Sunday, 10 January 2016

Home Notes

Er, well, my answer to the question posed on the cover of this January 1951 magazine, is no

Sorry, dear.

Because to answer yes I would have to:

If my absent-minded darling and I had lived in those days of post-war austerity, and had his trousers needed re-seating, he would have done it himself. And there’s no way he would have let me near his favourite jacket should the sleeve need replacing – although perhaps necessity and peer pressure would have had an improving effect on my practical skills.

If the trouser seat of your absent-minded darling is getting embarrassing show him/her this:

I mock, but gently.

This Home Notes is a new acquisition, bought from a second-hand bookshop – in Providence, Rhode Island, oddly enough, as it’s a British magazine (cover price 3d, bought last month for $3).

I’ve blogged before about my collection of housewifery books from the early to middle part of the last century. They can be read for pleasure as social history – or they can be useful for period details in writing fiction. As can my collection of girls' annuals.

My current work-in-progress is a serial for The People’s Friend set in 1963. That’s within my memory – but as a child, not an adult. It’s fascinating to glean from my housewifery books and old magazines how different in many ways women’s lives were then – and to imagine (not from a 21st-century perspective) how they felt and what their private thoughts and hopes were.

And it’s fascinating too, to see the similarities between then and now – anxieties over weight and hair, problems with the spiteful friend or the office cadger, pictures of celebrities (Margaret Lockwood in Home Notes).

Really, as well as being used for writerly research, these books and magazines could themselves inspire a thousand stories – maybe even one involving re-seated trousers.

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