Monday, 2 September 2013

Do not read this post either! Mr Langford's 'special thing'

This one really does go on and on!!

I have twittered on before regarding Mr Langford and how I like chatting with Mr Langford (he rumbles on about his pigeon problem and I rumble on about the trend in vintage - stuff like that - stuff that will not change the world but stuff we like to chat about).  By-the-by Mr Langford was in the same class at school as my next door neighbour - my next door neighbour is 71.  I like talking with Mr Langford - we have a lot in common.....   Apropos of nothing I have mentioned previously how my next-door-neighbour's daughter lives in Rudyard Kipling's childhood home - I visited not so long ago and it is a most BEAUTIFUL home.  I was taken aback when I went into the kitchen as there, hanging over the red Aga, was some bunting that I had made for her mum who sadly died last year.  I was very chuffed to see it there.  We both shed a tear...

Anyway.....

Late last year I  bleated on about how I had seen something 'special' in 'Mr Langfords' - I paid for it there and then and I informed Mr Langford that some 'stuff' may need to be cleared before being ready for re-homing.  Mr Langford nodded wisely -  he had sized up the situation in seconds...he tapped the side of his nose: 'I understand....she can stay here for as long as you like'.  'Wilco Mr Langford'  I carefully replied - (not tapping the side of my nose in case that was some sort of subliminal  message and I was not quite sure what I was buying into!).  I tra la la'd  home and started the clear out process STAT (old nursing lingo coming in handy here).  I will add here that I was never a STAT (possible drama out of a crisis) sort of nurse - I was a 'NOW' (sub-level below STAT)  sort of nurse - the one who would be talking (whilst counting) to the poor patient whilst simultaneously carrying out CPR: 'Your heart has stopped - I am pressing on your chest until we restart it - I am sorry that this is so frightening'. That sort of thing - I do not watch medical dramas but I hope someone is talking to  the patient and telling them what is happening.....you  never know.

Anyway......again....

 Some time/weeks later that clear out process was still proceeding (westward leading) and I had to 'deck the halls for Christmas' and 'Bronte had a birthday' and 'I had a birthday' and there was 'stuff' to be getting on with.....and yet more clearing out was still to be done.....Winter came and winter went...Spring arrived and Spring went....

Realisation dawned that the 'clearing out' would never be 'done' in a: 'Completed that job move on to the next' type of way - more of a: 'Well that made a bit of space but where the MaHooJa did all that other stuff come from!' sort of way (I swear it breeds!!).

Best to make the most of the square of space that I had managed to clear.... so off I trotted to Mr Langfords..........

Wearing my best apron....


No hat required.............


But did wear gloves................


Tra la la la la............



Singing as I went................



Sometimes breaking out into a little skip....................




Admiring my freshly made, newly laid, embroidered bag (not needed of course ........) as I skipped by shop windows.............



Reminding myself that I still needed to buy those new shoes......(cough, cough)



Breaking out into a whistle.............



Slowing down as I reached the Salvation Army shop...........



Speeding up as I knew that was not on my agenda today....



Taking a few backward tra la la's as I noticed a nice bowl in the window....



Gathering apace................



Slowing down as I reached Mr Langfords...............


Tring-a-ling-ling..................



Skipping into 'Mr Langfords' (well to be honest you cannot skip into 'Mr Langfords' - 'Mr Langfords' is PACKED).................


Sidled into 'Mr Langfords'.............


'Ah ha' greeted Mr Langford - 'The Wanderer returns'


'Ha ha Mr Langford - you are such a wag'


Mr Langford - being of a certain generation  (of which I also seem to belong  even though not of the same age (cheeky)) - played the game.  After a little bit of banter and some nose tapping from Mr Langford he said he would have to 'go out back'.

Pensive moment that

And this is who he came back with.............................




This photo is not showing my latest embroidered bag but one that I finally finished recently (...I have made a few more since....) - if needed I will 'display' that one another time (that particular bag can be seen in my local Co-op as I wear/use it for all provision purchases).



Unbidden (I never ask for 'best price' or similar - 'the price is what the price is'  in my book) Mr Langford  reduced the price to make it soooo tempting she had to be bought.  What made it extra special was that Mr Langford said that it belonged to a certain Mary Wild - who was the first fashion director of the Royal College of Art.   I thought that this might have been a bit of whimsy on Mr Langford's part but behold once I had reached home and  when turned on her side - there in  pencilled writing on the underside - was written: 'Royal College of Art'  Ta Dah!  A quick t'internet search revealed next to nothing about our Mary.  Grrrr.  However the archivist at the Royal College of Art  replied charmingly  to an enquiring email within the hour.  At first he thought that I/Mr Langford had got it wrong as there was no 'proper' fashion course until 1948 .....but.....:

"However, having done some more digging, I can see you are absolutely right. In the first instance, Mary Wild was a Design student here, graduating ARCA Diploma in 1934. However, in the prospectus of 1937-8, there she is, listed as professor of ‘Dress Design’. This was only one of many options available under the broad course of Design, but it’s interesting to find it was taught at all, pre-war. I don’t know whether Miss Wild stayed with the College during WWII, when we evacuated to the Lake District."

Isn't that just lovely!  Our Mary was indeed a designer.

Update! Well - following on from that email I did one further internet search and the only other source that I could find was 'The Angel Gallery' in Lavenham - again within the hour I had received a reply from Mr Gibson, the owner.  Mary Wild was his mother who had died at the age of 101 in 2011 - and she had continued working for the RCA during the war and until 1948. Mr Gibson asked that I give him a call and after a wonderful chat he sent me a copy of Mary's CV with her extraordinary career mapped out before me (including designing for British Celanese - Lucienne Day also designed fabrics for them in the 50s).  Isn't that just extra lovely! More searching will find that Professor Madge Garland is credited with being the first of her kind at the RCA - I will endeavour to rewrite those history books I think!

Update on the update!!!  By the end of that very same day I had an email from the archivist at the RCA to say that he had had a very  nice chat with Mr Gibson and they were going to meet up.  Extra lovely and so history - well the archives at the RCA - may well be rewritten!





'Mary' (of course) is of a very neat size - sadly not reflected in my own girthage - so not possible to use for own dress construction!  Mary will be used for bag display (I very nearly wrote 'baggage' display and realised that this conveys the impression of Gatwick Airport on a Friday night!).  Also for dress/undressing a la rapidly changing window display (... 'The Time Machine' (keep up)).  I think that 'Mary' dates from the 30s - not sure why - just feels that way to me. Any experts out there I would be interested to know as:

 'How to date a mannequin' throws up all sorts of queer answers on Google!!!

 The ribbon is original (if there was more of it it would make a nice cockade don't you think?) and I also like the little paper disc that goes nicely with our my old wallpaper (Dom is STILL threatening to remove it!!!).



Did you notice that in this photo I have changed bags!!! This is the one that I made for my sister for her birthday

I have learnt a lesson here (as usual):
A) Do not get rid of ANYTHING and...
B) There is no such thing as a new trend.

Back in the late 70s I bought an old (AKA vintaaahj)  tailor's dummy as seen here:





'Bertha' had come with me to all sorts of homes and places (though I drew the line at holiday destinations).  However the drive to clear out stuff meant that a couple of years ago I sold 'Bertha' (as in 'Big Bertha' - something for the historians amongst us!).  She was a portly figure who I felt lost her 'allure' (something for the Miranda Hart fans!) over the years and was beginning to represent my good self in ways that I was no longer comfortable with........  The new owner came to collect and greeted her with: 'Oh, she is so lovely'.  Immediately I regretted selling Bertha (a bit like the Noddy Clock - SISTER GAIL!!!) ('For crying out loud - LET IT GO')).





This is an old photo of Bertha (wearing a blouse that I used to wear circa 1987 together with an original, tailored 1940s suit - I no longer have that suit....I wish I could remember what I did with it).  A few years ago Bronte made a surprise museum - she had manhandled Bertha down the stairs - dug around for some old clothes and fetched some bits out of the kitchen.





I remember clearly that Bronte kept Maille and myself away from the demonstration area (outlining the barrier that we MUST NOT cross) whilst she showed the gathered crowd how 'they used to cook long ago'.




I reminded Bronte that this was stuff that we use all the time in the kitchen!  These photos turned out to be very popular on my old Flickr account (4000+ photographs and still not stratched the surface....) because the 'world' stumbled across them when searching for the 'Bronte Museum'!! Ha ha


Who Knew!!

PS: As I look at Mary today she is sporting a very jolly 1950s apron but nothing else!! Oooo-eeeerr missus

PPS: There will be many a  post of Mary 'dressed up' with sadly nowhere to go...'I took my harp to a party but nobody asked me to play' (an old song that my Dad would sing in a very mournful voice).

PPPS: I am updating this post because Bronte and I were in Mr Langford's recently and he had ANOTHER mannequin - from the early 1900s - beautifully made and there printed on the hessian along the bottom are the words 'Selfridges London'.  Could be yours for £98 if you are desiring

PPPPS: Tra la la
Fiddle de dee
I am going now
To dress Mar-eee

This post was written several months ago and finally posting it because I wish to 'reveal' Mary in clothes!!! Still have 54 unpublished posts waiting in the wings - one day I will publish them all in one go....


PPPPS: Sadly did not blog visit when I said I would because I spent the entire weekend (almost) tracing family tree - something that I used to do as a teenager and now picking it all up again. By sitting at home and not spending a bean I went back to 1750 in a tra la la - the t'internet is a marvel.  Now have a bad back from spending too long at the computer.  Back to proper work now.....

PPPPPS: Looking forward to the new programme on BBC Four - all about fabrics and embroidery!!!

47 comments:

  1. How fabulous!
    I hope you and Mary have a long and happy life together!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't mind if you do go on and on ... it's always a fascinating tale! I love Mary ... and her varied bags!
    M x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary possibly has too many bags.....she is a bag lady....
      Thank you for calling in
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  3. I think the most special treasures find their way to the right person. Who else would have sleuthed out the details and shared this story but you. Lucky Mary!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Kathleen - it was nice that the bit of history turned out to be true
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  4. Well Jenny this is absolutely fascinating but - Mr Langford has another mannequin?Are you there is not a little production line of mannequin making elves in Mr Langfords well stocked cellar?? Could this be what the nose tickling was all about??? I'm sure Mr Langford is actually a lovely gentleman and I imagine he has the same red curly locks as his daughter ;) Hello Mary! Jane x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear - I fear that I have been conned well and truly by nasty Mr Langford!!! And he has red hair.....
      I see it all now

      Kind regards
      Jenny
      PS: He has a collection of dance shoes behind the counter.....

      Delete
  5. Oh Jenny I love your tales! I especially love all the tra la la ing that goes on! Mr Langford sounds my kind of person , and I can identify totally the concept of belonging in a certain generation without achieving the age. I love to know the history behind my buys, but have never learnt as much as you have about Mary ... amazing!

    I try not to thnk of things sold in the past ... We really must let them go ....

    Whether on the agenda or to, I've never been able to pass aSalvatin Army shop ... you're a stronger woman than me ...

    Love Claire xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you Claire and for your kind emails that I will reply to. It was only through the internet that I was able to find all that stuff out - in the 'old days' I don't think that I would have got very far.

      Indeed I must 'move on'......

      I have come to a point where I now pass by many a lovely thing....sadly.....the house is bulging...
      Thank you again
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  6. what a wonderful tale, I am sure Mary is very happy in her new home..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you angrad - Mary reports that she is fairly happy!
      Kind regards
      Jenny

      Delete
  7. What a simply glorious find Mary is. I am certain she already feels totally at home in her new abode - are you sure she isn't choosing what outfit or bag to wear when your back is turned? I went to a vintage fair with a friend of mine at the weekend and before we even walked in she was telling me not to buy more pretty plates or jugs and that I had plenty of embroidered tablecloths and that I had to show restraint as we are relocating Ooop North soon (I felt like washing her mouth out with soap for saying such dreadful words and if she insists on talking like that I shall stop taking her out). Nevertheless I did show considerable restraint and instead of spending lots of money on lots of items I spent lots of money on just one item - an incredible blue and white hand-embroidered linen table covering (I say covering because it completely covers our large farmhouse table but equally it may well have hung across a door) made circa 1900. Sadly there is no maker's name or other details. Not really vintage, more antique but totally lovely. Philippa xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Philippa
      That vintage fair sounds a delight - someone telling NOT to buy something is a red rag to a bull for me!!! I would like to see a photograph of that tablecloth - I quite like a tablecloth myself!!
      Thank you for calling in
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  8. What an interesting post. There is something very cute about those mannequins. I used to have a friend who was a sculptor and worked on films doing special effects. Consequently he was quite arty, not to mention odd, and had a shop dummy that was permanently standing, naked, facing you as you walked down the narrow staircase. It frightened me half to death every time I saw it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear - that does sound quite worrying! Mind you I used to do a similar thing with a mannequin hand - I had it sticking up from the window of our top floor flat!

      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  9. Goodness, I love her! I'd love one like this.
    I'm not sure if you know or not, but in my reader (Feedly) your photos have a pinterest button...which I thought rather odd?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear Jeanette - I have not heard of Feedly but I am sure it is friendly!
      Thank you for calling in
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  10. Oh Jeanette! I think I just heard Jenny gasping for air all the way over here in the States.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Our neighbours used to display a family of shop dummies in their bedroom bay window to frighten burglars...it worked! EE xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like a good ploy - I will use Mary in a similar way I think
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  12. i just wanted to say that i love your style of writing - i have been sitting here laughing out loud in places - what lovely wallpaper you have - is it a collage of old vintage papers? a kind of decoupage for the wall ....please please don't let your husband take it down - it's wonderful ..... did you buy the nice bowl on the way back home though? lynne xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Lynne
      Thank you for calling in - we aim to please! Sorry that I don't know how to read your blog (I am a bit lost when it comes to Google plus - if I add one more thing to this laptop it will explode!).
      The wallpaper is all from 1956 - somewhere there is a post where I explain how Bronte and I did this on a whim whilst Dom was watching the rugby - no plan or design and I just asked Bronte to pass me the paper in any old order. Sometimes that is the best way
      I did not buy the bowl....I have one or two bowls already!
      Best wishes
      jenny

      Delete
  13. My word am panting at the thought of that other mannequin but sadly do not have required dosh!
    Oh lala I find this post so fascinating I read every word and now need a glass of something cold to get over it...is it five o'clock yet..?
    bless your cottons 'cootard' for filling us in...
    d x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Miss Daisy - I dare not enter that shop again in the near future in case it is still there.....

      I am sure that there will be Mary updates
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  14. Hi Jenny,WHAT a story,I just about kept up(feeling weary after a boring (for the most part) day at work!) Your Mannequin is FAB! Lucky you having the lovely Mr Langford,no relation to Bonnie? I very much regret the day that I JUST missed purchasing a divine mannequin,I made the fatal error of saying to hubby "I'll just look around and come back for it! of course I was beaten by an American don't you know!I have nothing against Americans as such,just that particular one!!Adore your bags,IF I ever get a new sewing machine I will have a go at making one.TTFN Pam.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Pam - I will ask Mr Langford if Bonnie features in his family tree. Sorry to hear about a slightly dull day at work - no treasures that day then? NEVER say I will come back - it will always be gone - I could fill a book with such tales....
      How is that sewing machine coming on Pam?
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  15. What a wonderful history and you my dear are her keeper, for a while at least. She models bags beautifully! :) x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes - we don't own anything forever
      She is a bag model by trade don't you know!
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  16. Very jealous costume maker here, its soo hard to find these lovely old dummies. We worked on lovely stockman stands at college and i have consequently been completely spoilt, i tried using one of those alterable dummys and it was hopeless all flimsy and bendy. Would love the other stand but i must resist as i should really buy a male stand as that is what i do for my "proper" work and a female stand would be entirley for my own selfish needs-bum, bum, bum. Great stand though enjoy her, will you call her Mary? Catx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Catx - Your work sounds very interesting and I hope that you find the man dummy of your dreams soon.
      She is indeed called Mary - she is now the fifth member of the family!
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  17. I used to know a Mr Langford with a shop but he sold bicycle parts and did repairs, which is far less exciting than trading in mannequins. Maybe there's a whole dynasty of shop keeping Langfords out there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ho ho - indeed there must be Langfords the length and breadth of the land! All selling a range of goods - some less appealing than others.
      Thank you for calling in
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  18. Such a lovely story, Jenny! I just blogged about my own mannequin a little over a week ago. She does not have such a rarified history, and is much moore of a floozie since instead of wearing hanfbags she wears a fur stole composed of little minks biting each other's tails and she is dripping with excessive vintage jewelry. But I love her just the same.

    And I loved your crack about How to Date a Mannequin! Have you ever seen the movie, Lars and the Real Girl? My all time Favorite movie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS. Not to mention that I also have a crush on Ryan Gosling, even though I am old enough to be your mannequin!

      Delete
    2. Dear Linda
      I had to look up Ryan Gosling and still non the wiser - I don't get out much and very limited telly viewing too! Every mannequin deserves to be loved and I am quite sure that yours is lovely too. I will have to look up Lars and the Real Girl too - thank you for providing me with my homework for the weekend!
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  19. I love your Tra la la's...I wish I could be skipping along side and tra la la-ing with you.
    And do you Ohh La La when you spot a treasure that you might need to make room for?
    I also have a special old girl mannequin - she is French. At present she is only wearing a "Going to the Derby" fancy hat and I Love Lucy sunglasses - quite daring don't you think?
    Tra La La - off to work I go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Janine
      You are most welcome to come tra la la-ing with me at any time - less exciting in real life I am sure. I like the sound of your mannequin - especially the sunglasses, very daring indeed!
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  20. Oh, Jenny, please tell me the name of the upcoming BBC show about fabrics and embroidery. We don't have BBC here in the US but I was able to watch the whole Great British Sewing Challenge, or whatever, here on You Tube. It was lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Linda
      I have so far only seen one trailer for it on the telly - it was something like The fabric of Britain and I think it starts this week. I have no idea how to locate television programmes and just sit down and see what is on - unless it is something like the Great British Bake off (Tuesday at 20.00) or even better University Challenge (BBC 2 on a Monday). My life is small.....
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  21. What a lovely tale, I think you should print her history out in very tiny writing and stick it to the bottom so that when she's passed on to someone else they will have the pleasure of knowing her history. I've got a small child soft shop dummy that terrifies my 20 year old son if I leave it out sitting in a chair, I think he's watched too many horror films. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a great idea the woolly dog
      Generally speaking dummies are indeed scary things - I hope that Dom never decides to place her on the landing as I frequently get up to walk round the house at 02.30!!
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  22. What a great find Jenny and a lovely story too.
    I love the bags you've made for her too :)
    x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many thanks as always Barbara
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete
  23. Great find & brilliant post. I have a rather "portly" mannequin..might have to name her now! Liz x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Busy Lizzie
      Thank you for calling in - the name 'Bertha' is now free if you are so desiring....
      Best wishes
      Jenny

      Delete