Oh, it’s been a crazy few days in my world. Or, more specifically, my blog world. It all began way back in the mists of time, aka Friday night, when I posted a long and heartfelt post about how ‘rubbish’ my life is at the moment, I got some incredibly lovely comments overnight, then on Saturday morning, it was deleted. Basically, it was posted without thought, at a time when it could have potentially further damaged the very situation I was referencing. And if you read it, you would know why I wouldn’t want to make it worse! I don’t really want to bring it up again at the moment, but I realised today that the post is still showing in some people’s Google Readers, and so I have continued to get some amazing emails from people, all around the world. I can’t thank you all enough.
But apparently, the act of deleting my post and the fact that people then continued to leave me comments on my last post (which was ostensibly about glamorous party frocks), has offended someone enough for them to leave me a rude anonymous comment. This person feels that since I have no backbone (and no stiff upper lip, or is it that I do have a stiff upper lip – am a tad confused), I couldn’t possibly have survived the Blitz, nor could I have coped in the 1940s without my precious lip primer. I am, they say, ‘no vintage person’. Contrast this to the last time I received anonymous abuse on here, in which I was roundly trounced for being a ‘vintage snob’, after I was mean about afro wigs and people in cagoules at a vintage festival. So am I in fact a vintage snob, or am I actually a terrible fashion follower who doesn’t care about vintage at all?
Let’s look at the good things about the past. It was a much more innocent time.
Borrowed from Silent Screen Queen on Flickr
I think you can take it as read that, to me, the 1930s and 40s represent the absolute zenith of style. From Art Deco furniture to the wonderful shapes and silhouettes of the clothes of the time, I worship vintage style. I also love it for its individuality, something I have been devoted to my whole fashion-conscious life. I hate wearing the same thing as someone else. This is why, although I am happy to wear repro on a daily basis, I will only ever wear vintage, one-off repro or something which I am 99% sure will not be seen on anyone else, to a large vintage event. But what about life back then? In the 30s and 40s (if you discount the War), the news wasn’t so full of scare-stories, and there is little doubt that generally people were a bit more civil to each other than now. During the Blitz, people came together to help each other, and yes, in rural communities, people could leave their doors and cars unlocked. For many people, life was nice and simple, I’m sure. People didn’t rape or murder each other… as much. Maybe it was just unreported. It does seem as though it was quite nice back then for some people. But I don’t want to go back to the past. I prefer the present day.
Let’s look at it objectively. How would I have coped during WWII. I haven’t the faintest idea. How long is a piece of string?
Would I have breezed through it, with nothing more than a few nights in an air-raid shelter and minimal discomfort? Would I have had to leave my family and gone off to work in a factory? Would I have been a lady pilot? Would I have lost everything I own to a bomb? Would I have lost my boyfriend or husband or brother in the fighting? Would I have lived in a lovely rural village, eating way more than my ration book would have allowed? There is absolutely no way to know. I consider myself to be quite a strong person, but the fact that I’m seemingly not immune to depression has made me realise I am not a superhuman with no emotions, funnily enough. But I am still here, just as friends of mine are, who have had broken hearts, lost parents, had serious accidents, suffered abuse, and other such awful things happen to them, far worse than has happened to me. I’m sure that if the worst had happened, I would have got by. And even if it had been relatively painless, I’m sure I’d have had a good old moan and whinge to my friends about sleepless nights and weeing in buckets. And about not being able to get any new lipstick or a new frock. Because let’s face it, we’d each have had a couple to our names, with maybe one more for best. And no stockings. And the same amount of cheese that I eat in one bite, to last a whole week. Rubbish.
If I had lived back then, would I have dressed like a Victorian, in order to express my individuality? No – if I had, I’d have been sectioned. People didn’t do things like that unless they were vastly wealthy and a lovable eccentric. I certainly would not have fallen into the wealthy category then. I may even, as others of my friends pointed out, been a servant. I wouldn’t have been to university, I probably wouldn’t be living on my own, making a living as a freelance writer. Well, I *might* have been. Who knows? But one thing is for sure, I don’t believe I was ‘born in the wrong era’. Snoodlebug just posted an excellent rant on the subject, as have others on my blog roll in the past. Generally, with a few exceptions, most of the people of my acquaintance feel the same. The past would be a nice place to visit (and buy all the frocks, shoes, furniture, whatever, that we please), but most of us wouldn’t want to stay there. Not unless we were in the Bertie Wooster set.
I have been brought up to have old fashioned manners, and I always hold doors open, say please and thank you, treat others with the courtesy and respect that I wish to be afforded. Of course I lose my temper sometimes and I can be critical. But being mean about false moustaches or cheap, tacky costumes is part of Chappist culture. I’ve said over and over that I enjoy spending my time with likeminded folks, just as most people do. When people make a mockery of your lifestyle, it does sting a bit. And as Red Legs points out in the moustache rant, people wouldn’t go to a soul event blacked-up, so why come to a decadent, dandyesque event in a joke shop moustache? Before people get critical, I realise it’s not in the same league as racism, but I am making a point. None of it is life or death, but forgive us for having a moan about it!
On a serious note, one of the main reasons, perhaps, that I don’t have a rosy-tinted view of the past, is that my own relatives didn’t have such a lovely, carefree time back then. My maternal grandparents married just before my RAF bomber-pilot grandad was shot down in 1943, and he spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. He came back rather scarred, mentally, from his experience, and when my grandmother gave birth to my mum in 1946, treated her absolutely atrociously. They never divorced, because it was not the ‘done thing’, but my goodness me, they should have done. My grandmother spent 30 years on strong barbiturates that the doctors told her she should never come off, because they knew of no other way to deal with her depression. My grandad died in debt, leaving a second life that no one knew about, to be discovered later. And his experiences in the war made him like that, I have no doubt.
My paternal grandparents were a little younger during the war. My grandad drove a fire engine in the Blitz. He had a nervous breakdown. He was 18 years old.
So judging by my own family’s reactions to their wartime experiences, I might well have not had that purported stiff upper lip after all. I might, in fact, have been a total mess. Just as I am now over something that is in essence far more trivial than going through a World War, but which has nonetheless shaken me to my very core. So I am eternally grateful that there are other, nice things, and lovely people in my life keeping me sane. And that I am not being bombed every night, or lacking in nice frocks and lipsticks. Here’s to modern materialism! 😉
I’m not sure whether I have answered my own question about whether I am a snob or a fake, but I’m going to stop wittering on now. To sum up, there are many aspects of the past that I enjoy, the clothes and style being one; the perceived politeness and courtesy towards others that may or may not have existed (depending on where and who you were)… the things we all believe to have disappeared in the modern world. The things I have no time for are primitive health knowledge, lack of civil rights, lack of deodorant, so on and so forth, etc, etc. I like my car, my laptop, my internet, sushi, nice shoes that fit (if I’d lived in the 40s with size 8/10US feet, I’d have been in men’s shoes), not having bombs dropped on me. Basically, anyone who is a normal person, and not a troll, will, I am sure, get what I mean. I have no problem with those that hanker after the past, as long as they also realise that they’re hankering over an idealised version of it. In the mean time, I shall continue dressing in vintage, reading books about it, and learning about social and fashion history without actually wishing I could go back. Actually, hang on… there were more men with real moustaches back then, weren’t there?! I think I have changed my mind… 😉
That is all.