The Perfume Collector ~ Kathleen Tessaro


I read this book in what I can only describe as Baz Luhrman Glorious Technicolour:  a heady mix of olfactory and visual feasts, the boozy ‘prohibition’ 1920s, the sophisticated inhibited 1950s, I was transported through a story of extraordinary.

A story of Nazi occupation, of etiquette and propriety, survival, abandonment, inheritance and a hidden past – what a wonderful transformative book. It did make me wonder about how during the 1950s we were on the other side of the war by a mere margin, a whisker even, and we even still had items that were rationed. We had wonderful new materials for clothes that we were unsure of ourselves enough to wear. Why had women returned to the home? – it was our duty. And certainly in the 1920s women had less authority, less self-esteem, less empowerment and it made us so dependent. Theme of the book:

‘we are none of us the same girl are we?’


Keep your pecker up!

Keep Your Pecker Up!

The art of keeping your chin up when there’s no milk to put in your tea, of having some gumption in the face of office hot desking, and remaining soft yet stoical when you’ve just dropped your only red lipstick under the bus…

What would you do if it was wartime?

Think about it for a moment.

Tea in wartime was rationed. In fact it remained rationed right through to the 1950s. And rationing was a method the Government used to make sure that valuable commodities remained available to all during this desperate economic period. With Lyons tea at your local shop, there wasn’t variety like there is today, and I don’t just mean brand – we have innumerable varieties to choose from including black tea and caffeine free.

lyons tea rooms

Milk was powdered. Each person got one tin of milk powder (equivalent to 8 imperial pints or 4.5 litres) every eight weeks.


Women had various jobs but once married they usually all revolved around the home. Womens jobs were essentially retail, nursing or clerical. It was during the war that we had a spike in the influence of women in the workplace which although shot down post war in the 1950s, had planted a seed of rights and equality.


Red lipstick. I’ve lost a few of those, namely to my daughter but I know I can go and choose from a never ending selection of shades and brands. During the war lipstick supplies were lost to factories making war items. Women turned to natural colorants such as beetroot once their much loved and coveted red lipstick was gone.


So girls, when it’s hard to sleep because it’s too hot, think about trying to sleep in a air raid shelter with bombs crashing down around you. When the commute gets you down, think about how difficult it would be if we had no transport links. And when you’ve just laddered your tights, imagine having to draw on stocking lines every time you wanted to dress for the day.

liquid stockings

Keep your pecker up!

Five 1940s things to lift you up


1. Red lipstick A total must! If you are feeling the slightest bit under par, the amazing uplifting power of red lipstick will astound you. It will make you smile and in return, you will get lots of smiles back!

blog pic

2. Seamed stockings If you are in need of the lift that only heels can give, then seamed stockings are the way forward. For longing gazes, and the sense that you are the epitome of Old Hollywood glamour, these stockings in nude or black are for you!

WW2 cup of tea

3. Strong tea A good ‘nice’ cup of strong tea is the very fuel of bad or low days. As tea was rationed during the war, it was often stronger and armed with sugar. How do you like your tea? ‘Wartime issue’ of course!


4. Knitting/Crochet Nothing makes the soul feel more nourished than creating/making something of use. During the war, due to the shortage of new materials to make clothes, women were shown how to re-use old items to ‘make do and mend’. Grab your needles or crochet hook and get making!

eating for victory

5. Being creative with Rations Lastly, what better way to make you feel uplifted, comforted and creative, than cooking ‘austerity style.’ Think of your Sunday roast as part of your Rations and make sure it can make another 2 family meals during the week – you will soon get creative and inventive! What better way to make you smile than cooking for the family.

Just a few ideas to see you through those not so sunny days sweeties, and remember…

Keep your pecker up! xx

* Please donate to to help me make this blog a 1940s Directory here. Thank you sweeties!

Things to do in the Blackout


In 1939 the lights went out all across Great Britain and this is why.

People were encouraged to stay at home to avoid blackout accidents. And this meant boosting enthusiasm for home-based hobbies and family time…listening to the radio together, reading together, a simple game of cards or chequers, charades and of course a nice cup of tea ration permitting, were all things for a family to get through long periods of a safety induced curfew. Of course men on the Homefront were members of the ARP, and later women were encouraged to join the WVS. There were lots of things to keep people busy during the 1940s – they had to make their clothes, often from old ones, they were writing letters to loved ones fighting overseas, and of course as women were not only usually solely responsible for household chores but they were now working in the factories and on the land, they were tired and worried and it wasn’t long before the Air Raids started giving them many sleepless nights.

So rather than worry about pointing your torch downwards, or wearing white so you had a better chance of being seen by drivers, it was easier to stay home and create your own entertainment.

Recently we’ve seen an increase in an enthusiasm for 1940s simplicity not in the least fuelled by the austere economic times that society is currently facing. ‘Make do and mend’ for clothes has returned, and making the most of cooking with leftovers, ‘Digging for victory’ has become growing your own to save money, and utilising rain water butts to cut down on bills. We have a lot to learn from Rationing and Handmade, and these are good lessons from another generation. In some towns and villages, even street lights are now being switched off to save the local government money.

‘In 1941 doctors had diagnosed a new condition among factory workers on the home front: blackout anaemia. Just as seasonal affective disorder is recognised today as being linked to a lack of natural light in winter, so depression was a recognised consequence of the blackout during the second world war. No wonder the Vera Lynn song When the Lights Go On Again All Over the World had such resonance on the home front.’
Felicity Goodall is author of The People’s War, published by Reader’s Digest.

Contact me or donate to the blog as I would appreciate your help in developing into a 1940s directory resource…

Email me to help me bring your 1940s to life.


Keep your pecker up! xx

Published in: on November 29, 2013 at 8:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Jane Russell – sassy screen siren

Are you feeling a little small time? How about slipping into some sequins and singing a little number? Find some inspiration from this lounge-singing, long-legged, red-lipped brunette from ‘Little Rock’…er Minnesota.


Source –

Publicity can be terrible, but only if you don’t have any.’

the outlaw poster

Source –

Russells most famous and first role in The Outlaw 1943, won her pin up status with serviceman during WW2 – despite the movie not going on general release until 1946, the promotional media was enough to keep her busy and propel her to fame. Russell was now seen as one of Hollywood’s leading sex symbols in the 1940s, and this continued into the 1950s.

‘They held up “The Outlaw” for five years. And Howard Hughes had me doing publicity for it every day, five days a week for five years’.


Source –

Jane performed a plethora of movie roles. She played Calamity Jane opposite Bob Hope in The Paleface (1948) on loan out to Paramount, and Mike “the Torch” Delroy opposite Hope in another western comedy, Son of Paleface (1952), again at Paramount. Russell played Dorothy Shaw in the hit film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) opposite Marilyn Monroe for 20th Century Fox. Vivacious, sassy, sultry and seductive, she continued to be a star of the Silver-screen throughout the 50s.   In the 60s her next movie appearance came in Fate Is the Hunter (1964), in which she was seen as herself performing for the USO in a flashback sequence. She made only four more movies after that, playing character parts in the final two.  In 1995, she co-starred with Charlton Heston, Peter Graves, Mickey Rooney and Deborah Winters in the Warren Chaney docudrama, America: A Call to Greatness.

Why did I quit movies? Because I was getting too old! You couldn’t go on acting in those years if you were an actress over 30.’

Jane Russell starred in more than 20 films throughout her career. When you start reading about this sultry tongued startlet, and reading things that she has written, you can tell what a forthright, moralistic, sassy, smart, pertinent woman she was. Glamorous to the end, a songstress, dancer and performer – an amazing inspiration for gumption and fortitude.

“Big Jane. Big Bad Jane,” she repeats with great relish..

She wrote an autobiography in 1985, Jane Russell: My Path and My Detours. In 1989, she received the Women’s International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award, amongst other Hollywood accolades.

monroe russell handprints

Source –

Russell’s hand and foot prints are immortalized at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6850 Hollywood Boulevard.

jane-russell gentlemen prefer blondes fur

Source –

Russell married three times, adopted three children, and in 1955 founded the World Adoption International Fund.

I really think the 1940s were the best generation for Hollywood. Everybody was patriotic then.’

Source –

Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell (June 21, 1921 – February 28, 2011).

Star of the Silver-screen, siren extraordinaire.

Contact me or donate to the blog at I would appreciate your help in developing into a 1940s directory resource…

Bring your 1940s to life click HERE!

Iconic vintage nail styles


source – Sultry Lady

Iconic nail shapes and manicures have an enduring quality and allure that new shapes such as squaoval and the claw tip, and new nail art such as 3D designs, cannot reach.  In the 1930s when Revlon introduced its classic red nail polish, the crescent tip manicure was in fashion. Pictures of the manicure in a variety of colours appeared in a 1936 edition of Vogue.


Vogue presents crescent tip nails

source – Refinery 29

By the 1940s Revlon were marketing their iconic Fire and Ice campaign – matching lipstick and nail polish, and the almond shaped nails were copied across other manufacturers such as Cutex.

cutextakeabow (1)

Cutex almond shape nails

source – Spring Teen

In the 1950s, Hollywood blockbusting movies with starlets such as Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe featured red half moon manicured nails, and this classic style of manicure has endured.


Dita Von Teese wears Half Moon Manicure

source – Purse Forum

 Iconic vintage nail styles incorporates nail shapes, nail polish colour and nail art or manicures, however, these are the significant trends that have persisted for decades and crossed into a new century. For an iconic, best of the classics, vintage manicure, be sure to wear your crescent tips, almond shapes or half moons!

Keep your pecker up! xx

Contact me or donate to the blog at

Bring your 1940s to life click HERE!

Dress code 1940s

Do you wonder if the 1940s revival is one big fancy dress party? Do you wonder why people would want to remember the austerity and danger of wartime and glamourize it?

1940s enthusiasts are people who are essentially paying their respects to individuals who lived during wartime, to honour their life and lifestyle and to experience as much as possible the modus vivendi of the period.


At Home Front History, they explain a little more and give you good guidelines towards preparing your 1940s character.

It’s one thing to ‘dress the part’ and another to be able to ‘re-enact’ the person convincingly in front the public. So a good starting point for every portrayal is research and the internet is probably the quickest and easiest way forward….However more and more, groups are diversifying and have members portraying a mix of civilian and service personnel as well as a mix of Allied and Axis forces. Welcome additions to the re-enacting community in recent years include Postmen, Vicars, Farmers and shopkeepers, so there is always the opportunity to portray a character other than those portrayed in larger numbers.’

Re-enactors usually build a character using period photographs, ephemera and personal items such as a ration book, bus ticket and paper money to create a real authentic feel. These can be easily recreated and reproductions are widely available.

1940s family frome bazaar (1)

Of course not all enthusiasts are re-enactors. Some people like to glam it up a bit and stray from rigid historical fact. For example clothing and clothing styles and periods can be mixed (40s and 50s), and adding a touch of 21st century or cheesecake pin up can be fun too.

tootsie rollers

Tootsie Rollers, 1940s entertainment girl group

You can find opportunities to strut your dress code 1940s at events and nights out throughout the year.

You can find out how to wear red lipstick, and wear red nail polish for these special events here.

You can also find details of Reenactment groups from Home Front History or The 1940s Society. Don’t forget to stay chipper and…

Keep your pecker up! xx

Finding other ways to feel feminine in wartime

Ever wondered if women in the 1940s really did bother with rolling their hair and painting on stocking seams during wartime?


The reason that women bothered to do this was austerity, something some people may be all too familiar with. Obviously during wartime there was a sense of community or ‘Blitz’ spirit- a common enemy, we were all in it together, all ready to ‘do our bit for the war effort’. For women, this meant finding another way to be feminine when they were working the land or in munitions, when they’d replaced skirts for dungarees, when dresses became utility dresses with no trimmings or frills, when clothes were made from your Dads old trouser suits or curtains. Remember that with life, there had become a sense of immediacy, living for the moment. All ‘girly girls’ today will understand that having your femininity whipped away from you is upsetting, it creates an imbalance, that it leaves a deficit. And so the women of the 1940s found other ways to create glamour where there was none. A stroke of red lipstick, browned legs, rolled hair, some red nail polish if you’d made it last and a cup of tea at a Lyons tea shop with a girlfriend – who could ask for more. Of course a twirl on the dance floor at the local Palais with a man in uniform was just the ticket!

So here’s a few pictures of how the common people (as opposed to Hollywood icons) did it!






Keep your pecker up! xx

Read the story…1940s

If you want to immerse yourself in the social culture of the 1940s…

Now is the hour
Now is the Hour (Follies 1)

In an empty theatre at the end of the pier the cast of the Fairbourne Follies gathers round the radio to hear Neville Chamberlain declare war on Germany. Four firm friends are forced to part. Rose, the beautiful dancer, must return to her family in London and the blitz, leaving singer Richard to enlist in the army with their relationship still unresolved. Gay, asthmatic Merry, the musical director, is destined for the army too, while the object of his unrequited love, charismatic magician, Felix, chooses the RAF.

Before long, Rose joins a group entertaining the troops in France. The Nazi war machine however is fast and merciless on the land and in the air and soon all of them find themselves in terrible danger. And as they are struck by the brutality of war they realise exactly who is most important to them and despite the odds, and in terrible circumstances, they determine to find each other again.

With the threat of capture, injury and death ever present, the four of them will have to find reserves of courage, love and endurance that they did not know they possessed.

This is part 1 of a whole Follies series – see what happens to Rose and Felix as well as other characters.

London Belles

London Belles

London Belles is a tale of four very different young women thrown together by war. Finding freedom and independence – as well as love, passion and heartbreak – for the very first time, a unique bond is formed as the hostilities take their toll on Britain.

Four lives. One war that will change them all.

When tragedy strikes, Olive is forced to seek lodgers. Three girls come knocking at her door, each in need of a roof over their heads.

Sally has left Liverpool to work as a nurse in London and when she arrives she is a shell of her former self. Where once stood a vivacious, sociable girl, now stands one plagued by homesickness and a betrayal that is devastatingly fresh in her mind.

Dulcie is living the high life in the West End, a world away from her home in Stepney. Working at Selfridges gives her access to the most fashionable clothes and makeup, but at home she is the black sheep of the family; always second to her sister. So she decides it’s time to make a bid for freedom.

Agnes grew up in an orphanage, having been left on the steps as a new-born baby. But with war looming, and the orphanage relocating to the country, she must now seek out a job and lodgings. But with change comes exciting new opportunities, worlds away from the life she’s known…

As the women prepare for war, all of their futures hang in the balance. Soon their lives will change irrevocably and the home that binds the London Belles is no longer the sanctuary they once sought.

Annie Groves, whose real name was Penny Halsall, also wrote under the name of Penny Jordan and was an international bestselling author of over 170 novels with sales of over 84 million copies.
Sadly, Penny Halsall died in 2011. She left a wonderful legacy of heart-warming novels for many more fans to discover and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
The final books in the Article Row series, Only a Mother Knows and A Christmas Promise, have been published posthumously in 2013.

Keep your pecker up! xx

Published in: on September 7, 2013 at 7:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Listen to the story…1940s

Having personally purchased these 2 brilliant CD’s that are compilations of the original artists, I can recommend:

We’ll meet again

The Songs Of World War II: We'll Meet Again

Wartime Memories

Wartime Memories

The sounds of the sirens and the original speeches will give you goosebumps…the dulcet tones of Gracie Fields and Anne Shelton will calm your ails’ and keep you chipper. Brew up some tea, and enjoy!

Keep your pecker up! xx

Published in: on August 28, 2013 at 6:42 pm  Leave a Comment