21 June 2009

If you want an excuse…

"These underwritten be the perilous days, for to take any sickness in, or be hurt in, or to be wedded on, or to take any journey upon, or to begin any work on, that he would well speed. The number of these days be in the year 32; they be these:
In January be seven: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 15
In February be three: 6, 7, 18
In March be three: 1, 6, 8
In April be two: 6, 11
In May be three: 5, 6, 7
In June be two: 7, 15
In July be two: 5, 19
In August be two: 15, 19
In September be two: 6, 7
In October be one: 6
In November be two: 15, 16
In December be three: 15, 16, 17"

This is from my commonplace book, and no source is recorded. As I started writing in it in April 1974, and my reading at that point was still pretty eclectic, heaven knows where I found it, and I certainly can’t remember. It sounds like Thomas Tusser, but I suspect it’s actually that prolific author A Non.

I have to say that I've never paid it the slightest attention, beyond being pleased my birthday isn't included!

16 June 2009

Costume Curator’s Holiday

I couldn’t better Keith’s description of yesterday afternoon’s Garter Service at Windsor Castle (at Zen Mischief), but have to say that I did have a wonderful time pursuing my lifelong habit of looking at what people are wearing.

Fashion commentators tend to agree that the British do formal wear better than casual. Maybe. There were certainly some nice effects, and they weren’t all on the young and slender, either. On the whole I thought the simpler female outfits and hats were the better, like the plain pink linen suit and matching hat on a woman about my age four or five seats to my right. Men had the choice of morning dress or lounge suit – there were some top hats, but not many.

As to the fashion victims, there were some exceedingly irritating pieces of ditsy headgear – I don’t think they merit the word ‘hat’, although one older woman was wearing a frothy confection which looked like vintage 20s or 30s court dress to me, the kind worn with a long dress in the daytime – and it really suited her. There was one hat which had coy veiling effects but did nothing at all to conceal the constant smirk on its wearer’s face, and one which had all the appearance of being decorated with a dead Yorkshire terrier! Frills and feathered hair slides do better on the under-thirties and best of all on the under fifteens, I feel. I’m old-fashioned enough not to like bare arms in a formal religious setting, especially when the dress looks like underwear, like the example in front of me. And one female across the aisle seemed to be having a size competition between her hat, her bosom and her knees!

The official stuff was the most eye-catching, of course. There’s no competing with the likes of Garter robes, Heralds’ tabards, Yeoman Warders' ruffs (glory be, they still prop them up at the back with a piccadill, of which no genuine 16th or 17th century examples survive!), and the like. I look at the band of the Household Cavalry and marvel at the sheer amount of gold braid and wire worked on their outfits – apparently a skill which is now in very short supply.

Apparently the tradition of an annual Garter procession and service only dates back just over 60 years. You’d never think it, is all I can say!

14 June 2009

Clothes shopping

I decided to devote some energy to clothes shopping yesterday afternoon. While I did actually spend some money – which is far from always the case – I have seldom seen such an acreage of things I would never want to wear.

Apart from a lot of horrible synthetic fabrics and unflattering colours (orange, mustard, chartreuse) a number of my pet hates were visible – frilled T-shirts, tops ornamented with beads and paste ‘gems’, cropped trousers, jackets with ‘skirt’ cuffs. And I especially dislike holding a garment up to the light and being able to see through it (and we’re talking T-shirts and cardigans here, not nighties). Yes, I look better in substantial stuff anyway, but to me flimsy equals bad value. Some of these things are going to look wrecked by the time they’ve been worn twice, and even worse if they’re washed.

K and I are going to a formal occasion (ladies are requested to wear hats!) tomorrow, and I think the newest thing I shall be wearing are my sandals, bought last year. If I could wear shoes at the moment then it would be courts, and the newest thing would probably be my evening jacket, which is about four years old. My dress is circa 1989 Laura Ashley, and I haven’t yet seen another one I like as well – but then contrary to what all the marketing types in the fashion industry would insist, I like my clothes so much (when I do buy them) that I want them to last for ever.

03 June 2009

Quite a week…

Monday was my last day of the time I’d negotiated working at home, so I took the cats to the vet for their anti-flea shots before starting on the day's tasks. Poor Sal, disturbed from her bed, arrived with a soiled cat box, as so often.

On Tuesday I saw the podiatrist, who seems quite pleased with the foot, then on to the GP’s for the practice nurse to remove a tick that had attached itself to my scalp the day before (presumably in our lovely hairy garden). Ouch. Then on to the main museum for Opinions afternoon.

And today I was back in the office for the first time in a fortnight, apart from one day last week, tackling the Backlog, along with a fairly hefting meeting that had been brought forward by four hours. What a good job I enjoy my work – didn’t it feel odd to be back, though, and it’s only Wednesday…feels more like Friday and three-quarters.