Contact me at email@example.com to prebook your tickets for this 1940′s New Year’s Eve party at Guys Cliff House, Warwick! Tickets are very limited and not available on the door. Singing by Kitten von Mew, a basic dance lesson for beginners and DJ.
I did a wonderful photo shoot with the VERY talented Candee Photography, modelling a few of Lilly Lewis’ fine creations. From showgirl chic to Ascot ready, we had a superb time in the studio! I don’t get to do my dramatic 1930′s makeup that often, so reveled in the chance to test out my basic skills for the film noir era.
Here are some of the images I have managed to work on so far. All effects and backgrounds (yes, even Metropolis!) have been created from scratch by myself and balance Candee’s wonderful camera skills.
There is more to come, so stay tuned!!! All image copyright is Candee Photography and Kitten von Mew. Please DO NOT use these images without prior persmission from ourselves, thank you!
HOLD YOUR HORSES!!!! I’m not at Alcester Street Market today, only tomorrow!!! Communication problems with organisers… Please come along and show your support… And buy heaps of stuff on our vintage stall of course. Market opens 1.30pm but event starts about midday!
Performing at 1.35pm and 2.50pm on Church Green.
Alcester, Warwickshire, B49
More info at http://www.alcestercourtleet.co.uk
Although rag rugs had been around many years before (one was even found to contain pieces of uniform from the Battle of Waterloo!), there was a brief revival of rug making in WW2. It served as a useful pastime for men, women and children in war-torn Britain. There are many techniques for this wonderful hobby, but whether you poke it through or hook it up, the idea is to use up scraps of fabric, moth-eaten blankets and sheets to create floor coverings, seat pads and the like. Potato sacks (hessian can be bought from haberdashery and craft shops) were used as a base in which to pull or poke fabric strips through. Blunt pointed instruments like large knitting needles, drill bits or nails with wooden handles could be used for poking pieces of fabric through the burlap’s loose weave, creating colourful rugs to cheer up your wartime home.
As fabric and clothing were rationed, ‘Make Do and Mend’ was high on the agenda of every household and not a scrap of either was ever waisted. If it was no longer fit for purpose, a new purpose was found to fit! Whether making slippers from hats or rugs from old coats, it was not only a necessity for the home, but also a necessity to keep one’s sanity! Crafts were the perfect way to keep hands busy, the mind focused and away from the horrors, even just for a little while.
After the war it became unfashionable to make these rugs as they were associated with poverty and hard times, but luckily this wonderful craft was revived and is still going strong. Why not make a small rag surface protector for putting serving dishes on and test your own creative skills?
I went to a quilting fair late last year (I know, how can my life get any more exciting?) and met a lady who did rag rugging and hooking. I bought a rug hook from her and decided to give it a go…but didn’t quite get round to it. Low and behold at Christmas, what should Mama and Papa surprise me with, but a parcel of hessian fabric (I bet the excitement is killing you right now). Did I throw it down in disgust and ask where my pony was? Did I cry and demand an iPad? No, I flipping well went home and started cutting up fabric.
I decided to start small and drew out a simple sunrise design on the hessian and cut up long pieces of scrap fabric in blues, reds and oranges. I can tell you now that smooth cottons and polycottons are perfect. Loose weave tapestry types will make you want to bite someone’s face (Mr Mew got off lightly, you can’t see the scars). I thought it best to do a hooked rug as I wanted the detail to be quite apparent and also liked the thought of working with longer pieces of material as opposed to short strips used in ragging. You can work on your lap or stretch it over a wooden frame (recommended) and if asthmatic like me, wear a dust mask…taking it off to pose for photos obviously…
It took me about 5 weeks to do my rocking chair seat cover and I have finished it off by putting a layer of PVA glue on the back to prevent pulling and then a cotton backing. It looks wonderful on the rocking chair!
I am now on a much larger project…a rug made out of a kid’s sack race sack. I will certainly post pictures once finished!
I contacted Dame Vera to thank her for her kind wedding wishes from 2012 and to ask whether she would honour me with a quick interview via letter. I didn’t expect answers to all of my questions and certainly didn’t expect her reply so promptly! So here it is for you dear readers…
I know the darling Swingtime Sweethearts very well and know how lovely the girls are! How did you feel recording with them for the charity single? “I didn’t record with the Swingtime Sweethearts, my voice was taken from an existing recording.”
What a shame, I presumed it was recorded for the CD! So could I ask you…I always imagine you singing around the house or whilst washing up; do you still sing and do you have any hobbies? “I have never sung around the house, my hobbies used to be gardening and painting, but neither of these I do very much of at the moment.”
What was the most requested song you were ever asked to sing? “We’ll Meet Again was the most requested”
You secretly kept a diary whilst touring in WW2 (not technically allowed, but fantastic that you did!). Have you ever thought about making it into a book? I’m sure a lot of us would love to hear of your experiences! “I have never considered writing my experiences during the war as they are not very interesting. As I was not allowed to keep a diary, they are not very detailed.”
You travelled to Egypt, India and Burma with ENSA (Indeed you received the Burma Star in 1985 for entertaining the troops there). What was your most memorable experience of entertaining during the war? “Visiting the wounded in a hospital in Burma.” “One boy said to me…England doesn’t seem so far away now you’re here” (2010 TV interview)
There has been some speculation that you did not get on with Gracie Fields. This was also made apparent in BBC4’s biopic drama ‘Gracie!’ starring Jane Horrocks. Would you like to put any rumours to bed? “I only met Gracie Fields once and that was at a charity concert. She was very nice and we had a talk, but that was all.”
I thought it may be tabloid hokum! It’s always better to ask than presume! You had some fabulous gowns for your television and press appearances. Were they yours? Have you kept any of them? “My clothes were made for TV and I haven’t kept any of them!”
*short interlude whilst I lie on the floor and calm myself*
How did it feel to be so admired by the troops and the fact that you are still looked upon as the original ‘Forces Sweetheart’ of Great Britain? “I am very proud to be called the Forces Sweetheart”
Daughter of a plumber and dressmaker, you actually started singing at the bonny age of 7 at a working men’s club. You also left school at a young age also? “I left school at 14, which was the usual age to leave at the time. I sang my first concert at the age of 7 and I had an uncle who was a professional comic! So in a way you can say I started young…”
You married the dashing and talented Harry Lewis in 1941. Harry was in the RAF No.1 Band, later known as the Squadronaires, and played the saxophone and clarinet. Did you ever sing with the band? “I think I sang with the Squadronaires once for a charity”
I later found out that this was at the band’s first ever concert in Blackpool!
I am part of a large collection of people that represent certain iconic aspects of the 1940’s. You yourself have been to such events as The War and Peace Show in years past, but what do you think of WW2 reenactors? Do you think it is important or just a strange hobby? “If people continue to do this, it will keep the memory of the war years alive.”
And lastly, my favourite songs that you sang are ‘When I Grow Too Old To Dream’ and ‘White Cliffs of Dover,’ What are your particular favourites? “We’ll Meet Again’ and the ‘White Cliffs of Dover”
Thank you once again to Dame Vera for her lovely letter and may we wish her all the love and luck in the world.
I am getting increasingly frustrated with people who want to ‘raise awareness’ for causes such as Cancer Research, but don’t seem to be donating. This latest craze is the ‘No Make-Up Selfie’ on Facebook. Fine, if they have donated then great, but it all seems to be about being ‘brave’ and taking a photo of yourself, minus war paint, and posting it on Facebook. That is where some people stop and think they have done their bit for the grand cause. So not touching your lipstick for a whole day is curing cancer is it? You’ve challenged your confidence by putting your naked face on your profile and that has helped the fight? It is great in a way that this weird phase has caused a mix reaction as it HAS raised some awareness, but please, frigging donate. Just because you wear last year’s Remembrance Day poppy on your lapel, doesn’t mean you are helping the Poppy Appeal does it? Buy another one and help to raise funds. We are all aware of charities and illnesses, but the best step forward is giving to them. Whether it is the loose change at the bottom of your bag, to a large sum, just do your bit. Ok?
This weekend (15th March 2014), we went to Warwickshire Exhibition Centre’s Garden Rail show! It was fantastic, with everything from 2 Gauge to T Gauge! As usual I was completely fascinated with all the little things and aging techniques. Some of the little people were completely hilarious and the hand built trains were so awe inspiring! Some of my favourites were the industrial set ups that reminded me of Tysley’s depot and a 1930′s tin railway with original and repro pieces (yes they actually make them just like the originals!).
Here are some photos I took on my way around…