Wednesday, 28 February 2007

My heroes: Tommy Cooper

Oh, he makes me laugh. And I'm sure he makes you laugh too. He was a comic and magician, and was more talented at both disciplines than most who specialise in just one. Of course, it was very sad when he keeled over live on TV, but really pretty funny too and what a way to go. And he wore a fez. Which automatically makes him 25% more funny.

Reade some of his one liners here

So I went to the dentist. He said "Say Aaah." I said "Why?" He said "My dog's died.'
"So I got home, and the phone was ringing. I picked it up, and said 'Who's speaking please?' And a voice said 'You are.'"
"So I rang up my local swimming baths. I said 'Is that the local swimming baths?' He said 'It depends where you're calling from.'

And have a dig around this site to find our more about him, gems such such as this conversation with the Queen, which was meant to have taken place after a Royal Command Performance

"Do you think I was funny?" Tommy asked.
"Yes Tommy," replied the Queen.
"You really thought I was funny?", Tommy asked.
"Yes of course I thought you were funny" said the Queen.
"Did your Mother think I was funny?" Tommy asked.
"Yes, Tommy..." said the Queen, "we both thought you were funny."
"Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?" Tommy asked.
"No, ........." replied the Queen, "...but I might not be able to give you a full answer."
"Do you like football?" asked Tommy.
"Well not really" said the Queen.'
"In that case, ..." said Tommy, " you mind if I have your Cup Final Tickets?'"

You know what? It doesn't even matter if it's true...

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Dogs In Hats

There is nothing in this life that tickles me more than a dog in a hat. I think a fez or a tiny sombrero adds gravitas and authority to any hound.

Here is a video of some more bonzos wearing bonnets. I particularly like the party hatted pooches.

More dogs in costumes here

Monday, 26 February 2007

Heart Shaped Sunglasses On The Cheap

Run run run to your nearest H&M store And buy these cheap-o, cute-o heart sunglasses for £3.99 (although the picture doesn't ACTUALLY show the ones I've got as the H&M website isn't so hot).

I got them in optimistic spring mint green. H&M is on a ROLL at the moment, what with its practical yet rave-friendly star-spangled hooded tops, and cute tunic dresses scattered with hearts.

Now you too can look like Vladimir Nabakov's dream girl.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Lucky Soul

Last night I went to see Lucky Soul at the Luminaire in Kilburn. The band say they are from Greenwich, London, but in reality, are from another era. An era when women singers didn't emote by screaming, or trying to fit as many notes into one syllable as is humanly possible. An era when musicians wore suits. An era when pop songs could be melancholy and uplifting and string-soaked and stirring all at once.

Lead singer Ali Howard is a direct cross of Dusty Springfield and Debbie Harry. Her voice cracks with emotion in the right places, soars high above the crowd at the band's climaxes, and pierces your heart with its directness.

The band's pin-precise versions of guitarist Andrew Laidlaw's show-stopping tunes is awe inspiring. When I first saw a picture of The Pipettes, this is what I imagined they might sound like, but sadly they didn't. Go and see Lucky Soul now before the only way to see them is to reserve seats at the Albert Hall three months in advance.

Buy their last single Lips Are Unhappy here. I've linked to the 7" vinyl version, because that feels the most appropriate format. This band are definitely a dusty grooves rather than shiny silver group.

Painting By Numbers

Painting by numbers used to be the preserve of the very young, the very old and those in some kind of therapy. Kits came with boards marked out for the budding artist to daub on prescribed colours.

But the craft is now being rehabilitated courtesy of arty types. This month, the Corey Helford Gallery held a charity auction of painting by numbers artworks that had been messed around with by artists such as Glenn Barr and Liz McGrath after they'd completed the original picture. The results twisted the familiar bold blocks of the art into something altogether more strange and imaginative.

Meanwhile, Tate art gallery's shop is selling oh-so-tasteful PBN kits so you can boast you've created your own wall hangings. And they're on sale at the moment! They're a bit school of Argos Additions for me, but would be fun to have a bash at.

I think I'd rather go for this Louis Wain-esque painting by numbers and, with a few modifications, create a mad cat picture worthy of the walls of Bedlam itself.

Friday, 23 February 2007


It's Friday. Turn your computer speakers up loud, and join in with Willyoke

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Live in a Cartoon Courtesy of Fred Flare

I am considering emigrating to the USA purely so I can stalk the owners of marvellous internet emporium, Fred Flare

You could furnish your whole home and wardrobe from the NYC-based site, and basically live the Technicolor nu rave dream without having to neck those health-endangering pills.

From smiley-faced hoodies with grins that glow in the dark, to plates shaped like slices of pizza to balance your Hawaiian on, to brooches shaped like octopi wearing eyepatches, to cute tins, and Mario mushroom-shaped kitchen timers, oh hell, it’s like owners Chris and Keith have transplanted an Argos store to the Harjuku district in Tokyo .

First established in 1998, the store now sells lines from iHotto and Jack and Lulu to the bigger Paul Frank and Hello Kitty.

And it’s not too expensive. The oh-so-kind exchange rate wind is fully blowing behind us and the prices are less than high street anyway. So the set of pizza plates clocks in at $15 for four, the hoodie is $40, and the cute mushroom timer $12. Put on your sunglasses, and get out your credit card.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Optical Illusions to Make Your Eyes Hurt

Michael Bach is an evil man. His collection of spinning, throbbing, pulsating optical illusions make your head hurt and your eyes burn. But you won't be able to stop looking. And looking. Bridget Riley had nothing on the designers of these vicious patterns.

Monday, 19 February 2007

The Twisted World of Elizabeth McGrath

Elizabeth ‘Bloodbath’ McGrath is so talented, that were she any less charming, you’d puke. Not only does she play in the swampily groovy and heartmelting Miss Derringer , not only is she utterly stunning, but she’s one of the most talented, creative, witty, and snarky artists working in the USA right now. I would give my right ventricle to own one of her creepy, twisted pieces of genius. But for now I will make do with her book, Everything That Creeps

Some of her work is currently on display at the Mondo Bizzarro gallery in Rome

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Souvenir Tat Charms

Like any good teenybopper, I love bag charms. At the moment, I'm rocking the 60s European Vacation look. Swinging souvenirs from the continent, and the UK in a big bunch hanging from my oversized bag. Yum.

Pick up cheapo keyrings from tourist tat shops, or supercheap on eBay . Or go higher budget with this stylised, 7" Gay Paris luggage tag from ModCloth for $11.99 (they deliver to the UK). Keep it tacky. And remember to wear a pair of HUGE sunglasses to top off the look.

Friday, 16 February 2007

One Legged Tap Dancer

Ladies and gentlemen, the marvellous Clayton 'Peg Leg' Bates

Friday Afternoon Muppet-a-thon

I love the Muppet show

From Mna Mna...

To Debbie Harry singing One Way or Another. Accompanied by a punk rock Muppetband - dig the sock Clem Burke on drums!

And Johnny Cash singing Jackson with Miss Piggy...

Really. Eat that, Balamory!

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Kentucky Fried Tattoo

I have two whopping tattoos, and always thought that was enough for me. But now I've seen this awesome Colonel Sanders inking, I may need to rethink. From the astounding

Pink Panther Car on eBay

Oh Christ. The car used in the credits for the Pink Panther cartoon is up for sale on eBay . You know the one? Pulls up to the kerb, bam bam be da be bam on the drums, kid gets out. The nation’s children go green with envy?

Want. Need. Want.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

I Hate Bono Dartboard

I despise the loathsome, Napoleon-complex-made-flesh, self-aggrandiser Bono, so I love this. It’s a piece of art, so probably way too expensive to actually have hanging in your garage, and you wouldn’t want to actually throw darts at something that pricey. It’s by Miles Donovan, and part of an exhibition at London’s the Dazed Gallery. Eighteen artists based in London were asked to design a dartboard with the thing they most hated on it for an exhibition curated by Garudio Studiage.

My Budget Valentine

Forgotten Valentine's Day? Compound your crime by printing one of these to shove under your loved one's door this evening.

From Here

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Wake Up With Dolly Parton

February is the worst month for absenteeism from work.

The Employment Law Advisory Services reckon that last Monday, 310,000 UK workers called in sick, costing British industry £27m. Spokesman Peter Mooney said "Poor weather, long dark nights and a general dissatisfaction with official holidays all mean that early February is a very popular time for workers to give themselves an extra 'duvet day'."

You know what I reckon? That THIS should be played on every radio station, beamed to every iPod, and blanket bomb programmed over every channel at 8 am every February morning. Britain! Let's get motivated! Go Dolly!

Dolly is playing London's Wembley Arena on March 19th. Anyone fancy coming to see her?

Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark is a fantastic photographer. A very serious photojournalist, who has taken pictures of drug addicts, and the homeless.

Somewhat superficially, I love her pictures of circuses from around the world. She manages to capture the despondency and pathos behind the glitter, smiles, and sequins. It's the old tears of a clown cliche, but it looks so, so good. Have a dig around her site and fall on your knees in admiration.

Buy her book here,
Exposure Photographs

Monday, 12 February 2007

Kitchen Kitsch

I scavenge old cook books from charity shops and jumble sales. I love the gaudy recipe illustrations. And the old recipes that inevitably involve aspic and canned fruits. Taschen, the book company whose wares you can always find for cheap at remaindered book shops, have brought out a tribute to those publications, Kitchen Kitsch.

It's a lovely book. And not covered in flour and fat splatters, like most of my vintage finds... It's a little bit of a shame there aren't any actual recipes included, but the bold, more garish than Zsa Zsa Gabor graphics more than make up for that. I'm going to scan some of the pictures in to my computer and print them on cushion covers.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Stiff Records T Shirts

Stiff Records were the coolest label of the punk era. They released records by The Damned, Ian Dury and The Blockheads, and Madness. All bands I loved when I was a nipper. Although, obviously, I had no idea they were all on the same label.

I bought a Stiff Records t shirt the other day. It has the Stiff slogan, "If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth A F*ck" emblazoned across it. I love wearing it. It makes me feel like I'm on one of the legendary Stiff tours, where a load of spotty oiks climbed onto a bus (or even a train!) and rampaged in the nicest possible way around the country. It makes me feel punk rock, although the logo is almost 30 years old.

Everyone should have one.

They're £17 from here.

It's Friday.. Time for XANADU

Hell, it's ALWAYS time for Xanadu. Take it away Olivia and ELO

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Black Vinyl, White Pod

Mixing old technology with new, these iPod cases are made from battered vinyl 7” singles, padded inside with felt to keep your digital music safe and sounding good. They cost $45.00 CAD and $15 shipping worldwide. From

As they’re made from whatever singles the people at Canadian company Contexture Design can scavenge, if you see one you like, jump fast. I’ve got my eye on (what else but?) the Olivia Newton John and ELO’s version of Xanadu. Of which more anon…

Frankie Laine's Finest Moment

I'm so sad that legendary singer and the manliest sounding man of all time, Frankie Laine died this week. Just the sound of his voice made me think of cowboys, deserts, and galloping hooves.

His finest moment was, perhaps, singing the theme to Champion The Wonder Horse. It was like Lassie. Only with a horse.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Amazing Video from El Guapo Stuntteam

I once had the pleasure of meeting the lovely boys from Belgian maximum rock n rollers El Guapo Stuntteam. They can rock the socks off some crocs in a box. And their spanking new video for their song Back From The Grave is a work of awesome genius. I don't want to spoil it too much, but it includes a stuntman on fire, zombies, girls with guns, beings with laser eyes, and a spoof 1960s tv show. Watch to the end for maximum pleasure...

Go on an Afro Safari

Women’s hairstyles have names. The ‘bob’. The ‘pob’ (ugh). The ‘Jennifer’ (ugh ugh ugh). But apart from the ‘combover’, or the quiff, men’s hairdos are less rigourously categorised. Except, it seems, in the 1970s, when Ebony Magazine took it upon itself to name popular afro-carribbean coiffs of the day. From The Blow-Up, The Secret Agent, The Perfecto, this hair has FLAIR. The 'do that dares speak its name... has scanned in a wonderful page from the publication. Do go and have a look. Maybe print out the page and use it to play hair bingo next time you’re out and about.

The weird thing is, facial hair for men has always been strictly demarcated. The World Beard Championships has many categories, from the ‘imperial’ to the ‘Fu Manchu’. If I were a man, or even a hirsute woman, I would try all sorts of facial hair. Like this man, Sir Percy Wyndham. Perhaps an unclassifiable facial hair arrangement, but still, raise your invisible hats to him.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Day of the Dead Elvis and Punk Rocker

More than anything else, I'd love to go to Mexico at the beginning of November, when they celebrate the Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos.

It's a festival where those still living celebrate the lives of those now in the afterlife. I couldn't give two hoots about the religious significance of it all, to be honest, I just like the tack that goes with the festival. Children eat brightly-coloured, sugary skulls, and the offerings of tequila for the long departed relatives are drunk after the ghostly relatives have had their invisible fill.

Day of the Dead altars are gaudy little vignettes, featuring mini representations of skeletons of relatives, still doing whatever they did in the earthly realm. So a taxi driver's grave would be decorated with a skeletal cabbie scene, and someone who works in McDonald's tomb would be temporarily topped with a burger flipping bone man.

Silver Crow Creations sell relatively cheap Day of the Dead models, necklaces, and vignettes, and deliver to the UK. I really like the Elvis and the punk rocker ones (above). They're a celebration of death, a light-hearted take on passing, rather than the sombre, heavy, always, always serious tributes of European culture.

I intend to get some to decorate my last-remaining patch of bare mantel with, and make 2007 the Year of the Dead.

Monday, 5 February 2007

The Cutest Caravans

Pod caravans are the cutest, most stylish way of spending a weekend in the country. These are the boutique hotels to regular caravan’s seedy b&bs.

A shade over 3m long, and 1.5m wide, they are compact enough to tow behind a racy two seater in my dream world. If Bertie Wooster went to festivals, this is what he’d sleep in.

The kitted-out versions come in whatever colour you care to pluck, I like the dandy candy hues. They are complete with a kitchen, awning, and table that folds into a snug double bed.

Ideal for luxury beach living, or a dinky weekendawaymobile. Of course, I want one. And a car to tow it as well. They’re pricy though, at £4,700.00 for the fully fitted version.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Busby Berkeley

OK, perhaps Paul St Paul and his Apostles (see below) have encouraged some rampant campanoia, but I'm having a Busby Berkeley day.

He was the choreographer behind some of the most spectacular musicals of the first half of last century. Obviously, watching his beyond-spectacular dance routines on YouTube is like listening to someone covering a Stooges album on comb and paper, but it's a taster.

Go and buy one of the criminally small selection of Busby DVDs released, such as The Great Ziegfeld, or try and catch a screening somewhere like the NFT.

Enjoy (but skip past the dude singing at the start) From The Ziegfeld Story

And no, he wasn't on drugs when he made this.. The Polka Dot Polka from The Gang's All Here

Paul St Paul and the Apostles

Last night I went to see the amazing Paul St Paul and the Apostles play in Camden. And they were amazing. They mimed their way through a Rocky Horror-meets-Prince full-on revue, complete with interludes, skits, co-ordinated routines, and vampy costumes.

Lead singer Paul St Paul is an old fashioned star. Like Leif Garrett or one of the holy Davids Essex or Cassidy, that I only ever read about in dusty teen annuals I found in charity shops, he has the sincerity to go with the innate campness every truly great frontman needs. He's the kind of curly-locked, limpid-eyed, popboy that makes confused and hormone-soaked pre-teen girls kiss posters every night, and their older brothers to think very hard about their sexuality. And if his 'man perm' never gets a chance to spawn a thousand copies, the world is truly an unfair and cruel place.

The rest of the band, or 'company' really, are a motley crew of dandies, fops, and tremendously talented dancers. They'd rather scatter glitter around than beer, and every twitch of every limb is pinpoint accurate.

I guess the band will be described as "post Scissor Sisters and Mika" gay. But what they do is more akin to a 70s punk revue or happening. More 'performance art' if that wasn't a dirty word. Their music is all disco beats, searing guitar solos and emotive vocals, and their songs have titles like "Let's Pretend We're Gay". They're the kind of band who make a video advertisement for their London show (it's below). The kind of band who appreciate that the truly great disco songs are steeped in melancholy.

I love them, and I dearly want to see them again. I'm sure they'll be signed to a huge label and play venues more equipped to deal with their fabulously de trop stage show very soon, but I'm really happy to have seen them living out their glorious over ambitions in a teenier arena.

Friday, 2 February 2007

Kitchen Kitsch

I scavenge old cook books from charity shops and jumble sales. I love the gaudy recipe illustrations. And the old recipes that inevitably involve aspic and canned fruits. Taschen, the book company whose wares you can always find for cheap at remaindered book shops, have brought out a tribute to those publications, Kitchen Kitsch.

It's a lovely book. And not covered in flour and fat splatters, like most of my vintage finds... It's a little bit of a shame there aren't any actual recipes included, but the bold, more garish than Zsa Zsa Gabor graphics more than make up for that. I'm going to scan some of the pictures in to my computer and print them on cushion covers.

The Sweetiest Handbags Ever

Helen Rochfort makes cutesy, shiny handbags that make you feel good just looking at them. Inspired by sweets, chocolates, and cupcakes, her purses fizzle with sherbety goodness, emblazoned with hypercoloured goodies, from Wonka’s golden tickets, to pink sweeties, and Dorothy’s ruby slippers. Helen describes the bags as "vintage kitsch and delicious!"

At $75 (about £38), they are pricier than your average New Look bag, but so, so worth it. You’ll look a perfect candified princess swinging along the street with one of these over your arm. I asked Helen who she'd most like to see carrying one of her bags, and she said, "I would love every lady in the land to carry one of my handbags!
Jennifer Nicholson (Fashion designer and Jack's daughter!) has just bought three.
See my MySpace for whole collection...I must put more on my Etsy shop..I've been so busy though!

A Night With Pacman

Oh Jeez. I think I might just waste the weekend here playing free online old computer games.

80s computer games!

If anyone ever finds the godlike Mr Do online, please let me know.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Free Tunnock's Tea Cakes Games

Tunnock's tea cakes* (ironically named, as they are neither cakes, nor particularly good with tea) are the best mallow-based confectionary ever to be manufactured in Scotland. Their iconic red and silver striped packaging is a pop art gem, and the sweetmeat inside more than lives up to its exoskeleton's promise of sickly treasure.

The Tunnock's site is a joy to browse. Beautifully designed, with a rosy-cheeked kiddy straight out of a 1940s adventure annual, it gives you a warm nostalgic glow. And it's not often you get nostalgic in front of a harsh computer screen.

Don't miss the fabulously tongue in cheek games, one a Pacman-style affair, where you guide the aforementioned cheeksome child around a maze, gobbling teacakes as he goes, and the other a race to help the little fella catch falling teacakes in a winter wonderland.

While we're on a Tunnock's tip, have a good look around this I Love Tunnock's site (including lovely pictures of the Tunnock's factory) and these flickr pictures, ideal for using as a screensaver.

*"What really sets the Tunnock's apart from its Tea Cake brethren is its marshmallow which is based on egg white rather than gelatine. This gives it a consistency somewhere between shaving foam and bath sealant. The process that actually places this stuff on the biscuit base and then covers it in chocolate must be a miracle of biscuit engineering given the super sticky nature of the mallow. The fact that the Tea Cakes exist means that there isn't a machine somewhere Scotland buried under a mountain of proto-tea cake gunge." From