Monday, 28 March 2011

Boring Outfit Post - Big Game Hunting in Oxfam

I don't know what was in the water in Hollywood in 1953, but that year the studios seem to have produced particularly brilliant films, including several of my faves.  Calamity Jane, Roman Holiday, Kiss Me Kate, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Band Wagon - and MogamboMogambo is actually one of my earliest old-film memories - I can remember it being on in the background one Sunday afternoon at my Granny's house, and half-following the story as I read Enid Blyton books/played with Pogs/built a catapult with elastic bands/set fire to my sister, or whatever I was doing that day.  I saw the film in full a couple of years ago and loved it, but, predictably, was most impressed by the costumes.

As regular readers will have noticed, I normally go in for as many bright colours as I can squish into one ensemble, but there's something about the desert-heat-and-hungry-tigers-deflecting neutral tones of outfits like these that appeals and makes me want to dress like an explorer.

Particularly an explorer with Grace Kelly's face and Ava Gardner's figure, please.
I bought a skirt in a charity shop at the weekend.  I knew what shoes I wanted to wear with it, but wasn't sure how else to style it, so I just threw clothes at myself at random, looked in the mirror, thought "Aha!  Explorer chic!" and added a leopard-print cardi for extra safari points.  Result:

Now, where did I put my pith helmet?

Skirt:  Principles via charity shop
Cardigan:  H&M
Top:  Oasis
Belt:  used to belong to my Grandpa!
Socks:  haven't got a bloody clue
Shoes:  Primark

Oh, and speaking of leopards, even my nails matched!  Check it ooouuuut:

Dear me, ankle socks, brogues and leopard-print nails - could I be any more 'fashion blogger' today?!

Anyway, Mogambo is ace.  To be perfectly honest, I was too busy ogling the clothes to take too much notice of the plot intricacies at the time, but as far as I remember, Clark Gable is a big game hunter on safari in Africa.  (A decade and a half on from his "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" days but he totally still had it.  Grr.)  A former showgirl, having been given the push by her maharajah boyfriend, turns up in his camp and refuses to leave.  Then a boring anthropologist and his beautiful, prim wife turn up, a ridiculously complex love quadrangle occurs, somebody gets carried away and shoots somebody else with Clark's gorilla-shooting gun, and it ends with a very lovely bit on a raft.  (That rambling paragraph is what passes for a movie review here at Bette on Toast.  In short - 5 stars, highly recommended, especially if you like safari clothes!)

Interestingly (well, only interesting if you're an old movies anorak, I suppose), Mogambo is a remake of a film called Red Dust, which was made 20 years earlier and starred as the male lead...  Clark Gable.  Did the man just not age?!  I have been on a little costumes-stalking mission, but it seems that in 1932, ladies stranded in remote African outposts swooned around all day in high-heeled mules and silk nightgowns.

Next challenge - accessorise safari style with polkadots!  And Clark Gable.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


ME:  What are you going to do this weekend?
SMALL GIRL:  Play on my Wii.
ME:  Mint! Can I come and play?
SMALL GIRL:  No, Miss Hamer. You're too old.

Good evening, world.

Following last week's dramatic novel of a toast post, I haven't got any more words in my head or entertaining stories to tell, so I'm going to show you some snapshots of my glamorous showbiz life.  Well, actually, just two snapshots of my glamorous showbiz life, and then a couple of mundane 'things right now' pictures to fill up some space.

I might potentially be getting chucked out by the Easter holidays, but in any case, my job is brilliant.  Last Friday some of the teachers and I took to the stage in the name of Red Nose Day to perform a Bollywood dance routine and make the school talent show end with a bang:

 (Please note, I am not wearing a pasty white camisole, that is my actual SKIN.)
Blatantly not doing the right moves there, Hamer!
I went a bit power-crazy with my new-found (non-existant) Pixlr skills and smudged out people's faces in case they didn't appreciate the publicity!

I enjoy Boots' cunning advertising scheme - manly, no-nonsense grooming for Simon, and make-up and floral motifs for me.

My costume for next week's dance show!  (Shoes not included, thankfully.  I know it's meant for fancy dress rather than realistic 1920s re-enacting, but high-heeled flip-flops, really?!)

Now I'm off for a shower to wash away eau de tap-dancing and then I can try that baby on!  Woo!  Then to bed, 'cos EXHAUSTIPATED.

Friday, 18 March 2011

A Terrible Tale of Nocturnal Misadventure

WHAT FOLLOWS IS A TRUE STORY.  (The author admits that some elements may have been over-exaggerated sliiightly to enhance dramatic potential, but the basic facts are the truth.)

It was a dark and gloomy night in Newcastle, and our heroine was slumbering peacefully, until a sudden onslaught of noise disturbed her repose.  As the unpalatable cacophony continued, she leapt out of bed and ran to the window in her glamorous pyjamas* to investigate the ruckus.

(*Lies.  The heroine is of course me, and I was in fact wearing a pair of white pyjama pants with a hole in them and a t-shirt that says 'Jesus Hates Tomatoes'.) (And excuse me for breaking the fourth wall here, but Simon, that has just reminded me...  I will do most of the washing up mountain, but there are certain articles that I require you to take care of before you gallivant away for the weekend, otherwise I'm just going to have to put them in the wheelie bin.)  And wheelie bins bring me seamlessly back into my narrative, as you will see if you read on!

Anyway, I can't keep up this storybook register so you're going to have to excuse me lapsing back into my usual slapdash narrative voice for the rest of the tale!  Where was I?  Oh yes, gloomy night, nocturnal misadventure...

So, I woke up and heard a male voice, and peered out of the window, and there stood a man in my garden.  "Simon, what on earth are you doing out there?  This is not a good time to be hanging washing out on the line!", I thought, and as I was thinking it, I noticed that the shadowy figure was not hanging out washing, but was kicking the fence with a good deal of force and aggression, shouting his head off all the while.  "Simon what the fuck?!  Oh my God, he's gone mad, he must have taken something, what do I do, how do I stop him?!"  Now, even in the dim light it should have been clear that this was not Simon, but in my defence I HAD just woken up - in any case, the sleepy fog soon cleared, and I decided that the wisest course of action was to wake up the man of the house and let him deal with the rampaging lunatic in the shrubbery.

I tiptoed to my bedroom door, intending just to stick my head out and see if Simon's bedroom light was on (or if there were any signs of him having some sort of breakdown and going on a destructive bender).  Well, from my bedroom door one can see through into the kitchen, and I now observed our visitor at the kitchen window, engaged in overturning the wheelie bins and making enough noise to raise the dead.  PARALYSED with fear (and also slightly worried that the neighbours would think that we were the ones making all this racket), I scuttled back into bed and texted Simon.

"Are you awake?"
"Just about.  Warum?"

Finally satisfied that the mentalist outside wasn't my (usually) respectable flatmate, I gathered all my courage, dashed past the kitchen and burst into his room.

"Simon Simon there's a man and he's kicking, and the bins, and the back door, did you lock it, and he's shouting, what's going on, DO SOMETHING!!!!!11!1!"

Simon, sausage-rolled in his duvet, gave me one of his "Stupid woman" looks and said that he couldn't hear anything, so it must have stopped now, so there wasn't anything we could do, and I should go back to sleep. ("Go to SLEEP?  At a time like this?!"

So SIMON went back to sleep, and I returned to my bed and lay there and shook for about fifteen minutes, after which I again heard raised voices, but this time there were car engines and doors and more of a general, chaotic atmosphere.

"Right" thought I.  "I'm going to go and find out exactly what the hell is going on in my quiet, middle-class cul-de-sac."

So I took a deep breath and went and positioned myself at the living room window at the front of the house, from where I could see THREE police cars ("Dear God, this is some sort of Raoul Moat episode isn't it?!") and several policeladies (The Force didn't seem to have sent any policemen to apprehend this violent criminal), who were standing around whilst one policelady bundled a sheepish, scrawny, completely non-terrifying young man into one of the cars.  And then they drove away and then I did go to bed, and maybe tomorrow I'll get around to picking up the poor, abused wheelie bins from under the kitchen window.


Monday, 14 March 2011

"But we were younger then...and we knew the alphabet."

Ohmygod, I am having a total geek moment.

Thanks to last week's Comic Relief 24 Hour Panel People, and some copyright pirate who put it on YouTube, I've finally witnessed the renaissance of Channel 4's Whose Line Is It Anyway?, featuring many of the original panel members.

Okay, it's not the best WLIIA? ever (Not that I went through a phase of watching all 136 episodes on YouTube instead of studying for my supposed Master's degree...), and it needs a damn good bit of editing (I'm kind of missing the point of the whole 'live broadcasting' here, aren't I?), but the very fact of it is amazing. Amazing!

Also, I think they've photoshopped in Clive's, Neil's and Josie's 1995 faces, because they all look exactly the same. The same can't be said for poor, once-beautiful Tony Slattery, though, but we love him all the same.


Oh boo stinkin' hoo, I was going to link to a YouTube compilation vid of Josie Lawrence and Tony Slattery, but APPARENTLY "Channel 4 has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds." Alright Channel 4, don't get your knickers in a twist.

Eee, I'm proper excited for going to see my "obscure 1990s comedians" at the Comedy Store next month now.
Pardon the geekiness, friends. In order to resume normal service, here are some photographs of me wearing clothes:

As you can see, today I've gone for my 'Fred Astaire from the waist down' look.
(Yes, Hermes Pan is totally a style icon, if I say so.)

Shoes:  Dorothy Perkins
Trousers:  River Island via charity shop via Mum's wardrobe
Cardigan:  Principles via charity shop via birthday present last year
Shirt:  Some horrendous shop called Quiz, when I was 18 and had no taste
Belt:  Best Vintage
Hair flowers:  Accessorize

P.S. Trip down Memory Lane: Me 'blogging' on Livejournal in early 2009

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Cheap thrills

SMALL BOY: [solemnly] Miss Hamer, this is for you.
MISS HAMER:  What is it?
SMALL BOY:  It's a stone.
MISS HAMER:  ...lovely!  Thank you!

Good afternoon, viewers!

Today I have been shopping.  In the total absence of anything interesting to read on these pages, would you like to see pictures of my purchases?

Tacky-fantastic pin-up girl t-shirt from Primark.  (Attention Primark employees - don't stick the size labels over that plasticky, iron-on transfer stuff!!  I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to scrape that shite off - it's worse than the labels on the soles of shoes!)
Umbrella (I binned its totally broken predecessor on the drizzly walk into town), purse and hair flowers, all from Accessorize.  Did you know Accessorize/Monsoon do a Boots-Advantage-card-esque rewards scheme now?  I was very excited until I read the small print and found that you need to spend £250 to get a £10 reward voucher.  Ah well, maybe by 2015 cheapskated me will have bought enough outlandish hair accessories to earn myself the price of a pair of earrings!

Make-up!  More to the point, FREE make-up!  Max Factor have an offer on - spend £15 and get a free gift.  I was in need of some foundation, having got to the stage where you have to shake and scrunch the bottle until the last drops dribble out with a wheezing death gurgle (I've had a cold this week and have been trowelling on the slap to try and achieve a healthy pallor!), so I bought the 'Lasting Performance' stuff (in a shade slightly darker than usual because that's what the magazines tell you to do when it's high summer, and IT WILL BE SUMMER SOON OH YES YES IT WILL.  To bump my total up to fifteen squid I bought a lipstick called 'Touch of Red', which is actually quite subtle and rosy.  I like it.  And then for freeeee I scored a make-up bag (actually quite a good one, with a detachable pocket and little holders for make-up brushes), a sachet of another foundation, which escaped the photo, a mascara, eyeshadow, lip gloss and nail varnish.  Wahey!  I also bought a cheaperiffic white nail varnish because I read about a technique for getting marbled nails that I'm interested to try.  The pretty notebook and pen are going to be wrapped up and given as a birthday present tomorrow.

Well that was boring, wasn't it?  I will atone by showing you some grafitti I saw round the back of Morrisons some weeks ago.  I had to dig out the camera lead from my Random Shit Box to show you this, so I hope you appreciate it!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

It smelled just like the halls of old Rydell

What do you do when your hairdryer, which belonged to your deceased Granny, who bought it some time in the early '90s, finally gives up the ghost and expires, emitting a cloud of smoke and an unpleasant smell?

Well, to avoid your fringe drying into 1990s boyband 'curtains', you do THIS:

[If any of my admirers are reading this, kindly avert your eyes now, as I would prefer you to continue believing that the face I paint on every morning is actually the one Nature gave me...]

Anyway, you do THIS:

And then in the morning you have THIS:

And then you dress up like a 1950s teenager and go about your day.  Like THIS:

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The intoxication of being a public spectacle

Lazy Sunday, still suffering the post-show blues, and nothing to do (except Mount St. Washing-Up, but the less said about that the better...) so I thought I'd amuse myself with a nostalgic retrospective of my six years in the Gilbert and Sullivan society.  This will be of interest to no-one, I'm sure, but I'll try and keep the cliquey anecdotes and plot summaries to a minimum!

2006 - The Gondoliers
The Gondoliers, like many G&S plotlines, involves secret love affairs and babies being mixed up at birth. Also kings, dukes, gondoliers, contadine and gratuitous bits of Italian lyrics.  I was a fresh-faced fresher and had never heard of Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan, had never sung in parts, couldn't read music and was generally bewildered throughout rehearsals.  Our production suffered a change of director mid-way through, we performed in a conference room with no stage, no lighting, no wings, no set and no dressing rooms, one of the leading ladies got pneumonia and couldn't go on, I mimed the whole way through and was too shy to squeak a word to any of the principals, and me and my fellow first-years had the time of our lives, became Gilbert and Sullivan geeks from that day on, and never looked back.

I'm on the end of the row, and I must have known the notes for that bit, or else I'm miming rather convincingly!
Here's a snap from my first G&S after-show party (also the first time I drank gin - another case of never looking back!).  The neighbours complained, the police threw us out at 5am, and I sobbed all the way home for reasons I no longer remember.  Good times!

2007 - The Sorcerer and Dracula Unhinged
Unsurprisingly, The Sorcerer's about a sorcerer.  Also disastrous love potions.  Very silly and lots of fun.  Onstage...

I am on the table in the middle, about to fall out of my top by the looks of it.


Slept on the party hostesses' living room floor that night, and three of us got a taxi home the following morning - looking like the above photograph.  I'll say this for stage make-up - you can pass out on the living room floor in it, and wake up looking more or less the same as you did 16 hours earlier, when the curtain first rose!

This was the year we began doing second shows in the summer term, and our first one was an original script and G&S songs with new lyrics.  It was about vampires, accountants, gravediggers and PhDs.  The chorus were zombie newspaper reporters.

With cat-like tread, beneath our graves we're found.  We're all quite dead, but still we move around.

Here I am, dancing at the after-party. Pretty dress (I still wear that from time to time!), chubby knees and totally demented hair!  Looking more like a zombie than I did on stage, actually!

2008 - The Mikado and Sherlock Holmes and the House of Almost Certain Death
Blah blah, usual G&S nonsense, but set in Japan this time.  If our society had a budget for costumes we may have worn kimonos.  But it hasn't, so we didn't.

I am kneeling, behind the Three Little Maids.
This after-show party was held at my house, as I was on the committee that year. (Fulfilling the role of totally inefficient Treasurer.)  Following tradition, we upset the neighbours (I don't understand why some people just don't appreciate acapella, top-of-our-voices drunk renditions of classic G&S choons in the small hours of the morning, I really don't...) and Mrs Nosy Next Door came and let herself into my house in her dressing gown and bedroom slippers to shout at me.  Whoops.

Our summer show that year was a new adventure for everybody's favourite consultant detective and his sidekick.  I played a jealous, broken-hearted housekeeper (with lines to say and songs to sing!), but there are no pictures of that, so here's a rehearsal snap of my Act Two cameo as a lady of ill-repute:

The Sherlock after-show party:

Bored, Simon?
2009 - Patience and How to Marry an Aristocrat
Patience.  Milkmaids, aesthetes and thwarted love affairs.  Here I am as Lady Saphir (demonstrating what Simon calls my Miss Babs face...)  Offstage, I am now a postgrad, but unprepared to bury myself in the library, talk about postmodernism and wear sweatshirts, as it seems is customary amongst some of the postgraduate section of the School of English.  I loathed my Masters Degree and lived for Tuesday night rehearsals and my theatrical pals.

Matt is amused by mine and Simon's camera faces.  I'll have you know that's the finest acting NUGSS has to offer, young man!
A few months later, in How to Marry an Aristocrat, I was Cacophony Hicksville, a brash, mercenary American heiress with a blonde wig, cowboy boots and an accent that kept flip-flopping between southern belle and gangster's moll.

I remember this as a pretty good cast party, but judging from this photo it must have been rather dull!

2010 - HMS Pinafore and A Tale of Liquor and Dice
It's 2010 and I'm a real grown-up with a job and lots of student debt, but still I cling on to my student days and G&S, because all the Gilbert and Sullivan alto parts are old ladies, and the only way a 23-year-old who still gets asked for ID in bars can get away with playing an old lady is in a student society where everybody else is nineteen...  HMS Pinafore is my favourite G&S operetta (the babies-mixed-up-at-birth plotline is back, you'll be pleased to note) and I played poor, crushed Cousin Hebe.

I love this picture from after the show.  No idea how I got my face to go like that.  I assume gin was involved.

The chap in the hat next to me in the Pinafore photo (my friend Matt, the only person other than me whose name appears on the cast lists for every single NUGSS show since we came to university!) wrote our next summer show, which was about gambling and gangsters in the 1920s.  Proving my earlier point about altos and old ladies, I played the role of Lily de Leazes, an elderly zoo owner, whose feckless son had gambled away her pride and joy.  Apparently one of my friends' parents, seeing me flitting around in the bar post-show, asked "Who's that? She wasn't in the show, was she?"  I enjoy how the real me is totally unrecognisable from my character!  To illustrate, here's demure, stately Lily: (vintage dress that used to belong to my great-great-aunt, vintage kid gloves, vintage shoes, and totally fake plastic pearls!)

And, er, showing my true colours a few hours later!

2011 - The Grand Duke
By popular opinion, our best production yet.  It's one of the lesser-performed shows (because its plot MAKES NO SENSE!) and not very famous, but I think because of that, everyone involved worked extra hard to make it funny and entertaining, and I think it turned out to be a real crowd-pleaser.  I hope everyone was very proud of their efforts.

Me being a bad-tempered costumier in Act Two - all my own clothes!
The after-show party was a hoot, as usual.  I'll spare you the photos of me getting progressively drunker and more embarrassing, but here's a nice one of me and my friend Hannah, another old-timer from the Gondoliers days.
My theatrical friends are the main reason I haven't yet managed to grow up and leave NUGSS.  The Gossip and Scandal society (or Gin and Sore heads society...) is the way we met and the glue that holds us together, spread all across the country as we are now - where would we be without the mischief and rumour-mongering that goes with putting on a show?  The actual performances are just an added bonus!

What's next?  Another production of HMS Pinafore, but set in the 1940s/WW2 this time (It's going to be SWELL, I can't wait!) in May, and after that, who knows?  I heard a whisper of The Pirates of Penzance...  Maybe soon I'll bite the bullet and join one of the other G&S societies in the area and leave NUGSS to the real students.  I suppose it's got to happen sooner or later, and my clinging on to my lost youth is getting a little bit ridiculous!  In the meantime, there's no business like show business!

(Anyone who is remotely interested in the things I have wittered on about today may visit the NUGSS website, since Matt spends so much time making it splendid!  I promise to be less geeky in future and post more pictures of clothes (Although - really the clothes pictured in this toast post are way more interesting than the usual day-to-day outfits that you guys flock (Yes. Flock. In hoardes.) to my blog to see!) Now, suppose I'd better go and scale that washing-up mountain I was talking about!)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

I don't care what the weatherman says.

Winter coat, you are defunct.  I can no longer recognise you.  I will skip around in my nautical mac, even if there is a thick layer of frost on the ground, I can see my breath and my fingers (and knees) are numb before I’m halfway to school.  (It wasn't so bad yesterday, but Thursday morning was minus-something!)

Cute, innit?  Good old Primark!

Speaking of summery jackets, I would like some suggestions of how to wear this birdies blazer from H&M:

I've been wearing it like this, with jeans and a tight, white t-shirt sticking out.  (Also pictured: beer stain on my tummy after some frau bumped into me and caused drink-spillage - this photo was taken after I got home last night!)  But how else to wear it, viewers?  I can see it as a cardi-alternative in the summer, open, over a sundress, but it's not going to get warm enough in Newcastle for that any time soon, even if I DO wear summer coats and flowers in my hair and blithely ignore the frost.  All suggestions welcome.  'Elp!

Also, very impressed with the staying power of the Clinique lipstick I got free with Glamour magazine this month - it lasts for hours!  Shame I don't actually like the colour.

Overheard at school
SMALL GIRL: [brandishing a wicker basket she found somewhere] Oh Grandma, what big teef you have!  Oh no, it's a wolf!  Where is the woodcutter?!
MISS HAMER:  Are you being Little Red Riding Hood?
SMALL GIRL:  Miss Hamer, shush.  You sit there on that table and don't make any noise while I'm acting.

I don't remember her being this... theatrical before I started working with her...!
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