Earlier this week, I asked on social media if any of you would be interested in tutorials etc. You seemed pretty keen, and I posted a little Instagram story of how I do my every day make up. A lot of you watched (thank you!), so I thought I would post it here so you can look at it properly without the clock ticking!
I will try to put together a timelapse style video of this also to post in the near future so you can see exactly how I apply everything.
I start with a cleansed and moisturised face (I am in the process of putting together a post about the products I use, so stay tuned for that!), and once I've done my hair ready for the day, I start my make up. Don't ask me why I do it like this, I just do...
Now the 'face' is done, I can move on to the eyes, so next up is brows. If you all thought I was naturally ginger, you would sadly be mistaken. I, therefore, need to create the illusion that my hair and eyebrows are actually the same colour... Enter, Bleach London Louder Powder. I'd been looking for the perfect shade of orange to use on my brows forever and then happened upon this on a lunchtime wander around Superdrug. It was like choirs of angels were singing and all was suddenly right with the world. It is very highly pigmented, so, like everything else, a little goes a long way. I apply it using a small angled brush. It's joyous.
Once my lips are on, I feel completely put together (or as put together as one can) and can go to work feeling like I have one less thing to worry about!
So there we have it, my every day make up. It takes about 10-15 minutes to do it all (depending on how distracted I am in the morning either by social media, Duolingo [I'm using it to learn French at the moment] or the dog!) so all pretty straightforward. I hope this was enjoyable and informative, and if anyone gets the band reference from the title, you get a gold star!
Stay Hep, Cats
I guess you could say this time around you get a twofer.
I'll come clean, here. I have something of an unusual mind. The things that interest and fascinate me are not necessarily the things one would either expect nor are things one should discuss in polite society. I like old stuff, and dead stuff (I mean, come on, taxidermy is really freaking cool, right?!) and have a strange fascination with the macabre. Crime TV shows and movies are always my first choice.
Given this 'admission', I will announce my next guests.
Edmund Reid and Frederick George Abberline
These names might sound familiar to some of you, and be utterly alien to others. But, the name that connects these two men, and a name you will definitely all know is Jack the Ripper.
Frederick Abberline was Chief Inspector of the Metropolitan Police in 1888. A clockmaker before joining the Met, he was seconded to Whitechapel from Scotland Yard after the murder of Mary Ann Nichols. Despite being described as looking like 'a bank manager', his knowledge of the east end made him an integral part of the Ripper investigation.
Before his retirement from the Met in 1892, he received 84 commendations and awards. He subsequently worked as a private investigator and was part of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency of the United States for 12 years.
Inspector Abberline had some forward-thinking ideas when it came to the Ripper case, even considering that the murders could have been committed by a woman. This is certainly something that would rarely have been considered in the 1800s, and whilst there are many instances of female serial killers, it is usually less likely that serial murders are committed by women. His prime suspect was George Chapman (whose real name was Severin Antoniovich Klosowski), who was convicted of poisoning several women in the the late 1890s early 1900s. Although known as the Borough Poisoner, he was amongst the suspects in the Whitechapel murders. Not my prime suspect, however.
Frederick died in 1929 at the age of 86, followed a few months later by his wife, Emma. They never had children, but by all accounts had a happy life together.
Edmund Reid was a Detective Inspector based in Scotland Yard. He was tasked with organising J Division's CID Department in Bethnal Green in 1886, which led him to becoming the Local Inspector and head of CID's H Division in Whitechapel in 1888. He was in charge of the investigations of the murders of Emma Elizabeth Smith and Martha Tabram before Inspector Abberline was seconded back to Whitechapel to co-ordinate the hunt for The Ripper.
D.I. Reid also had some interesting theories regarding who Jack the Ripper was. He postulated that the murders were committed by a local drunk who had no recollection of his crimes.
In an interview in 1912 for Lloyd's Weekly News he said: "The whole of the murders were done after the public-houses were closed; the victims were all of the same class, the lowest of the low, and living within a quarter of a mile of each other; all were murdered within half a mile area; all were killed in the same manner. That is all we know for certain. My opinion is that the perpetrator of the crimes was a man who was in the habit of using a certain public-house, and of remaining there until closing time. Leaving with the rest of the customers, with what soldiers call 'a touch of delirium triangle,' he would leave with one of the women. My belief is that he would in some dark corner attack her with the knife and cut her up. Having satisfied his maniacal blood-lust he would go away home, and the next day know nothing about it."
He believed that the Ripper had no surgical skill, and that the knife used was blunt. He didn't think that body parts were missing either (which we know was not true as Mary Ann Nichols' uterus was removed during/after her murder).
After retiring from the police, he became a publican and then a private investigator. Reid died in 1917 at the age of 71, having only remarried earlier that year.
The more I researched both Abberline and Reid, the more I found myself thinking about their characters in the amazing series Ripper Street. Reid being played by Matthew MacFadyen and Abberline by Clive Russell. In the show, Reid is intelligent and forward thinking, compassionate and dogged; whilst Abberline seems hard and battle weary. They don't seem to like each other, and it feels as though Abberline is maliciously trying to drag Reid down and make him fail. Looking at the theories they actually had in reality about the Ripper, it would seem that it was Abberline who was the compassionate forward-thinking man and Reid the more angry and battle-scarred.
I would love to have them both at the table to discuss their theories and gauge their relationship with each other. Did they get on? Was there a mutual respect or some sort of jealousy? Did Reid resent having Abberline be seconded in whilst he was heading up the department and murder investigations? Did Abberline resent being dragged back into the East End? I would love to ask them about the more recent theories about who the Ripper was, and whether they think with the investigative techniques we have now they could have actually caught Jack. I would love to discuss my favourite Ripper-related book with them (Patricia Cornwell's Portrait of a Killer) and find out if they think that the evidence contained within is as compelling as I do.
Whilst the gruesome deaths of Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly are not strictly dinner party conversation, the Whitechapel murders are infamous and such a huge part of London history that I think one could be forgiven for discussing the more taboo whilst dining.
What are your thoughts? Would you come to dinner if Frederick and Edmund were invited?
Stay Hep, Cats
Despite getting increasingly frustrated, angry and bored of her antics towards the end of her career, my love for her didn't wane, and, even increased after her sad and untimely death. She had a soul that nobody of this era will ever be able to truly understand, she was, very possibly, born in the wrong time.
I can relate to some of the hardships she went through as a child and young adult, but, unlike Amy, I had a very solid family. My parents loved me and wanted me, and whilst I have suffered (and still do) my fair share of mental health problems, I at least, am still here. Still surviving.
I hear new things in Amy's songs every time I hear them; nuances in the way she sings, hidden messages in her lyrics. I feel that as I get a little older I understand her pain in different ways.
I would love to have Amy for dinner because I would like to talk to her about her life experiences and try to get her to open up about how it felt to be her. This incredibly talented, unassuming young woman, who was used and abused by so many people in her life, her father included. I would love to ask her what she planned to do next, would she have continued to make music if she hadn't left this mortal coil and joined the '27 club'? Would she have married Reg Traviss? Would she have ended up going back to Blake Fielder-Civil?
I want to believe that she would have got fully drug-free and found lasting love, but then again, I'm an old romantic. I have to wonder if she had settled down, would any new music she produced be as emotive as the tracks we know and love? There are so many questions I would like to ask her, but to be frank (see what I did there), I would just want to hear her sing.
So, what do you think? Would you have Amy Winehouse over for dinner?
Stay Hep, Cats
I was published again this month in Vintage Life magazine, and while it's an utter thrill to see my articles and recipes in print, this time around I'm rather disappointed (and it's not the first time...) The article I wrote has been shortened without me being asked first and the recipe sadly has been misprinted. I am therefore providing both the full article and you can find the recipe here. I hope you enjoy it!
When I was a child - like many children - I loved throwing tea parties for my huge variety of toys. Even though all the cups were plastic and the teapot was empty, I imagined I was laying out the finest bone china, the tea was some exotic blend I hadn’t even heard of, and the toys were served delicious cakes and delectable sandwiches (see I was a foodie even then). My teddies and dollies were in their Sunday best and on their best behaviour - probably the only time both they and I were! As I grew and played with my enviable collection of Barbie and Sindy dolls (and Disney Princess dolls - they were always my favourite) I made them have dinner and tea parties with each other rather than me hosting it for them - me hosting would have been just plain weird. Now I’m grown up (in body at least), I still yearn for those days of having tea parties so have to force them on friends and family. There is still something so magical for me about that tea party spread; tiny morsels of cake and finger sandwiches as if made for pixies, the heavenly scent of sugar and tea or coffee hanging in the air and beautiful crockery adorning the table. It always feels to me that there is fairy dust enveloping everything and I am swept back to being a child playing make-believe with my toys. Although now I’m not dressed in my Super Ted pyjamas, I’m dressed in an elegant frock imagining it’s 1952 - I’m still playing make believe to a certain extent.
One of my favourite things to eat as a child was a fondant fancy, which is also known as a French fancy. They fascinated me with their colours (the pink and yellow ones at least, the brown ones were pretty dull), their soft interior and sweet and slightly crunchy exterior. They were definitely one of the more magical treats we had as children. Most of us know them as one of Mr Kipling’s “exceedingly good” cakes, and the eponymous cake maker is credited with introducing this little coquettish confection to Britain in 1967.
I realise there are a lot of steps in making these fancies, including an abundance of putting in and taking out of the fridge, but these steps are so crucial. Chilling the cake ensures a smooth coating of buttercream. Gluten-free cakes are typically more crumbly than regular wheat flour cakes, so in order to coat the sides of your fancies and not destroy half the cake in the process; chill, chill, chill. Whilst these are notoriously tricky to get right (does anyone recall the technical challenge on the Bake Off) when you do, they truly are some of the most delicious and magical treats you could want on your tea party table. Try not to touch the sides too much when you ice them to ensure there are no fingerprints; you want a neat and smooth finish.
I would recommend serving these gorgeous little pixie cake treats alongside a Victoria Sponge (see issue 82 for my recipe), lashings of tea and some gluten-free finger sandwiches (crusts removed, of course) stuffed with smoked salmon and cream cheese, cucumber (obviously), egg mayonnaise and the perennial favourite, cheese and pickle. You could also include the very traditional coronation chicken - purportedly created in 1953 for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation which was originally made by poaching chicken with aromatics, then dressing the cooked, cooled and shredded meat in a combination of softened onions, curry powder, tomato puree, wine and water, seasoning, sugar and lemon juice which is simmered and cooled, then has mayonnaise and apricot puree folded through and finished with whipped cream. The more modern version is rather easier where the chicken is coated with a blend of mayonnaise, mango chutney, curry powder, lime or lemon zest and juice and seasoning.
This spread is almost certainly more than I could have dreamed of as a child, but creating it now allows me to get that little magic spark back. Like Roald Dahl said “those who do not believe in magic will never find it”, and with this vintage-inspired tea party I definitely believe in magic and I hope you will too.
Hopefully, you have all been excited to find out who I am planning to invite to my fantasy dinner party! There will be some guests who I'm sure you'll think are pretty obvious, and some I hope you either may not know of or, like me, will want to find more about. But let's start at the beginning and with one of the more obvious guests to dinner...
Given my penchant for vintage dressing, especially the style of the 50s, it should be no surprise that Marilyn would be a guest at my fantasy dinner. That she would be my first guest is perhaps more of a surprise. The thing is, I can't remember a time when I wasn't a fan of Norma Jean. She has always been there.
Marilyn, whose early life was full of heartbreak, and whose incredible life under a microscope ended at the same age I am now. Just 36. From a brown-haired girl-next-door married to her first husband at the tender age of 16 in order that she didn’t end up back in an orphanage, to the platinum blonde bombshell who couldn’t move without someone noticing or taking a picture of her.
Having spent a lot of my life reading countless books about her, watching her movies and many a biopic of her life, I have even more love for her. She clearly suffered with mental health problems (not surprisingly given her unusual upbringing, childhood abuse and her mother being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic), and addictions. All she wanted was to love and be loved. She desperately desired a child, but her beautiful curvaceous body, into which she pumped endless pills and alcohol, could not sustain a pregnancy. She married three times in a desperate bid to find the love she desired, but none of her husbands could love her the way she wanted. She needed the father she never had.
I would love to have Marilyn for dinner; I would love to just listen to her talk about her interests. She was incredibly intelligent and I’m sure she was never able to really show that due to her persona as ‘the dumb blonde’. I wish I could ask her how and why she died. Did she commit suicide? Was she murdered? Or was it (as I believe) just an awful accident.
I would probably spend an inordinate amount of time simply staring at her because I think she was so incredibly beautiful which might freak her out somewhat, but I'm sure she would handle it with aplomb. After all, she spent her life being stared at.
So, there you have it. My first guest at my fantasy dinner party. What do you think? Would you have Marilyn for tea?
Stay Hep, Cats