4. Napkin Diary For October 2014

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Monday, 13th October

There was a four hour strike today by thousands of NHS workers, including nurses, midwives and ambulance staff.

They would like a 1% pay rise. The government says this will cost too much.

Urgent and emergency care was unaffected, and there have been reports that staff left the picket lines to attend to patients.

The little ambulance was taken from a child’s (Julia Lena Morell) colouring book that I bought from a charity shop in Barcelona. I will be posting more about this shop at a later date. It is on my ‘To Do’ list.

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Madeline In London

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I am making a determined attempt to get some of the ‘old stock’ from under my bed, and into the sale section of my shop. These are cards I made years ago, onto which my former contact details have been written.

‘Madeline in London’ by Ludwig Bemelmans. First published in 1962, but this edition was published by Hippo in 1989.

I have no recollection of acquiring the book, but I’m sure it will have been beyond repair.

I adore Bemelmans, he was something of a maverick. If you are not familiar with the Madeline books, boy they are good. At first glance you are taken in by the beautiful illustrations.

And then you meet Madeline:

‘She was not afraid of mice,

She loved winter, snow, and ice,

To the tiger in the zoo

Madeline just said, “Pooh-Pooh” ‘

Did I mention all of the books rhyme? Except ‘Madeline’, who never quite rhymes. The publishers wanted this changed, but Bemelmans wouldn’t budge. See what I mean? What’s not to like?

Once you know feisty Madeline, you are hooked, she takes no messing. A spunky female role model. A free spirit. She attends a boarding school in Paris. Pepito, the Spanish Ambassador’s son lives next door. In this book, Pepito moves to London and the schoolgirls visit him.

Madeline (who by the way, celebrates her 75th birthday this year) is a character who stays with you, like Pooh, Clarice Bean, Pi and Jesse Pinkman. But I don’t know who I love more, Madeline, or Bemelmans himself.

Bemelmans lived life on his own terms. He was born in 1898 in Austria/Hungry and died in New York City in 1962, at the age of 64. He became an American citizen in 1918. He didn’t start writing until he was 46, and had his first book published when he was 50. Again, what is not to like?

There are many Bemelmans quotes, but this is my favourite, “We are writing for children, but not for idiots.”

See you soon,

Alison x

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Vintage Ladybird ‘3a Things We Like’

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I am making a determined attempt to get some of the ‘old stock’ from under my bed, and into the sale section of my shop. These are cards I made years ago, onto which my former contact details have been written. They are totally unique and come with a sewn upcycled envelope. As usual, these cards are made from a used food packaging and are super eco-friendly, as everything used was rescued from the bin.

3a Things We Like by W. Murray. Illustrated by John Berry. Published by Ladybird in the early Seventies.

John Berry was a Hammersmith lad, born in 1920. He died four years ago.

He won a Royal Academy Scholarship, but the war prevented him from taking it. He was a war artist and a lot of his work is now housed in The Imperial War Museum.

After the war he painted portraits. He provided a service at Harrods (where else?) whereby you could drop off a photograph and he would reproduce it in oil.

He has illustrated many children’s books, not just Ladybird, but it is Peter and Jane which brought him to my attention.

See you soon,

Alison x

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Vintage Ladybird ‘Fun On The Farm’

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I am making a determined attempt to get some of the ‘old stock’ from under my bed, and into the sale section of my shop. These are cards I made years ago, onto which my former contact details have been written. They are totally unique and come with a sewn upcycled envelope. As usual, these cards are made from a used food packaging and are super eco-friendly, as everything used was rescued from the bin.

4b Fun On The Farm by W. Murray. Illustrated by Harry Wingfield. First published by Ladybird in 1965, not sure when this edition was published, but it cost 24p.

Harry Wingfield died on 5th March, 2002 at the age of ninety-one.

He taught me to read. Not in person, but by making the reading of those relentlessly boring Peter and Jane ‘stories’ more bearable. I loved looking at his illustrations. The family in the pictures were far removed from my own family, but I appreciated those watercolours nevertheless.

He was a freelance illustrator for Ladybird Books for three decades, retiring in the 1980s. He portrayed a wholesome world, without divorce and disobedient children. Jane helped Mummy in the kitchen and Peter helped Daddy with the car.  Although, in the 1970s Jane ditched her pretty frock for jeans. We did that sort of thing in the Seventies.

I loved his work then, and I love it now. He also did some abstract stuff, for the Ladybird Junior Science series.

Laters,

Alison x

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What A Lot Of Hairy-Faced Men There Are Around Nowadays…

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‘A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.’ Roald Dahl, The Twits.

What’s not to like?

Leaving books on trains, for strangers, is something I have been doing for a while. I do it on a whim, without structure. Thought it might be a nice idea to do it every Sunday, or maybe Saturday.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of books we have in our house, no really, you wouldn’t believe it.

Take this one for example, The Twits, we have four copies, all from various charity shops. I like to give them to visiting children. I am making it my mission this week to give three copies away. The books in our house are taking up too much space, I need to pass them on.

Before I had the children, and before I was ill, I was a full-time primary school teacher. My favourite part of the day was having the children snuggle up on the cushions to listen to a story. The magnificent Roald Dahl was always a hit, but The Twits in particular never failed to give pleasure. Hearing children laughing at the written word is the loveliest thing in the world.

Dahl wrote this book in 1979 (that first line – the title of my post – could’ve been written now), and it was illustrated by the equally talented Quentin Blake.

I left it this morning with one of the lions in Trafalgar Square.

Apparently, four million children in the UK don’t own a book.

Alison x

 

 

 

 

3. The Surprise Party by Pat Hutchins

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Happy October!

I made these postcards some time ago, and either forgot to list them in my shop, or the listing expired and I forgot to renew. The business side of my operation is not my strong point. They don’t teach you to do impromptu giveaways at 8am on a Sunday at Harvard Business School.

So today, and possibly Friday, I am going to try to list some of the stuff sitting in shoe boxes under the bed. The three shown here are now in stock.

They are very, very, very eco-friendly, as everything used in their making was destined for the bin.

They are made from cereal boxes and an old copy of ‘The Surprise Party’ by Pat Hutchins. The book was published in 1972 (Penguin, in association with The Bodley Head), making the front these cards 41 years old. They are not reproductions, they are made from the actual book. I never cut up books which could still be read, this particular copy was rather moldy in places (none of this on the cards, though). I acquired it some years ago, and couldn’t bear to see it thrown away.

Pat Hutchins won a scholarship to Darlington School of Art (a few miles from my home town) in 1958. She has written and illustrated about 50 books, and given countless children lots of pleasure over the years. One of these children was me. I can remember the lovely Mrs. Yates reading this to my class when I was sixish. Mrs. Yates was a hippy, and I loved her. I was totally beguiled by the illustrations. Here was a person who had outlined her images in dark green, not black. Was that allowed? I think I can trace my colourful sewing outlines right back to Pat Hutchins, now I come to think about it.

I am now going to list some Drake Brookshaw number cards.

Alison x

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13. June 2014

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Picture of a Nurse   22nd June

I was washing up, whilst listening to Radio 4, when I heard about the death of Patsy Byrne. Best known for her role as Nursie in Blackadder.

The picture comes from ‘Topsy and Tim Go To Hospital’ by Jean and Gareth Adamson, published by Blackie in 1982.

If you have not been following my napkin work, and have no idea what I am talking about, then read on (if you have been following, then I am about to repeat myself) and I will explain. The idea, at first, was to sew a word onto an old napkin for each day of the month. A word with some relevance for that particular day. However, as usual, I didn’t stick to my own brief. ‘One word’ soon became ‘a few words’, or sometimes a picture. The aim is to end up with a memento of the month. If you look at the cloud to the right, or at the end of the post, and click on the ‘napkin’ heading, you will be able to view notes about the other words.

Have a good weekend,

Alison x

P.S. We are having building work done in August, due to finding loads of rotten floorboards (a twenty year leak we knew nothing about when we moved here, a few years ago) and asbestos. Anyway, we will be living in one room with a microwave, which we have yet to purchase. Meanwhile, I have to pack everything away, including the computer.

I have decided to close my shop for the whole of August, but will continue with my giveaway.

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