It’s only Joan Holloway but I like it…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that anyone who has watched Mad Men must have a little crush on Joan Holloway. Except for me. I have a HUGE crush on Joan.

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I love the whole Mad Men phenomenon, I really do. I do remember finding the first series a little slow and difficult to get into, I frequently scream at the screen when I see the chauvinism and double standards many of the male characters display, but all of this is part of what Mad Men is. I don’t even need to mention the fantastic 50s and 60s sets and clothing. I once invented a drinking game where you have to drink every time you see a dress you’d love to wear. I’ve never played it. I’d be dead.

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Joan is the Office Manager at the advertising agency which is at the centre of the TV series. She manages the day to day running of the office and is something of a mother hen to the many secretaries who work there. If by mother hen you mean a bitofabitch. Which I do. She is a strong sassy character who is efficient and does her job well. She also has the best breasts in the office. Or in any office I suspect. Without a doubt. Not least due to this fact, she is sleeping with her boss, an activity that continues until he has a heart attack and thinks better of it. Well, for a bit anyway.

In season 2 Joan gets married and you can see she is torn between enjoying her job and not wanting to give it up, fearful she will become a bored housewife. It must been a dilemma for many women in those days. Not anymore, we are expected to juggle both. As the seasons roll by Joan’s marriage falls apart and she becomes a single mother. She takes on more and more responsibility at work and proves herself to be more than capable.

So why style icon? Well Joan is a strong woman. And I think women like strong women. Well, I do anyway. We have needed them at multiple points in the past and we still need them now. She works hard to play a difficult game in a world which, as a woman, she has little power. The female characters in this world are expected to prove themselves and be grateful for every opportunity that is thrown their way. She can give as good as she gets, she can be warm and she always. looks. amazing.

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Comments on her clothes are many and varied but I will share my two favourites: Roger Stirling ( her boss) teases her about a man who has the hots for her, stating: “he was all over you that time you wore the red dress, the one with the bow on the back, that makes you look like a present, could you wear it?”

I also love that fact that she spends most of her time swanning around the office with a little gold pen on a chain around her neck nestling suggestively in her décolletage. No biros for Joan! A colleague comments: “She even wore a pen around her neck so people would stare at her tits.”

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Joan’s clothes are great and she does use her sexuality to help her get on. I’m hoping that’s not what women have to do now – I certainly haven’t, but then I’m not as well dressed as Joan and I’m in a different business! Most of her outfits would not be deemed appropriate for the classroom.

She knows how to dress according to her curves and the effect is devastating. The camera loves her and I swoon almost every time she is in shot. Christina Hendricks plays her superbly, and her character is not one-dimensional. She is a girl: she has guts, she is brave and strong, she messes up, she makes questionable decisions about the men in her life, she is kind and all of this adds up, for me, to make her an icon. Go and watch it, go and read about her, there is a lot written about her character which is much more succinct than I could ever hope to be.

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I salute you, Joan.

It is with a huge crush I say:
It’s only vintage but I like it.

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It’s only The Box of Delights but I like it…

We needed a stimulus for some independent writing at school this week. We wanted to show the children the beginning of a story and then let them continue it in any direction they chose. I’d done this before using The Polar Express movie, but, because most of them had seen that, I just ended up with 28 identical stories that were all the plot of the film! I racked my brains and something made me think of The Box of Delights, a story by John Masefield, that was beautifully dramatised by the BBC in the mid eighties.

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I looked up the transmission dates and I was only 4 (nearly 5) years old when it was shown and yet I remember parts of it so clearly. It captured me completely and one of my work colleagues – who is the same age as me – felt exactly the same. When we looked it up on youtube, just the opening titles gave me a strange excited butterflies-in-my-tummy feeling!

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The book was first published in 1935 and the evocation of the period is lovely, as you might imagine from the BBC. My students noticed clothes, steam trains and old fashioned luggage to name but a few things.

The story centres on Kay Harker who is just home from boarding school for the Christmas holidays and runs into a few eccentric characters on his journey. He becomes embroiled in a plot to steal a magic box. Patrick Troughton gives a memorable and perfectly pitched performance as Cole Hawlings. I love the theme tune which sounds like it’s played on a music box. The series is creepy in parts and quite odd, I remember finding certain scenes and characters quite frightening when I first saw it, but there is something beautiful and warm about it at the same time. The children loved the first 20 minutes that we watched today and I have promised them more in the next few weeks… It definitely stands the test of time and when I get my DVDs out of storage (or Tat’s Mum’s garage to give it it’s proper name!) I will definitely be rewatching it.

It’s a little vintage treat to tickle your fancy in the run up to Christmas – give it a go!

It is with a sense of deep nostalgia I say:
It’s only vintage but I like it!

It’s only Mrs. Miniver but I like it…

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A little while ago I decided I should watch some 1940s films to get a feel for 40s fashions and see if it inspired me. I grew up watching lots of old films and as such, I don’t find them as slow or stilted as I have heard them described by many. Having a look at lists of most popular 40s films I saw the name Mrs Miniver cropping up lots. This brought back memories of watching this one Wintry afternoon as a child. I did watch a lot of war films as a child! My Dad, being a child of the 50s, must have been brought up on them I think, and he shared them with us. I liked  Miniver when I first saw it and I must say, I enjoyed this time around too.

It is not without its twee moments, surely, but I find these endearing. Dr P and I still quote over dramatic moments from Brief Encounter which we watched multiple times last summer preceding a visit to Carnforth Railway station where parts of it were filmed.

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It was nice to see a familiar face in the form of Henry Travers who you may recognise from his role as Clarence, the bumbling guardian angel in It’s a Wonderful Life.

The film centre around The Miniver family. Pre-war, Mrs Miniver has little to think of except flamboyant hats and trips to town, which she recovers from afterwards, lying on her bed with stockinged feet and chatting on the telephone. When the war hits the family is effected in many ways and this is what we focus on. Mrs Miniver’s son sees active service, her husband helps the Home Guard and she herself has a close encounter with a German.

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There’s a lot of jolly-hockey-sticks nonsense but on the whole the films shows the hardship and loss that must have been all so common a tale during the war. I even had a few teary moments, especially the final scene, when the community gather in a bombed out Church to worship together.

I didn’t pick up many fashion tips, but I came away with a bit of a crush on Mrs M. She always knows what to do. And she has a cracking line in hats…

it is with a massive case of hat envy I say:

its only vintage but I like it!