Saturday, 17 December 2011

Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once...

After seeing Father Christmas arrested (although I had my suspicions quite early on he wasn’t the Father Christmas – the area around Piccadilly Circus was saturated with hundreds of Santas all of whom seemed to have taken the ‘merry’ aspect of the character very seriously), I made my way to Fleet Street for the New Sheridan Club Christmas party. 

The shindig was at the Punch Tavern, a very elegant pub, (with a quite delightful bathroom!) situated just off Ludgate Circus.  This was my first ‘official’ engagement as the Vintage News without Kieren or Les, so I persuaded my sister into coming along for a bit.  Although Maisie could only stay for a short while, she thoroughly enjoyed herself.  She even won a skull (yes – a skull, no – thankfully not human) in the lucky dip!

The theme of this year’s do was ‘Tinker, Tailor, Dandy, Spy’ focussing particularly on the latter.  After seeing photos from the event last year, with its theme of ‘Back to the Futurists’, I was excited to see what everyone would be wearing.  If I thought about it sooner I would have gone for the full Mata Hari look, but I didn’t have enough time to make a head dress (which would be integral for any costume as the most infamous female ‘spy’).

In the end, I went for a black floor length ‘70s/80s-does-‘30s dress that belonged to my mum when she was my age.  Along with fantastic outfits (more photographs at the end), I was also looking forward to seeing what games there were.  The first game of the night was Berlin Wall Jenga (painstakingly painted by Clayton’s wife – with authentic Berlin Wall graffiti).  After a few tense rounds, a winner was announced who got to keep the magnificent customised Jenga set.

Along with Jenga, there was the apparently obligatory shooting game, this time based on the opening title sequence to many a Bond film. 

Players had two shots to knock over Sean Connery by firing through a moving ‘gun barrel’.  It was apparently a lot more difficult than it seemed! 

I interviewed the splendidly attired Artemis Scarheart, the Defence Secretary of the New Sheridan Club.  He explained that the rooms had been divided in separate zones.  The games room was the American zone (replete with signs from Checkpoint Charlie), the bar area was the Russian zone, the smoking area was the British zone and the French zone consisted of the, ahem, toilettes.

There was also a free snuff bar, with many varieties of snuff on offer to those wishing to partake.  Personally, I declined but others seemed to enjoy the wide range of flavours, (if indeed flavour is the right word).

There was a raffle, with some rather good prizes (spy based of course) but sadly I didn’t win anything.

Apart from the James Bond theme tunes creating just the right atmosphere, entertainment was provided by the magician Christian Lee.  It was a highly amusing show, with sleight of hand, mind-reading (with the help of a giant green balloon) and framing a policeman for an unknown crime...


The best costume prize was won by this gentleman, who was dressed as ‘Number 2’. I think these people were probably quite close in the running...

I had a wonderful evening and just hope I will soon be able to make it to one of the meetings.

On another related note, the New Sheridan Club has an associated blog; the Institute for Alcoholic Experimentation.  The latest post relates to a competition they recently ran where you had to tell them your favourite Christmas tipple.  I was lucky enough to win a copy of the How to Drink at Christmas by Victoria Moore with my cocktail, the 'Gingerbread Fan'.

Here are a few more pictures for your enjoyment.

I also recorded a short interview with the Defense Secretary, Artemis Scarheart which is now available for your viewing but shhh! don't tell anyone! 

Friday, 9 December 2011

The night of 1,000 waistcoats (and almost as many glasses of champagne)

 The morning started out with Jennie (of Fancy Dresscapades) and myself visiting Vivien of Holloway to look at bridesmaid dresses (for her upcoming nuptials, not mine!), What Katie Did (where the staff were very lovely and helpful) and Judy's Vintage Fair at Spitalfields market.  However, I will not take up any more of your precious time discussing them as that will all be saved for a later post (and a filmed feature) about vintage reproduction companies.  I must just add, we did stop off at the new Collectif shop at Spitalfields market (as Jennie is a huge fan) and I acquired a lovely Regina dress in grey. 

But enough of that, onwards to the Night of 1,000 Waistcoats, where the finest pipe tobacco is sold by chorus girls, you can send your beloved a telegram as suggestive as you wish (NORWICH...?) and by chiming a bell outside a concealed booth you are handed a most delicious beverage served in a teacup.  I am of course talking about the 3rd annual Grand Anarcho-Dandyist Ball.

The ball is organised by the Chap magazine; a fabulous journal for the modern gentleman, to which I have been a loyal subscriber since 2005.  Here is a link to their website for those not already in the know (shame on you!)

Our dear friend Viv the Spiv was hosting and after a few of his splendid jokes (some quite blue, I might add) he introduced the first act. 

Professor Elemental donned his fighting trousers but alas not his customary Pith helmet, (which was stolen just after we had interviewed him) as he took to the stage.  His usual mix of hip hop, comedy and references to the finer things in life (Assam and Earl Grey making quite a pronounced appearance) were very popular with the crowd.  He was an interesting choice of act considering Mr B (the Gentleman Rhymer of course) was the Chap Hop performer of choice at the Chap Ball last year. 

Before and after shots of the terrible crime.

In the room where we had set up our little corner, was Jeeves Dating, run by the lovely Gemma and Jeni of The Vintage Mafia.  This consisted of typed messages for your sweetheart, which were then delivered by the butler Jeeves.   Our very own Kieren received a missive of his very own but would not divulge its contents!
Also in our little room was a lady from Lipstick & Curls (I apologise profusely but I’ve forgotten your name).  She was creating some wonderful victory curls and all sorts of vintage hairstyles for some of the discerning ladies of the crowd.

The fabulous jump-jive band Fat 45 (Brighton based like Professor Elemental and your most humble vintage news team) played a terrific set, my personal favourite being ‘Mellow Saxophone’.

We were pleasantly surprised with the number of lindy hop dancers (we even spotted a few couples doing ballroom).  Needless to say, we all did rather a lot of dancing – I even managed to get Viv on my dance card!

Spotted among the audience were the delightful Aimee and Harriett of the Bright Young Twins.  We had a bit of a chat and they seemed to be having a whale of a time, as was Vivien (of Holloway) who I spotted shimmying away in what looked like a floor length version of one of her gorgeous pencil dresses.

For those of you interested, I thought I would add a quick word on what I was wearing.  The dress was a deep purple taffeta dress with cream embroidery which I picked up at a Frock Me! fair in Brighton a couple of years ago.  The faux fur stole was adapted from one from Matalan and the embroidered satin gloves are from To Be Worn Again in Brighton.  I made the hat a few months ago, but added ostrich and peacock feathers to make it a little more dressy.  I’ll try and find a better picture of it. 

Footage from last year’s event can be seen here:
To end, here are a few pictures of the resplendent party-goers.  I’ll add them to our facebook page, so make sure you find yourself and start tagging.
Hanson Leatherby – whose photographs put mine to shame

Donna of Bobby Sox Vintage

Ruth and Laurence
Ruth and Damien

As an aside, for those of you that subscribe to the Chap, or even if you happen to chance a glance at your local general or department store, in the issue coming out this week you may recognise one of the models in the article on co-respondent shoes...