Good Times and Fashion Failures

 Frocks, Out And About, Style, Underpinnings, Weddings, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Good Times and Fashion Failures
Jun 072015
 

It’s been a bit of a hectic couple of weeks.  Miss Wednesday is up to her eyes in bridesmaids and frocks as it’s right in the middle of Prime Wedding Season and her alter ego, the Hedge Harpist is wearing her fingers to the bone with gigs and recordings and learning new choons.  Hence last week’s radio silence.  (Well, I say, “radio silence” but there’s been a fair bit of airplay on the actual radio!)

Thursday of this week saw two members of the Petticoat Club (Miss Tanya and the aforementioned harpist, wearing her favourite tulip print frock) at the Royal Cornwall Show, along with their Changing Room bandmates, as guests of the lovely BBC.  Much fun was had on the BBC stage, playing live on Radio Cornwall, a set for the audience in the marquee and then, a lot later, a live slot at the end of the BBC Spotlight news programme.  There’s a lot of waiting around involved with the rock and roll lifestyle, but there was plenty to see and do at the show, including beer, chips, ice-cream, sheep and cakey tea.

Two Valaid Blacknose Sheep, small, fluffy and cartoonlike with black faces

Valais Blacknose Sheep aka “comedy sheep”. Cutest sheep on the planet.

The filming of the Spotlight bit was highly entertaining.  Along with the waiting around, there’s an enormous amount of faffing and fussing for the technical crew, to get everybody in just the right place for each shot, without getting in the way of the other shots.  A small space with constantly changing light levels, no marks on the floor as it’s in a field and the big main show ring in the background.  That wasn’t stopping for any mere news programme and happily continued with horses backsides and loud tannoy commentary.  The presenters of the show, Natalie Cornah and Justin Leigh, were absolutely delightful and great fun.  Can’t imagine that it’s their favourite gig of the year, what with the challenging conditions, but they were lovely.  There was a slightly iffy moment, just seconds before going on air as a seagull kindly decorated one of the band but other than that, everything went smoothly.

Two musicians and a small green harp

Waiting around prior to Spotlight. The favourite tulip print frock.

There have been lots of kind comments over social media, in the pub, in car parks, out shopping, etc from people who saw it but you’re spared a link as it’s a news programme and expired two days ago.  There’s a relief…

Bunch of dodgy musicians

The Changing Room filming for BBC Spotlight. Photo (c) BBC South West.

Friday saw the band heading up the M5 to Clevedon to film for Songs From The Shed.  In an actual shed.  A very small but lovely shed.  Chickens and a very handsome cat made an appearance but no sheep and no cakey tea.  Well, it wasn’t Cornwall.  The random harpist wore another WM frock, this time the Bardot design in a tropical print with black grosgrain ribbon trim.  It’s a nice fabric, that one.  Doesn’t show up the cat hair or ketchup spills.  Useful.

Five musicians and instruments in a very small shed

In The Shed!

And then last night there was an outing over the water to West Looe for a spot of supper and then an album launch for James Shead’s new CD, A Light For The Fires.  He played a cracking set and a good time was had by all.  Miss Sara, however, was greatly distressed by some of the fashion faux pas on show.  She insisted that they should be the subject of this week’s Wittering, hence the following timely reminder…

  • Underwear should be just that.  Under.  This means “out of sight”.  Not putting too fine a point on it, a black bra doesn’t look cool under a white crochet top or showing clearly at the back of a pastel-coloured outfit, with crossed shoestring straps.  At best it looks careless, at worst slutty.
  • Uneven hemlines only work when the garment is nicely lined.  A cheap skirt in a light polycotton that goes up and the front and down at the back and that isn’t even well made looks like you’re wearing a nightshirt.  Or would it it was a frock.  Sadly, last night’s offending outfit was topped off with a cropped top and a roll of protruding bare flesh between that and the skirt.  Not a pretty sight.  Nearly put Miss Sara off her wine.
  • Unless you have the body of Gisele Bundchen or are prepared to wear appropriate shapewear, don’t wear bodycon outfits.  Please.
  • And lastly, consider your skintone.  If you have dark hair and lovely pale skin, a sprayed on outfit in white and light grey marl jersey will make you look like a bottle of milk with a wig on.  Sorry.

And here’s Miss Sara, showing how it should be done, in a lovely frock by Miss Fortune with a necklace by Zombie Panda Designs.

Rockabilly girl in red and black frock

Miss Sara

What Miss Wednesday Learned On Her Holidays, Mostly About Mascara…

 Cosmetics  Comments Off on What Miss Wednesday Learned On Her Holidays, Mostly About Mascara…
Apr 192015
 

Okay, “holidays” is a bit of a misnomer.  Miss Wednesday hasn’t been on actual holiday since 2005, when she sneaked in a couple of nights at The Best B&B In The World (Howling Hill House) in Ross on Wye on the way back from a friend’s wedding in Conwy.  All other trips away have been either for the purposes of relic-checking, house-hunting or pretending to be a musician.  The latest trips have fallen into the last category.  And we’ll get this over with now, the group she hangs around with – The Changing Room – had a great time at the Falmouth Folk & Cider Festival at the end of March and then swept the board at the Pan Celtic Festival in Derry just after Easter, winning Best Traditional Group, Best New Song in a Traditional Style and the actual Pan Celtic Song Contest itself.  Any jokes about Eurovision will be met with a very hard stare.  The win was entirely down to the amazing talents of the other musicians in the band, with a little assistance from Miss Wednesday’s WM full circle, black leopard flock skirt.

So that’s that over and done with.  Until the next gig.  And the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany in August, which will be awesome.

Whilst travelling from Cornwall up to Derry, Miss Wednesday had a rather traumatic time.  Nothing to do with having five adults, their baggage for a week and five sizeable and delicate musical instruments stuffed into a BMW X3 (thank you very much to Ocean BMW for their kind sponsorship and loan of that lovely vehicle) but everything to do with a Tragic Mascara Fail.  Yes.  That.  The awful realisation when you glance into a mirror that your mascara has made big dark smudges underneath your eyes and you look for all the world like a tragic emo adult after a particularly difficult night out at a party with people you don’t actually like, including the ex who never really was that into you and his latest squeeze.  Not a pretty sight.

Miss Wednesday has always been very particular about her mascara and when she discovered Besame Cosmetics, she was determined to stock them in The March Hare.  The 1930s Mascara was the best selling product.  Its packaging was stunning, the brush excellent, and the formulation was a total winner, being smooth, buildable and smelling absolutely divine.  The last one in Miss W’s stash ran out a while back and when she found that they were once again available in the UK, she gleefully ordered a new one.  Only to be more than a little disappointed when it arrived.

Gold mascara packaging and wand applicator

Besame’s reformulated 1930s Mascara, showing the new wand.

Gone is that excellent lash coating and separating brush, to be replaced with a straight and barely ridged “wand” that just doesn’t work.  The thing with Besame was that when a blob of it landed on your lashes, all you had to do was brush it through and – hey presto! – all was smoothly-coated loveliness.  Well, that doesn’t work with a straight wand and no bristles, does it?  Not a chance.  Blobs stay blobby.  Or go smeary.  Fail.

And the fragrance, which was difficult to pin down but always reminded Miss W of spring flowers, has disappeared entirely and all that is left is a slight chemical smell.  Not enticing.  The fragrance had actually come from the cinnamon oil ingredient, which is also – handy in a mascara – a natural anti-bacterial.  It was a major selling point.  Oh dear.

But the worst part is that what used to be a wonderful, waterproof, run-proof, flake-proof and smudge-proof, failsafe product has now failed spectacularly and runs like Usain Bolt.  There is more to life than having to constantly check for black smudges and the emo look is not the least bit acceptable on a 47 year old fashion hag.

Sorry, Besame, you’ve really screwed up what was a pretty flawless product.  That one’s going in the bin.  Twenty five quid down the drain.  (Incidentally, it was ordered from the UK distributor, VHL in Southampton.  The price the website checked out at was less than the subsequent Paypal transaction charged, although both quoted Sterling rather than Euros.  An emailed query – not a complaint, just a query – has gone unanswered.)

Of course, this tragic failure left Miss W in a bit of a quandry.  She couldn’t go on stage with – gasp – no mascara, so she paid a little visit to the Derry branch of Debenhams and, remembering that her wonderful elder niece had extolled the virtues of Benefit cosmetics, toddled up to the relevant counter.  The assistant couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful and recommended a “They’re Real!” mascara.  Guaranteed not to smudge or run, apparently.  Well, it didn’t.  It did cause some consternation when shrieking was heard emanating from the bathroom, but this was soon ascertained to be screams of sheer joy as Miss Wednesday discovered lashes she never knew she had, all smoothly coated and separated.  Her one worry with the product was that things that are designed to stay put come hell and high water do tend to resist removal and the last thing a tired and emotional old bat like Miss W wants to do is spend an age scraping off gunk from her lashes at the end of an evening.  The excellent assistant had kindly supplied some trial sizes of the special remover but Miss W was delighted to find that not only does the product do exactly what it says on the tube, it is also pretty easily removed with a sensitive skin baby wipe.  Can’t ask for more than that!

Mascara with brush

Benefit’s They’re Real Mascara

So there you have it.  Besame’s loss is Benefit’s gain.  The packaging may be funkier than Miss W would normally choose (Besame packaging is still unlikely to be beaten on that front) but it’s fun and the product is fantastic and therefore scores 10/10.

Miss Wednesday’s Favourite Month

 Frocks, Ready To Wear, The Petticoat Club, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Miss Wednesday’s Favourite Month
Mar 012015
 

Goodness, it’s St David’s Day already, ushering in Miss Wednesday’s favourite month.  Well, it would have to be, wouldn’t it?  She was born on a Wednesday in March, after all.  And Miss Jane makes the first of her handful of annual visits to Looe this month, so the top tier of the Petticoat Club all get together for what used to be known as The March Hare’s Staff Christmas Party.  Back in the days when it was just Miss Wednesday and Miss Jane and Derek at Papa Nino’s only had to find two leftover crackers.  Now, of course, they require six of them, together with crackers, party poppers and rather a lot of Prosecco.

March is also a favourite of Miss Wednesday for another reason.  She starts to feel properly springy in March and, along with desperately wanting to be on the Cote d’Azur, begins to break out both her cherished older designs and any new frocks she’s designed over the winter months.  This year sees some lovely new fabrics waiting to be made up into the designs that are still in her head (quite a few one-way prints requiring different skirts) and some cute new frocks for the Ready To Wear collection, which will be in Lovely Lane in Polperro for Easter.   Some are already there, although not this one yet.  Soon.  Hopefully this week!

1950s style sundress with tie straps in peach shell print fabric

This is Anna, the latest RTW frock. Cute as a button, huh?

Larger view of 1950s style sundress in peach shell print

A slightly larger view of Anna. Note the ties on the shoulders, making her adjustable…

Anna is almost complete now and will retail at £75 in sizes S, M, L and XL.  And then it’s on with the next design.  Which Miss Wednesday has almost worked out in her head.  Almost…

If you’re wanting a new spring or summer frock, especially a made to measure one, don’t leave it too long before having a chat with Miss Wednesday and placing your order.  Things are busy at the workshop already and this year has the added entertainment of some musical commitments with The Changing Room so Miss W won’t be available at all at Easter, as the band’s off to Ireland to represent Cornwall at the Pan Celtic Festival in Derry.  It’s all go!

 

Dragged out of my hedge. Again.

 Costuming, Out And About, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Dragged out of my hedge. Again.
Feb 012015
 

It’s been a bit of a busy week.  Miss Wednesday has been busy with performing attire for her alter ego (me!) and The Incredible Miss Tanya to wear on stage on Friday night.  Full circles, naturally, but in a heavy black leopard flock.  Not the nicest of fabrics with which to work but very, very effective when done.  There was a bit of muttering from the Wednesday Witch when Miss Sara (bless her) just happened to mention that the black leopard flock fabric made lovely skirts and wouldn’t that be a nice thing for Friday’s gig but Miss W knuckled down and got them done.

Regular readers may recall my involvement with a folk band/collective called “The Changing Room” and the fun they had at the Looe Music Festival.  There has been much fun and games involving live BBC radio, a lot of airplay and good reviews and the recording of a cracking new album, Behind the Lace, due for release in the Spring.  Then, a couple of months ago, The Incredible Tanya informed the me that she and Sam Kelly had written a new song which had been translated into Cornish to take part in this year’s Kan Rag Kernow competition at the Penventon Hotel in Redruth.  If we managed to win it, we’d have the honour of going on a lovely jolly to Derry in Ireland at Easter to represent Cornwall in the annual Pan Celtic Song Contest.  Thankfully, it was Sam who had to master most of the difficult Cornish lyrics (it’s not the easiest of languages and I’ve rarely heard it spoken well) but, my goodness, he cracked it.  Hal-an-Tow will hopefully become popular and sung on a regular basis in sessions all round the county as it’s very catchy indeed.  (The English lyrics are lovely, too, and somewhat easier to master.)

Attire for the competition was slightly tricky as we wanted to project a coherent image, rather than looking like a rag-tag bunch of hippies, but we also didn’t want to look like “comedy Cornish”!  The flag of St Piran is black with a white cross and Tanya decreed that we’d be dressed in black.  Black?  Do I look like the kind of girl who wears…?  Oh, wait.  Once a Goff, always a Goff.  That’s alright then.  Although I didn’t have a plain black skirt suitable for harping.  (It’s the “cello” effect.  You simply can’t play a harp in a straight, tight or short skirt, unless you want to traumatise the audience and reveal what you had for breakfast, if you know what I mean.)  Miss Sara mentioned the stash of black leopard fabric that I’d clean forgotten about and how lovely her skirt in that fabric was.  So that was that.  Two full circle leopard skirts required for Friday.  Stat.

Woman playing accordion and wearing black leopard flock skirt

The Incredibly Talented Tanya Brittain sporting her full circle leopard flock skirt and a huge accordion. Picture by Bob Griggs.

 

Woman playing green Celtic harp.

Random Hedge Harpist also sporting leopard flock skirt, plus nifty lily of the valley Cornish buttonhole, made by Miss Tanya. Picture by Bob Griggs.

The skirts looked great under the lights.  We’re going to have to do something about the boys, though.  They had found the dodgiest selection of ties on the planet and Jamie had some buttonhole droop issues.  Thankfully they’re a good-looking bunch and they can get away with anything.

But it was an immensely entertaining night.  Imagine a Cornish version of the European Song Contest* and that’s pretty much what you get.  Beards a-plenty.  I had offered to grow one but there wasn’t much time.  Beard of the Night went to Matt Blewett, who probably ought to come to Ireland with us as our mascot.

The Changing Room with a big bearded bloke in their midst

The Changing Room plus the Beard of the Night Award winner, Matt Blewett in the middle. The Changing Room are l-r me, Sam Kelly, Jamie Francis, Evan Carson and Tanya Brittain. Picture by Leafshimmer Photography/Shirin Hodgson Watt.

How did the gig go, you ask?  Oh, well, we won.

Folk band The Changing Room on stage at the Kan Rag Kernow competition

On stage. Picture still from the video shot by Studio Wallop

So we’re off to Derry at Easter!  But before that, we’ll be playing the Falmouth Folk and Cider Festival on Saturday 28th March 2015.  Come and say hello!

And if you should be wondering what we sound like, visit the music page of our website here and have a listen.

* Re the Eurovision thing.  Jokes have been made.  I actually woke up in a cold sweat on Friday morning, having been in the middle of the nightmare that it was the Eurovision we were doing rather than the Pan Celtic.  It wasn’t a good dream and I behaved quite badly in it but I should like to say in my defence that I would NEVER be that rude to Graham Norton in real life…

Sep 282014
 

I know, I know, there was a decided absence of wittering last Sunday.  Please accept my apologies.  The past few weeks have been hectic – for “hectic” read “bonkers” – beyond belief and last Sunday was the last day of the Looe Music Festival and the only day on which I was free to please myself as to what I did.

Two women in 50s retro frocks

Sara & Wednesday ready to party on the beach.

It has to be said that when I had my shop, The March Hare in East Looe, I loathed the Festival Weekend as it invariably had a negative impact on my trade.  The town is full of people intent on watching top class bands and shoppers give it a wide berth.  Frankly, nobody who is attending a music festival for the purpose of making merry, is going to go into a little boutique and order a bespoke frock on the spur of the moment; it’s just not happening.  I know of other Looe businesses who also find Festival Weekend very difficult from a financial point of view, mainly shops with more expensive offerings than the usual “pasties and tat” and cafes and restaurants, who find their afternoon and evening takings down by about 10%, as people party on the beach and then wander back to their base camps via the pubs and the imported food stands along the fish quay.  But – and it’s a big but – having now seen the Festival from the other side, it does bring more business into the town than it scares away,  hopefully gives the town a higher profile and may well entice the Festival goers back at other times of the year to hopefully patronise the shops and restaurants they didn’t have the time or inclination to visit during the festivities.  The organisers are intent on bringing top class music and extending the season of the town and that is exactly what they do, although they can’t please everyone given the demographic and the actual layout of the town.  What I also noticed was the thousands and thousands of very happy faces, the friendly atmosphere and the complete lack of trouble.  And that’s priceless.

“But what on earth was Miss Wednesday doing at a “music festival?” I hear you ask.  It doesn’t really sit with her public image, does it?  The wellies, the mud, the – gasp – general public.  Surely Miss W’s idea of hell on earth.  And yes, you’d be right in thinking that.  Absolutely bang on.  Will she be attending Glastonbury next year?  Unlikely.  But Looe doesn’t have mud.  And she wasn’t camping but staying with her good friend and partner in crime, Miss Sara.

In the words of the, er, immortal Jethro, “What ‘appened was…”  Miss Wednesday’s alter ego (ie, me!) was persuaded by a customer to revive her musical career.  When I made some frocks and a skirt for the organiser of the Looe Music Festival, the rather incredible Tanya Brittain, I had no idea what it was she did. We were introduced by Miss Sara as she knew Tanya wanted some frocks for performing with her newly formed folk collective, The Changing Room.  That I could help with.  What I hadn’t expected was the little question posed by Tanya on her way out, being, “The harpist we used on the EP isn’t available for the opening gig of the LMF, do you fancy doing it?”  What?!  Are you kidding?  I haven’t played in 18 months!  I’m retired!  But she sent me MP3s of the music and I was hooked and found myself imported into a group of incredibly talented, very professional and really, really nice musicians.  It has been an utterly surreal experience to all of a sudden be playing music with other people who really love the music and are very, very good at it but who also have a complete lack of ego and Just Get On With It.

Folk collective The Changing Room on stage

The Changing Room on the Groundworks stage at the Looe Music Festival. Photo by Jim Peters Photography.

We hadn’t actually played together until a couple of hours before the opening gig and rehearsal wasn’t going particularly brilliantly when we were requested to go down to the quay for a photocall.

Woman in 1950s frock being filmed by TV camera

Festival organiser, Tanya Brittain, being interviewed by ITV wearing a WM ‘Verity’. Photo by Elina Kansikas.

Tanya was interviewed for the tellybox and then we were all asked if we’d mind getting on to the Erin, a beautiful old Cornish Lugger (fishing boat) for some pictures and for ITV to record.  That was the most nerveracking part of the entire weekend, as I had to get on and off a boat in the harbour, whilst wearing high heels and a frock and petticoat and carrying a harp.  I entrusted the harp (my little Salvi Eire) to the lovely Lisa from Excess Energy Communications and took my life in my hands.  It all worked out and the ensuing “performance” was one of the best experiences of my entire life.  The world faded away and there was just the four of us, Tanya, Sam Kelly, Jamie Francis and the random harpist they found in a hedge (me!) playing together.  I still get goosebumps thinking about it.  Everything else paled into insignificance.  The pictures were quite nice, too, as my face is hidden!  Tanya and I were both wearing WM frocks for the performances, which kept the demanding Miss Wednesday happy and my father is delighted that the viciously expensive stringy things that have been gathering dust under my staircase for 18 months are now being used again.

Folk collective The Changing Room playing on board a fishing boat

The Changing Room folk collective playing on board the Erin. Photo by Dom Moore Photography.

Obviously, not all the members of The Changing Room are clad in Wednesday March garments.  Miss Wednesday is working on this but so far neither Sam or Jamie seem particularly keen on frocking up.  Funny, that…

Meanwhile, I have a lot of music to arrange for harp in preparation for recording the remainder of The Changing Room’s album next month.  Which isn’t very far away.  But don’t worry, the frocks will keep coming.  A whole load of fabrics have just been purchased for your delight and delectation and the tailoring course has started.  It’s all go!

Oh, and the Petticoat Club are meeting up this week.  At least twice.  That could be messy…