Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Bournemouth to Paris Couture

 Bournemouth Art School  fashion show the garment I intended wearing in Paris

a very suburban audience ..probably our parents

dis I really write or visit all these people ..very industrious

I was flicking through my chaotic filing system when I came across a small brown leather address book and suddenly I am whisked back to the early 60's. Pages are full of addresses that I either visited in Paris or wrote to but I don't remember ever receiving a reply except one from Chanel of all people (well one of her minions) who snootily replied that Mme Chanel was the only designer. I was devastated but still determined. On finishing a 4 year  course in fashion and weaving at Bournemouth   Art School  in 1961, I just gathered myself together  picked up my folio and went to Paris armed with my small address book. I was reasonably fluent in French as my dear Parents had the wisdom of sending me to a french family from the age of 14 to learn French , well that is obvious after all they would not send me to France to learn Chinese .  From the early days in Art school I was determined to  work for a French couture house . I even designed my last garments around the interview so I was ready to go as soon as the term finished . I stayed in Viry Chatillon with my old family however they were sad days as M. Huin was very ill with cancer.
However on arriving in Paris I soon realised that people did not walk around wearing rather chic hats nor did they wear gloves with every garment . (look at top photo )in fact compared to Bournemouth I thought they looked rather ordinary. Bournemouth was very chic in the late  50,s . I therefor had to rethink my wardrobe ...the hat was discarded and so were the gloves but I kept my beautifull coat made from Garigue wool and my stiletto shoesthat I had purchased in Greek Street. Believe it or not we were trained to wear hats and gloves  for  interviews in England. 
Then disaster struck , I developed a tummy upset . The toilet facilities in my French house were not ideal, slightly up from a hole in the ground and the perfume was not enhancing.  I therefor had to plan my interviews with the utmost dexterity.I nearly had a disaster in Carvel where they kept me waiting for  over half an hour . In the end I just had to escape. Strangely years later I did a small freelance collection for them but I never disclosed my first meeting.... too much information of course !
Bernard Sagardoy

 Eventually I was offered a position with Bernard Sagardoy a small couture House that I had never heard of. I hated it . I was taking the place of an American boy who had been involved in some type of accident .  M. Sagardoy  offered me a maids room just off the Champs Elysee, which I did not mind , however it had no locks on thew door and I felt extremely vulnerable . I had to stay in the freezing cold van when he was showing his boring collection at some hotel whilst they all were wined and dined . It was mid winter and one of the coldest on record .   Not only did he offer the maids room but he treated me exactly like a maid showing me disdain especially after he invited me to tea and I turned up with two friends. Seeing I was with someone and not alone I was shown the door (no Tea) and his obvious fury did not go unnoticed.  I guess it makes a change from being shown the etchings . The next day I was given my marching orders and the American boy was sat at my table again ..obviously recovered .  I was relieved to leave , it was old, sad and had obviously seen better days . I did not see haute couture and nothing like the wonderful picture on my blog. He was more like a suburban dress maker. The ateliers were dark , dusty and dismal.   Well I was out on the street with no where to go except look for another job and somewhere to live . Going back to Viry Chatillon was impossible  Papa Huin was dying . However luckily I managed to find a room in a large ornate villa in  Bourge la Reine. It was owned by an elderly lady who was only too delighted to receive me as a tenant .

Charade Audrey Hepburn wearing Givenc
 My  luck changed, I was offered two interviews the next day , one with Givenchey and the other with Serge Matta at Maggy Rouff . Armed with my huge portfolio I at first attended Givenchey. Two elderly  men interviewed me. They were   very courteous and kind. It might have been Givenchey himself. I cannot say the interview inspired me  the salons were rather depressing lacking in  style. I was rather disappointed . Even in the early sixties it was obvious that couture was changing, every where I went they advised me to go into ready to wear was going to happen , it was to be the next big thing couture was dead or dying and clients were few and far between but i would not listen . I had always dreamed of working in Couture . I had been offered many positions in ready to Wear but I turned them down. I was offered a position at Givenchey, as an apprentice. I said I would get back to them the next day to make arrangement etc But secretly I wanted to meet Serge Matta at Maggy Rouff before I made my decision. I wanted excitement , I wanted to feel the Adrenalin of the making of a collection and being in the company of two old men did not actually inspire me .       

the beautiful Serge Matta

vintage Maggy Rouff

1961 Serge Matta I can remember this dress being fitted
Of course you have guessed .  On meeting Serge Matta, I felt as though we were on the same wave band. He hooted when I said that Givenchey had offered me a job."You want to work in a Morgue, Lybalule( his nick name for me .) Fashion is changing couture has to be in line with the people now not pre war . Pret a porter is going to be big , You wait and see . "  I turned down the Givenchey job for the handsome Chilean designer Serge Matta, a trained architect who had designed for Schiaperelli and Jacques Fath before joining Maggy Rouff. He was the brother of the famous painter Roberto Matta . What healthy young girl would even think about it .  The salon was in the Avenue Marceau ... place D'Alma more known now for HRH Princess Diana accident .  The salon had an altogether younger appeal . There were  two   studios  which  were  bright and airy. Serge handled the couture side  and someone else handled the ready to wear. I did not have a work permit  so I had to keep a low profile.  Serge paid me from his own pocket about £15 per week (it was 1961 )  It sounds an extraordinary little amount however I do not remember being broke . He had an elderly secretary( I cannot remember her name ) who obviously completely disapproved of his life style. She could only remember the "good old days when she was the assistant of  Maggy Rouff (Marguerite  Besancon de  Wagner ) This was a bone of contention for Serge but he just used to raise his eyebrows and ignore her comments. Another exciting element to my job were the mannequins or models as we now call them . They were a certain breed , outrageous amusing and full of scandal/ My ears and eyes were always open waiting for the next outrageous instalment.  Jaqueline had worked for Chanel and said she was an absolute nightmare.There was another  designer Gerard Blaize who eventually went to work for Lanvin  and married one of the models .  I do not remember any bitchiness within the studio everyone was like a happy family .
However most important is the influence that Serge Matta had over me . He opened my eyes to architecture , the fine simple lines of design and the importance of a really good cut . I left after about 4 months but I do not regret one moment.  Serge left not long after . Sadly Maggy Rouff closed down in 1970's. It had been one of the leading couture houses in Paris  and one of the first houses to realise the importance of ready to wear.

The fashion revolution began in the early 60's. In England    youth, music and fashion   was about to take on the world and to a certain extent they succeeded until materialism reared its greedy head . They say that the 50's was the last period of innocence,there was hope , the war had ended and designers responded to that era There was a future an exciting future ahead.
Coming soon ................From Paris to the Kings Road Chelsea  the 60,s revolution...
Markets opened selling amazing vintage clothes and  the Kings road was happening .


Monday, 24 September 2012

They say that dogs do not have souls!

 photograph from the chimney taken in 1989 yes he did eat the chair back !!!!
Rex in my bicycle basket on the seafront in West St Leonards 2000
For 17 years Rex was my loyal companion , a typical Jack Russel . He came every where with me, we were "an item. " I bought him unseen  as a 5 month  puppy. I know it was a risk.  The previous owners had split up and a puppy was too much for either party to handle. He arrived in style in a taxi from Eastbourne secured in a cat basket. It was love at first sight  even my cats loved him. From that moment he was my protector , guarding me with a  passion that could at times be rather trying to my friends. He  herded my friends, which meant throwing himself at the door if anyone wanted to leave and the word "goodbye" provoked anguished barking. Maybe he remembered being rejected by his previous owners. Often I would be chatting away to a stranger on a train journey and he would angelically be sat on my lap listening intently .  I would always warn people not to say "goodbye" on leaving however of course they forgot and he would throw himself at the window barking furiously as they left. The look of complete astonishment as they walked along the platform only added to my embarrassment. Rex was a character. His adventures were mind boggling to the extreme . He once held up the train at Warrior Square by walking on the line . He had escaped  by  the cat flap and raced to the train station expecting me to descend from the train as usual. Apparently when he saw the train leave without me  , he followed it through the tunnel . The ticket collector recognised Rex and I was contacted . We expected the worse , however miraculously he was rescued , survived  and appeared in the local news paper.  Another time he escaped from the house and the dog sitter  whilst I was in London and raced to my shop in Norman Road, where he expected to find me,  only to find the shop closed. Witnesses saw a young girl pick him ...he was stolen . He disappeared for a month. We advertised , in the newspaper and the radio and every vet had been contacted .  No one knows exactly what happened but obviously he managed to escape as a month later a builder found him limping badly at the top of my road desperately trying to make it to the house . He had been run over and badly hurt.  The builder took him to the vet . It was the vet who contacted me . Again he survived .  The joy of being reunited  will stay with me for ever . The cat flap was sealed up and Rex never left my side. Our walks along the seafront sometimes as far as Pevensey and back (over ten miles )were perhaps the most memorable .Then one day, many years later ,  Rex refused to leave the  flat where we now lived. He no longer jumped up excitedly at the sight of the lead . He suddenly became an elderly dog, the fur turned grey, the alert  eyes dulled and I knew that time was running out.
Rex died  aged  17 1/2 in my arms and I wept buckets. I thought that he had left me for ever . I never replaced Rex with another dog, he was irreplaceable. However I talk to all the dogs in the area and a little bit of Rex joins me as memories subliminally flash like a Victorian flicker bookof our times together.
It must have been a year later. It was  late Spring.  I was sitting in the large sitting room that looks out to the park. It was  late evening ,the windows were rattling with the howling gale that was causing havoc outside . I heard a crash and to my horror I saw my temporary plastic greenhouse taking off on the patio . The seedlings that I had cherished with such care from the propagator were scattered on the ground. It must have been at least twenty trays. I raced out dressed in a flimsy nightgown and tried to rescue as many trays as I could . It was an impossible task but I managed to salvage a few . The gale was tearing at my nightgown and the torrential rain running like a waterfall through my drenched body , my long hair streaked across my face blinding me making it completely impossible to continue especially as I live right on the seafront. If anyone saw me they would have just thought that I was completely mad. In the end I just gave up . I sat on the sofa and wept feeling really sorry for myself , a rather pathetic wreck . It is at times like this that I feel particularly alone .
I heard a fluttering in the  fireplace. I refused to look . It was the last thing I needed a baby seagull falling down the chimney . I've rescued a seagull( I will blog on it soon ).  its hard work and they can be very vicious when you pick them up . It kept on fluttering as I sobbed with self pity. Eventually I could stand it no more and my eyes settled on the fire place ...but it wasn't a was a piece of paper fluttering up and down in an extraordinary manner . I walked over to the fire place to remove it . The noise was getting on my nerves . I picked it up and to my surprise it was a photograph of Rex,one of my favourite photographs, hardly damaged slightly covered in soot. It had disappeared from the mantlepiece  months ago . Obviously it had fallen to the ground and the drawer of the chimney had sucked it up  where it stayed lodged in the chimney breast for many months .The gale that night  had dislodged it . There he was at my side comforting me and telling me to pull myself together... OK folks think me mad but from that moment I felt better , strong capable and ready to fight and experience another day.  I've never been able to work  out why it was never burnt as I do use my fireplace  but of course many a treasure has been found in chimneys even babies shoes completely unscathed.   I still have the photograph and will of course treasure it .

Sunday, 23 September 2012

jane Hardings art installation st Leonards

Jane Harding's installation on the Old bathing pool site in St Leonards  was an ethereal joy. I watched them as they fought with the wind to assemble it but even in the early stages one could see the form, feel the  beauty, a ballet set in the making .    It ran parallel to the cycle track along the sea shore echoing the waves that spat at the pebble beach . I live opposite to the old bathing pool site and strangely the entry bell  system  on my block of flats is broken. Tinkling, almost temple like music can be heard from the system at all times and   combined with  the white floating flags it  is  like a gentle  mourning for   Sidney Little's  Old bathing pool which was  flagrantly  destroyed by the council in 1986. White,  is the colour of mourning in many Asian countries. This installation was welcomed with open arms by locals and visitors and it certainly showed a more aesthetic way of treating the bathing pool site compared with the thirteen shipping containers that the council believe will enhance the bathing pool site. Platform have campaigned against the shipping containers. They want to enhanse the site with  the return of the bathing pool and a low maintenance sea garden where art installation can be installed. Their ideas can be seen on
Perhaps the most amusing comment was from one of my visitors on  arriving at my flat  she thought that travellers had taken over the site......... the previous night strong winds had whisked away most of the flags leaving what looked like a bedraggled line of washing  with a security man guarding it. You have to laugh.   However Jane and her team worked  until the early hours repairing and hanging the flags to perfection and once again the installation was an ethereal joy. Thank you Jane .       

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Quinnell,s art in their St Leonards beach hut

The Quinnell's beach hut at West St Leonards exhibiting Peter,s boxes 

  Peter Quinnell and Clare Fletcher  are seasoned exhibitors for Coastal Currents  at their beach hut in West St Leonards. Their  bright turquoise hut with the metal corrugated roof is a favourite haunt for art lovers  with a sense of humour.
 In a strange way their hut reminds me of Alice and wonderland, crammed full of eccentric madness .  One almost expects  the rabbit to rush through with his time clock obsessed with his lateness  screaming "I'm late .I,m late.  Even Clare, her smile warmly greeting all visitors,  resembles  Alice with her enviously long plaits sitting on the bed drawing non stop  illustrations  that once ignited our imagination in the books of our childhood. Clare's work is of another generation , when gentle water colours and figurative drawings mirrored the story in the book and not a computer in sight. A brilliant illustrator.

These are not precious artists , they expect and rely on the sales of their work and they are proud of their work ethics . Not for them the elitist world of the hidden art gallery that you need a pedigree to enter . Peter Quinnell,s   boxes are almost box theatres full of humour a story within appealing to all ages. An obvious hoarder of memories that still haunt him  re Fonzie.  Even his attire is uninhibited but never vulgar , an eye for the unusual or even the obvious  , a greed for colour, he almost grabbed my fair isle sweater that I purchased years ago for £4 at St Michael's Hospice...but it stayed on my back even if it is slightly eaten by moth .A wonderful couple that bring to life the  creative energy of St Leonards. ......yes I know they live in The Old Town but they make a presence wherever they are .


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

the four poster bed

1994/5a peaceful read or am I dousing ?

1995  I have a mild OCD  condition which appears in times of stress . Sometimes it can work to my advantage other times it is  consuming and stressful. The Yes /No's are perhaps the most time consuming. I ask a line in a  newspaper , book ,or a line of bricks etc a question ,then add up the words on the appointed line with yes/no,s. For example will they ring today or Will the scan be OK  I then scan the line .If it lands on yes I sigh with relief if it lands on no I panic . Of course it is quite mad . Sometimes I douse a book , open a page and read the first line hoping to find a solution to my problems. Actually I suppose it is no different than I Ching.  IT started when I was very young walking home from school , I had to see a red car otherwise something really bad would happen. For years I kept it a secret and my poor mother had no idea what was wrong when I arrived home from school really distressed. Fortunately I have learnt to reason with myself and realise how futile it is and I no longer look for the red car,  however one completely mad  OCD remains. You can laugh ! If I leave my bed to use the loo I have to cross myself before re entering my bedroom just in case the devil is there  and I never flush the loo at night ... you've guessed of course it might swallow me up .  Quite mad I know ..of course he's not there but I'm not brave enough to take the risk. Other than that I guess I am quite normal if a little eccentric... I promise so continue reading.......some might not agree .
A healing experience
the 4 poster that we built together 

 When relationships come to an end for whatever reason it is of course painful. We were no exception.. impossible to live together and painful to be apart. It took extreme courage to walk away especially as I loved him. However he imprisoned ,stifled  me emotionally. I needed to be free. His unusual stylish persona and his cultured mellow   voice had always seduced me, allowed me to forgive, however his instability was at times both amusing and dangerous, depending on his moods . His paranoia destroyed any normality in his life and mine and indeed many of my friends. At times he was gentle , extremely creative ,intelligent, a joy to  be with. Other times a nightmare, like the time he jumped off the jetty fully clothed  and nearly drowned in  the swelling sea when he was feeling sorry for himself because he had nearly lost his driving  licence. He  could hardly swim and it was clearly obvious that he actually did not want to die .  I was nearly dragged into the sea myself trying to rescue him, hanging on to him for dear life and   when my hold let go screaming" swim! swim! swim! "  Safely on shore , his clothes torn and  dripping with seawater , he insisted on going for a meal in a rather smart restaurant until I managed to dissuade him. Of course he would have been deeply offended if he had been refused entry and that would have been another problem. Life was very problematic in his company. Other times he would hold court at beautifully chosen evening   picnic spots, stylishly lit with chandeliers hanging from trees and makeshift  tents, the food beautifully laid out and wine flowing.
  I don't remember the day he left, I have blanked it out of my mind. It was a few months  after I told him about my dream I had the previous night . We were sleeping in the four poster that we had recently  assembled together. I had pleated the canopy with his help . We loved that bed .  In my dream  I saw him hovering silently in the doorway , dressed head to toe in black .  His response  to the dream was one of silence as though he was contemplating. Eventually he responded calmly  and said" I know I am going to die. Ive always know that I would die young ." I tried to laugh it off ,it was just a dream after all, the last thing I wanted was to trigger his paranoia.
We eventually parted after four years together. He was 17 years younger than me although it rarely made any difference,not to me anyway .  It was devastating for both of us but we knew that it was for the best. Occasionally we slipped back together again but we both knew that we were playing with fire, it could only be transient. We both went our separate ways and formed other relationships.  It was not long before he moved in with another woman and I had to accept that it was over. We still saw each other until one day she rang me and forbade any further contact, however innocent it was. In a strange way I was relieved I needed that extra push. That  day I had a dental appointment .  I sat in the dentist chair whilst he drilled my tooth silent  tears were streaming down my face . The poor dentist kept apologising believing that it was his work that gave me pain. I eventually told him that it was the pain from my heart not the pain from my tooth. He gave an embarrassed giggle not quite knowing how to respond . Silent tears are the most painful for they are uncontrollable.
It was that week that I doused the book of women's poetry.  Will we ever go back together? I asked it and opened the page with total surprise at the title .
                                     Parable of the Four-Poster
Because she wants to touch him,
she moves away.
Because she wants to talk to him,
she keeps silent.
Because she wants to kiss him,
she turns away
& kisses a man she does not want to kiss.
He watches
thinking she does not want him.
He listens
hearing her silence.
He turns away
thinking her distant
& kisses a girl he does not want to kiss.
They marry each other--
a four-way mistake.
He goes to bed with his wife
thinking of her.
She goes to bed with her husband
thinking of him.
--& all this in a real old-fashioned four-poster bed.
Do they live unhappily ever after?
Of course.
Do they undo their mistakes ever?
Who is the victim here?
Love is the victim.
Who is the villain?
Love that never dies   Erica Jung
He took this photograph of street art and used it as his thank you letters IDC 1959/1996
The poem  calmed me , made me understand that although we loved each other , it was not to be . I could move on, I was free ..............and so was he . I thought of the four poster bed that we had assembled together. I have since moved from the flat that we shared together. The four poster regally stands in my bedroom , the original drapes , slightly dusty perfuming the room with poignant memories . I have searched high and low for the poetry book to no avail . It disappeared probably when I moved . Deborah cannot remember the title of the book and she gave it for my birthday.

    I would like to say that this essay has a happy ending but life unfortunately does not always deal positive cards . He died a year later of spinal cancer. My dream came true. He always knew that time was running out . I spoke to him a few weeks before he died on the telephone . He was bitter , angry and blamed me for the cancer although it saddened me it helped destroy some of the love that remained ...perhaps that is what he intended. I did not attend the funeral instead I walked along the jetty where he had thrown himself off  and threw the long stemmed buttercups into the sea, his favourite flower . until they disappeared from sight.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Stop Thief....ending a love affair with styleI

My eccentric dear friend Paddy(Irish of course )  comes to visit me in St Leonards once a year.We never fail to reminisce about the various adventures ...some quite dangerous .....and some touchingly naive that we have experienced together .  We are both Pisces  and therefore our relationship can become quite volatile indeed being two fishes swimming in opposite directions downright dangerous.  For a while he lived in my house in Peckham. At the time I was having a relationship with a racing driver who was obsessively in love ....not with me..... but with his damn car a zooped up Renault....not a particularly satisfying  for me ! Everyday it was polished , caressed , tuned and examined and yes I was jealous of A CAR .I received no such attention. Frequently I was told " can't tsee you tonight ...  Berty  needs attention (yes the car  even had a name ) or there's an important race tomorrow must get to bed early ....alone ." Eventually I of course exploded and the relationship ended. He was just leaving my house when He realised that he had mislaid his car keys . Panic ensued however all was not lost as a spare set of keys was at his garage which he ran as aside line . "I'll pick  Berty  up tonight ...won't disturb you pet " he said. God how I hated his words of so called affection
"Disturb , the whole street will hear the damn  car (I refused to call it Berty )It sounds like a Jet taking off . " I replied angrily.
"Yeh Yeh great isn't it " He said glowingly patting Berty's bonnet .
"Just go I screamed at him ...for ever and don't come back  !"
He nonchalantly left the house "Fine with me. Bye! Got someone lined up anyway . " and I never saw him again .Paddy had witnessed the whole episode with Tom.
There was a famous private  Dr in Harley Street that we( the fashion crowd in the 60's and 70's ) visited to stay reed thin . I always visited him after the ending of a love affair . He put you on high protein diet grape fruit juice and injected you often through your tights and gave you a prescription for more pills  and the weight just dropped off as well as leaving you on a high . What we didn't realise was that he was injecting you with a very high dose of  amphetamine.Some people became seriously  addicted and ended up in the Priory Clinic . Eventually the Dr was barred from practising and many lives were saved from addiction . I used him just to lose ten lbs and then I stopped going.
I was obsessively cleaning the kitchen at the time( no doubt the amphetamines were taking affect ) when I discovered a set of keys behind the washing machine . Paddy was with me at the time .
"Ever stolen a car Paddy ?"I asked nonchalantly the keys rattling in my hands.
"Of course not ....why ?"
"I have an idea ."
"Oh no. Not one of your mad ideas again and stop this obsessive cleaning, you've got a damn cleaner for God sake . "
"Look ...his keys , the car keys . " I said rattling the keys ."We could go over to his house , check him out to see if he is in . He usually goes to the pub around 7.30 to closing time  and never takes the car . "
"I am not, repeat not stealing a car ."
"I am not suggesting stealing the car ....just moving the car from A to B.  His home the garage off the Old Kent Road , five minutes away. He will go berserk when he sees it has gone . Come on Paddy it's just a bit of fun , an adventure.  "
It did not take much convincing and Paddy's girlfriend at the time was very encouraging." Bonny and Clyde ! " she squealed .
"OK! synchronise watches . It's 4.30 now . Lets set off at 9.00. We'll be back here by 11 at least .
I rang Tom at 9.00 to make sure that he was out . I also checked out the pub surreptitiously to make sure that he was there. He was as usual propping up the bar regaling stories  about his various races .  He lived in a mews house just off the Old Kent Road and as usual the car was parked outside . He always boasted that no one could get away with stealing the car as it made such a racket so it was never alarmed . Stupid man .
We quickly got in the car all three of us ....... adrenaline pumping away. and took off . The roar of the engine was deafening and poor Paddy was not an experienced driver . Changing gear was a challenge and he was so terrified that he drove it at not more than 15 mile an hour along the Old Kent Road . It was a wonder that we weren't pulled over by the police .  WE pulled into his garage which was closed up for the night. The keys were put through the letterbox and my piece de resistance , a short note in the car . your keys are in the garage. Suggest you get an alarm .xxx
I heard on the grapevine that he found the whole episode highly amusing and took it very well .
Of course 30 years have passed and I often wonder what we would have said had the police pulled us over ...a lucky escape . Paddy has never forgiven me !

Monday, 17 September 2012

THis is why I live in St Leonards .

                  The Garden studios The Lawn St Leonards On Sea

Who could fail to be seduced by Nick Snelling  and Adrienne  Hunter's Art studios set in their leafy garden in The Lawn .  Brushing past various fruit trees , crab apple , pair  apple and established almost abandoned shrubs,walking through what I thought was an art installation which turned out to be Nick Jennings extraordinary Japanese influenced pots( so sensitively laid out on the lawn ) and there glinting through the trees were their studios.

Nick Jennings Pots

Nick and Adrienne discussing their work
Adrienne's studio 
 a glimpse of Adrienne Hunter's studio

Adrienne Hunter  

The strength and confidence in Adrienne's work immediately confronts you as you enter her studio . She draws expressively  with her brush, These are not meticulous , mean drawings but bold almost angry spurts of energy as if time was running away and the subject would disappear and yet she still manages to relay the passage of time in a sensitive evocative journey which certainly seduces the onlooker .

Nick Snelling

Nick Snelling's Studio (a wall of great beauty)
Nick Snelling's studies of the sea .

Nick Snellings Studio A wall of beauty ..... The abandoned frames leaning against the wall ,  the green glinting through the white rain or is it melting snow reminding us of a new Spring after a difficult winter. I'm not entirely sure if indeed it was a painting or an installation  ...who cares .... or was it all in my imagination.  I found it   one of the most evocative paintings of Nick Snelling a poetic piece and perhaps it is a new direction for Nick .  Strangely it fills me with a certain sadness, however a fall of snow does the same thing for me. Snow draws me to memories. I often write about it.The wall said it all,probably more than Nick realised.
Nick's unfailing love of the sea has always given him strength . His paintings show a complete understanding of his passion for  the ever changing tides, moods and colours. A true artist who  plays , experiments with glazes and succeeds, oblivious of the age we now live in.  His studio is a chaotic indulgence, an unintentional  art installation  every beam of recycled wood every squirt of paint an indulgence  .  I loved every inch of it and understand and admire the challenge he obviously went through  in the past two years.Wonderful!!!!
In their busy eventful life they still find time to open their house to foreign students and also run a bed and breakfast. Their truly bohemian background in their enchanting house in The Lawn  is a bonus for any visitor, who could wish for more. Their link is by the seaside

Friday, 14 September 2012

the determined cupboard


1952 Boscombe 
 The cup board stood  at the bottom of the stairs in the dimly lit antique centre . Within seconds I was taken back to the  1950,s racing down the zig zag path cut out of the cliff where wild blackberries flavoured with seawater grew in profusion , sand lizards slithered through the bushes and gulls swooped ever hopeful , as we made our way to the beach hut in Fisherman's walk in Boscombe .The beach hut was hardly a fashion statement. Double doors opened to chaos . The English seaside resort was a thriving business in the  fifties  and Bournemouth was no exception .Tables , chairs were stacked up, damp bathing costumes and colourful beach towels  were hung on a string line that stretched across the hut . Fishing rods,nets and rakes used for cockling  took up the whole of the back wall. Shelves were  chaotically  stacked with various shades of melanin tea ware.  Huge aluminium saucepans hung from hooks on the rafters, used for cooking the catch of the day, usually a bucket full of cockles,. The hut therefor had a heady aroma of fish .  An army  dinghy was rolled up and tied with string. It took all day to blow it up and therefor we only used it once a season .I still have visions  of my hand knitted bathing costume almost stretched to my knees as I ran from the sea , screaming with delight , much to the embarrassment of my family , "I can swim , I can swim  !" The magic of my feet leaving the sand and  floating in the water was a moment I shall never forget. In the late afternoon we would often pile into the 1932  Alvis which was far from reliable and drive over to Sandbanks where the best cockles could be found as we raked through the silver sand filling the galvanised buckets to the rim. Sandbanks is a changed place now. The Edwardian bungalows are replaced by glass fronted mausoleums , Ferrari's , Lamborghini's are ostentatiously parked along side. It's changed place and bares no comparison to my childhood.
 watering the sedum roof at the west st Leonard's hut
I jumped at the chance of acquiring the 1950's beach hut in St Leonards in 1994 . Of course I was influenced by my childhood memories of the hut in Boscombe. Many a day was spent in searching out genuine 1950;s article to suit the hut . The cupboard was ideal , red Formica , collapsible. Sadly it was beyond my price range. £140. As I turned to go I somehow  got entwined in the table leg and fell rather badly. I left the shop shame faced and took a taxi home . However the pain was so severe that I ended up in The Conquest hospital . They injected me with a pain killer , took an xray and found no serious injury and sent me home .  Within a week the pain subsided and  the cupboard was soon forgotten .
 It must have been about three years later that an elderly lady passed my hut . She was charmed by the 1950,s  interior and invited me back to her house that afternoon .  
"I've got something that might interest you ."she said .  "I hope you are not frightened of birds . I've got a parrot. ."
I told her that my father had a parrot when I was a child . She lived in the suburbs of Hastings in a modest bungalow. She guided me into the kitchen and pointed to a cupboard. "It doesn't go with my kitchen and your beach hut cries out for it . "
For a moment I was speechless .
" I love it . I know this cupboard really well , in fact I fell over it many years ago and ended up in hospital . " I told her the story .
"I paid a fortune for it but I just want it out of my kitchen . " She said
the determined cupboard

I did not dare tell her that I knew the price instead I just asked her how much she wanted for it .
"£40 is fine  it but no one wants Formica tables now . They have gone out of fashion .IT will all come back of course . " I gave her the £40 . I was delighted if a little guilty . Now of course Formica is again in demand . How fickle fashion is .
 the calour gas stove
 the aluminium saucepans
The cupboard now lives in my beach hut together with melanin tea sets and 1950's paraphernalia reminiscent of my childhood . You see the cupboard was determined to join me ...just like Pussy .

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Eddiie Izzard a sureal experience

Eddie greeting his fans !

patiently waiting for Eddie Izzard and enjoying the amazing sunset
Richard Wilson's Italian Job at the De La Warr  Pavillion
It must be a year ago that I lunched with Nicki  at the De la Warr Pavillion  . It was a Sunday and Niki decided to visit the shop whilst I reserved a table near the window. A "waiter" his back to me  was standing by the entrance of the restaurant , well I thought he was a waiter . I was slightly bemused that he appeared to be hovering at the entrance and not really doing anything except looking around at the vast rather empty restaurant.   I was just about to summon him {thank God I didn't)when he turned round, smiled and walked towards me.
"Leave it to me I will get you a table." he said.
I took a deep breath , was it possible. I  blinked my eyes just in case I was hallucinating, after all I had been told the affects of tramadol can at times be quite alarming, hallucinations, seizures, dizzy spells  are not uncommon . I had taken two tramadols that day .
There was no doubt it was definitely Eddie Izzard being the gentleman. What a charmer he was.We soon lapsed into French as we both spoke about our experiences in France . Out of the corner of my eye I saw Niki approaching looking rather bemused. OMG I thought she thinks he is the waiter.
 I was quick off the mark , just in case . "Nicki let me introduce to ......." and my mind went completely blank. For the life of me I could not remember his name even though for the past five minutes I had been completely aware . I wanted the world to swallow me up. However as quick as a flash he stretched out his hand to shake Niki's and said in that wry intelligent voice "Eddie Izzard."and we both sighed with relief like two teenage fans.
We dined at separate tables, he with his family. Of course Niki and I spent the whole lunch hour trying to behave in a nonchalant manner without too much success and invariably ending  up convulsed in laughter over the episode. He even had the manners to say "good bye . Great talking to you both  " on leaving. Quite admirable considering I could not even remember his name .

a happy group

Eddie with the warm up band
Of course it goes without saying that when the opportunity  arose  to see Eddie perform in French at the De La Warr  last week, I did not hesitate. French in Bexhill on a chilly autumnal evening , the mind boggled. I was therefor flabbergasted to see  so many people swathed in blankets and thick warm sweaters    sat in deck chairs patiently awaiting his performance whilst  Richard Wilson's Italian Job swayed dramatically over the edge of The De La Warr. Eddie  appeared at least an hour before the performance and spent the time allowing people to  be photographed with him like best friends meeting. I guess the digital camera has taken over from the autograph . I at last plucked up enough courage to chat to him. .
"We met at the De la Warr Restaurant a year ago . I'm afraid much to my embarrassment I forgot your name . " I managed to stutter as my face blushed to crimson almost the colour of his brightly painted nails .
I'm afraid he looked rather blankly at me ... It was quite obvious that he had not got a clue who I doubt just an elderly fan . Well I guess .......Touche ! ........... On the other hand my obvious discomfort of forgetting his name went completely over his head so I guess I will do the same .
All was forgiven.
The show was surreal. He appeared on the stage with the   deep navy sky as a back drop and the  fluorescent orange sunset over Beachey head and proceeded to illuminate the evening with the history of the universe. His French and his body mime language were so brilliantly acted that even those who had the minimal french vocabulary could understand. Discovering the stone age was brilliant and the play on Franglais hysterical. Laughter rang out on the roof of the DeLaWarr . It was one of the most eccentric evenings I have spent and one I shall never forget .  A touch of eccentric class in the rather sedate Bexhill.

Friday, 7 September 2012

an alien has landed

Can you imagine English Heritage accepting this as a project ! I laughed all day . I love it !