Whoops

Whoops. Or whoopsie-daisy for the more formal amongst us. I seem to have made an error.

I was able to recognise it because I remember making one once before – 1959, I think. The things crop up every so often. In this case it was a mistaken coat of paint on a model airplane.

The plane was fine to begin with and so was the paint in the jar, but the application was done thoughtlessly – and the result showed it. A botched piece of art, without even the saving grace of a high price tag.

Mistakes are one thing, mistakes when you know the proper thing to do are another- and I did know what to do because I’d read the proper procedure and had done it before. This was careless error.

I paid for it – with a couple of hours of gnawing dissatisfaction and then a further hour of hard work scrubbing the whole mess off the model with methylated spirits. Yesterday I spent more time carefully re-coating the plane with the undercoat and then carefully spraying layer after layer of thin paint with plenty of drying time between coats. Today there will be further masking and detail painting, and tomorrow I’ll be where I could have been two days ago.

Moral? And it’s one that you can apply to every facet of life:  Do it right the first time or the last time. If you’re smart these can be the same occasion, and then you’ll have more time to do more fun things.

Using Up The Paint

Canadians of a ” Certain Age ” will remember painting the back porch. It was in the days before plastic or aluminium siding with built-in colour and finish. The back porch was made of wood and eventually the seasons took their toll of the surface. You put it off as long as you could, but – like resurfacing the frost-heaved driveway – eventually you had to give in and waste a summer week.

It was a week, too – because you had to scrape the old finish off to some extent before covering it with the new. Like painting a ship – rust knocking first. After you finished and the yard looked like three varieties of hell, it came time to get the paint.

No Canadian worth their salt ever went to the hardware store and bought new paint. It just wasn’t done, eh?

You went into the garage and got all the old tins of paint that had been used to do other jobs around the place and tipped them into the biggest can. This was mixed with a big stick or a screwdriver chucked into an electric drill and the result thinned with something that may well have been turpentine originally. Then out with the brushes ( two sizes; too big and too small…) and up on apple crate scaffolding to start the painting.

Three days and two falls later it was done. And one could put the remains of the porch paint back into the big can in the garage. And this is where the Canadian Miracle occurred. We never knew how and no scientist could ever explain it, but when the Canadian porch was painted:

a. No-one ever remembered buying paint…ever. Where the half-full tins came from was a mystery. Paint faeries were mooted but we were too old for that sort of thing.

b. It was either salmon pink or medium grey. That is the only two colours you can make when you mix leftovers – no matter what you started with.

c. There was more paint after you finished than when you started.

d. The brushes were always carefully saved for the next time. Not cleaned, mind – just saved. Rigid, misshapen, disgusting, but saved. We were frugal, eh?

The Emotional Support Caterpillar

I am locked down in viral-fear prison and look to be so for weeks, if not months, to come. I can’t afford an expensive dog and the cat provides no support at all. Yet I need someone to talk to.

How fortunate for me that I found Curley. He was out on the brick pathway yesterday between rain showers roaring along toward the bushes. When I saw him he stopped dead. I think that’s a defence mechanism – apparently a successful one as Curley is about the size of a Volkswagen. I have no idea how big a butterfly he’s destined to become but I’ll bet he needs a thick runway to take off.

As I watched him I noticed that he did not move at all, though exposed. Once I picked him up he rolled into a ball and when I deposited him on the surface of the photographic table he still stayed curled. I reckoned he couldn’t stay that way forever so I turned the nice warm lights on and readied the camera. Eventually I got bored and went to put on a cup of tea.

I was only gone a couple of minutes  but when I got back Curley was headed off the edge of the table. He’d seized his chance. As soon as I saw him, he froze again – and didn’t move at all, even though he was half off the surface.

Not wishing to terrify the grub any further, I rolled him up and put him into the bush he was first heading for. He’s welcome to eat it all and eventually fly away. My only regret is I shall not see him do it.

Who says they are mindless? Curley knew what he was doing.

Dark Despair

Why is despair always dark? And why is hope always light? Is this racism on an emotional level?

If these two polar opposites are to be the ends of the spectrum, what shall we do with the rest of the colours? Oh, I know we are supposed  to have the blues when we are unhappy, but what shall we do with the purples? Or the yellows?

And getting more technical – if you go to the paint counter at Bunnings and leaf through the paint swatches youll be staggered at the variety of shades – all of which have evocative names. Andalusian Taupe, for instance – or Violently Jangling Green. Off-Off-Whitishly Beige is a possibility, and makes a statement. Possibly down at the Police Station.

The US military had a good system to specify colours – the FS, or Federal Standard index. FS 65990 is a recognised shade of something or other that may appear on a fighter plane or a Federal toilet. Unfortunately the book for the FS is updated every now and then and old colours deleted. This leads to scale model painting enthusiasts getting into bitter arguments with each other on the internet and probably causes museum curators to tear their hair out.

I favour the computer system of RGB numbers. If you have any sort of an editing program that allows you to post a colour in three numbers, you can have anything you want and know that it is the same everywhere. For example, dial up 132/142/181 on an RGB patch and it becomes RAF Azure Blue. Spray it on the underside of your Spitfire.

 

Random Acts Of Mindless

Wa are often besieged by people who would have us be kind to everyone. They smile and simper and pretend that saintly behaviour will be rewarded with universal happiness.

Bosh.

Saints have never been happy and their acolytes were no better off. Martyrdom was the best that any of them could hope for and in a lot of cases they had to work pretty hard to achieve it. Missionaries and prophets and reformers generally had to spend a lot of time making nuisances of themselves before they could compel the authorities to burn or expel them. They were unpleasant people who decided to spread it about.

How much better, instead of spreading kindness, to lash about with mindless acts. Folly and questionable behaviour spread thinly. The theatre of random occurrence. Do things then run away.

To this end I have gone to Bunnings and purchased three cans of clear acrylic spray in a matte finish and a large screwdriver. I’m going to the place out in the industrial area where they stack the wrecked cars.

The screwdriver is so I can scratch the paint and the cans are so that I can paint stealth graffiti. I’ll show ’em…

Pink Is A Girly Colour

And the heading image of the PRU Spitfire should prove that.

The original intention of the pink paint – to hide the photo-reconnaissance aircraft under clouds  over Europe in WW 2 – is somewhat negated by the black and white invasion stripes painted under the fuselage – but they were probably more worried about the jittery Allied AA gunners than the German ones. Or someone in the hangar had had enough of the pink and couldn’t stand it any more.

There was also a colour known as Mountbatten Pink that the Royal Navy used for a number of ships to hide them at dawn or dusk. I’m indebted to the research done by another blogger – ferrebeekeeper – for the pictures  to show the shade of paint and for the story of the paint. Go to https://ferrebeekeeper.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/mountbatten-pink

As well, here are screen grabs of other girly paint jobs.

With the exception of the Soviet tank in Prague, all the rest are British. Govern yourselves accordingly…

 

Your Real Look – Part Three – Colour Or Not

Are you condemned to live your life in greys and blacks? Well, move out of Melbourne…

But seriously – your palette of colour when dressing for your real look can be everything from the grim Collins Street banker’s uniform all the way to the calypso bongo drummer tiki shirt and white slacks – and as long as the thing resonates with your psyche, all is well.

Modern fabrics and tailoring can provide the entire gamut and as long as you do not fall foul of the worst excesses of the fashion runway, you can be happy. As your real look is something you control, you are allowed to make it what you will.

I cannot wear the brightest of the fashion clothing comfortably – it has been bought for me occasionally but in many cases I have carefully routed those garments to the Goodwill without ever donning them, and with no regrets. Equally, I deplore the dead black of the Melbourne winter uniform as tending to make the wearers more miserable in bad weather than they need be.

I have hit upon a brown/green palette for myself and have pursued this for years. I do maintain a couple of grey pinstripes or checks of varying luminosity for formal occasions but these often give way to a deep brown stripe that my father bought in 1960 – it is a comfortable garment if you combine the obviously retro look with suitable shirt, shoes, and hat. I am of an age that can wear this.

Equally, I can wear plaid shirts and straight jeans in brown and green for daily wear and get the benefit of comfort and quiet appearance. I can add braces and not feel out of place. A cap or hat is entirely appropriate – even to a straw hat in summer.

And a man of my age can wear a sweater -sleeved or sleeveless as the occasion might be – with dignity. The only thing one must do is be ruthless and discard or repair sweaters so that they do not look holed or baggy. If you are Einstein you can get away with it but the rest of us have to look better, not smarter.

 

Your Real Look – Part Two Of The Closet Saga – Cloth Clues

Okay, Inspector – you have the suspects in hand and they are laid out on the bed.

The old dress – the old jacket – the old pair of pants – the old shoes. Worn many times – reached for in preference to others. Shaped like you. These are the duds that you put on when you are unthinking – your mind is comforted by something about them.

They need not be horrible and wrinkled and 50 years out of date – and equally they might be ( so might you, but that’s existentialism for you…).  They may be drab or colourful. They may be matched or disparate. But there is a clue in each one as to what your real look is.

The underwear – if you get the same brand each time and only discard the old stuff when the holes in the cloth do not cover the holes in you…ahem…then you do so for a deep psychological purpose, as well as to keep from snagging on your zipper. You wear the pattern because that is what you want to be. As it is generally unseen, except by those who want to look, you can wear what you fancy. Pass onto the shirt or blouse.

Shirt or blouse covers your upper torso and lets your arms, neck, and bosom move about. If you find you always wear short sleeves because you like to have free arms, you’ll possibly like to wear shorts as well – or at least trousers or slacks that let you move freely. If you have all your comfy shirts as long sleeve formals you may like the more formal skirt or trousers to go with it. What you do with your bosom is generally your own affair, as long as you don’t do it on the train or bus.

Skirt or dress or trousers? If you’ve maintained your weight at a constant – neither up nor down – you’ll have been rewarded by a favourite covering for the nether regions. Chances are it works with the upper garment as well – and may also go with the next covering – the jacket or coat. You will have unconsciously coordinated yourself for years without realising it.

And the top wear – you say most about yourself with this but the truth is no-one listens. Unless you have the good fortune to be RuPaul or a carnival barker, you will probably be stuck with a drab jacket but there is always the chance that you have bought a lime green one while drunk. Screw up your courage and wear it.

As to colours…read tomorrow

Your Real Look – Part One Of The Closet Saga – Moths And Dust

I don’t mean the look that the latest fashion site, catalog, or store promo would like you to have. I don’t mean the look that your school, regiment, or company require you to wear. I don’t mean the clothing that you can afford or the ensemble that you can’t afford.

I mean the real look that is really you. That’s a tough one to nail down – I know people who have been hammering as fast as they can all their lives and it’s still comin’ up at the edges…

And in case you were worried about the closet reference as a sex and gender thing…this is not about that at all. Come out or go in there as much as you like – just don’t slam the closet door off the hinges. This is about what you wear.

Today’s question is simple; do you have a real look – yet?

Go to your wardrobe or closet with a rolled up magazine and turn on the light. Shoo away the cat. Then haul back and hit the clothes a good hard whack with the rolled magazine. Are you enveloped in a cloud of moths and dust? Are you swatting and coughing? If you are, there is a good chance that you do not have your real look.

You have a collection of odds and ends that you have not had the courage to toss out. You have not worn them and they have sat neglected – for a very good reason. They are not you. They may have been worn by you some time ago but they were not sufficiently real to fix themselves in your psyche.

If you do find clothes that are not covered by dust and are worn into familiar shapes that resemble you – like the husk of a butterfly after it has moulted – you are on the trail of the real look. These are clothes that you wear to death, and you wear them because they are comfortable. Comfortable for your body and for your mind. They are clues to the real look you are seeking.

Tomorrow we follow the clues.

 

What Exactly IS Fashion?

I ask myself this a couple of hours before attending a fashion parade – this one organised as part of the publicity and foo faw associated with a commercial trade expo. The basic event is promulgated by the local camera shop I used to work for, and I am going along to get material for the weblog column I write for them.

I think it will be a theatrical event designed to give the wannabees the thrill of seeing themselves as pro photographers. In the real thing there are pro photographers looking to give themselves the trill of getting paid. I have no idea from whence the thrill is meant to come for the models who stride the catwalk.

I have been mean to these model ladies and gentlemen before by referring to them as the slim, grim, and dim…but maybe I should be prepared to turn round and look at the audience as well. Why are they there? I can’t believe that they have any intention of buying the clothes on parade – either for themselves or for other people. They are forbidden by law from buying the girls and boys who walk the catwalk…though they may be rented occasionally. The only people there who have some hope of getting a benefit are the photographers and the owner of the venue.

Well, wish me luck. I’ll be the chap in the back with the reporter camera and the notebook hoping that there will be a fight or animal attack. And snacks. At least I know what I want…

Addendum: It was great. There was beer and snacks and rescue greyhounds in pyjamas. Also a crowd of camera people snapping away like mad. When I left early to write for my deadline they were still going great guns. But the business of snapping fashion sounds like a hard grind for a meal ticket.