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Saturday, October 2nd, 2010
3:37 am - 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.

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Monday, June 14th, 2010
12:38 am - 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.

current mood: cheerful

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Monday, June 7th, 2010
1:20 am
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.

current mood: chipper

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Monday, May 31st, 2010
8:11 pm
Part 6 of Alice Who is posted. http://tardisalice.livejournal.com/2072.html

In other news - life continues being rather complicated, but generally I suppose it's all OK. Could be worse. On some levels, it's fantastic, on other levels it's - just life, really, and all its daftness. And I am an absolute nodcock sometimes.

current mood: loblollyish

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Sunday, May 23rd, 2010
8:53 pm
Part 5 of Alice Who? is posted, with the first poem-parody! As usual, y'know where to click.

Gosh, it's hot. You know it's too hot when you can't stand to be hugged for too long 'cos the other person's body heat is too much to bear. Bit of a bummer, that.

current mood: boiling

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Saturday, May 22nd, 2010
5:38 pm
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.

current mood: hot

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Sunday, May 16th, 2010
11:37 pm
Part 4 of Alice Who? is posted.


(I really must post a proper update soon, but generally, all's going well. Two of my book projects are deadlining this month, which is quite exciting.)

current mood: creative

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Friday, May 7th, 2010
8:32 am - Oh well. Well, all I can say is, congrats to the Greens for getting a seat.
Other than that, not a whole lot to be thrilled about.

*sits tight and waits to see what happens next.*

current mood: ambiguous

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Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
1:04 am
Part 3 of Alice Who? is now up: http://tardisalice.livejournal.com/1236.html

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!!!

current mood: cheerful

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Saturday, April 17th, 2010
11:44 pm - Alice Who? update
Part 2 of Alice Who? has been posted over at tardisalice.

Direct link: http://tardisalice.livejournal.com/962.html#cutid1

current mood: artistic

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Thursday, April 15th, 2010
11:33 pm - My New Project is Launched.
The Dragon and I have been collaborating on this in our spare time, and today, we launched it. On the Dragon's birthday, no less.

So, dear friends, please meet tardisalice.

For the first instalment in "Alice Who?" you can go directly to:

We're co-writing and co-illustrating it - the Dragon did the Rabbit, the other pics are mine - and while this section is mainly the Dragon's writing, other sections will be mine (or a collaboration). We have about 30 parts from the beginning written so far plus random bits from forthcoming sequences and various illustrations being drawn/in the process of being drawn. The idea is that we will try and update it at least once a week, maybe more often. All we hope is that people will like and enjoy our take on Alice.

So - enjoy, and do keep track of it if you so wish - I will try to post here when new updates are posted, too!

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Friday, March 26th, 2010
3:14 am - Where, O where, is my freedom?
Now, London, don't get me wrong. I think it is wonderful that you offer Freedom Passes to the disabled, and that we can use these on buses/Tube whenever, and the London railway line after 10.30. No denying it's a wonderful service, and much appreciated.

But WHY the heck have you not sent out the renewed passes yet? You have been ad-campaigning for MONTHS about sending in the forms to get this sorted. Looks like a lot of people haven't heard a thing since, and are getting twitchy. When I went in to the Council office to ask about this, I saw the form they passed me to fill out. There were DOZENS of complaints from people who hadn't gotten their renewed passes yet, and had not heard so much as a status update. And the passes expire in five days time. Even if the Letter of Authority arrives before the end of the month, it will be at least two weeks before the actual pass is received.

At least as I'm employed, I can afford to have to buy travelcards for - looks like I could have to pay out for a month at the least - but there are a lot of disabled people who will be virtually stranded without their Freedom Passes.

And- having just Googled to double-check my facts - why is it that the Liberal Democrats are apparently the only people who have published the announcement the extension of the Freedom Pass deadline by 2 months? I'm not much of a political cove, but it's little things like caring for the need of disabled people to know things like this that get brownie points from this grumpy spesh.

current mood: tired

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
11:30 pm - Crumbs! Finishing unfinished business - after all these years!
About ten years ago I started writing a novel. I had written them before. I can't even remember exactly when I started writing this one. Anyway. It's pootled around on various CDs and disks and floppies. It's survived several computer changes. It has been unfinished for at least eight years. Every now and again, I got it out, opened it up, read through it. Revised and edited as I went. Got to the premature end. Maybe I added a few paragraphs here and there, but maybe only 100 words or so a year.

Then, on Thursday evening, with several days off work, that had crept upon me leaving me with no plans, I opened the document up. Over 11,500 words later... it is finished! At the moment the word-count stands at 84,750 all in. Okay, I'm not going to pretend it's anything more than a piece of fluff and nonsense, and of course now it's got a last line, it needs editing/revising/polishing, but - I FINISHED IT.

I can't think of a better or more productive few days off work. And having gone back to work today, I am so much the happier for it. It is one piece of unfinished business that has bothered me very much for a number of years, so to have it finished now is one heck of an achievement...

current mood: creative

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Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
12:50 am - Throwing a question out there.
Generally speaking, do you prefer an user-name on a blog or journal to have an underscore, or a hyphen, or do you prefer it to be one word?

For_example, for-example, or forexample?

I prefer forexample myself - people always confuse the underscore and the hyphen.

current mood: curious

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Thursday, March 4th, 2010
11:28 pm - It's going to be a bad hair day. For the next couple months.
I could almost cry. I've just had my hair absolutely slaughtered for the first time, a truly bad haircut - dreadful - beyond doubt the worst cut I've ever had, eclipsing the BAD Amelie-fringe look I got given when I was 17. And I always used to get such good results from that place too.

It's choppy all over and the fringe is three inches long at one end and one inch long at the other and the line is just uneven and hacked. I ASKED the chap to just trim the ends on the top and he did this to me.

It was literally in my eyes before - just covering my eyebrows when it was down, it was a good fringe - flicky and sweepy and just lovely, I'd spent over a year growing it out and having it only lightly trimmed - so I am really upset about this. It'll grow back, but... ARRRRRRRRRRRGH. The only way it can be tidied up is if it's cut down to an inch all over, and that look doesn't suit me at all.

I had to buy a deerstalker off a street stall to cover it up. The first pictures are before - it was a lovely thick, heavy fringe, and I rather liked it. The second ones are after I was Sweeney Todomised...

Suppose it'll grow back relatively quickly - but I spent MONTHS growing out that fringe and developing it and quite frankly the more I see my reflection in mirrors, the more devastated and uglified I feel.

Pics after the cutCollapse )

current mood: royally narked off

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Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
6:46 pm - I swear my hair's changing colour.
I swear my hair is turning redder by the month. It's turning positively coppery, especially when I'm wearing red. I've heard of people having eyes that change colour depending on their clothes, but hair...?(other than whitening or greying, of cos...)

It was blonde for the first eight or nine years, then it was a rather nondescripit dull brown through my teens and twenties, but I used to say "it looks slightly red in a certain light." Not that anyone believed it, until recently. Now my hair's definitely burnishing or oxidising to a rather unusual dark copper colour - the kind of shade that almost looks like it's had some assistance. I like it - and hope it continues to oxidise.

At any rate - it'll be nice to finally have a proper hair colour.

current mood: puzzled

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Saturday, February 20th, 2010
2:30 am - Rotovision? Rotovating? Or talking a load of rot?
Does anyone know what term I'm trying to remember here, a term that describes an art style which produces images with a very similar quality to Dave McKean's illustrations for Gaiman's "The Wolves In The Wall" and the cover for "Coraline"?

I want to say it's called rotovision or rotovating, and I know it's been discussed several years ago. Anyway, trying to recall what the term is is bugging me at the moment, like when you've got a name you just can't catch hold of in your memory, and I'd love to know...

current mood: perplexed

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Sunday, February 14th, 2010
9:34 pm - Twelve years to the day.
Still not forgotten, Ian. I still miss you so much and wish so much that you could have known everything that I went on to do. And I wish I could have known even half of all the wonderful things that you could have gone on to achieve yourself. You should have known them too, yourself.

In memoriam, friend.

Somewhere in this journal are some of the poems written at that time. I can't find them at the moment.

current mood: remembering

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Friday, February 12th, 2010
2:07 am - Alexander McQueen (1969-2010)
The death of Lee McQueen, best known as Alexander McQueen, has come as a hell of a shock. I didn't know him, nor did I meet him at any point, but I knew of him ever since I started taking an interest in fashion post-1960. I also admired his work very much indeed, although many's the time other people have criticised me for liking it. Sometimes the fashion shows may have been over-designed, and certainly it has seemed on occasion that the way the models looked or the concept behind the show was designed to distract from the clothes.

But the clothes are why I have always admired Alexander McQueen. I am afraid that it cannot be ignored that he was probably responsible for muffin-tops, though. His bumster trousers of the mid-'90s, their waistbands descending lower even than hipsters, certainly heralded a trend that led to the almost complete circumcision of the high-waisted trouser, and is still causing problems to this day. It is not a worthy tribute to the man known as Lee. But in 1998, when I was finishing off my A Level case study on back emphasis (called, what else, "Round The Back"), I finished off my historical overview with a clipping of a model in a pair of white bumsters from Vogue, noting that McQueen had introduced a new form of back emphasis that would define the late '90s as vividly as the bustle marked the mid-Victorian period or the completely backless dress the '30s. I can remember the first time I saw his designs, and I cannot say this for most current designers, who float about my awareness before I finally register that I've been looking at their work for a while now. It was in a Guardian supplement, and I remember being fascinated by the skinny carrot-haired model wearing Victorian corsets. I also vividly remember my dad saying how ugly the girl was and why on earth would anyone want to wear anything that she wore. This would've been in about 1995.

There's no denying that McQueen's shows could rub people up the wrong way. Everyone has heard of the notorious "Highland Rape" show, with the shredded lace and the trailing tampon-strings. His work was accused of promoting violence against women, and his name became shorthand for "gay male designer who hates women and wants to mutilate and desexualise them". I'm not getting into that debate today. But I have to say that the clothes have always been edgy. Regardless of how initially unwearable they seem at first, they have almost always retained a wearable factor in a way that was rare to find. Clothes are either wearable, or they're not, and McQueen's clothes, no matter how insane and impossible they seemed at first glance, worked on a body. McQueen was always pushing the boundaries and challenging himself. He knew how to tailor garments (during his apprenticeship with a tailoring establishment he claimed to have graffiti'd "I am a c*nt" on the interior lining of a suit for the Prince of Wales). His tailoring was always astounding. He cut jackets back to front, morphed the elements of the suit together, dropped pieces, added pieces, and did so with the confidence of someone who knew the rules of one of the strictest, most rigorous disciplines of clothes-making - and also knew exactly how to break all those rules. He did this from the beginning. A 1997 jumpsuit, now in the V&A collection, in pale pink twill, merges wide-legged trousers with a distorted jacket, one side loosely draping with, the other perfectly crisp and fitted. (see http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O84303/jumpsuit/ )In the Gallery of Fashion at the Snibston Discovery Park is a woman's trouser suit cut in one piece, the high waisted trousers in pinstripe wool extending upwards into a coiling spiral of fabric that meanders round the torso before becoming a single suit-jacket-sleeve and lapel. Okay, the mannequin has a tit out, but at the end of the day there was nothing to stop anyone teaming it with a traditional shirt or blouse.

Horrificially bad photo of Snibston's McQueen suitCollapse )

I'm not setting out to offer an overview of his career. I feel that overviews of careers should only be done after having a proper look at everything the subject has done, and I'm not qualified to do so at this moment. I'm talking about the presence McQueen in my life, knowing of his work through my studies. In 2001, I came across one of his showpiece dresses in a second hand clothes shop in London. It was very cheap - but at the time I was a penniless student and barely had £150 to spare. I couldn't justify it, but I knew I would suffer from having had to leave it behind. I had done so on so many occassions in the past with different designers. I am forever grateful to Michelle of the Vintage Fashion Guild for agreeing to cover the price of the dress at such short notice, and letting me pay her back in instalments. The dress, which I believe is from a 2000/01 collection, is amazing. It is a strapless Princess-line dress in very thick, practically half-inch-thick wool felt, like very, very high quality insulation. The bodice is tight and fitted, and scandalously tiny. The skirt, spreading out in flaring gores from the segments of the bodice, spreads out into fullness that exceeds a full circle. Each flaring gore is punched with a geometric "lace" pattern, using a 16th century technique to create a completely contemporary, modern piece. It is really quite unlike anything else anyone has done before or since. It is absolutely McQueen.

McQueen Felt DressCollapse )

The other McQueen piece I have is a late '90s trouser suit from one of his first collections for the house of Givenchy, where he was creative director from 1996-2001. The elegance of Givenchy, associated always with Audrey Hepburn, and the iconoclasm of McQueen was one of the more unusual fashion relationships, lasting for a mere handful of years. The suit came up on a market stall at Portobello while I was going round with the Dragon - it was the first, and I think the only time, that the Dragon has tagged round Portobello with me, back in 2002/03. I am still astounded that the suit was a mere 45 quid. One of those "grab it NOW, you'll never see the like again" situations. The frock coat has those McQueen trademark sculptural, exaggerated shoulder pads which, in this case, peak up into small horns at the shoulders. As always, perfect proportions. The trousers are wide-legged and flawlessly cut. The aggression of the jacket's form is softened by the striations of the wool, which is flecked in pale greens and creams, and both softened and enhanced by the swirling assymetry of the embroidered falling leaves. McQueen always did brilliant trouser suits. The dramatic M-notched lapels, a construction method popular with Regency tailors, are here appropriated by McQueen almost as a signature. M for McQueen, M for magnificent, M for my goodness. And M for missed; will be. M for mourning. M for memory.

McQueen for Givenchy SuitCollapse )

current mood: sad

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Thursday, February 11th, 2010
1:35 am
So I'm not terribly well. Some kind of stomach bug thing. Strange, because everything else feels fine, apart from having a windbag filled with toxic gas somewhere below my ribcage that sends waves of nausea every now and then. Unfortunately, I got whatever it was off a very lovely tiny tot, and it appears that said lovely tiny tot has since shared the joyful tummy bug with her twin brother and her parents.

It was still worth it to see them on Sunday, including chasing them round the Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green. Amazing how much energy sixteen-month old tots can have - they were whizzing around, up and down the stairs. Goodness knows, I could use half that energy!

Today, having had to have a working-from-home day due to being particularly bilious, I was at my desk and saw something strange outside the window. It was a bright day, clear, blue sky, green grass, generally not horrible at all. And there was fluffy, feathery snow absolutely whirling down out of the sky, not sticking, but filling the air against this normal bright day backdrop. It was all for the world like someone up there was shaking a feather-bed until the goose-feathers flew, like in the traditional nursery tales. The blue sky and the brown trees and the green grass threw the white feathery snow flurry into relief. It was the first time I'd seen that for real, under circumstances which could only emphasise the truth in the simile. It was all the more magical for being so transitory.

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