Jolly Good Biscuits!

The other day I picked up an old gardening magazine, My Garden, from 1947. It’s a curious little beast, about A4 size in today’s measurements and, given that Britain was still heavily rationed, an austere read in comparison to the glossies we read now. Mainly text, there are a few illustrations, some black and white photographs…

The Elegance of Elvis

Quiff. Sunglasses. Giant collars. Sideburns. Medallions. Jumpsuits. Blue suede shoes. Leathers. Hawaiian shirts. Capes. Loafers. White shoes.  White belts. White flares. And that gold suit. Elvis Presley is one of the very, very few figures worthy of that ghastly, overused, underachieved word: Icon. Like the Byzantine images from which the word derives, Presley’s style is…

Salute to the Forties

Salute to the Forties describes itself as ‘spiffingly nostalgic’, two words that sum up the kind of stiff-upper-lip nostalgia we British specialise in. Whereas a lot of the UK’s vintage events focus on Americana (nothing wrong with that, of course, some of my favourite festivals etc. etc…),  for one weekend in September the Historic Dockyard…

Lady Levis®

Jeans had been around for sixty years before it occurred to anyone that women might like to wear them too. Designed as tough workwear for miners in 1873, they had been swiftly adopted by cowhands and other chaps in the American west as comfortable, practical clothes. That’s not to say women didn’t wear the men’s…

The Museum of Shops

“I remember that.” “My mum had one of those.” “We used to have one exactly like that.” If The Museum of Shops or ‘How We Used To Live’ had a ha’penny for every time one of the above phrases was uttered in its hallowed halls, it would probably be able to move to larger premises. As…

Tiki Chic

One of the least-played records in my vinyl collection is Bing Sings Songs of the Islands. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was seduced by the picture on the front: El Bingo is resplendent, happily sporting several Leis and a sailor hat. It was only after playing half a side that…

The Joy of Box Brownie Cameras (2)

Part Two: Load your camera. There’s something wonderful, magical, even, about using a vintage camera for its true purpose. Not as an ornament, something to look nice on the shelf, but to genuinely take out and use. The almost spookily-accurate results are nothing to do with ‘old film stock’ – you genuinely can take photos so…

Interview: Pink Martini’s China Forbes

Saddlers’ Wells is not a venue noted for its music. But then Pink Martini are not a band noted for conforming to stereotypes. Somehow their eclectic mix of exotic rhythms and styles seem more suited to the world of dance than trying to shoehorn them into one musical form. Besides. They have found their spiritual…

The Fabulousness of Princess Margaret

Okay, so she never got to be Queen. Missed it by a whisker. Coming second has its advantages though, as Prince Harry will tell you. It allows a freedom you’d never have if you actually had to be monarch. Princess Margaret could be wild. She could break the rules. She could smoke and go out with…

Brownie Points

The joy of the Box Brownie. Part One – Buying a box camera. I’m always a bit surprised when people ask me if the box cameras I’m carrying around with me have actual film in them or worse, if they’re even real. They seem to think I’ve adapted them for use with a digital camera, or that I’ve somehow managed to hide…

Collecting Bakelite

Nothing says ‘Vintage’ more than something made from the classic Jazz Age material, Bakelite. But what is it – and if you own something made from early plastic, how do you look after it? Although Bakelite itself is 100 years old – invented almost by accident in 1907 by the Belgian Dr. Leo Baekeland –…

Vivien of Holloway

In the unlikely event anyone’s wondering what I wear when I go dancing, allow me to froth about  Vivien of Holloway – clothes made physically in London, 2016 but spiritually about 70 years ago in Hollywood. You’re met at the door by an immaculately-dressed lady, straight out of Mad Men, wielding a tape measure. This is…