The generation that grew up during Beatlemania, the early Comprehensive school system, The Cold War (with The Berlin Wall as its iconic symbol) and listened to Radio Caroline as Alf Ramsay began his World Cup preparations is now reaching retirement age. The lucky ones are considering “downsizing” from large family homes, releasing equity to add to their pensions and looking forward to a long and active retirement.
100 years ago, there were only 13000 people in Britain over the age of 90. Today there are almost half a million and there are over nine million over the age of 65. This part of the population has grown by over a million in the past ten years and is now growing more quickly. Continue reading →
A couple of months ago we all shared in the celebration of Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday. She became a national treasure during the war. Her heart felt songs brought hope and joy to the military at home and abroad as well as civilians in Britain pondering the fate of their loved ones on stationed overseas.
She retained her enormous popularity with records, on radio and in concerts and eventually fronted her own television shows, airing initially in 1969. By that time, she was a true matriarchal English icon, loved, respected and admired.
In her programmes, she sang alongside or sat upon a high bar stool. This was also an international icon of modern furniture design, created by Harry Bertoia in 1952 and still manufactured today by Knoll International. Continue reading →
Once in a blue moon, a really good piece of furniture design hits you in the face. It’s even more rarely that you come across a truly great piece of design. The “CH22” lounge chair designed by Hans Wegner is one of these “greats.”
Back in 1950, when the chair was originally designed, Hans Wegner was already established as both a renowned furniture designer and a master cabinet maker and craftsman in wood. He had started to work with Arne Jacobsen in 1938, designing furniture for the City Hall in Aarhus and during the 1940s, he also worked with many other leading Danish architects and manufacturers. He set out to create a Continue reading →
Quite soon after The Wall Street Crash, in 1929, Herman Kamen was recruited by Walt Disney to find new ways to promote Mickey Mouse merchandise. By 1932, he had hatched a plan with Ingersoll to produce a Mickey Mouse wrist watch which was launched at The Chicago Exposition entitled “A Century of Progress.” At the same time, queues of thousands lined up outside Macy’s Department Store in New York and within two years, over 2 1/2 million watches had been sold.
This not only saved the Ingersoll Watch Company from financial ruin but also established a new marketing phenomenon using cartoon characters (and later human celebrities) to decorate or endorse every day, household products. The relationship with Disney lasted for almost forty years and in 1957, after several design changes, the 25 millionth Mickey Mouse watch was presented to Walt Disney himself.
The Mickey Mouse watch was also the first novelty watch in the world and a year after its launch, a British version was introduced in 1934. It was virtually identical to its American counterpart but inscribed on the face “FOREIGN MADE” because it was manufactured in the U.S.A.Originally costing 15/- (75p), this is now a highly collectable, much sought after Continue reading →
Let’s face it, we are generally obsessed with speed. We’re fascinated with Usain Bolt’s recent world 100 metres record of 9.58 seconds. We are impressed by the latest fibre optic cable broadband that can download the average length film in less than 20 seconds or all the episodes of “Friends” in under 10 minutes.
We marvelled at the first Japanese high speed “bullet” train that travelled from Tokyo to Osaka at 130 m.p.h. and cut the journey time from 4hours to a little over 3 hours. We were proud when British Rail introduced the “125” trains in 1967 even though these trains travelled slightly slower than the famous Mallard which set the speed record for the fastest steam train in the world of 126 m.p.h. back in July 1938 which stands to this day. Continue reading →