Monday, 27 September 2010

Hilarity at the Edinburgh Fringe

MOTHER OF BETTEONTOAST:  What's that thing that looks like a jar of congealed fat?
BETTEONTOAST:  It's a candle.  It's Simon's.
MOTHER OF BETTEONTOAST:  It looks like it would make good gravy.

SIMON:  Why have you got a dead thing around your neck?
BETTE:  Why are you such a dickhead?
SIMON:  Maybe I'm a dickhead because I live with someone who likes dead things.
BETTE:  Maybe I like dead things because I wish you were dead.

In other news, the heating has come on at school four days early, hurrah, and my only remaining intact pair of skin-colour tights have been decimated by the affectionate five-year-old who likes to cuddle my legs during registration.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Black and White and Grumpy

I was grumpy because I thought I looked ridiculous.

But then I cheered up because we had pizza garlic bread.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Margaret Leighton Project

Loooong, looooooong ago, I started a wee mission to educate myself about British classic stars because I thought it was a little bit shameful that all of my favourites are Americans and I can scarcely name any from my own land.  You can read about my absolutely fascinating adventures on this road here, at the Jessie Matthews project,and  here, at the Ellen Terry project.

Tonight’s special celebrity guest is an actress called Margaret Leighton.  She was born in 1922 in Woucestershire, trained for the stage and made her professional debut at 16, and soon after, joined the Old Vic Company under the direction of Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson.  Her London debut was as the daughter of a troll king.  Cool.  Theatrical renown in London and on Broadway followed, and fortunately for me and my YouTube addiction, so did roles in the moving pictures.

I have seen Miss Margaret Leighton in three films, thanks to the generosity/piracy of YouTube.  In ‘An Ideal Husband’ she plays the glamorous blackmailer Mrs Cheveley, and makes the lady by turns alluring, vulnerable and a tough old battleaxe.  It’s her voice that does it – she’s got this compelling, rich contralto (get in!), loaded with sarcasm and arsenic and with those grand-dame-of-Shaftesbury Avenue vowels.  I can’t stop listening to her.  Try this:

[Skip to 06:38 or so]

I was very disappointed that in the next film on my reading list that voice just… wasn’t there.  In ‘Under Capricorn’, Margaret is Miss Milly, a junior Mrs Danvers who skulks around her employer’s mansion with a big bunch of keys and a sour face, barking at her kitchen underlings, snubbing guests and patronising her drink-sodden mistress.  I liked Milly (I always like the nasty ones!  Plus Ingrid Bergman has a face like a tree trunk and deserved everything she got.) and I thought it was a very interesting performance, but all the same she wasn’t enthralling.  Her face was a bit unmemorable too.  This was 1949 and Margaret Leighton was only 27, compared to 47-year-old Mrs Cheveley in 1969.  I reck she’s one of those women who are more interesting when they’re old.  Some actresses are like that.  Sort of sharper.
"Oh no, Mr Flusky, I'm not good enough for you, I know that! 
I'm only good enough to work for you, and slave for you,
and look after your drunkard wife!"
"What sort of woman is she?" 
"She is a genius in the daytime and a beauty at night." 
"I dislike her already."

So being a bit of a Margaret Leighton fangirl by this point, the next thing I watched was ‘Seven Women’, which is about missionaries in China in 1935, and Margaret plays boss lady missionary, Agatha Andrews, who has to put up with chain-smoking, trouser-wearing, New Woman female doctors, outbreaks of cholera and marauding Mongolian barbarians without losing her grip and going batshit.  She does go batshit, and she does it brilliantly.  (And the voice!  The voice is back!)

"Whore! Of! Babylooon!"

IMDb says The tall, reedy, opulent lady with strikingly odd, yet fascinating facial features also gave rich performances on film, stealing more than a few features away from the stars with her neurotic, brittle matrons and their unique brand of sophisticated eccentricity.”

On-screen neuroticness is all well and good, but I wanted to know about the squalidly scandalous stuff.  Margaret had three husbands.  One of them had been married to Elizabeth Taylor, but then, who hadn’t?  Her second one was an actor called Laurence Harvey, and a blog called Notonetogossip doesn’t have a very high opinion of him:

It was during this week, that we were aware of regular visits to Miss Leighton's dressing room by the totally obnoxious Laurence Harvey, there were rumours but we thought as it was well known that Harvey was a screaming queen, there couldn't be any truth in a possible marriage. How wrong we were, amazing the lengths some actors (and I use that term loosely) will go to further their career, marriage followed.”

I also found, lurking deep on something silly like page 27 of my Google search, a lovely piece of scandal all about her affair with Old Vic co-star Ralph Richardson and his all-consuming obsession with her.  I’ve forgotten the details and I can’t find the page again, but it was a very entertaining read!

Anyhoo, Margaret Leighton carried being grand and wonderful until she died of multiple sclerosis in 1976.  Apparently she continued acting until the year before her death, by which time she was no longer able to walk.  What a woman, eh?

While I’ve been ‘researching’ this project, I’ve seen reviews and references to absolutely loads of Margaret Leighton’s films (and for the most part British films) and I’m dying to see them all.  I want to see her as a “dizzy socialite” in ‘X, Y and Zee’, and as a “batty old exorcist” in ‘Moira’, and “hanging around and rotting” in ‘The Sound and the Fury’, and as a madwoman in ‘The Madwomen of Chaillot’, and an Oscar-nominated matriarch in ‘The Go-Between’, and a hundred other things.  Anyway, this post has been well over a week in the making and it’s somehow got far too long, so I’m going to leave it here.  I urge you all to go out and become Margaret Leighton fans, because she’s COOL. 

"British Actress Margaret Leighton Showing New Fashion Trend By Wearing Slouch Style Hat"

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Pots of pretty colours addendum

On the nail varnish topic, I didn't even NOTICE how clever I actually was...

My texting thumb matches my phone!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Pretty colours in little pots.

This is what happens when you scrub PVA off paint pots for a living*:

This is what happens when you spend a couple of hours watching Top Gear with your cousin William and you need something to occupy you when they talk about cars in between the funny bits:

Am I a bit too old for alterna-coloured nails?

*I don't really.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

We're tapping even faster now, we're shaking loose the plaster now.

I'm always in a bind as to what to wear to my tap class. (Yes, I am that cool! ;o) ) I had my first lesson of the new term tonight and ohmigod, I'd forgotten how flippin' brilliant it makes me feel.  Even though I'm a total novice who can't stand on one leg and doesn't know her left from her right!  Anyway, tonight I just stayed in the dress and tights I'd worn all day at school, because it was nice and comfy (Although!  Word of advice - tap dancing in magic hold-you-in knickers = NOT COMFY) and it had play-doh and small child snot over it and needed to go in the wash tonight anyway.  It's black and t-shirty and above the knee and clingy, and there aren't any pictures of it because I was a busy bee this morning and I look as tired as I feel right now.  I was too hot in it and looked a trifle silly as everyone else was in 'exercise clothes'.  What to wear next week, though??  Trousers are no good because I have to see my feet and ankles in the mirror otherwise I do it even more wrong.  Tunic-y top and leggings would be the obvious choice but ewww.  

See?!  My LIFE is so HARD!

I like the bits in those 1930s Warner Brothers backstage musicals, where you get to see what the chorus girls turn up to rehearsals in.

I could totally wear that to school tomorrow. 

Sunday, 12 September 2010

You can have them when they come into the sale, Hamer, and not before!

You know it's bad news when you visit the Oasis website (ONLY because I was ebaying one of my Oasis skirts and I'd bought it recently enough that I thought there still might be a picture of it on the site that would look more professional and inviting to bidders than my crappy snap!  Honest!) and the front page has a strip displaying a small selection of the newest wares...

...and you instantly go "I want THAT and THAT and THAT and THAT and THAT but not that dull handbag on the end."

Dear Oasis, 
I have an exciting new advertising opportunity for you!  For just £200 per month (payable in Oasis vouchers if you please) you can be the SOLE sponsor of FASCINATING new style blog Bette on Toast, which has a large readership of literally SEVERAL people!  How about it? 
Love, Bette xxx

Saturday, 11 September 2010

"Stop wiping your nose on my skirt, there's a good girl."

 Ooh look, I've got lines on my legs like people in the olden days!

Just an outfit-rundown that will be of minimal interest to, well, anybody.  Note to self, write some toast posts that aren't boring!

On Wednesday I evidently wanted to skip around pretending to be a sweater girl or bobby-soxer.   

I wanted a vintage look but actually it's all fake fake fake (or no, we call it 'repro', don't we?)  My pencil skirt is from Primark, my stretchy black t-shirt came from Topshop so long ago that it's actually gone sort of crunchy, I got my spectators in Dorothy Perkins, and my seamed stockings are actually tights (notice how they went from kinky to grannified as soon as I admitted that?  That's the effect of gussets!  Hee hee!) that I got in Fenwicks.  Adorable little birdie brooch that you can't actually see because I'm a crap photographer is by .  Pallid, unenthusiastic, desperately-in-need-of-lipstick visage is courtesy of it being not yet 7 a.m. and my being in desperate need of breakfast.

Thursday - 1950s housewife who wants to run away with the circus?  I dunno.  It's a frankly brilliant dress that my leetle seester the ebay queen gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago, paired with red ballet shoes (That sounds misleadingly Moira Shearer, doesn't it? I don't know why I call all 'flats' ballet shoes.  They're not, anyway.) and a belt that I thought was white until I saw it next to the white polkadots!

Friday. This ensemble makes me feel like a '20s or '30s schoolgirl in my slightly-drop-waisted pleated skirt and sensible Mary Janes from the Marks and Spencer Footglove Ugly Sensible Shoes collection. (Seriously. I bought the only cute style in the shop.)  I normally wear it with a more schoolgirl-looking brown thin jumper thing with trumpetty sleeves, but it's still just summery enough to not want to wear jumpers!  Skirt:  Warehouse factory second, shrug: some second-hand shop years ago, shoes: Marks and Sparks, patterned tights: can't remember, silly pose and gormless expression:  me trying too hard!
 Casual today because it's Saturday and I couldn't be bovvered.  Skirt from Oasis, white t-shirt was a cast-off from me mam, belt was necessary because t-shirt was shapeless and made me look thick around the waist. (Simon, if you say one word about M&Ms I'll kick you.)  Also pictured, my brilliant new pin-up girl brooch from, which comes under the category of 'Not suitable to wear at school, even on non-uniform day'.  I'm bisected by a shadow because I'm a crap photographer.

To-do List:                                                                                1) Buy a new, non-crunchy black t-shirt.                                       2) Stop posing like an idiot in my morning clothes pictures.          3) Be less lazy and take the dressing gowns and towels off my    door in my morning clothes pictures.                                              4) Learn to take pictures that aren't crap!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

"Mrs Anna...", Part Two

Re: last night's wardrobe dilemma, I decided to go with the frivolous young ass approach and wear a pretty dress, play-doh be damned.

Red shoes and everything!

I've now just realised that I've also got to find something to wear tomorrow, AND the day after that, AND the day after that, and then on and on and on until half term.  Gaaaah!

Monday, 6 September 2010

"Mrs Anna, I believe in snow!"

I know three blog posts in one evening is taking the piss, but I've got a dire wardrobe-related conundrum and it's already past bedtime and I'm no good at making decisions in the morning.

If you were starting work in a new class tomorrow, what would you wear?  You want to (misleadingly) appear  competent and presentable so your presence reassures nervy parents, but you don't want to look dowdy.  You want to dazzle and enchant the five-year-olds so they worship you as some kind of princess/Hannah Montana hybrid, but you don't want your new class teacher to think you're a frivolous young ass.  Your day will almost certainly involve unpleasant things like paint and play-doh, but you don't own any practical clothes.   You'll be spending a lot of time bending over the very low Year 1 tables, so unless you want to risk flashing your knickers you'd better remember to wear longer skirts than you used to be able to get away with in Year 6, where the surfaces were higher.  You're on playground duty and the weather's expected to be gloomy.  Oh, and you would prefer to be able to wear red shoes with your ensemble, because if you tell the truth you're more than a little bit nervous, and you feel more confident if you've got red shoes on.


If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

One more Parisian slapper in the house can't make much difference.

Like my miniature beret?  They're the latest thing, you know, and it was very expensive.  (That's a lie.  There's no such thing as a miniature beret.  It's a child's beret and I wore it when I was a very chic and picturesque six-year-old, and I continue to wear it because I'm too cheap to buy a red beret when I've got a perfectly good red beret that just happens to be sliiiightly too small.)

On Saturday morning I was a '40s Land Girl, and on Saturday night I was a '20s flapper.

Alexa was just a one-legged crazy person.

The Storming of the Heaton Bastille

So when Simon was on holiday he bought himself a set of three little pictures depicting famous things in Paris in black-and-white and red.  Two of the three are quite nice (although Simon, I've just gone and had a nosy at them and I've decided the Arc de Triomphe one is actually the worst.) but we're in agreement that the third one looks like a cheap postcard:

Eagle-eyed viewers will note that it's hanging on the wall, rather than under Simon's bed where it belongs.  It appeared there in the hall in the dead of night.  Suspicious, eh?  The following morning, while Simon was still snoring, I decided to make a political statement of retaliation to voice my calm and democratic dissent.   I would stick up a picture of my own, and house-proud Simon would just not be able to cope with the combination of a dog-eared postcard, scruffy blue-tack AND dead movie stars!  He'd be sure to take down the Eiffel Tower before you could say "Yes Ziz, you are right."  Foolproof plan, I thought, as I selected a suitable image...

"Oh" said Simon, emerging from his room several hours later.  "Oh.  That looks quite good like that, actually.  I like it."


Thursday, 2 September 2010

Skirting the ironing board

Behold my favourite skirt:

Saw it in Oasis (of course), all £35 of it, hanging right next to the sale rail in order to tempt thrifty shoppers like me away from their bargains.  Tried it on, adored it, flippantly said to Alexa that it wasn't practical, wasn't flattering, wouldn't go with anything, and I'd wait for it to come into the sale.  Found it in the sale about a month ago, fifteen quid, MINE.  Took it on lots of adventures, delighted in its silly ruffles, general bliss all round.


Washed it today.  Hadn't got around to washing it before. (Yes, after owning it for a month.  Don't judge me.)  Didn't bother to heed the warning on the label to wash by itself before first wear in case of colour bleedgae.  Oh, well, never mind, those green pyjamas look better indigo anyway.  Colour bleedage isn't the problem here.  Hung pretty clean skirt out to dry on washing line, due to unseasonable sunshine (In September?!  In Newcastle?!)  Took pretty skirt in when dry. THE BLOODY THING REQUIRES IRONING!  I don't iron.  I certainly don't iron denim.  But EVERY SINGLE RUFFLE HAS TO BE IRONED SEPARATELY!  Ghkdnfniushfwoe;hfw!!  I ironed the stupid arsing thing and it took ages.

Stupid ruffles.

Here's a picture of today's ensemble.

Yes, that's ANOTHER Oasis denim skirt, shame shame shame
Ha!  Not a single movie star in this piece of toast!  Instead, here's my great-aunt Margaret sharing my passion for stupid, impractical ruffled skirts:

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