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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Oh, how I remember the days of Ossie Clark...

I have just rediscovered this wonderful 'Ossie Clark for radley' dress that I bought in the mid-sixties, and suddenly I'm overwhelmed by the memories of an amazing era. The dress is made of heavy moss crepe (this was the radley influence) in a beautiful emerald green with a neckline that plunges almost to the waist. (I used to attach a corsage, for modesty, even in those daring days!) It  is also, more discreetly, slit to the waist at the back, and always made me feel like a million dollars. I only wish I had a photograph of me wearing it...

Does anyone else have a photo of their favourite vintage outfit?

Thursday, 24 May 2012

When dyeing your hair could KILL you...

 Have you heard of PPD? No – it’s not a quick fix method of getting money back from the bank, or anywhere else for that matter. It stands for p-Phenylenediamine and is present in just about every hair dye sold all over the world. It should, of course,  have WARNING/DANGER written in large letters on the packaging, but it doesn’t. Why? Because the manufacturers don’t want to put you off buying their money-making  products. PPD can cause  a serious allergic reaction to the skin of the face, neck and scalp, including open sores, heavy blistering and severe swelling. In extreme cases it can lead to anacalyptic shock  and even death. And if this isn’t bad enough, it isn't just women who are  unaware of the dangers. I know of qualified  hairdressers who haven't heard of it either!

For most of my life I’ve had naturally dark hair and even had ‘lowlights’ to make in look even darker.  These also contained PPDs, though I had no idea at the time. It started with an itching scalp, sometimes after I'd had the highlights, and then one morning I woke up with my face covered in huge blisters.  I had two or three less serious reactions before I finally realised the dye was to blame.

 After one final attempt at a darker colour with a local hairdresser, ( who assured me this time it would be ok), the symptoms started all over again. I did some research and learnt about  the horrors of PPD.

In total frustration I went blonde last year (the least said about that the better) and am now gradually  getting back to my roots.  But the message, I hope, is clear.  If you do colour your own hair, please check the ingredients on the box. Or if you go to  a salon, be sure to ask the right questions - and have a patch test first.

Several people have already died for  the sake of vanity. Please make sure you don't become just another statistic.

Monday, 21 May 2012

A man walks into a car lot....

My nephew discovered  a surprising connection between the US and Guernsey when on business in New York recently.  Jon Atkin, National Accounts Manager for That Company called IF,  met an executive from Barnes and Noble, the world's largest book distributors, and got chatting after their meeting.

Jon, from Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, picks up the story.

'He told me he'd  be in Britain soon on holiday, so I asked where he was staying.'

'Guernsey in the Channel Islands,' he replied, 'Do you know it?'

'Know it?'  I said,   'half my ancestors were born there!
It turned out that his sister lives in Guernsey and he's been going there for several years.'

Oh, and while he was in the States, Jon ended up on  cult TV show Broadway Carfellas after walking into a car lot in Amityville, NY. The guys  working there, apparently,  have turned 'ad lib' into an art form by chatting with potential punters at  Broadway Motors while the cameras are rolling.

'I was with my boss and we only called in out of curiosity, to see what the place was like' says Jon. We already follow the programme at home on the Discovery Channel. The whole thing was a fantastic experience. We had no idea we'd end up on TV.'

 A successful trip all round, then, wouldn't you agree?

John Atkin with newborn son Jake

Saturday, 12 May 2012

An extract from my historical novel - to celebrate Liberation Day

'We are free' proclaimed the headlines all over Guernsey this week as the island celebrated the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the Channel Islands from the horror of German rule. My own grandparents lived through the Occupation and  spoke of the appalling cruelty of the enemy ( as well as  rare, unwanted, acts of kindness) the memories of which have stayed with me always.

Here is an extract from my as yet unpublished novel, set in the Occupation of Guernsey, where we find the female protagonist,  Lydia Le Page, joining the crowds on the island's first day of freedom.

It seemed as  if every islander had come out that day to celebrate , their faces scrubbed   and boots polished  (though heaven knows what with.) Dressed in their 'Sunday Best' they hugged each other, tears flowing unashamedly down their cheeks 
    Just then Sophie Romerill stepped out of the crowd, waving a Union Jack in the air. 'My dear, dear Lydia,' she said. ' How are you? Isn't this wonderful? I wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for you.'
    Impulsively, Lydia kissed her on the cheek. 'I'm just  so happy to see you.'  Thank goodness the doctors had kept the poor woman in the asylum away from the Jerries. Other Jews, it seemed, had suffered a far worse fate.
    'They're putting up flags all along the Esplanade.' Sophie was still talking. 'It's all over, isn't it?' 
    'Yes,'Lydia smiled, 'it really is finally over.' 
    The old woman walked away, nodding happily to everyone in sight. Lydia lifted her eyes to the sky, just  as a cloud passed over the sun. It would all be so perfect if only Martin was  here beside her. 
   Snapping out of her reverie, she made her way back down the Pollet;she had more pressing issues to worry about right now. Maggie's baby was due any day and the poor girl was terrified that Kurt would be sent away. To make matters worse, the Galliennes had still not come to terms with their daughter's  plight. 
    Maggie had tried  her best to make them understand. Other unwed mothers, she reasoned, had survived the social disgrace. She was right, of course. But then this was different. This was a German baby.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A best seller in three hundred words...

A legendary children's book of little more than 300 words was the legacy of children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak who died yesterday in Connecticut aged 83. He will be particularly remembered for the award winning 'Where the Wild Thing Are,' which explores the young mind's ability to disappear into  an exciting but frightening fantasy land - and return back home in time for tea.  Unsurprisingly, this book was voted 'Most distinguished Picture Book of the Year' in 1969 and, much   later, made into feature film.

Several years ago my daughter taught a small  remedial group of young readers, all of whom were upset at being teased for their inability to read 'properly.' She and recalls having  a higher degree of success with  Where the Wild Things Are than with any other book..   As well as enjoying  the scary, but exciting  illustrations, the children were able to go home and say 'Look, Mummy, I've read a whole book today.' Self-esteem, at any age, is everything. And, after enduring an unhappy childhood, this was something Maurice Sendak knew only too well. He believed that children needed to address their anger, boredom, fear, frustration and jealousy if they were to grow into well-adjusted adults. Although initially criticised for his sometimes frightening images, Maurice Sendak  of course, was absolutely

NB If you've never read any of his books - you should - adults love them too...

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Stay slim - stay asleep!

Oh, for the sleep of the innocent...

My hearfelt thanks go out to Dr Nathaniel Watson who has scientifically proved that staying in bed makes you slim.  Ok - what he actually said in the journal 'Sleep' this week, apparently,  was that sleeping for more than nine hours a night can actually encourage weight loss. Since I ended up in hospital  recently due to a  troublesome spine, I seem to have had at least nine hours sleep a night, along with another ten and a half during the day. (I blame the morphine patches myself.)  And yet, when I do eventually rise, I see the same curvy (it sounds better than fat) person looking back at me in the mirror.  I mean how many more hours a night/day sleep can a girl get?

Of course I realise that getting a  good night's sleep must keep us healthier, and I'm not even a doctor. But slimmer? Now that really is a new one. I suppose you could argue all this sleep stops people eating five Weight Watchers chocolate bars at 4 o'clock in the morning. But I'm getting a bit fed up with being told by experts what to, and what not to do, when surely we are all just different people with different needs? As it happens, I haven't had a sip of red wine for several months, but instead of feeling rather superior to my friends for my resistance to temptation, I read that a glass of red every day is good for the heart.
I've never enjoyed drinking water (especially the bottled type, but for years 'experts' have been saying we should drink litres of the stuff every day  to stay healthy.  Now we're told that any liquid form will do: tea, de-caf coffee, juice, lemonade etc....all of which I can drink happily and could have done without guilt if only someone had mentioned it before.

Back to the weight problem: at least, thanks to Dr Watson, we now know it's all down to the 'obesity genes.'  Personally, I call them my 'fat jeans.'  But that's another story altogether.