Ten guilty pleasures, part the second

Still waiting for specialist’s appointment, so time to fit in a few more guilty pleasures between painkillers and bouts of feeling dizzy. What do we want? Neck transplants! When do we want them? Now!

Of course, feeling like crap warmed up doesn’t stop me indulging in pleasure number 6. It should, but it doesn’t. It has stopped me going to Wonderwool Wales next weekend – though in fairness, other factors have been involved there. So why shouldn’t I go for GP6? Hm?

fluff6. Buying yet more yarn.

I know, I can’t knit much. I know, I’ve got plenty in my stash. I know that I shouldn’t. But – and I’m not making excuses here, honestly – I needed another ball or two of silk/mohair to make a scarf from my latest pattern book purchase. I was given a multicoloured ball, partly unwound, and added the orange; the blue and red come from the stash. So I am using stash as well. Or I would be if I wasn’t emitting so much static at the moment that actually using a yarn as flighty and floaty as Kidsilk Haze is almost impossible. So why am I justifying myself? Well, possibly because of this:


Noro Kureyon Sock. Bought to knit another shawl from the recent purchase because I was emitting so much static etc, etc, etc…

I decided I wanted to move out of my colour comfort zone a bit. Blues, jades, purples: not my usual choices. But very cheerful to those awaiting neck transplants and/or results of MRI scans so they can safely get on with flipping physiotherapy / osteopathy and stop the room whirling or their heads exploding.

Enough already. I think I need another pleasure. Ah, yes.

7. Sweets.

I know I’m not alone in this. Books have been written confessing to a passion for sweets; programmes have been devoted to them, on both TV and radio. Traditional local sweets have been tracked down and saved from oblivion. The Scottish boiled sweet tradition (Hawick balls, anyone?) has been celebrated. But my current weakness is Fruitella:


Nostalgia is a major factor. From milk bottles (never liked those) to soor plums, from cherry lips to Black Jacks which turned your tongue deep purple, from flying saucers to sherbet fountains – you could blow sherbet at your friends through the liquorice stick – the sweets bought on the way home from school have a special resonance for years. Haribo sours? Yum. But you do have to be careful. It’s not just a question of what you like, or it isn’t for me. Many of the chewy, fruity sweets for which I have such a weakness involve gelatine. And I don’t particularly want to be eating pork or beef gelatine in my gummy bears. And yes, I do limit myself!

Wicked Lady8. The Wicked Lady.

Not the dire Michael Winner (ye gods!) remake, but the 1945 original with James Mason and Margaret Lockwood (I keep confusing her with Margaret Rutherford for some reason, which conjures up a whole different vision, eek). I love this movie, possibly because James Mason is fantastic as the splendid highwayman Captain Jerry Jackson, or maybe because I seem to have developed a bit of a problem with actors named James: see point 5 of the previous post. There isn’t a wrong note in this bravura 1940s tale of Restoration Britain and of bold, bad Lady Barbara who inveigles her way into marriage with a rural nobleman and then takes to highway robbery and James Mason to assuage her boredom.

Margaret Lockwood

The acting is great if verging towards high camp at times; the sets are wonderful – the frost fair defined my conception of Restoration London for years – and the costumes are frequently amazing. In fact, extensive reshooting was required for the US release as there was trouble with the censors over the decolletages. They are accurate to the period, and even understated if you check out the portraits of the ladies of Charles II’s court, but were far too low for 1945 America. I’m just amazed that Margaret Lockwood stayed in her bodices. Glue. Sellotape?

James Mason

The Wicked Lady was also quite bold in other ways – Barbara’s venality and cynicism, her ennui, her quite obvious use of sexuality and power, her (shock, horror) extra-marital affair with Jackson, depicted without real moral judgement – quite dreadful. And it was the most popular film with British cinema audiences in 1946.

Plus, of course, it has James Mason in it as a highwayman. I mean, purleease. That voice. The Alan Rickman of his time.

9. Lippy.

I suppose this ought to come here, because one of the most remarkable things for me about the portrayal of seventeenth-century Britain in The Wicked Lady is the perfect 1940s Hollywood makeup of Barbara the Bad (maybe it’s one of the ways you can tell she is bad – her lipstick).


In the 1990s, Philippe Delerm published a little book which everyone in France was reading – La  premiere gorgée de biere et autres plaisirs miniscules – about the small pleasures of his life: reading on the beach, Sunday evenings, the ‘trottoir roulant’ at Montparnasse station. Well, lippy is one of mine. It’s a specifically guilty pleasure because I’ve spent far too long searching for the perfect red. You know, the one that’s just right, that makes you look and feel great.

Then I found it.

Then Lancome discontinued it.

And if anyone out there has Lancome’s Rouge Cubiste sitting around, unused but useable, do let me know. In the meantime, I’m still hunting. Your skin tone doesn’t stay the same for ever, and there’s no guarantee it would still suit me…

10. Magazines.

It’s Saturday, I’m in town early, I’ve done some shopping and I fancy a coffee.


So I buy a magazine to read with my drink. I’m careful; I like to scan them first just to make sure there’s something I find interesting (I have managed to wean myself off the glossies and the home style mags, except in France where I buy the house beautiful ones like no tomorrow). Then I take my mag to the coffee shop, settle down – and discover that, oh, about 75% is devoted to ads. The worst offender is Garden Bloody Illustrated but I still can’t resist it when I flick through, and the best is British Archaeology, though that’s off the hook because it’s specialist. But I don’t seem to be able to stop buying GBI. They could help me, though – they could wrap it in plastic, because I don’t – er, by and large – buy anything I have to rip my way into before I discover it’s full of ads.

So that’s my ten guilty pleasures. I’m sure I can come up with many more, but possibly after my neck transplant…


21 thoughts on “Ten guilty pleasures, part the second

  1. Pia

    I was just reading a library book about tapestry weaving. It says: “The best way to begin is to collect as many different yarns as possible. It takes time to accumulate a large collection, but the object is to have a wide range of yarns available for experiments.”

    That goes for knitting as well, yeah? I mean, who in their right mind, except possibly my mum, would tell a painter he has to use up the blue before he can buy red?

    1. kate Post author

      It certainly does apply to knitting. You know what this means? WE’VE BEEN POSITIVELY INSTRUCTED TO GO OUT AND GET YARN! Wooooooo!

      (Heee hee on your mum)

      1. Pia

        She’s amazing. Always going: “Wow, you have so MUCH” (on seeing my one box of plant dyed yarn – good thing she has not seen my actual complete stash of yarn and fiber). Or “I just don’t UNDERSTAND why you have to get more” She knits – but sees a pattern, goes out and buys the exact yarn and needles, makes a replica and that’s it. Not one creative bone in her body, she just doesn’t get “whim”.

        1. kate Post author

          I’ve heard of this disorder – a couple of people I know run yarn shops, and they always order in more of the actual yarn and colourway used in patterns they predict (usually accurately) will be popular. It’s really common, apparently, so it’s not just your mum.

        2. Pia

          And it’s great, being a good craftsman, producing fine quality knitted items. I just resent the petulant voice and intended guilttripping. As in making me feel bad about being greedy and selfish instead of fitting into her norms. If she doesn’t UNDERSTAND it, it’s not an entirely good think, ya know? I’m also wasting my time blogging and conversing on the internet, but stupid tv is ok, because she enjoys it?! wtf?

  2. islandthreads

    I love your yarn and lippy Kate, I can’t get GBI here so subscribed to it for a year, the sub expired last summer and I didn’t renew, if it’s not ads it’s posh gardens of people with ‘money’ (said like the song from Cabaret), another film I’ve not seen Wicked Lady, those sweets look like opal fruits to me, have they changed the name, I haven’t seen or had a flying saucer in years and years, I loved sherbet and liquorice, boot laces, Frances x

    1. kate Post author

      You’ve summed GBI up exactly: all posh borders and Gabriel Ash greenhouses – I wish. Nope, Opal Fruits are now Starbursts and Fruitella are much nicer (and on special offer in our Co-op at the moment, not that price interferes too much with sweet purchasing). Boot laces! I’d forgotten boot laces! I liked the red ones…

        1. kate Post author

          I’d envisaged them being made by people wearing coronets, so I am disappointed… also should be made in Surreh. Not anywhere near Wales, anyway…

  3. Lydia

    Wishing you well ever so soon… My favourite lippy was discontinued and despite several forays into likely stores in Perth no luck with a replacement… just the right colour just the right staying on longer than a few minutes component etc etc. After buying Country Living since 1986 I now cannot stop buying it…. absolutely impossible for me… If I compare the 1986 magazine with today’s the content from the older issue has so much more in it, far less ads, but that will not stop me rushing off every month to buy it just in case I miss one. What else, old plates from the 1930’s, old tins with thatched cottages, shetland yarn…. One thing I have done is stemmed the flow of Rowan knitting magazines. I have nearly every one, except the first two or three, on my shelf. How have I managed this? Will I give in and buy Rowan 53 or hold out for Rowan 54? Time will tell…

    1. kate Post author

      Thanks… why do they persist in discontinuing popular colours? GRRR.

      Someone else who’s resisting the call of the Rowan mag – I began to get irritated by the repetition (the bloke’s striped and panelled sweater comes round every few years for instance), but it was really hard to wean myself off it. I can see the temptation of the 1930s plates and the Shetland yarn – Jamieson’s showroom at Sandness nearly turned me into an addict – but am not so sure about the thatched-cottage tins. One of my friends, on the other hand, would probably fight you for them! How do you feel about old hand-embroidered tablecloths etc?

      1. Lydia

        Ah, well, I have to admit to a drawer of them! Margaret Lockwood was wonderful, I do remember Julia Lockwood on TV in my youth….. I wonder what happened to her?

        1. kate Post author

          They’re fab, aren’t they? Getting difficult to pick up around me – other people are clearly beginning to appreciate them. Damn.

          I don’t remember Julia Lockwood at all, wonder if she was any relation?

  4. Phillipa

    Now then, the comment about actresses staying within the bounds of …their costumes(!) reminded me. I recall a chap in films/TV extoling the wonders of – and I quote – a useful little item called ‘tit tape’!! I don’t really know what it was..but the name is kinda descriptive…

    1. kate Post author

      I was laughing about tit tape with a photographer friend and he said ‘yup, used that…’. Was surprised I’d not heard of it. I did ask him what he was trying to say, but he changed the subject!


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