Magazine Nostalgia

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Woman magazine, photographed at Goodwood Revival 2016 © Southampton Old Lady
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Christian Dior – The New Look, which I photographed at the V&A Museum, London
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50s ‘Do it yourself’ magazine. Notice the glamorous plasterer!

I am a magazine hoarder. We are moving so I am, painfully, having to let go of all my magazines and books – keeping just the pages of articles I have written only. My magazines more than anything bring back nostalgia – things I wore, things I made but mainly they reveal attitudes towards women.

Women had to fulfil the manual trades while men were at war – women even built London Bridge!  – But when the war was over, the propaganda department tried to get women back in the home. Glamorous New Look clothing, American-style ‘dream kitchens’ with inventive white goods and beautiful baby prams were everywhere in magazines. But women still had the skills they learnt.

In the 50s Do it Yourself magazine showed you how to build your ‘dream kitchen’ – Rationing went on well into the 50s and if anyone wanted anything they had to do it themselves, Christmas toys, tables – people made everything themselves.

When Woman magazine first appeared it was for the new modern woman who could own her own car, then came Cosmopolitan the sexually liberating magazine – but it really was just about how to please your man in bed and sold you make-up. I worked on the British feminist magazine Spare Rib for a few years and burnt myself out. I still have most of the issues and helped the British Library put them all online. Many of the articles published in them are only just being tackled now. Libraries are getting rid of all their hard copies of magazines, so I don’t know what to do with them. They are too important to throw away.

Magazines nowadays are full of nostalgia Our world is changing so fast,  artificial intelligence, never without instant communication, space tourism – by reflecting on our past we can get a grip of reality before we ‘boldly go’ towards the future.

You might like to see my article on Goodwood Revival – a nostalgia event here

In response to WordPress weekly photo challenge: Nostalgia 

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Victorian Festival of Christmas 2015

Oliver characters: Mrs Bedwin, Bill Sykes with his dog Bullseye and Nancy.
Oliver characters: Mrs Bedwin, Bill Sykes with his dog Bullseye and Nancy.

I took part in The Victorian Festival of Christmas at Portsmouth’s Historical Dockyard this year. If you have ever wandered why so many British actors get the best parts in Hollywood movies, then perhaps take a look at this year’s festival slide show on YouTube (by photographer Steve Spurgin)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mPDpbDtbO8

Most chimney sweeps were children.
Most chimney sweeps were children.
The prostitutes
The prostitutes
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Mr Darcy, Florence Nightingale, Prince George, Lady Pennywhistle.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Mr Darcy, Florence Nightingale, Prince George, Lady Pennywhistle.
Queen Victoria with John Brown
Queen Victoria with John Brown

With very little rehearsal, over 400 volunteers dressed in Victorian costume to bring this attraction to life, for thousands of tourists from all over the globe.

In the UK, we live and breath theatre from an early age, starting with making costumes to take part in the school’s nativity play. History is now taught by people dressing up and re-enacting the period they are learning about, be it Romans or WWII. To learn Shakespeare for exams we do not just read the play, we act it. More people belong to amateur drama groups in Britain than sports societies.

Portsmouth is the birthplace of Charles Dickens. The Historical Dockyard is where centuries-old ships, such as Nelson’s Flagship The Victory, HMS Warrior and The Mary Rose etc are moored.

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The dry dock is also where parts of Les Miserables was filmed. So all these scenes were brought to life by costumed actors, singers, school groups, historical and Victorian interest societies such as steam-punks or the Victorian Strollers.People from 5 to 80 years-of-age played famous Victorian or Dickensian characters for three full days and with very little breaks. It was in the open air while the tale-end of Hurricane Desmond was blowing a gale and in addition there were a few down-pours.

Suffragettes
Suffragettes

First visitors are greeted by carollers, then those in Victorian Uniforms, dockyard workers, stilt-walking-police, postal clerks, servicemen, sailors. Then by beggars, prostitutes and suffragettes – undertakers, a ruthless judge in a courtroom setting, prisoners, gliding angels, pearly kings & queens singing cockney musical hall ditties, workhouse children being enticed to steal by Fagin and the Artful Dodger, chimney sweeps, a green-gowned Father Christmas. There were snow machines, carousels, a Downton-Abbey type dinner table set with turkey and trimmings, various stage sets. There were three a pubs – one mock, one real with bands singing sea shanties and even an inflatable one. There was a market selling Christmas crafts and fayre from mulled cider to hog roasts.

Victorian Dinner Party
Victorian Dinner Party

I was part of Groundlings Theatre that organised around 200 of us. I played an aristocratic snob preaching Victorian manners. “It is the height of rudeness to have one’s elbows on the table.”  At the end of each sketch, Charles the Butler pushes a custard pie in my face. I endured around 40 of those!

Police with penny farthing bicycles.
Police with penny farthing bicycles.
Children learn about Victorian history by dressing up
Children learn about Victorian history by dressing up

The finale each year is a parade lead by a full pipe band in kilts and bear-skins and headed by Queen Victoria. We were not allowed to carry phones and cameras, so I could only took a few snap-shots in the Green Room. Most of these photos are from Portsmouth News.

Father Christmas at the helm.
Father Christmas at the helm.

For more info about Portsmouth Historical Dockyard visit: www.historicdockyard.co.uk

Sir Bevis – Hero of Southampton

Josian & The Lions from the Hours of England illuminations.
Josian & The Lions from the Hours of England illuminations.
Southampton Bargate, the city's gatehouse and a remnant of the Medieval wall that surrounds the city centre of Southampton. Legend has it that Sr Bevois Earl of Southampton was its founder. The bronze lions (in honour of Josian) replaced the wooden ones in 1743.
Southampton Bargate, the city’s gatehouse and a remnant of the Medieval wall that surrounds the city centre of Southampton. Legend has it that Sr Bevois Earl of Southampton was its founder. The bronze lions (in honour of Josian) replaced the wooden ones in 1743.

beviscover2Place names are all over Southampton with characters from the Bevis legend: Bevis (a slave turned hero), Josian (the independant Princess) the Lions and the giant Ascupart.

Lynn Forest-Hill is launching her new book Bevis of Hampton as a ‘limited festival edition’ for Southampton’s first literary festival SO: To Speak, which takes place in October 2015.

I am so looking forward reading this translation of the story of Sir Bevis (Hero of Southampton) from Middle English into modern English. I had a sneak preview when I was shown a few of the pages for layout purposes. It has excellent explanatory notes under each page of text. Lynn Forest-Hill is a literary scholar specializing in Medievalism, she is a Fellow of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture at the University of Southampton and is the Education Officer for the Tolkien Society.

This is a Southampton brass coin I have. It was used as a token with the head of Sir Bevois
This is a Southampton brass coin I have. It was used as a token with the head of Sir Bevois

Lynn has written multiple papers regarding J.R.R. Tolkien’s works and her research has been used in articles featured in the Times Literary Supplement. For the last nine years, She has been leading three local reading groups; one studies Shakespeare’s work and the other two focus on the examination of poetry.
I have been following her research on this book on her blog, where she has wonderful links to this legend including a film and even one on how middle english sounds: https://bevisofhampton.wordpress.com
so to speak roundFor more about the SO: To Speak festival:

http://www.sotospeakfestival.org

For more about the legend of Bevis and the Romance poem:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bevis_of_Hampton   +

http://www.tudorrevels.co.uk/articles.php?itemId=58

The Book of Hours forms part of the British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.
To view the illuminations:

Dismaland – Bemusement Park

Banksy's Little Mermaid sculpture, outside Cinderella's castle, complete with algae moat and long queue.
Banksy’s Little Mermaid sculpture, outside Cinderella’s castle, complete with algae moat and long queue.

Due to popular demand I am publishing some holiday snaps of my visit to Dismaland.

This is a bemusement park in Weston-super-Mare, England. On until 25th of September 2015. Devised by Banksy, Dismaland consists of an art festival, with works by 57 other contemporary artists; famous, infamous and non-famous. I spent such an enjoyable, thought-provoking day here. There was a mixed crowd of friends and families. I would love to go back in the evening, where DJs and bands such as Pussy Riot, Massive Attack and comedians such as Katherine Ryan perform. I took enough photos to fill a gallery; too many to choose from for here. I plan to make a separate blog-site just to write about some of the contemporary artists. So for now, here is just a taster of the park itself. The photos were so bright that I have actually toned down the colour in some of them.

If you do a web search you will see many more, or look on the Dismaland official website: www.dismaland.co.uk for a list of artists.

Inside Cinderella's Castle is this giant installation by Banksy. The stage coach has just crashed, the horse and Cinderella are dead and paparazzi are taking photos. A strong reminder here of Princess Diana. There is worry about Duchess Kate and heir and the children being in danger from news photographers too. But more significantly this is about fairy tales that don't end up happily ever after - which is one of the main points of the theme park.
Inside Cinderella’s Castle is this walk-round scene by Banksy.

The pumpkin coach has just crashed, the horse and Cinderella are dead and paparazzi are shooting snaps. A strong reminder of Princess Diana. Recent worries too about Duchess Kate and our heirs to the throne being in danger from sneaky news reporters. But more significantly, this is about the disillusionment of fairy tales, that do not end up happily ever after – one of the main themes throughout the park…

The entrance to Dismaland that was once the Tropicana Lido, Weston-super-Mare.
The entrance to Dismaland that was once the Tropicana Lido, Weston-super-Mare, England
Family picnic at Water Cannon Creek An armour plated riot control vehicle built to serve on the streets of Northern Ireland. Equipped with sniper posts, grenade launchers. Now – a children’s slide.
Family picnic at Water Cannon Creek. An armour plated riot control vehicle built to serve on the streets of Northern Ireland. Equipped with sniper posts, grenade launchers – And a children’s slide.
Merry-go-round slaughter house and butcher sat on boxes of lasagne. A comment on the EU meat industry when we found out that it was common practice for horse meat was sold as beef in big chain supermarkets.
A working merry-go-round-slaughter-house. A butcher sits on lasagne boxes while a horse hangs from a rack. A comment on the EU meat industry, when we discovered that it was common practice for horse meat to be sold as beef, cooked in processed foods in the biggest of supermarkets.
Visitors meander around the park. The billboard features David Cameron ‘One percent’ by Peter Kennard & Cat Phillips. To the left 'Angry Feminist Posters' by Wasted Rita, to the right the stage and cinema which shows continual short films.
A walk around the park. The billboard features Prime Minister David Cameron in ‘One percent’ by Peter Kennard & Cat Phillips. To the left ‘Angry Feminist Posters’ by Wasted Rita. To the right the stage and cinema which shows continual award-winning short films.
Photographing 'The Migrant Boat Pond' by Banksy
Photographing Banksy’s ‘The Migrant Boat Pond’

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Get OUt of DebtAbove left: Close up of models in one of the pond’s migrant boats. Above right: A reworking of a traditional Punch & Judy puppet show written by Julie Burchill, with additional cast Crocodile, PC. PC and Goddess Kali. Ironically this was the only attraction that was not suitable for children – but then neither is the traditional version. It is about violence and abuse of women and children.

Left and below: Part of a series entitled ‘Childhood Gone Wrong’ by USA artist Darren Cullen. Below is a queue for Pocket Money Loans. A comment on high interest loan shark companies that target innocent people. This is really a souvenir shop. Just have a look at the 5000% interest rate.

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'Seagull attacks woman' by Banksy. With depleted fish stocks gulls have been attacking tourists, especially if they have take-out food. Dismaland staff job discription demands being as miserable and unhelpful as possible.
‘Seagull attacks woman’ by Banksy.

Banksy may have been getting lessons from taxidermist Polly Morgan here.  With depleted fish stocks gulls have been attacking tourists, especially if they have take-out food. Dismaland staff must have had job descriptions to be as miserable and unhelpful as possible. They were actually very funny.

Children enjoyed the park. Here some young ones play on a helicopter crashed on a mini golf course. Balls were easily lost on the crazy course.
Here some young ones playing on a helicopter crashed onto a mini golf course, with an oil spill in the back ground.
Getting chilly: Visitors wait at the “Jeffrey Archer Memorial Fire Pit.” Each day one of his novels is ceremonially burned.

That’s it for now. I shall update this post when I have time to create a new site about Art. It will contain photos of Damien Hirst’s Pickled Unicorn, Severija Inčirauskaitė-Kriaunevičienė’s embroidered cars, Jessica Harrison’s Tattooed Porcelain Dolls and Jimmy Cauty’s Aftermath Dislocation Principle model village – to name just a few artists featured at Dismaland.

Amazing People 1: Tamara

1st in a new series of people that I think are amazing…

Tamara Everington is a Haematologist. She works as a doctor for the NHS and is also a researcher.
Tamara Everington is a Haematologist. She works as a doctor for the NHS and is also a researcher.

P1120527Tamara Everington. This wonderful woman saved my life. I am so grateful to her. Everything I do now even writing this blog is all thanks to her. I know she gets paid by the NHS and that there were others on my Cancer team, also dedicated to me staying alive. This was during chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma and recovery. But I still think she is special and continues to save lives  every single day. Tamara was the first to pinpoint my illness when so many others failed. She took my side when I exercised my patient’s rights. She came in to hospital to check on me at weekends, when she could have been with her family. She spent hours of her free time writing up reports on my clinical trial so that others could benefit. She listens to me, always. She is just amazing.

Review: Maxine Peake as Hamlet – Shakespeare ****

Maxine Peak as 'Hamlet' a stripped-bare version of Shakespeare's most versatile tragedy at The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
Maxine Peak as ‘Hamlet,’ a stripped-bare version of Shakespeare’s most versatile tragedy at The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

Maxine Peake as ‘Hamlet, which opened at The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester last year, is currently touring the UK. Cinema versions are also to tour other countries.

I watched this minimalist, cross-dressed version on television last night. When you cannot afford to go to the theatre much (and us Brits love theatre) Sky Arts is such a godsend.

"To be or not to be..."
“To be or not to be…”

Of all Shakespeare’s plays, the tragedy of this Danish Prince is the most versatile to interpret. Each actor makes Hamlet their own. Stripped to the bare-bones of any set, costumes, props and the cast playing different sexes, races, ages and sometimes more than one role, actors need to be outstandingly good to hold the audience’s attention. All were obviously cast for their amazing ability to act. Not one had help, in their resemblance nor voice, to the traditional characters often played. We had to suspend our disbelief, which could be hard work. As such, this is not one for those unfamiliar with the story.

Synopsis: After murdering his own brother, King Hamlet, the devious Claudius succeeds him to the throne and even marries his widow, Gertrude. Prince Hamlet seeks revenge and sets about to overthrow his evil uncle, which results in tragedy.

Best see Kenneth Branagh’s film version first; then read to play. This is one for Mancunians and those who have seen endless versions. On stage, Benedict Cumberbatch, June Law, Rory Kinnear, David Tennant and Michael Sheen have all played Hamlet recently to varying critical acclaims.

Peake is certainly a star – charismatic and compelling in her fast-paced, fresh and angry-youth interpretation. She is well-deserving of her BAFTA nomination. Full-figured Katie West is not your usual waif-like Ophelia but procures a sense of injustice, Barbara Marten, a little mature in years, comes across more beautiful than voluptuous as Gertude. John Schrapnel, resembling a warm patriarch figure, also had his work cut out to portray the sly Claudius and haunting ghost. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were far from dead in their portrayal by Jodie McNee and Peter Singh. Great performances all round.

4/5 from me.

For the trailer visit: https://youtu.be/q4xVwVwGvPc

Chemo Brain Quips No2 – Blue Plaque

chemo brain buttonAfter reporting a plaque missing from a one-time Ford (Hendy) building that was requisitioned as a factory for Spitfire parts during WW2 (currently the Voodoo Lounge and Buyology) in Vincent’s Walk, I have been on a mission taking photos of all the plaques I see in Southampton, in case they are stolen by metal thieves. There are a number blue plaques on homes from Emily Davies (feminist activist) to R.J Mitchell (aeronautical engineer designer – famous for the Spitfire). 

I had a call yesterday from a gentleman to tell me that my ‘blue badge’ was ready for collection. (A blue badge is a special disc to put in the car, so that a disabled person with mobility problems can get parked closer to the shops or on limited, designated places in busy areas).

But my chemo-brain could not link this thought thread, and in my head my blue plaque was ready. I told the man kindly that although I had made enquiries because it was missing, I had not actually ordered it myself. He assured me that someone else could collect it on my behalf if they filled out a form. I checked that it was for the Spitfire factory, but he assured me that it had my name on it!  Fame at last? All sorts went through my head until the council worker reinforced the words “blue badge” at least nine times before I realised my disabled parking disc was ready.

He had no sense of humour, when I apologised and pointed out that I suffered with cognitive disorder.

Buyology was used at a Spitfire parts factory from 1939 when it was a Hendy (Ford) garage. It was taken over by F.W Woolworth until  the early naughties and since then has had a number of different  owners.
Buyology was used at a Spitfire parts factory from 1939 when it was a Hendy (Ford) garage. It was taken over by F.W Woolworth until the early naughties and since then has had a number of different owners.