Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Lady



Why don't they have those picture competitions in magazines where they photograph something from an unusual angle and ask you what it is anymore? I used to like them.

Then there were the 'handy hints' which were probably killed off by Viz Comic. My favourite Viz handy hints are: Stick down cooked sausages to your kitchen surface with brightly coloured tape to stop children from eating them, and Human sperm makes perfect scale tadpoles for use in the village ponds of 00 gauge train-sets. 

I hardly ever go into a launderette these days, but they are the best places to read the magazines most likely to still have photo competitions and handy hints. I haven't been into a doctor's surgery waiting room for quite a while, but you could only ever find magazines of what the doctor was interested in when I last did, and these were usually car magazines or very old editions of National Geographic.

The laundry I used to use was run by an elderly lady who obviously had a life-time subscription to 'Take A Break' magazine. Either side of the torrid romance story, there were letters purporting to be from readers, describing how they had come home unexpectedly to find their husbands dressed in their underwear, and recipes for what used to be daringly adventurous meals such as Chicken Kiev and Hungarian Goulash. "If you cannot find paprika in your corner shop in Builth Wells, then just use some of that cochineal that has been sitting at the back of the cupboard for 40 years, and chuck that into the beef stew."

Of course, the 'break' you were supposed to be taking was a break from housework and, as we all know, only women do housework.

My brother-in-law used to run an old-fashioned haberdashers in the heart of the Surrey stockbroker belt, in the days when there really were stockbrokers, and not just international criminals sitting behind computer screens.

His best and most reliable source of income was from the adverts for cushion-covers which he regularly placed in 'The Lady' magazine.

These little adverts sat uncomfortably close to others trying to sell incontinence knickers and rubberised under-sheets. Perhaps the saddest inserts of all could be found in the Personal Classified columns.

"Live-In Companion sought by independent widow. Light housework duties. Non-smoker preferred."

It was the 'companionship' bit which was the most telling, but the warning that the arrangement would not be on an equal and democratic footing was imparted with the 'light housework' bit. Too poor to employ a servant, too desperate to insist on a non-smoker and too Christian to keep a slave.

For years, every time I visited Marlborough, I went into The Polly Tea Rooms for tea and cake. The place - during term-time - was (and still is) packed with super-rich school kids from the nearby college (fees second highest only to Eton) and their super-rich parents.

That in itself was very entertaining, but one day the place was so rammed with them that I decided to go to the traditional Castle and Ball Hotel, just over the road. I'm not sure what it is like now, but a few years ago it was straight out of the 1940s, with armchairs by the fire and every broadsheet newspaper hanging from a pin on the wall. There was even a ticking clock.

As the clock chimed the stroke of 4.00, a very prim and very elderly woman came down the massive oak staircase, and took up her place at a small table in the dining room. Tea and toast were placed in front of her without a any words other than "Good afternoon, Miss ******"

This lady actually lived in a couple of rooms upstairs, and had been for many years. She spent the Winter in Nice and the Summer at the Castle and Ball. The waitress told me that once she had kicked the bucket, there would be no more 'live-in ladies' or 'paying guests' there. I went back a couple of years later, and the place was a lot noiser. There was no sign of Miss ****** either.

I bet she subscribed to The Lady.

Answer:


42 comments:

  1. Oh, and I bet Joanna can tell us what that photo is of.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Women of 'independent means' probably now reside in big cheap Florida homes, have a Chihuahua, and a Hispanic toy boy. Times have changed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All the independence of the Southern Spanish ex-pats was taken away by the Lloyds crash. I wonder what happened to them?

      Delete
    2. Where can I go? Don't fancy Florida. Wouldn't mind a Moroccan toy boy in Marrakech.

      Delete
    3. Great heron joke by the way.

      Delete
    4. Go to Marrakech, then. You are a man, aren't you?

      Delete
    5. Tangier would be more appropriate if that were the case.

      I hope your throat is still bad and you have a headache.

      Delete
    6. I was forced to have my shoulder length locks cut-off in Tangier. By order of the King.

      Delete
    7. I didn't have a headache until this morning, and this is due to me curing the bad throat with whisky last night.

      Delete
    8. Hang on, you aren't Heron in an alias are you?

      Delete
  3. ,...handy hints.......
    Use your dead granny!s dentures for baking pies
    THEY MAKE EXCELLENT PASTRY CUTTERS

    ReplyDelete
  4. I always looked forward to Goofus and Gallant and the 'hidden picture' in Highlights magazines as they were always in the doctors' offices when I was a kid
    Hope you're on the mend today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Much better, thanks Carol, but I do still have a voice like a heron addict who's been living on the streets for a few years.

      I don't know Highlights magazine.

      Delete
    2. Bloody hell - talk about Freudian slip - I meant heroin addict, of course.

      Delete
    3. Now I am going to spend the rest of the day wondering what it must be like being addicted to heron. Hell, I should imagine.

      Delete
    4. Glad you're feeling better!
      hahahaa, see you're secretly in love with him!

      Highlights was (I guess they're still in print) kids magazine here in the US - it was pretty expensive but nearly every single doctor or dentist had a subscription, which made going there a little more palatable and a bit of a treat.

      Delete
    5. Yeah, magazines were a treat in our house! Only rich people could afford subscriptions

      Delete
    6. We used to wipe our arses on magazines.

      Delete
  5. I often buy The Lady Tom because I am a fanatical cryptic crossword fan and it has a marvellous Ladygram each week.
    The articles in the magazine always amuse me and the adverts for home helps, nannies, carers etc. could be from the century before last.
    The whole thing has such an air of genteelness about it, like a bygone age. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too. It comes from a pre-lesbian age, I think. I like the idea of a magazine called The Lady Tom, as well.

      Delete
  6. It shows that you are better, I'm glad about that - and I laughed (Freudian slip before correcting it: loved) the whole post long. No idea what the photo might show (lampshade over marble would be to profane for your tricky pictures - I remember falling for a Bath-photograph once).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Falling for a Bath Photographer, probably?

      Delete
  7. what is the picture it looks like a toilet seat and some of that scratchy loo roll they used to have at my school when I was an infant. I think it was really tracing paper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you still have the traces, or tracings?

      Delete
  8. It's a lunar eclipse of the sun. Really cool shot. As for magazines, I still have a soft spot for Reader's Digest, in spite of the fact my daughter calls it "That republican rag." I'm sure she means capital R.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope, it's not an eclipse. Clue: You have already told me I am obsessed with it, with all the other photos.

      In Reader's Digest', there was always a section called 'Humour in Uniform' or 'Laughter is the Best Medicine', which never failed to leave me with a frown.

      Delete
    2. Now there are two mysteries. What is is. What have I told you.

      Delete
    3. Did you leave out a question mark?

      Delete
    4. Tomorrow, I will show you, and you will kick yourself. If you are too old to kick yourself, then just get a grandchild to do it for you.

      Delete
    5. Joanne, I can definitely hear B say that!

      Delete
    6. Is this some U.S. T.V. program I have never heard of, or have you discovered my real name?

      Delete
    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    8. (attempting to be clearer -I was replying to Joanne's original post, when she talked about her daughter and Reader's Digest)

      Nope (though you now have me intrigued) - Joanne's daughter (B) is a friend of mine, which is how I 'met' John (through her blog) and how I started following your blog.

      Delete
    9. Oh, then I have more to be thankful to Joanne for than I thought - I think.

      Delete
    10. Yes, I've known Carol since before they buried Neighborhood in the woods. My jaw dropped when Carol referenced B, as I discovered your name long ago. I could hear yours dropping, too.
      What a clever shot of the bell, as you were working on it.

      Delete
    11. I was smoking under it, only a few days ago. The little blemish in the sky you can see to its left was a passing sparrow hawk, it turned out.

      There are a few jaw-dropping reunions going on here right now.

      Delete
  9. It's an eyeball but, maybe not green. XXXX

    ReplyDelete