Posted elsewhere, 29 Sept 2010.

I'm falling apart. I posted on Facebook about this earlier today and then carried on as normal. And now, with tiredness kicking in, I'm going to pieces again. Really upset.

My mentor, my inspiration, my first driving force and muse, an absolutely marvellous, truly redoubtable woman who I have been very honoured to know since I was 11 years old, VERY honoured, died about three weeks ago. Her funeral was last Friday. I only found out today. I feel like I have lost a grandmother, it's that bad.

She was 96. She was amazing. She had an incredible life. I first met her on Jim'll Fix It, when I asked JIm to fix it for me to help set up a costume display in a museum. When they phoned up the V&A, the V&A said "absolutely not" so they then phoned up Killerton House. Atherton, who was curator of the collection there from 1976-1993, walked into the room just as the call was being taken by her assistant, asked what it was about. "It's the BBC, they want some kid to set up a display for Jim'll Fix It, shall I say no?" "Oh, don't be silly, Charlotte - say yes."

We IMMEDIATELY hit it off. She would've been 75, 76 at the time - and I was 11. We had a fantastic time together that day, met again at the BBC studio, and kept in touch ever since then - she recently gave me a folder with ALL the letters I had sent her since then, all the drawings and letters and stuff - and I'd saved the letters she gave me too. We talked about everything to do with fashion and costume and dress history and all kinds of stuff. She was a huge inspiration to me and always so encouraging and just fantastic. She had a reputation for being a real battleaxe, a take-no-nonsense Redoubtable, the nightmare of male National Trust bigwigs who called her and the Killerton collection "Atherton and her old clothes". Every late winter, I went up to Killerton to see Atherton and help set up the displays, and see what was new in the collection, and again in the summer when she came to set up the temporary displays. She eventually retired - to the great relief of quite a few people - at the age of 81, but we stayed in touch all through my Uni education and my MA. I worked closely with her on my MA dissertation, which was about the history of the Paulise de Bush collection at Killerton House, and how it had developed as a collection over the years.

But before that, she was active in the world of theatre and dramatics. During the 1930s she worked as a set designer and painter, and was one of the first women to regularly wear trousers around town on an everyday basis, because it was safer for all the climbing of ladders she had to do. She remembered having struck Ivor Novello dumb by the sight of her in trousers. She worked with a young actress called Vivien Leigh who was playing Ann Boleyn in an open-air production of Shakespeare's Henry VIII in 1936 - there was an argument over costumes, which Miss Leigh won, and I don't think Atherton ever quite forgave her. She then married a man who made documentary films, who was really quite renowned for it - he went to film the first atomic bomb tests for one of his films. It was the premature death of him - he died of radiation sickness in the 1960s. But he and his wife made quite a number of films together, and their son is a renowned award-winning cinematographer with an impressive CV.

I'm going to really, really, really miss her. She really and truly was a grandmother figure to me, so encouraging and supportive and just an absolutely all-round fantastic person to know. I lost touch a little bit towards the end, but she was so thrilled and delighted to learn that I had gone on to work at the V&A, and I'm so glad she knew what I went on to achieve.

I really and truly wish I could have had the opportunity to attend her funeral. I would have dropped everything just to attend, to say goodbye and to thank her for everything. She was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. An absolute star. I'm going to miss her so much.

Farewell, Atherton.

Part 8 is up. May contain Polo mints.

As usual, the link is here.

Enjoying being back in the world of the happy - and hopefully, after a doctor's appointment on Tuesday, I'll be somewhat closer to finding out if there's a way to control my mood swings. Landlord reckons I'm probably slightly bipolar, but we will see... it certainly would explain a lot about the last 15-odd years if that's so. Ah well, all will out - and in the meantime it's good to be back in the generally happy zone - especially since the last few weeks have had more ups and downs than a bungee-jumping Zebedee.
Alice Who

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As seems to often be the case with such updates, this is to announce that Part 7 of Alice Who? is up, and viewable at:

Not that anyone is shallow enough to go there simply because it's Wet T-Shirt Week with all the Hartnell girls getting moist. (and Barbara demonstrates how waterproof her hair lacquer is...)

Generally though, life's good, I have great friends, and need to spend more time with them. And am doing so.

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Have been rescuing files off old floppy disks all afternoon. Made some very valuable discoveries, including writings I believed long lost, and a hefty chunk of my Past Doctor Adventure from 2003 that never materialised. (I had clean forgotten about it - and it was such a bloody good story that my jaw dropped. Crikey. Have to find something to do with that now...)

But the oddest discovery was thumbnails from a whole batch of fan-art/guest strips I did in the last year or two of Blotto Street. Including tiny thumbnails from the Framed! guest strips (the original strips are probably permanently lost now...), all the Anti-Joyce arts (filth, absolute filth), and - this completely knocked me for six - a thumbnail from a Yin & Yang guest strip, which I have absolutely no recollection of doing at all. I need to go back now and trawl Jess's archives to try and find the whole thing... There were a few complete fan-arts on the disk too, including a rather saucy Tabitha pin-up drawing from Boy Meets Boy, a rather bad Avapr0n pic, a rather bad pin-up pic of Detestia from RPG World, and a clean(!!!!) fanart for Eat The Roses. All about 8/9 years old.
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Part 3 of Alice Who? is now up:

Who would have thought that the Dragon would be so good at TARDISes? When he scanned it in EVERY single line was completely straight and at right angles, I was in absolute awe.

It's been a funny old weekend - but a brilliant weekend for all that. Spending time with like-minded people is always fun, especially when there are ridiculous and wonderful hijinks, competitions and quizzes going on non-stop and it's generally all rather fantastic. And from tomorrow I have several days off work, spent back in my South Western stamping grounds to look forward to - how nice it is to actually be looking forward to spending time in Exeter again, instead of feeling stifled and trapped there! So yes, it's a good time in my life at the moment, especially as the fierce head cold I caught last week hasn't lived up to its threat to leave a month-long lingering cough behind it and I'm absolutely bang-up to the nines.

And Doctor Who absolutely ROCKED. I still can't think of a single thing I didn't like about the episode at all. Not a single thing. No quibbles, no flaws, no complaints at all.* Only thing is, how is part 2 going to manage to compare to this episode?

* Apart from animated You-Know-Who... but the subtitles almost entirely covered him up!!!
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