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.

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!

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.

Nurse Jones Needs A Holiday

One of the many things that amuse me about old ads is the amount of time and space devoted to subjects and conditions that people supposedly were not talking about. And to be fair I guess they aren’t strictly talking in the ads. But oh my stars, the issues with PMS and underwear and constipation – one would think, after a study of old magazines, that there was little else in life to cope with – once one had sorted out the soap and meal requirements.

An endless round of fun for all!

So I am introducing a new category, “Retro Unmentionables”  (ironic, of course, because, the stuff has to be mentioned in order to sell it) – to cover these ads, some of which are incredibly funny and inventive. Oh, what am I saying, they all are pretty funny. And inventive.

It is Friday (I know you know that, we’re all keeping track pretty carefully of when it turns Friday) so let’s have a classic Unmentionable ad from the delightful British publication Woman’s Weekly. It is still being published, and you can get it here in Canada. There is usually a cover story about someone’s great NEW diet secret (smiling babe holding up enormous ex-trousers), surrounded by sidebars announcing articles about the richest darkest chocolate desserts EVER. And ten new deliciously extra-cheesy casseroles. It is just great.

But not as great as this! 

Woman's Weekly Tampax ad 1940

I – were you talking to me, Nurse Jones? Because I wasn’t the one who was asking…I – don’t really have any questions, you see. But thank you. I know you are glad that you are getting all those letters every week. And that you don’t discuss them with those male doctors or anything: “I shall open [the letter] myself, and deal with it myself.” Although you are talking to them in general about Tampax quite a lot. And to plenty of other people too – “specialists, matrons, and hundreds of women and girls.” That is a lot of talking! I guess it is quite an absorbing subject…No, ma’am, that wasn’t very funny at all. I am very sorry. It’s just that…

…could we please talk about something else now?

Maybe you should get out a little more. Read a few good books, take a nice walking holiday. I would think that after “three years’ association with Tampax” (good heavens!) - you could use one. You really should get out in the fresh air more. Hobbies are good, too. Have you thought about taking up, say, soap sculpture?

Oh wait – just before you go, I do have one quick question. I understand about getting Tampax at the chemist’s or a department store – but why at the draper’s? Anxiously awaiting your response.

[Note: I tried to make this ad a bit bigger, am still working on it. The next size up was a bit overwhelming!]

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.

A Piano In the Bathroom

IMG 1940 Woman's Weekly Family Health ad VTT logo

I’m bringing someone to Vintage Thingies Thursday (I trust that the Apron Queen will not mind). This someone certainly qualifies as a Vintage Thingie. And she’s British – she loves tea parties.

I promise I will make sure that she doesn’t get too bossy, and she tells me that she has left that Family Health Soap at home. If she has got some, we will just ask her to do the washing up. She likes doing that, as you will see.

Meet the prototype for Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet), star of the 1980s Britcom Keeping Up Appearances, Mrs. Cheery.

Well, Mrs. Cheery (and what a splendid name that is) – if I was one of your moving men, putting the piano in the bathroom would only be the beginning. And by the way, isn’t that a funny way to indirectly brag about the size of your new bathroom?

That’s not the only funny business in this 1940s ad from the British Woman’s Weekly:

1. Why is “moving” in quotations? Is this a code word for something else that the Cheery family is doing? And if so, why does it involve moving men and furniture (and, of course, the piano).

2. What in the world is Mrs. Cheery holding – it looks like some sort of frightening garden tool. And look at that terrifying smile.

3. Why didn’t she sit down for eight hours? I know. She was too busy getting in the way of the movers, barking orders and complaining about dirty hands.

4. She makes the men wash up with her wretched Family Health soap after they are done, and everyone else too. Now I realize, having moved several times, that one does like to wash up afterwards. But I have never forced the movers to scrub up before they leave.

She probably tipped them, if they got any tip at all, with a bar of Family Health Toilet Soap. That sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, but it has a hygeinic wrapper! And antiseptic lather too – how refreshing is that!

And after the now-cleansed and purified men depart, she can give the baby grand a nice bath with it.