Monthly Archives: October 2015

The art of carnival!

In a recent post, I touched on the history of Halloween, where it finds its roots (sorry america, you aren’t responsible for this one!) and this led to an interesting discussion about festival days and carnival, really how ingrained it is in our society. It is something I studied at uni so I thought I would revisit.

Now while I was at Uni, the period I was looking at covered the 15th & 16th century and at first glance you would think that this would bear no relevance to today. But please give me a moment of your time and you will see that things have not really changed.

Now we are fast approaching Halloween which is popularised by costume wearing, this was indeed a big part of festival days, were you would have several roles, that were easily distinguished, and still recognisable today. For example, Hero’s and Heroines, wise rulers, fools, knights, damsels in distress were all popular features. In urban environments peasants were often portrayed as dishonest.

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Another popular theme was The World Turned Upside Down; Judges in stocks, Clergy dressed as women etc. Carnivals would be presided over by a fat man, often carrying a phallic symbol, the Carnival King. It was often young men that kept things going, carnival spirit was freedom and release from the daily toil – some festivals would go one for days and even weeks. Although from time to time, they were also used as political stages.

As part of the ‘world turned upside down’ theme found in festivals and carnivals there was often a ‘Lord of Misrule’. In the main, this was legitimised disorder built into the 12 days of Christmas. Originally appointed at the royal court, he was given full ‘panoply of kingship’ including a throne, armoury, a jester and a gibbet for mock executions.

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This was also true of private households, Polydor Virgil, writing in the 15th Century emphasised that there were mock rulers to whom the usual leaders of the household or official institutions became subservient to during the Christmas period. It seems that the office lay in role reversal, in the elevation of the servant to a position of apparent authority. The alteration of the natural order seems to have been the misrule involved and a suitable symbol for a season of revelry and release from work. No information remains on exactly how they carried out their duties 😉

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However, at Christmas 1516/17 someone took this idea a little far. A ‘Jack Straw’ figure and his ‘followers’ appeared at the Lincoln Inn, broke down doors, and invaded rooms. This was carried out in the spirit of the season but not a legitimised action. Jack Straw was named after the leader of the 1381 Peasants Revolt and clearly an instigator of pranks and wild behaviour among young men.

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Carnivals were also an opportunity to ‘punish’ those who did not stick to traditional roles, a woman marrying a younger man, a young married couple unable to produce a child – they would often be harried and harassed. Eggs and flour through at their house, pots and pans hit outside their house at all hours to make sure they would not get any peace. In some cases, these were the sort of cases brought to the Lord of Misrule to face a court and decide their punishment.

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Carnivals succeed in allowing people to ‘blow off steam’ every year, in symbolic and ritualised ways. In this way, it helped to control the populations, if the people knew that at certain times of the year they would be able to relax and let heir hair down. However, this was not always enough to curb revolution; ritualised revelry could only accomplish so much. Sometimes the issues at hand; if not properly addressed would cause mass rebellion. Religious movements at the time also meant that some festivals were beginning to be frowned upon as they had their roots in pagan rituals. Although a lot of the festivals were able to be incorporated into the new religious calendar, in order to minimise the upheaval for people still getting used to the new set of morals and life style codes being inflicted upon them.

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I hope you have enjoyed reading this, I realise it isn’t to everyone’s taste but it does offer food for thought – think about festivals that we still have today – music festivals that last 3 or 4 days, bank holidays, religious holidays that are still observed but now secular. The ideas behind festival and feast days have not been diminished, but they have taken on new guises.

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All Hallows… Eve?

So .. I touched on this in a previous post – Halloween is not a recent American import, and neither are some of the traditions associated with it. I will be doing a couple of blogs regarding festivals and carnival – a personal interest of mine so I hope this interests you.

Halloween was originally celebrated 2,000 years ago as Samhain, where celts would wear costumes and light bonfires to ward off evil spirits. This was a time where the summer changed into winter, crops to see people through the winter gathered, it was a time that the veil between the living and dead would be at its thinnest, spirits would come back and make mischief.

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When the Romans invaded the United Kingdom, and stayed around for 400 years, their own festivals, which took place over the same time of year, were slowly incorporated. One was Feralia which was a day in October where the Romans would commemorate the passing of the dead, and another which bore more similarities to a Harvest festival which was the day the Romans would celebrate Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees.

By the 9th Century, the Catholic had moved the observance of All Saints day to 1st november, which carried similar traditions, dressing up, parades and bonfires. It gradually blended, then supplanted the Celtic festival day.

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Trick and Treat – where this come from? It is a common misconception that this one of the more annoying aspects of the American import.. but no. This is also one tradition which has evolved over time.

When Celts were celebrating Samhain – worried about spirits returning when the veil between the world separating the living and dead was nearly gone, they would place bowls of food outside to distract the spirits from coming home. They would also wear disguises and masks so that their deceased relatives would not recognise them. When it blended into the All Saint’s celebrations, the poor would knock on doors, and were given ‘soul cakes’ in return for the promise of prayers to be said for the families deceased relatives. This was then taken up by children who would knock on doors, and be given a treat.

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Of course, what is interesting to note, is that the dressing up switched from the household to the visitor. But then, when children started to knock on doors, it is an evolution of the celebration. The children are the embodiment of what you are trying to keep out. They are the spirits of the departed, and to appease them you give them a gift of food.

Halloween is a time of ending and beginnings, there are other traditions that would take place, some like, apple bobbing, some suggest is related to the Roman celebration of Pomona (goddess of fruit & trees). But it is a time for looking forward, while ‘winter is coming’ it also means that spring is following soon.

So there are a lot of forward looking traditions associated with 31st October – the celts believed that with the veil between the world of the living and dead being so thin, the Druids could devine and forecast the future. This was important as they would need to predict the winter so that people would be able to prepare.

But then there are also traditions for girls to predict their future husband, whether they would be married. One I remember well, and tried my own hand at, is peeling an apple, the apple peel had to be continuous, and you would throw it over your shoulder. The peel would settle into the initials of your future husband.

Now, I hope I have given you an albeit brief, overview of the history of Halloween and why, I confidently defend against it being an American Import.

Enjoy xx

Trick …. or treat ?

It is that time of year, when the nights draw in, the fire goes on, we start getting in pumpkins… and put candles in the window to ward off… oh is that just me?

Now I know that many of you believe that Halloween is an American import, but originated with the Catholic Church and Soul Cake day when beggars could go and ask for food in exchange for prayers. This then became an excuse for young men to knock on doors and ask the same – if turned away, they would ‘trick’ the house with a prank.

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No I am well aware that not everyone does celebrate or appreciate people coming around for a number of reasons. In recent years there has been a drive to identify if a household is participating. This is one sign that you can print and display near your door :http://www.hampshire.police.uk/internet/asset/33b8e5ec-16a9-43cb-9ff2-81506de11feO/Infra%20794272%20-%20Halloween%20Posters%202012%20flyer%20print%20friendly.pdf

A lot of trick & treaters only stop at houses that have some form of decoration out, which is something to bear in mind as well.But again you can also pin up a sign as I realise that decorating for Halloween is not everyone’s cup of pumpkin juice:)

If you are going to get in some treats for people knocking on your door, what do you get in? It can feel like a minefield with allergies, and tastes, and how much to offer children.

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In recent years there has been an increase in themed sweets and treats on offer – things like gummy sweets, lolly pops and chocolates repackaged for Halloween. Always make sure that they are individually packaged. I noticed this year that there are also themed bags of crisps which is of course another option for children.

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However, it is important to remember that some people do have dietary restrictions, and this will limit what they will be able to accept, but that shouldn’t exclude them.

There are a few ways you can do this, for example there are a number of different ‘free from’ ranges available now, I personally keep a stash of Nakd bars at all time. For personal consumption. But I am willing to part with some in extenuating circumstances.

You can also offer fruit as well – believe it or not, some children actually prefer fruit to sweets 🙂

But something else I do, is pick up little trinkets – the sort of thing that would would put in as a party favour. I would make sure that they are safe for younger children before handing them out.

If you are feeling organised, you can also make up bags for the children with a little of everything, which you can then give out and it will be a nice surprise for them.

It is worth checking with the adult before handing out anything, in case there are allergies etc as it is always easier to not give the child something in the first place, than take it away!

And remember :

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We will be discussing Halloween, what you can do to celebrate, things going on, and more on Secklow Sounds, 31st October, 12 – 14:00 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/livethemomentradio?fref=ts

Happy Halloween everyone!!

Pets, insurance ensured to confuse!

As I mentioned on a recent show, I feel strongly that it is important to insure your pet. While you will hopefully never need to make a claim, they are a member of the family and should be treated as such. It is something that I feel strongly about, as I would hate to find myself in a position, not able to look after my cat.

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But it is a minefield to figure out what type of insurance is best for your particular pet, so it is certainly worth shopping around a little!

Which have produced a guide to help you through the minefield, with reviews of the top insurers : http://www.which.co.uk/money/insurance/reviews-ns/pet-insurance-reviews/

If you are rescuing a pet, most shelters will offer a month insurance to cover you while you get settled in, and this gives you room to shop around and see if it is the best insurance for you. When I bought Barbeque, we were given 2 months at his first checkup which was great. I didn’t really understand much about insurance in general, let alone insuring an animal at the time so I continued with the insurance company initially.

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It wasn’t until I was approached while shopping, and realised I was paying twice as much as I needed to pay, that i realised I should be shopping around. Barbeque is now 10 years old, and I have only switched 3 times, you can of course change much more often, and I certainly encourage you to look around, make sure that you are getting the best deal.

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There are things to consider when looking at pet insurance, like any really, check the excess on the claims. Sometimes premium can seem really low, however the excess on any claims might be higher so it isn’t cost effective if, touch wood, you do need to claim.

Another thing to look at is what is included in your insurance – do they pay directly to the vet or do you need to claim? Not everyone has the means to pay large vet bills – so this is another consideration when choosing.

What you need to think about as well, the level of insurance, do you just want a basic cover, would you like accidental damage (for example you new fur buddy getting into your neighbour’s house and redecorating their curtains), will you be going abroad with your pet?

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And now, what you really don’t want to have to think about, but what is important – the level of care when it comes to ongoing claims. This will affect the premium, but you should give it some thought before making a commitment. When it comes to claiming for an ongoing problem, say where medication and visits, possibly diagnostic testing, therapeutic treatments needed. You can either opt for a one off payment to help cover, or ongoing. You can opt for lifetime, or non lifetime cover – non lifetime will have a set amount that they will pay out. Once this has been reached, no further payments will be made. Lifetime cover is more expensive but will continue to pay out for the lifetime of the pet – your premiums will go up as well but you have to work out what you can afford to pay both short and long term.

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There is something else to consider when looking at insurance – the length of the insurance, some will not cover over a certain age. I didn’t realise this when I was shopping around a couple of years ago, there are policies that will not pay out of your cat is considered ‘senior’ which is typically where insurance is concerned, 8 years old. So please make sure as your cat gets older, your insurance will continue to cover!

One really REALLY important piece of advice – READ the paper work when you do choose an insurance policy – there is a lot hidden in the small print. Make sure you keep up to date with boosters, chip your pet. You need to make sure you are doing everything you can to protect your animal.

But on a more positive note, because there is a lot of competition it is worth checking to see if you can get a like for like (or better) cheaper elsewhere, and your own company might match the premium, I would keep an eye because they can sneak up if you aren’t paying attention. But it also means that you can get added extras for free – for example, my insurance company offers a 24/7 telephone service so you can speak to a vet if there is anything you are concerned about.

And because I don’t want you to think I am bias, here are my hamsters, Pumpkin and Charlie – both of whom were adopted – remember it isn’t just larger animals that can be adopted 🙂

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Please tune in to Lifestyle:MK on Secklow sounds, saturdays 12 – 14:00 – find us on FB : https://www.facebook.com/livethemomentradio?fref=ts

Halloween Makeup #2

Okay this is a really quick walkthrough, basically because I forgot to actually take photos as I went along! Sorry but it is an easy one, I promise!

A couple of weeks ago, I was playing around with makeup, which I do. A lot – and I decided to refresh a Pin Up Frankie (Frankenstein’s Bride) which I had done a couple of years ago.

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This evening while I was putting together the 5 min zombie look – I thought I could review Frankie as the only thing that wouldn’t necessarily be in everyone’s makeup box, is the body paint used for the green skin.

So for this experiment, I used a green mineral eyeshadow and a blusher brush to apply onto my face, and blended it in. I then picked a slightly darker green and used it on my cheekbones, nose, and temple.

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I then applied a deep purple eyeshadow over the eye socket, following my eyelid around and underneath. I used another loose powder for this and the loose powder falling was blended in under the eye, so being slightly messy certainly works in this instance!

I actually set the green with a translucent powder because it was just a tiny bit glittery – which is fine if that is what you are going for 🙂

I then applied lashings of mascara and a little liner to finish my eyes off before moving onto the stitches.

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For this, I just used a pen eyeliner – now I haven’t given much thought to placement of the stitches – I usually try and make sure that they won’t be covered by a wig, so I keep them more central but you may want to look at some more authentic autopsy scars for your own makeup!

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And one where I remembered to put on some lipstick 🙂

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This makeup look really won’t take long to do – both this and the zombie makeup are designed to be 5 min makeup looks that can achieved without spending much money of time. I would love to see what you come up with!

Halloween Makeup Ideas #1

So a friend recently asked if I could put together a simple makeup look for her son – who currently is on the fence about whether he wants to be a vampire or a zombie – so here is my simple walk through 🙂

So to being with, we are starting with a simple zombie look, using cream colours, picked up in a store (I bought mine from a Pound shop) and some cheap velvet lipstick. You can use any, I prefer to use lipstick as it will dry and stay put whereas the more traditional fake blood will keep moving around, and this isn’t ideal especially if you are making up a child 🙂

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Start off with a bare face, but clean, you don’t want anything interfering with the makeup as it needs to dry on the skin so it doesn’t move later on.

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Now i personally put a little of the cream on the back of my hand, and apply from there, I put a pea sized amount on, and it was more than enough. I use my fingers to apply, which means i am not loosing any to being absorbed into a sponge, but it really is personal preference. I will say using your fingers does lend itself to this makeup as you don’t really want an even colour for the newly risen/walking dead 🙂

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This is the first layer of makeup, the lighting isn’t fantastic, i keep forgetting how quickly it gets dark so there wasn’t a lot of natural light available!

Next step is to add black – now I use this in the same as one might contour – basically I use it under the cheek bones, the side of the nose to the side of the chin, on the temples and then around the eyes for the sunken look.

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The next step is the fun one – ADDING THE RED! Now I chose to use a cream colour first as these will all dry on the skin and not budge. This is applied along the side of the mouth and chin, down and onto the neck – trying to imagine where blood would drip really. I apply a little to the eyes, and then any open wounds as well. You can really have fun with this! (see my neck)

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And lastly, I use my velvet lipstick – I would normally use a darker shade, but it was sadly unavailable to me at this time – so please just use your imagination! But all I do is apply over the red around the lower lip to add a little more depth and colour, and a tiny bit again around the eyes.

Et voila!

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The meaning .. of life?

42? Right? No ? Was I was sleeping while you all grew up around me?

In my first reboot blog, I explained my relationship to makeup and to some extent, wigs, how my relationship has changed throughout the years… (aborted green period anyone) and I have since gone on to share my love for the art of makeup, wigs, playing dress up…

I was chatting to a friend on I.G earlier today, and debating what my next blog should be about (I have usually 2 or 3 ongoing… occasionally I even publish them!) … he suggested, and I will quote ‘About how life, about how we change, age and think differently .. if you knew how long you had left, would you use your time differently?

Some biggies there to tackle so let us go slowly, don’t worry, I am right here, I will hold your hand!

So in my very abrupt bio, I have stated that my job doesn’t inspire me. No, it really doesn’t, not to any meaningful degree. A wise person once told me, that there is no reason to blame anyone else for the situation you find yourself in, as you, and only you are the one responsible. And I have to say, that did change my outlook. I have spent years bemoaning one thing or another, parents, school, boys. But at the end of the day, I am the one saying yes or no.

So in that respect, I have changed, I have learnt to accept that I am the one writing my storyline. And I am making the best of it. I have become a lot more relaxed, and looked for outlets outside my day job. This started with makeup, I love makeup. You know that already. Right? And that then moved to wigs, cosplay… generally dressing up and pretending to be someone else (occasionally I even pretend to adult!).

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I have been really lucky, because of the makeup, to meet a really encouraging mentor, and through her, worked with a theatre group, have done a fan film, did the VT for a show as well as backstage and general running around. And most recently it has resulted in my being on radio. I have learnt that being out of your comfort zone is a good thing, that sometimes jumping without looking first results in things other than broken bones. Yeah, one of those annoying people. But if it makes you feel any better, I get hijacked into things and rarely have time to really think about it. So I am not entirely cured!

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Well… the big question… it is one that keeps getting bandied around isn’t it … if you had an expiry date, would you do anything differently. Or the other is, if you could go back and tell your teenage self something….

I hate to be THAT person… no! No I wouldn’t do anything differently because I am the person today, because of the things I have done, the people I have met, the people who raised me up, those who tried to drag me down. But if I knew when I would be leaving this world? I wouldn’t let it dictate what I did or how I treated people. I would love to say I would go travelling, see all the things I wanted to, go visit family, far flung friends… of course that is on the bucket list among other things. If it happens, it happens. I will keep aiming to do all the things on that mental check list. If it doesn’t happen. It wasn’t meant to be 🙂

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I would miss this little dude though ❤

You can find my wigs at : http://revengewigs.co.uk

You can find my leggings at : http://www.wildbangarang.com/