Big Brother & the Curtain Company

But I don’t get emotional about curtains! Honestly, I don’t think it ever occurred to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I like curtains. They can be very nice. Although we really just have mini blinds. Not because I am overwrought about curtains in any way. It’s just that the blinds are enough.

Once I tacked up an Indian bedspread over the front window, back in grad school. That made a pretty good curtain. I felt fine about it.

Why do they think I might get emotional about curtains but not about curtain track?

Because curtain track can be sort of annoying. I made curtains once, and it was very tough trying to hang them up and get them in the track thingie. I am not much good with sewing and crafty stuff, I admit it. It really isn’t my thing.

So I was a little bit annoyed. That is not the same as emotional. I mean, I wasn’t getting all weepy and dramatic and tearing the curtains down and so on.

I cursed a fair bit and then I did the best I could.

After which I got on with my life.

Having said all that – this guy looks like he might get a bit emotional about curtains. You don’t think he’s the guy in 1984 – Cyril Cusack played him in the 1984 movie – whose old-guy disguise is given away by his black eyebrows. He owns the bookshop where Winston and Julia meet secretly – Mr. Charrington is his name. Seems like a nice old guy but is really a member of the Thought Police.

Who knew that he was emotional about curtains? I thought they didn’t like curtains in 1984 – Big Brother can’t peek in on you when you have curtains!

Big Brother is not going to like this, Mr. Charrington. And then he will get emotional. That’s not going to be good.

Into White

OK, people, people – I don’t know how to tell you this, but you may be overdoing the color scheme just a little. Could someone please sneak out to the garage and take the rest of the white paint away from this couple?

They were listening to Tea For the Tillerman while they redecorated. Big mistake:

1. Building house from barley rice: Who’s the contractor here, the Three Little Pigs?

2. Construction materials include green pepper walls and water ice: see above. The water ice is an especially bad idea.

3. Tables of paper wood: OK, I see we’re going to be shopping at IKEA!

4. Windows of light: Slight problem here. They are supposed to let in light, not be made of light. May I add: heat loss, A/C issues and all the wildlife in the neighborhood getting into the house (and I don’t just mean the neighbours).

5: Summation of design goals: everything empties into white. Yeah, and look at the result!

Because I have to tell you – and please don’t wave your paint brushes at me! – a new light fixture is not going to solve your basic room-decor problem. Or any other problems that you might have.


It’s Vintage Thingies Thursday again (at Confessions of an Apron Queen) and here’s what I’ve got for you!

Remember Kathy, the Artex lady who painted all over her family’s clothes (while they were wearing them), birth certificates, and the furniture?

Well, this is her sister. Her little hangup is knitting.Specifically scarves and hats. Many, many scarves. And many, many hats.

This is the family’s Christmas card photo for 1976, get it, the Bicentennial. Notice the frozen smiles on the faces of the other adults. The grimaces on the kids. And the dog and cat?

Well, the dog’s kind of confused. But dogs do wear sweaters, so he figures, hey, what the hell, I can do a hat too!

The cat, on the other hand, is totally disgusted. That hat’s coming off in about one second and then there’s going to be a feline free-for-all! The cat-people know what I mean.

Kathy’s sister shouldn’t have left all those skeins on the floor. There’ll be tangles and knots and chewed-up yarn all over that den.

The cat has plans. Big plans. You can see it in her eyes.

Acrilan: you can’t put it down.  But maybe you should.

Kathy and this lady have a cousin who likes to needlepoint – she really, really likes it! Do go and pay her a visit over at Found In Mom’s Basement. Mind you don’t trip over those beautiful needlepointed blocks!

Get This Party Ended

1977 Newsweek Gin And Anything

Uh, no. I will NOT get you another Gin and Anything.

You have done enough smoking and nibbling. And if you do any more gabbing the remaining three guests behind you will leave. After they have finished laughing behind your back.

Let’s just put this guy in a cab, OK?

But what if he’s the host, ordering his wife to bring him another Fleischmann’s?

Then she can have the cab.

Hat Trick

Woman's Weekly 1971 V-P 2Woman's Weekly 1971 V-P 1

Another day, another 1970s era suburban think tank. Or drunk tank.

So “more than sixteen and a half million bottles of VP will be opened,” huh? Well, here’s where most of the bottles were opened.

And VP also wants you to know that its primary virtue is that it is – well, cheap. Really cheap! It’s the drink we can all afford – even if we are the kind of morons who go out and spend ridiculous amounts of money on really stupid-looking hats.

Say, how much was that hat anyway? I suspect that no matter what the tweed-turtleneck woman paid, it was no bargain! They should have paid her to take the hat away. (And what’s with that tweed turtleneck, anyway? Was that a bargain, too?)

Well, at least her friends have some advice! Sort of.

The woman in the middle, who is on her second bottle of VP, and has also bought a stupid hat, is urging her on: “Go on! He’ll love it!” What does she mean, go on? It’s already been bought – signed, sealed and delivered! I guarantee you there’s a no-return policy on this hat. The shop never, ever wants to see it again. Can’t you just see them after closing time, having a laugh? Hope she comes back soon, there’s some more stuff in the back we can’t unload!

The third woman doesn’t care about anything but the VP. And after another glass she is going to tell her friend just how silly her new hat is. That’ll be really fun!

And not only is VP cheap, if you drink enough of it, you can hear the bottle talking to you. It is, apparently, obsessed with its own price. It probably feels left out of the conversation. It should stop talking about itself and do a little magic trick. Like pull a bottle of VP out of one of the hats. They’ll be listening to whatever that bottle is saying then!

In answer to Amy‘s excellent question in the comments – VP stands for Vine Products (though I do wish it stood for Vile Plonk). Here is the link to a 1940s ad for this stuff – thank heavens you could get it despite the wartime rationing!

Kathy’s Excellent Artex Adventure

GH Needlework 1976 Artex Adventure

“It’s almost unbelievably easy to do your own thing – beautifully – with Artex Paints.” Yes, we can see that.

This mid-1970s ad features a lady with a little too much time on her hands – and way too many Artex Paints. What hasn’t she left her sinister mark on? Nothing is safe in that house! Her daughter’s jeans – while the poor kid is wearing them, while she’s trying to talk on the phone – Mo-om! What are you doing!

Grandma – who has been relegated to the housework – finds that her tablecloth has also been drawn on. She is trying to look pleased, without much success. Try harder, dear – Kathy will be very upset if you fail to find joy in her Artex magic! And heaven only knows what she’ll attack next, if she gets – upset…

Mr. Kathy, who seems to be a thirtysomething David Cassidy clone, has boldly brought his bicycle into the living room. That is a big no-no, David! You will be punished with a silly design on your denim shirt.

The baby, though – what the hell did the baby do to deserve Artex all over her birth certificate? Or is that weird rag doll under the certificate – the baby? Kathy brought it home and told everyone that was their new sister.

There were a lot of Kathys around 30-odd years ago, apparently – they had “Artex Adventure Groups” (shudder!) and went around, no doubt, wreaking havoc in the form of  Ball Point Painting. On suburban mailboxes. On the ranch houses of noisy, annoying neighbours. Perhaps in stores that failed to stock the right kind of craft supplies…

The pillows at the top are a subtext – see how one points a desperate arrow at the terrible paintings, and the other cries “STOP”? Succinct, yet so, well, obvious. Yes – please, please, STOP.

But look at Kathy – you think she’s going to abandon her excellent Artex Adventure? No way, José!

It’s like a whole new subculture, little-known, seldom talked about – this is evidence, right here in the middle of a Good Housekeeping Needlecraft magazine! Could be there’s a cultural anthropology article in here, somewhere. Somewhere – under all that paint.

Yarn Scene Investigation

1976 Mary Maxim yarn ad

If things get any more exciting around here we may have to make some coffee.

Still,  Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice here are certainly having a great time staring at the knitted blanket, all right. They have been frozen there for hours! That is one fascinating piece of wool, folks. There’s a red barn on it, and a farmhouse, and lookie there, a squashed little horse and sleigh!

What is the strange radiance coming from the afghan? What are its strange hypnotic powers?

And when will that macrame ropey plant hanger thing fall down? Watch out behind you, there, Ted – it looks like its creeping up on you.

They are Scene Makers, that’s what Mary Maxim says. Their Scene is heavy on the yarn. And the strange fixation on sweaters  with streaky sunsets knit into them.

This is what you call decorous swinging. You keep your sweater vests on, you see, so you can tell who to go home with.

Or perhaps who NOT to go home with…

Advertisement is from the mid-1970s, as you can tell from the pointy collars and fake wood panelling. Oh, and the large plants muscling into the picture like bystanders behind the news reporters on TV (all they need are some signs that say “Hi Mom”).

Morale Boosting For Fortysomethings

“An extra special outfit…something just that little bit different, that will be noticed in a crowd.”

They got that right.

Woman's Weekly 1971 Over 40 Fashion

I don’t even know where to begin. This is a Vintage Thingie all right, the kind that makes the over-40 woman feel like – well, like a Vintage Thingie! The dress, the coat, and oh my God, the hat! The hat! What the hell is the hat in aid of? Oh, I see, it is a sophisticated hat. Thanks for telling us. I don’t think I would have come to that conclusion on my own.

And the dress is smart. And the coat is dashing. And sleeveless. OK, I’ll buy that last bit. It is sleeveless.

The only “very important occasion” I can see wearing this to is maybe going to the circus. Or being in the circus.

I am 45 but I am not joining the Over 40 Club, I can tell you that. I don’t think anyone did in 1971 either, except the model in this picture. And I’m not sure she is all that happy about this…

This advertisement has been brought to you as a delicious part of your Vintage Thingies Thursday – for more VTT goodness (sans silly hats!) please visit the Apron Queen!

(Advertisement from the British magazine Woman’s Weekly, 1971)

Some Questionable Advice

Woman's Weekly Woolworth ad 1971

“Realise that there’s more than the sun to catch on holiday.” Oh yes, that’s true enough. But perhaps you might not want to be catching it. In which case, tell the Two Wild and Crazy Guys in the shades to get lost! There’s no telling what you might catch, hanging around with them.

The fact that one of them is wearing a turtleneck at a swimming pool should be reason enough to be wary. Not that you need more reasons. But then, you girls are wearing what appears to be badly-sewn sacks made out of old kitchen curtains.

They are clothes that will get you noticed, all right. But look at what they’re attracting! Now we are back to the problems referred to in the first paragraph.

The girl on the right is modelling the Trendy Mennonite look, brand new for 1971. That’s a lot of leg for a Mennonite to show! Plus she is drinking. Mind you, if I was there I would also need a drink.

Are these people even “abroad”?  Perhaps they went on a tour of Suburban Backyards of America. They thought they were going to the Greek Islands. Next time, make sure you get a real travel agent. I think they not only relied on Woolworth’s (Woolworth’s!!) for their fashion needs, but booked the holiday there as well.

A Strange and Sunny Canful

IMG 1971 Ardmona cream ad UK

Oh Zena, I don’t know if this is going to work – warm milk and butter in that little thingie, and pump the handle until you get cream? This is like those special TV onion choppers and things, they never work out though, do they? Zena Skinner was a British cookbook author and host of an early 1970s TV cooking show called Ask Zena Skinner. Webrarian has a great photo of Zena on his site.

This cream maker sounds reminiscent of the I Love Lucy episode “Pioneer Women” (1952) where Ethel tries to make butter. It doesn’t work, she needs cream not milk – of course, maybe she needed this Ardmona device. Lucy’s bread works out too well, really – it’s so big it zooms out of the oven and takes over the kitchen.

Oh, and another thing? I really hope that that guy is not part of the special offer. What is he doing lounging around on top of the coupon? Is Zena aware of him? Did he come along with her? And he is about the same size as the stuff on the table. Very strange.