Sunday, 10 December 2017



So irritated by this silly, gushing biography of Daphne du Maurier, translated from the French which doesn't help. (It's kippers for breakfast, not smoked herring!)
It's not just the breathless, novelette-ish style but lazy inaccuracies that even a bit of Google-research would have corrected: you won't find Keats's house in Primrose Hill and I don't think that the Brontës thought of themselves as daughters of the Presbyterian parsonage.
Lots of hissing and harrumphing from me ...
And then I started watching The Crown and caught the Queen cutting into a scone with a knife ...
My dears, I nearly passed out. She'll be drinking out of the milk bottle next!

Monday, 4 December 2017



Anybody else watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, the perfect 1950s housewife turned stand-up comedienne? I'm loving her swing coats and Jacques Fath costumes, Cherries in the Snow lipstick (launched in 1952, still selling), her chic little hats and gloves, even her glamorous chiffon nighties ... and all that wonderful Douglas Sirk colour has lifted a very grey, drizzly weekend.

Thursday, 30 November 2017




Enjoyed a long, 17th century wallow last night so I can report that the TV adaptation of The Miniaturist is simply gorgeous, in fact rather better than the book because when you're ooh-ing over period detail you forget to notice that the story isn't very convincing. (The novel has creative writing course stamped all over it.)

Romola Garai is terrific as the chilly Calvinistic sister-in-law. And I was in historic baking heaven, freeze-framing every shot of marchpane and biscuits ... I noticed in the credits that it's the same food stylist who did upstairs/downstairs in Downton Abbey. I know. I'm obsessed. I'm about to embark on my Christmas baking - marchpanes, spongata, pistachio hedgehogs ... book your dentist's appointment now, he'll be busy in January!

Friday, 24 November 2017



Does touching the top of a pagoda bring you luck? I've no idea - but I touched it anyway as I'm never likely to be up there again.
The Kew pagoda is under wraps and covered in scaffolding at the moment but I put on hard hat and goggles and workmen's boots and felt relieved that there was a lift to go up the top. (Of course, when it reopens visitors will have to climb up on the inside not the outside.)
It will be quite a sight when it's finished with 80 spectacular dragons adorning the roofs. Not the original dragons which disappeared in the 18th century, but 3D printed dragons. How clever is that!


I'm a remarkable woman - always was, though none of you seemed to think so. 

Sounds like a line from an ageing Joan Crawford or Bette Davis? (Feud is my favourite binge-watch this week.)
Actually, it was May Morris in 1936.

Her exquisite embroideries were well worth the trek to Walthamstow and the William Morris Gallery this afternoon. (It feels like the end of the line - it IS the end of the line - but it didn't take as long as this confirmed west Londoner thought it would!)

It's a fascinating (and free) exhibition. There's more to read about it here.  I did wonder what William Morris would make of the gallery shop and all the tacky souvenirs (floral print garden trowel, forsooth!) that wouldn't be my idea of useful /beautiful. However, the shop was buzzing with middle-aged ladies starting their Christmas shopping - there wasn't an empty seat in the café - and there was hardly anyone in the exhibition, so what do I know!

And just because it tickled me, here's William Morris on multi-tasking ...

If a chap can't compose an epic poem while he's weaving a tapestry, he had better shut up, he'll never do any good at all.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Raise Higher the Banner of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, 1933

The Nightmare of Future Wars - Workers of the World Unite, 1920s














Emancipated Woman - Build Socialism! 1926
Fascism, The most evil enemy of women, 1941
Don't Chatter! Gossiping Borders on Treason, 1941 
Love that last one which I guess is Russian for 'Careless Talk Costs Lives.' More posters - and poster girls - this morning at Tate Modern for a fascinating exhibition Red Star Over Russia. (And it's not too big, just the right size!)  I've only been to Russia once but it struck me that I must have been there this week - I think it was 29 years ago - because I remember looking out of a window and seeing tanks rolling into Red Square. Only rehearsing for the annual pageant but what a thrill and one of my most exciting holiday memories! 
I saw this book in the exhibition shop which reminded me that somewhere in a cupboard I have some wonderful posters from Gorbachev's anti-vodka campaign that I bought for about 10p and of course I never got round to having them framed. They'd look stunning so maybe it's about time. 

Sunday, 5 November 2017



We weren't planning a Sunday morning movie this week, then changed our minds at the last minute; the friend I go with has walked dogs and swum lengths by the time we meet, but I'm just happy if I'm up and dressed in time and I've combed my hair ...
Our last minute choice was The Florida Project, set in a purple-painted, budget motel on the edge of Disneyworld, that's a Magic Kingdom for a sassy six-year-old and her friends as their mothers barely scrape by on food handouts. It's getting wonderful reviews and the children's performances are incredible. More reviews and a trailer here.