Sunday, 13 December 2009

Whoopee club

Fleur kindly arranged cheapo tickets for us to get over to Bethnal Green for the farewell party of the Whoopee Club on 11th Dec, an organisation that has been going in it's current form for yonks.  The bearded one and I have several friends whom, over the years have performed at their events which were always thrown with gusto and a ambition. You might find yourself strolling around a totally transformed Great Eastern Hotel or watching synchronised swimming in a period baths (how very bright young people).  The Whoopee Club pride themselves on having been in at the start of the Burlesque Revival but I always felt they were more than tassels, far too innovative and far too wide a range of Cabaret to be pigeonholed in that way.
It was an enjoyable night, I like the working man clubness of the place (its in East London home of the arty fart so that is a relief) and the Japanese themed booth selling sushi and okashi took me back, although I decided not to inflict my Gunma accent on the lady manning it.  The crowd were a good mix, particularly of ages. My old bagness means that I resent being somewhere full of 19 year olds. An unpretentious yet stylish group of people who were more interested in just yapping, watching and drinking than any thing else, which is as it should be.

I wonder why they have thrown in the towel? May just be fatigue, perhaps it is the scene, which seems to have begun to be co-opted by big business and the kind of people it was designed to avoid.  Todays Evening Standard had an article about new supper and cabaret clubs.  As if anything about it is new...I didn't like the sound of the people setting them up, nor their clientele which was a bit too Bungalow 8.  A market for cabaret performers is a good thing, but not if it is going to be tacked onto a dinner (main courses from £25.00 a pop!). Mind you the fine thing is that the kind of dross in the ES magazine get to everything last...
Perhaps another element is the pervasiveness of burlesque in the tassel/cheesecake/dita tradition which has become fairly dull.  The performers I like have a bit of mischief, do a little magic, make you laugh or entertain. As a girly I have seen boobs before. The burlesque at Whoopee included Fancy Chance who I like because there is something subversive about her approach, she blindfolds the spiv who teases her with his nylons and drives him insane.  Audacity Chutzpah ( a name I have never encountered at a bar mitzvah) gave a burlesque history of women, including women's suffrage, the war and the 80's yuppie, the funny historical little run-up justified the reveal, although personally I could have done without it.  Other performers we caught included Bishi (SP?) singing an elegant refined version of Strawberry Fayre and Paloma Faith singing with the help of the charming Joshua.  There was lots on later but alas we left, Cinderella like, at 1am due to the need to grapple with a dissertation the following morn.  But Whoopee Club, we mourn your passing.

Friday, 11 December 2009

New Year Resolutions from a woman who needs to be resolved!

I have decided to come up with some resolutions, largely because this time next year I can have this huge feeling of satisfaction if I manage, oh, even one of them! Please note that no resolution is about deprivation or giving up things. Bollocks to that. I would be interested to hear any resolutions you might have, they are probably better than mine, which are a bit rubbish, but thats the thing with resolutions.


1 I will reconnect with the Gothic community who are lovely people and I have still not got to know as well as I should and because I am missing a bit of darkness and sparkle.

2 I shall obtain an Edwardian Riding suit. In velvet. Any Edwardian Riding Habit makers out there note: possible customer. However I will not go any where near a horse. Unless I am betting on it. And this year I will remember to bet on the Derby. 

3 I will, will, will go to Rhythm Riot next November...anyone want to share a chalet?

4 I'm a painter, I shall paint a portrait, write a childrens book or at least learn to bloody sew.

5 I must not mellow out but remain a bad tempered stroppy minx.... age shall not wither her tendency to drink 4 gins and turn into class warrior/twatkid hater/sarf london supremacist. Even if it annoys Irishmen. Everything annoys Irishmen.

6 I will sort out my underwear draw.

7 An effort to learn how to lindy hop/jive or something will be attempted.

8 It is imperative that more cocktails must be consumed! 

9 I will make the effort to have a birthday party... that means at least enquiring about it.

10 I will continue with this blog, because although it is doggerel I am touched that anyone reads it and hope it provides another distraction from your working day. It is appreciated. I wish everyone a splendid 2010!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Chap Anarcho Dandy Ball Saturday 5th December

As some know the bearded one is very involved with that remarkable publication 'The Chap Magazine' which celebrated it's tenth anniversary with a ball at Holborn's Conway Hall on Saturday the 5th of December. In view of this fact and the rarity of Chap parties (the last being five years previously) it was highly anticipated. Red legs put on her favourite 30's evening hat, a long frock and some slap and headed off into a rainy night....
The venue is an interesting spot, a gathering place for humanist and ethical groups it was an intriguing combination of fine wooden panelled town hall circa 1930, school gymnasium from Daisy Pulls it Off and Scout hut. I was particularly taken with the jellyfish panel on one corridor wall featuring sea life made out of mysterious plastic substances. Upon entering the hall one was greeted by a charming trio of chaps singing cheerily and playing the saw. Also by the entrance was a stall selling little cakes and sausage rolls, untouched early in the evening a few hours and several gins later guests fell upon them. In addition there was the Mao Tse Tung lounge run by the stellar Louise, a Hendricks gin bar and the main hall.

The atmosphere was interesting, the guests were an amalgam of various distinct groups, nearly all were dressed up to the nines, those that were not stood out. What a pleasant change from the pervading norm! As Twin and Tonic and Mr B performed I had a fine view from the balcony. It revealed gothy ladies in peacock feathers twirling to Glenn Miller tunes, chaps in tweed plus fours waving their pipes in the air and throwing shapes and the skillful and not so skillful dancing, completely democratically to whatever music played. The floor was littered with paper aeroplanes from an act I had missed but which were intermittently retrieved and hurled through the air to land in surprised chapettes' gin and tonics. The acts I saw were good, but I missed many. More fun was to be had catching up with people not seen for an age. It was a pleasure to see the military uniforms from various eras, the steam punk contingent combining tweed with mechanical swagger, Vivienne of Holloway giggling with a small coterie of perfectly dressed fifties rockabilly poppets, the 40's types lindy hopping far too proficiently, the pale skinned flappers and lots of ladies with pin curled hair and gents with real facial hair. Shame however on the few fake tache wearers, grow them gentleman please! An honourable exception was one chap with a preposterous big black Dennis the Menace merkin-like facial attachment which, of course, worked perfectly.
Mr Gustav Temple looked splendid in his topper, Mr Sebastian Horsley stood out in his remarkable chimney of a stove piper and Mr David Piper provided an elegant, laconic contrast to the chap hoppers in the front row. Mr Micheal Attree's paranormal chaporgasmic presentation was educational but I am concerned that he may be in trouble with the Save the Mermaid rabble. Louise looked marvellously oriental in her kimono and Mr Torquil Arbuthnot was elusive, red legs spent a great deal of the night searching for him.... In short there was enough chaos and sillliness to remind those there that the Chap has never been the resort of the young fogey who wants to be an aristocrat or of the disenchanted hooray...but for the intelligent flaneur who walks through life with paradoxical disdain for modern vulgarity coupled with a great enthusiasm for, modern vulgarity.

Of course there were set backs, perfection is always elusive. The chaps and chapettes characteristically drank one of the bars dry of gin, the queues for bar and dressing room were overlong but the greatest problem was a) that it finished too early and b) we might have to wait another five years for the next one. Mr Temple listen up your people need you!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Ginger vitus

My original medium dark brown hair

A not particularly flattering photograph of the marmalade hair.
(The gentleman next to me is Atters, of Chaporgasmic terrors fame).
photo courtesy of the Chairman.

I now have hair the colour of marmalade, not a subtle shade, bright enough to attract the odd stare. With pale skin, freckles and grey eyes, I own the perfect complexion for russet locks. The shade of red I now have is a true ginger, but too strong to pass for natural. The reaction thus far has been interesting. Immediately after having it coloured (at Miss Betty's in Kingly Court) I realised I would need some new make-up, a red lipstick with orange undertones and a light brown/chestnutty eyebrow pencil. This necessitated a trip to Selfridges (again). The girls at the Chanel counter were very taken with my hair colour and made a point of remarking upon it, Chanel girls have never thrown me any compliments before. When loitering at the Mac counter another customer commented on my hair and said I looked 'fierce', which I gather is not an insult.

Mind you I have noticed a few other stares, perhaps because during the day time my look is not overtly vintage, nor do I look particularly alternative. My dirty book-moving day job means I get grubby and cannot wear the kind of clothes I prefer in my own time. I think strong hair colours are now primarily associated with counter-culture lifestyle and I don't immediately fit the bill. I also feel it is a reflection of an obsession with having highly coloured and treated hair that is nonetheless percieved as 'natural'. My sibling is a hairdresser and is amused at the blond highlights that are the norm in the UK. In his opinion the foil highlight is as bad for your hair as all-over colour as with more than two or three applications it ends up being all over colour..but stealthily and more importantly, expensively. As hardly any British women are blonde it is perfectly clear that all these natural blondes are fakes, self deception is rife. Strange how they are dyeing their hair only a shade lighter than it's own shade, if that were the case, why bother? The fact is of course that a good shade of pretty all over blonde can be obtained from a box of Nice and Easy for about a fiver and two of the prettiest blonde barnets I know of are obtained from exactly this brand.

Dyeing your hair a lurid shade is more tricky, perhaps because strong pigments such as red are fugitive and fade fast. To get my hair pale enough to take the red, its natural muddy brown had to be bleached and then tinted, a process when carried out professionally has little effect on condition, apart from the fact your hair gets less greasy. In fact my hair feels nicer now, probably because the tint has conditioned it.

Vintage style clothes and strong hair colours certainly match. Most of the beautiful women of the past I admire had ferociously strongly coloured hair: Grace Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner. Even those that had their own colour had a soft minky brown that most women, in this country anyway, dye blonde. That minky colour is very close to good old fashioned, and often really attractive, English mouse brown.

Strong hair colour is arguably harsher and makes you look your age, in a world obsessed by infantilism that is not good. But I do not care, I would rather look my age than give in to insipid caramel. I'm not sure whether the marmalade locks I currently have will be darkened a bit next month but at the moment I am having fun trying to live up to the colour. Red in it's natural form is the rarest hair colour in the world, yet most common here in the UK. It's associations, even the negative ones, are really quite appealing. In any case I don't want it to look natural, there is nothing wrong with my own brown hair, and I am spending good money on it! Mind you the bearded one has been heard to say there most be some kind of state benefit out there for men who care for ginger girlfriends....

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Big night out = Life is never simple

I don't want to look like this......

I want to look like this !

An event to go to, in this case the wonderful Chap Ball. Huzzah! What could be wrong with this? The Chap magazine celebrates Anarcho-chappism in a dada-situationist way, it will not be full of Twatkids or Hooray Henrys but friends. There hasn't been one for 10 years, I love the acts so what can happen.

Almost Immediately, being female, the challenge of apparel rears it's head. How I envy the chaps who just grow some whiskers and whip out their finest tweed/black tie/all in one pvc romper suit. Suddenly I start thinking, long skirt? short skirt? hair? up? down? makeup? hell I don't want sleeveless, or if I do I will have to buy a bolero or shrug, ooops oh no more money, I don't have any money, everyone has more money than me, everyone is younger than me, and slimmer, and can wear sleeveless and WAAAAAAHHHH!

So I find myself wandering through the hell that is Oxford Street on a damp Friday suspiciously eyeing up a selection of eye wateringly tacky sequinned shifts, I love sequins but if I were one I would be offended. Wagdom via a 1980's that I really don't recall, and I was there. I give up on the shops catering for the young and cheap with the short and cheap and head for the more ..ahem.. stately department stores. More luck here, try on a few dresses and they are all terrible, or rather a foot too long, with no waist. I finally find one, emerald green, quite a late 40s/50's look and with a little bit of sparkly stuff to stop me looking too matronly. Also its an unusual colour, not at all in fashion, quite unusual really. Turns out that two other friends are planning to wear green, it wouldn't matter if it were not for the fact that both are a) extremely pretty b) very svelte and c) much much younger than me. Otherwise the team green photographs would be fun, but little old round me next to two Chap magazine pin-ups? hmmmm. I think again, and order a dark blue dress on-line and am hoping vaguely that it might actually fit me. If not I will wear the green and embrace my elder stateswoman status by getting drunk, wandering around burping and telling everyone that the noughties are 'pants' and generally being an old bag.

Dress worries aside, my skin has decided to go wrong, it always does when I have something nice to go to, whenever I want to look ill, ie after I have been ill and return to work it looks perfectly fine. But what am I worrying about? two glasses of cava in and my face will be bright pink....
which brings me on to the subject of whether having my hair dyed a marmalade colour on Friday is a good idea? Still I think of Vivienne Westwood.. she gets away with it. I'm not even going to go down the shoe road, it leads to a circle of hell, you know the one with lots of women impaled on the massive heels of Jimmy Choos they cannot afford. Weariness envelopes me if I cogitate on the subject of jewellery and accessories and as for make-up, pah! Well it will all go wrong on the night, my skin will fall off and I'll end up looking quite a lot like Vivienne Westwood...

Only one thing for it: to remember the bearded one seems to like me whatever I wear, to recall that red hair is the rarest type in nature or un-nature and that the thing is to have a bit of a spree. So I plan to have fun, drink bubbles and have a laff. Even if I do look like a little round Christmas tree - do say hello if you see me there!


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