Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Red Spot II

Red Spot II, Wassily Kandinsky 1921

A cornucopia devoid of all its plenty
Wealth poured away
The horn is empty
A crooked path runs through the arch
A sudden stop
In its winding march
A firework frenzy of wheels and rockets
A red-hot tongue
And empty sockets
Cells mutating on a glass slide
Distorting vision
Nowhere to hide 

© Marilyn Brindley

Linking to Magpie Tales where we are invited to use the picture Tess gives us a prompt for a poem or short vignette

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Actors Are at Hand

"The actors are at hand;and, by their show,
You shall know all, that you are like to know”
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Anyone who knows their Shakespeare will tell you that ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ from which the above quote comes, has fairies in it, as well as a group of actors who get caught up in the comedy. I’m not sure if my late mother-in-law, the tall fairy in the centre of this picture, was acting in a junior production of that play, but the photograph fits perfectly with the theme for this week’s Sepia Saturday. The picture prompt being a theatre, and Alan encouraging us to ‘put on a performance’, allows me to introduce the dramatis personae within my own family.

Mary the Fairy also makes a handsome young lad in the second picture (third left, back) though we’ve no idea what the play is. It could be Shakespeare again, perhaps 'As You Like It’, as there are shepherds, shepherdesses and goatherds in the Forest of Arden, and the youngsters appear to be dressed appropriately for a pastoral scene, but that could just be wishful thinking.

As a young woman, my Mother-in-law became a member of the Lancaster Footlights Club, and her performance in ‘My Three Angels’ was reported in the paper on November 1st 1957, as being 'assured and convincing’. Well, it’s not surprising, after such an early start.

Mum, as the housekeeper, with arms crossed 
Mum, seated, with hat and bag
Mum, third right
My own mother also acted in amateur dramatic societies.When she wasn’t fulfilling her Red Cross duties as an employee of Boots the Chemist, in Nottingham she was attending their Drama Club. Again, we don’t know the titles of the plays.

Me, as a blackbird, top right, flexing my dramatic wings
The next drama queen is me, and in my junior school production I was a blackbird, with just one line to say; “Hello, what are you doing down there?” They don’t write them like that any more.

It clearly didn’t put me off, because I went on to perform in my school’s sixth form production of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, where I had two lines to say, and played a drunken old ‘witch’ in the slammer. No comments please. By the time I was at teacher training college I was taking part in revues and sketches in the drama club, and had more than two lines to remember. This proved my undoing as I would frequently ‘dry’. I admire those actors, professional and amateur, who can memorise huge tracts of script.

My brother and his family, carry on the acting tradition, however, and have been involved in their local amatateur dramatic society for years. My brother, still directs, and my sister-in-law still occasionally treads the boards.
In these photos, my sister-in-law is just about to put someone out of his misery, in a production from more than thirty years ago, my nephew is the Artful Dodger, my niece is being given a hard time by the chap in the yellow shirt, and my brother, seated at the table on the right, in ‘A Man For All Seasons’ looks as though he’s a figure in a painting by Holbein.
The photos are courtesy of The Bonington Players, in Arnold, Nottingham, and more can be found on their website.

And now the final Act; my own offspring demonstrating that acting is in the blood. My son is the one in the centre, trying to stifle a smile, whilst the lad next to him has failed to do so. All the others are managing to strike some sort of dramatic pose.  In the photo above my daughter just looks pleased that’s it’s all over.

So, ladies and gentlemen ‘our revels now are ended’. We may not be an acting dynasty like the Redgraves, but each generation of the family has played its part.

To see what dramas others have produced, have a look at this week’s Sepia Saturday.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dolly Suite

When Alan took up my suggestion for this week’s Sepia Saturday theme I was both surprised and delighted. Surprised, because I didn’t think he’d take me seriously, and delighted because I have so many pictures which fit the theme. These pictures of my mother and her family and not of very good quality, but you can see that Rosie had a special place in Mum’s heart.

Mum tells me the doll was German, and checking in my copy of The Ultimate Doll Book, I see that dolls from German makers were very popular from the 1890’s to 1930’s. This picture would have been about 1925, and the book has a picture of a doll by one of the lesser known makers, from that very year, which is quite similar. With a height of 70 cms (28 ins) the size looks about right too. However, Mum tells me her doll was not bisque but celluloid, another popular material until the 1950s. Rosie was much loved, and you can see why; shaped and sized like a real baby, with expressive hands and pretty face. Her clothes would all have been made by the family, my Grandmother and possibly Great-grandmother, both talented craftswomen. At some point Mum was deemed too old for Rosie and she was given to a neighbour’s children, along with mum’s treasured doll’s pram. Imagine her heartbreak on finding both Rosie and the pram abused by the pair, to the point of destruction. She has often recalled this story over the years, so I am sure it was an upsetting incident. Even more galling, when the family, much later, realised that Rosie would have been worth a tidy sum had she stayed with her original owners, who knew how to care for her.

Back in September I used my favourite picture of a girl with a doll when I posted about little Miss Mary Carter, In Her Sunday Best, where I ended the post with a picture of me, aged two, clutching my dolly and being as cute as I possibly could. Less familiar will be the picture of me aged ten, with Topsy, my much loved black dolly (yes she was; there’s no other way to describe her), who later would spend many happy hours with my daughter, and now awaits love and kisses from my grandaughter (and possibly her brother). So, if one picture of me being angelic isn’t enough, here’s another, in a local park, with a different doll.

And, striking a similar pose, my daughter, checking that her new dolly has both eyes!

If you visited my other blog, 'Picking Up The Threads’ last week, it will not have escaped your attention that, like my mother and grandmother before me, I like to make things, especially dolls and soft toys. Because I get nostalgic for the old days (hence my participation in Sepia Saturday), I have recently re-created for my grandchildren, toys, originally made for my children, as I did last week in A Makeover For Blue Bunny. If you pop over there and click on If You Knew Susie Like My New Susie, and the links on that page, you can see another dolly being re-incarnated. One Sepia Saturday follower did just that and now she’s going to make the same doll!

Here’s another one I made for my daughter, again, now passed on to my grandaughter. This one is a ‘Cinderella Upside-down doll’. My daughter is holding the doll in her ragged state, but when she is tipped over, and the skirt brought down over the raggedy Cinders, the beautiful Cinderella is revealed, dressed in all her finery. However, Cinderella appears to have fallen asleep, worn out no doubt by the exertions of the ball and the attentions of the handsome prince.

And here is my daughter in her squaw costume cradling her papoose and, on a chilly day, taking two of her favourites out for a breath of fresh air. The papoose was a Sasha doll, made in England by Trendon, and now highy collectable. She was called Little Flower (though my daughter called hers Rosie) and can be seen at the bottom of this collectors’ page, where I just frightened myself when I looked through it and saw how much my own collection of six, and all their clothes and accessories, are worth. If we fall on hard times I know what to do. Little Flower, is of course black, and you can see how much my daughter loved her, in this photo below, where Rosie and my daughter are both wearing that other icon of the seventies a Clothkits dress. The second photo is of my grandaughter with her own first black dolly.

My twin grandchildren have dolls and other toys here to play with when they visit, and another ‘vintage’ item is then pressed into service. My daughter had a Tiny Tears doll, for which I renovated an old pram, painting it white and making a new canopy and bedding with Laura Ashley fabric. Here is the original Tiny Tears with her pram and bedding.

And here is the quilt, thirty years later, still proving useful, whilst my grandson also takes a turn with the baby chair, and learns some  valuable life lessons......

....such as how to cope with twins!

Perhaps a little soothing lullaby would help. This is Berceuse from The Dolly Suite by Gabriel Fauré, and it was the theme tune for ‘Listen With Mother' a 1950s radio programme on the BBC, which I would listen to every day, no doubt whilst cuddling upto one of my own favourite dollies.

It all started with this photo prompt from Sepia Saturday, so if any of the above seemed familiar why not join us.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Top of the Hat Parade

Sepia Saturday this week has a hat-theme and so I chose this one from my husband’s family album. It’s my father-in-law, with his parents in 1908. He was actually born 104 years ago this week, near enough to the Festive Season, to be given the name Noel, so it’s a good way to remember him too. He appears as a young man in an earlier post. I’ve always been drawn to this studio photograph because of the size of Grandma Alice’s hat. I wonder what colour it was. It’s quite a confection, balanced so beautifully atop the hairstyle of the day, and with those large scrunches of material gathered into a ball and placed either side of the head. She’s very on-trend with her fur ‘tippet’. Today’s Times Newspaper carries a fashion item titled; ‘What’s Hot? Look No Fur-ther’ and showcases several young women wearing fur coats, collars and tippets. My father-in-law is also in his best outfit, including a baby bonnet that looks a litle stiff and uncomfortable.

Here are the grandparents again, some years later, probably at a wedding. The hat has reduced in size, but the corsage of anemones makes up for it.This time the hat is worn at a jaunty angle, and doesn’t need so much hair to support it. It may be unkind to say so, but I don’t think the glasses did an awful lot for Granny and make her appear a lot older than she probably was. What a pity contact lenses hadn’t been invented then.

Big hats were obviously de rigueur for ladies in 1908. This painting by Gustav Klimt* of A Lady With a Hat is from about the same time as the first photograph above. This redheaded beauty also needed ‘big hair’ to prop up her millinery. It looks as if she has the fur wrap too, so Granny was obviously very fashionable. 

Big hats are vital of course, if we want to protect ourselves from the sun. Some of you will recognise your blogger (if a little grumpy-looking) in this photo,  and, about thirty years later, my own daughter in her sunbonnet, made by me to match her playsuit. Like mother, like daughter!

Here on Lanzarote, the locals know about protecting themselves from the sun, and the charming picture on the left is from our wonderful agricultural museum, showing traditional head dress for females. Workers in the fields can still be seen wearing these distinctive Canarian hats, and of course there are several variations in the traditional costumes which are worn at fiestas. Most locals, and many of us residents, cover up well in the sun, but we do see some badly exposed bodies amongst holidaymakers, and believe me a hat is the least of their worries!

The wonderful picture on the right of an ‘Old Woman in a Sunbonnet’ by Doris Ulmann (1884-1934)*, shows that despite the fact that the subject took the best precaution she could to protect herself from the ravages of a fierce sun, in a life which was probably spent working outdoors in all weathers, her body has still suffered badly. She’s probably not as old as she looks and this picture should serve as a warning to all sun worshippers.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, why not throw your own hat into the ring. Join us at Sepia Saturday to see what others have come up with -  or create your own; it can’t be worse than some of the specimens at last year’s Royal Wedding.
 *Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Light My Fire

 ‘After Dark’ is the prompt Carmi from Written inc. has given us this week for his Thematic Photographic challenge. On Christmas Night, here in Lanzarote, after we’d had a great day with family and friends, and finally got round to opening our stockings, we rounded  off the day with the (new local custom of) lighting a Chinese Lantern and sending it off into the night sky.

This one was a bit resistant at first, but finally succumbed and we watched, on a perfectly still night, as it gently wafted its way over the rooftops and safely out to sea. Of course we made a wish!

2020 update. We know so much more these days about the unintended consequences of setting these lanterns off and wouldn't dream of doing so.

Then it was back indoors to tidy up the table decorations.............
....and have a little nightcap!