. The fish! It's just wrong. A fish can't eat fish and chips!

But weirdly, cannibal animals are quite common. You get barbecue aprons showing a happy pig frying sausages, or a jolly bull barbecuing a steak. The French advert below is a rather graphic variation. It did the rounds on blogs a while ago, and I think you can get it on T-shirts now.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Squeaky Toy Tribble

If you are a Star Trek fan, you will know and understand what this is. If you are not, you will (correctly) just see a ball of fake fur. It was a very old and primitive ball of fake fur with just a basic squeaker inside. Nowadays the toys are far more technologically sophisticated and make authentic sounds. I kept it for years, but eventually decided it had to go, because, well, it's just a ball of fake fur, isn't it?

Friday, 7 October 2011

Pope John Paul II Paper Doll Book

 I've mentioned before that I prefer real religious kitsch to the jokey fake stuff. This book looks like it must be a joke, but I can assure you that it isn't. Published in 1984, it was a genuine tribute to Pope John Paul II.
I'll share some of the cover blurb -
"[This] fascinating collection of four finely rendered paper dolls, 19 costumes and accessories - all in full, authentic color - recreate the Pope's eventful life. You'll find young Karol Jozef - with military school uniform, regular school clothes (and soccer ball) and altar boy's robe." 

 "And of course you'll find paper dolls and costumes showing the full range of Karol Jozef Wojtyla's brilliant church career..."
 "..with a wide array of accurately detailed and colored ecclesiastical raiment, including:
ordination robes            simar
cassock                            rochet
chasuble                          pallium
archiepiscopal attire    mozzetta
cardinal's attire            papal miter
...and more"
 It's pontiriffic!!

The same artist (Tom Tierney) published paper dolls of Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, which you might expect. Less expected are the paper dolls of Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan! I must look out for those...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Granny goes to Vegas

What says 'Las Vegas' better than a posy of flowers on a lustreware mug? I couldn't resist the incongruity of it, when I saw it in the gift shop surrounded by cards and dice and tacky T-shirts.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Postcards from the TGWU Centre at Eastbourne

TGWU Centre at Eastbourne. Bedroom
I have long had a fondness for postcards like this, even before Martin Parr published his excellent book of Boring Postcards. There is something extraordinary about the notion that someone, somewhere thought this bedroom was worth a postcard.
I like the way they decided to include a view of the toilet. Is the colour of the bathroom suite pampas or savannah? Or maybe just 1970s beige?

Obviously the Transport and General Workers Union were rather proud of their snazzy new conference centre, as I have found three different postcards..
TGWU Centre at Eastbourne

TGWU Centre at Eastbourne. Dining Room
Postcards of empty rooms always look a bit odd. I guess they were proud of their fancy new dining room, and wanted to break free of the 'beer and sandwiches' union stereotype. I think that's part of the appeal of postcards like this. The scenes that made someone so proud at the time, now seem so banal to us. I'm just so glad they preserved them on postcards.