Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Well, you didn't think I'd have a picture of model soldiers did you?

Hope you all have/had a lovely day!

Friday, December 05, 2014

Something for the Weekend: Sheena Easton

We have had several incredulous comments about the presence of a Sheena Easton poster visible in a picture of  our old university room.  In our defence we offer some pictures of her on our Legatu's Wargames Ladies blog, although there is nothing racy about these pictures (sadly).

Monday, December 01, 2014

Utter chaos...and babydolls

No, this isn't something to do with Warhammer forces.  Incidentally, the ridiculously Rococo models that GW started to produce for their Chaos forces were really the first slide down the slippery slope of ludicrous over-encrustation which has led to many of their models being too detailed to paint for youngsters.  Simplify the models and young people can paint more of them more quickly!  No, the chaos I'm talking about is that in my "playroom", as it is dubbed.  For various reasons we have to move a lot of stuff around in the loft which will mean, essentially, taking everything out of it.  This really is a nightmare as it is completely full.  Given my room is already over-stuffed I have decided to put a lot of things on eBay to give me space for things I really want to keep.  Looking around yesterday I was struck by the number of plastic model kits up there and I decided that as I haven't completed a model  kit for something like twenty years I really am not going to get around to all of this lot.  So I retrieved some of them and have started putting them on eBay.  Most of them I didn't even remember buying!  

My room at university in the third year

Despite this evidence to the contrary I am usually a reasonably tidy and ordered person and untidy people (yes, Sophie I am thinking about you) drive me around the bend.  This is also apposite given some of the comments I have received in my recent Proliferation of Blogs post.  Given my mother was a very tidy person (she still is; she is still "tidying up" everybody else's possessions at the old peoples home) it was only when I went to University that I realised that not everyone was like that.  The worst example I encountered was in my third year when I was living out in North Oxford while all my friends managed to bag rooms in college for the third year.  Because my room was very small I had to be very tidy anyway.

On the ground floor of the large Victorian house six of us shared, lived F, an aristocratic Classicist from one of the women's colleges whose father was something very senior in the government.  F was the most disorganised person I had ever met.  She could not cook and lived on cold kidney beans and cold custard, all eaten (often together) straight from the tin.  She could make tea but was unable to buy milk (she could never find any money) and if she did it was probably off by the time she offered it to anyone.  She was, not surprisingly, a skinny girl but was blessed with  a surprisingly large bust (as I later discovered).  She also seemed to be incapable of operating hi-tech equipment, such as drawers.  All of her clothes were just strewn on the floor, as were her books, music cassettes, tins of beans and custard, soap, toothpaste, lacrosse equipment, tampons, pens, crockery, clothes pegs (never used, as far as I could see), bottles and bottles of Fairy liquid (also never used - she must have won a competition) etc.  I am not exaggerating when I say that her carpet (I did see it once) was covered to a depth of about six inches.  Her room looked like the garbage compactor in the original Star Wars film.  Now some people who take this approach to, say, papers on their desk or floor (most lawyers) can instantly locate anything at a moment's notice but F was hopeless.  She would run up to my room on the second floor at least three times a day desperate to get help in looking for something she needed (usually a book but sometimes her written work) before a tutorial.  It was like being one of those poor Brazilian children who spend their lives picking through refuse tips.  Quite often you would find something only to discover it was stuck to something else with a vaguely unidentifiable but invariably sticky substance of indeterminate origin.  Once I did find an open pot of mouldy Marmite with a lolly stick (or spoon, as she referred to it) embedded in it like some disgusting Excalibur.  She did throw away the Marmite but kept the stick, or, at least, dropped it back on the floor.  Needless to say the room was soon infested with woodlice, spiders, mice and probably packs of feral pigs.  "How do I kill the mice without killing them?" she wailed, when our landlady, an eminent Italian Egyptologist, returning from her annual dig in the spring, threatened to take everything out of her room and incinerate it.  All sorts of humane traps followed and the University Parks were soon awash in a lemming-like tide of mice. 

One evening I was happily sitting up in my room listening to Reginald Goodall's Rhinegold on my radio cassette player (I remember paying £149 for this in 1979 - not everything is more expensive now) when she knocked on the door yet again.  She had invited her two tutors for dinner, they were arriving in one hour and she hadn't planned anything to eat.  Could I help?  All I could manage was a very large spaghetti Bolognaise, which essentially used up my food supplies for the next four days.  I cooked while she tried to locate plates and clear her desk which we then had to drag into the middle of her room to serve as a dining table. As I pulled the desk across the carpet she had to shovel the floor-bound detritus out of the way using a Wellington boot.  I turned down the offer of joining her for dinner with her professors (she picked the plates and cutlery off the floor and laid them straight on the table - the Fairy liquid obviously being of unknown use to her) and she never did replace the food. 

Now at that point my girlfriend, C, was living in another women's college and was getting annoyed that every time she came round F would knock on the door (usually at a very inappropriate moment).  "Are you having an affair with that frightful girl?" C asked one evening, in her rather over-dramatic, Celia Johnson way (what sort of eighteen year old speaks like that?). 

"Of course not!  She's untidy! She's ghastly!  And annoying!  And not very clean!"  I replied, quite truthfully.  

Needless to say, within a few days F turned up at my door once again but this time dressed in a babydoll nightie with matching knickers.  I immediately saw her in a new light; the light from my desk which was making her outfit almost completely transparent.  Actually, my first thought was to wonder how long had it taken her to find two matching articles of clothing.

Younger readers may not appreciate the excitement of the babydoll which, even in the early eighties was rather old fashioned although, on the right woman, was very, very effective.  A subsequent girlfriend, V, who we have featured before, also had a fine selection of them.  F looked, as my friend HMS would have said, "most diverting".

This particularly diverting article of women's clothing gets its name from the 1956 film Baby Doll starring Carroll Baker who wears such an outfit and, thereby, caused an overnight fashion sensation, to the delight of men everywhere. Originally this style was designed for children so having an adult wearing something so short was extremely daring, even though Baker's outfits from the film look comparatively modest by today's standards.  It reached its zenith in the sixties and the ne plus ultra example of the garment was worn by Ann Margaret in the Dean Martin spy-spoof Murderer's Row (1966).

Ann Margaret dolled-up

My first personal experience of a babydoll was in Paris in 1972. The entire first year of my school went on a French trip to Paris and Dieppe.  In Paris we were put in dormitories of about eight, in a special international schools hostel. The Legatus and his classmates, Lugs, Dobbin and Smuttley (the latter two he still sees; one is a property lawyer and the other a BBC TV producer) for some reason ended up having to share with four Germans who were considerably older than us (we were twelve). That first night three or four very well developed German girls appeared in the dormitory after lights out, to see their male friends. All were wearing chiffon babydolls with knickers but, very obviously in at least one case, nothing underneath the top. The Legatus and Dobbin, who were somewhat more mature than the other two at this stage (in fact, I was already about 5' 10" tall at this time), were exceedingly diverted by these gorgeously leggy (one of the side effects of a babydoll is that anyone wearing one looks leggy) young women who were, probably, about seventeen.  The German girls thought we were "dear little English boys".  Dobbin and I thought they were the ultimate personification of female sexuality.  The fact that they then sat on our beds almost drove us insane. One of these girls actually patted me on the head and everything under the top half of her nightie jiggled enticingly.  This first proper encounter with the opposite sex had emboldened us both. We then moved to Dieppe for the second half of the trip. Foolishly, the teachers put the four of us in a small annexe to the main hostel. Within minutes Dobbin and the Legatus were out onto the street and down the road to the local magasin where we brought several litres of cider (we looked older than we were, luckily).  In the shop we met two French girls who were also staying at the hostel who, whilst older than us (they were fourteen), were not as intimidating and out of reach as the Germans. They needed little persuasion (fortunately Dobbin's French was much better than mine) to return to our quiet annexe, where they happily swigged our cider and, in return, stripped to their underwear, which was considerably more French than we imagined the girls in the school next doors to ours at home wore. So, it was. thanks to the confidence given me by talking to provocatively babydoll clad German girls. that the Legatus had his first proper snog and, indeed, my first squeeze of a silk-clad female bosom. I still remember her name, Francoise. Any further developments were stalled by the unexpected arrival of the wife of one of our French teachers. Fortunately, she was French herself, so just politely told the girls to get dressed and disappear. She poured the rest of the cider down the washbasin but never said anything to our French teacher. In fact she was trying not to laugh all the way through the process. What a sound lady!

Anyway, it wasn't cider that F was clutching ten years later but a bottle of wine and not just any bottle of wine but a Chateau Palmer 1970.  "Do you have a corkscrew?" she asked.  She had one but, needless to say, couldn't find it.  I opened it for her expecting her to take it down to some hapless visitor but she had brought it for me!  Well, the evening proceeded as well as you might imagine given a bottle of classed growth claret and a girl in a chiffon babydoll.  I was amused, when the time came, however to discover that F had put her nightie on the wrong way round!  Today, she is Dr F, still a very striking looking lady and an award winning TV documentary producer. Somewhere along the line she must have become organised!

So, I am planning a major push on eBay to clear some of this stuff out of the house as I am fundmentally embarrassed to be existing in such utter chaos!