Thursday, 29 December 2011

2012 Vintage Adventure

Tricky Customers are long time vintage connisours, charity shop lovers and market hoarders and 2012 is set to be the year we bring our love of thrift to the masses!

I have a few new vintage ventures taking off in 2012 and the 765 Vintage Etsy shop is the first. My Pa (ex-antique dealer) and myself are dealing in vintage home ware and accessories so please check out the shop and keep checking back as it will soon be filling up!

Next up is the Tricky Customers Vintage Shop that is due to launch in January and will be all about amazing vintage clothes and styling so keep your eyes peeled.

The third is a vintage shop in my home town that is my neighbour's due to open in January. It's a fun new project that I'll keep you updated about.

Tricky Customers will also be hitting markets, festivals and parties across the UK throughout 2012. We're excited!

P.S We will bring you news of how the Secret Emporium Christmas market went this week.

Recollections in a Random Pile of Old Travel Snaps

It get's to the point over the Christmas break where I get seriously itchy feet. Being at the family home for the longest period in 6 years has made it a particularly bad case this year. Today whilst clearing through all my stuff - still lying in storage - I came across this pile of old snaps from my travels around Europe. From Paris to Switzerland across France and Italy to Austria and Czech Republic to Dusseldorf and Berlin stopping in Amsterdam then Bruge on my way back to Calais and back up to North England with a heavy rucksack and a big smile. An 18 year old idealistic wannabe beat writer... 7 years on approaching 2012 and now based in London I am making adult decisions. Boredom occurs when reality masks inspiration. Next year I will base my decisions  on the dreams I had as a child looking for new adventures...

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Expectations

'You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line that I ever read.' 

Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations is one of my favourite novels and I try to read it every Christmas because everyone knows Dickens and Christmas go together like holly and ivy.  It was first published from 1 December 1860 to August 1861 in serial form and it has been adapted for stage and screen over 250 times. From the most recent 1998 film starring Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert De Niro to David Lean’s 1940s masterpiece, cinematic adaptations of this novel are always captivating and interesting in their own way but nothing beats the book.

Written in first person, the story’s protagonist is an orphan called Pip (I have a guinea pig named after him). I will not spoil the story for those of you who haven’t read this great novel yet but let’s just say it is full of twist and turns, eccentric characters and typically Dickension dark themes. The mad old spinster Mrs Havisham is one of Dickens' most fascinating characters; manically flitting around her house in her faded wedding dress despising all men since being jilted by her fiance as a young lady. As you travel through Pip’s life you are taken on a real rollercoaster but what underpins the story is the question of happiness and truth and where it can be found.

Christmas is all about nostalgia,telling of old stories, the meeting of varied characters and the finding of acceptance in the company of loved ones and familiar surroundings. It’s about enjoying seeing a crazy relative, drinking snowballs with old chums and playing board games with the family. Nobody understood Christmas better than Dickens who encourages us to indulge in sentimentality, be conscious of what we have and embrace the present (no not presents).  

Great Expectations is a novel about growing up and learning the truth whether good, bad or otherwise; but most importantly finding that truth and happiness lies within love and loyalty not greed and wealth. Enjoy the book this Christmas!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Tricky at The Secret Emporium

Right folks, if you haven't done your Christmas shopping yet (tut, tut) or even if you're all wrapped up (baboom) there's still one fabulous festive feast of roots design and underground crafts left to get your teeth into. Trust us, you do not want to miss the Secret Emporium this Sunday 18th December. We will be there with some amazing jewel type offerings from Tricky Customer and jewellery maker extraordinaire Jade Mellor. Check her site out!

Sick of socks, tired of the giving the same old tat for christmas, or just a little short on crimbo inspiration; come explore the exciting selection of gifts being offered by some very talented crafts people. From the folks behind The Secret Garden Party festival this market brings you - for one day only - a host of amazing independent designers and makers gathered together in the fabulous Village Underground, Shoreditch.

There's even a Christmas tree full of handmade decorations each made by the attending designers and you could win them all. Yes, you could have the most craftalicious Christmas tree and  feel all warm and fuzzy inside (admittedly partly from the mulled wine) because all proceeds go to charity.

As featured in Timeout, this market brings you homemade mulled cider, mince pies, mistletoe, mucho music and a hoard of fabulous creative company! Come say hello!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Paris! Yes, again!

Can't wait to go to Paris!


Above the moon hides
behind his curtain
his face never changing, it's always surprised,
amused, as though behind the veil neptune's naked
and only the moon knows

stop hiding

stop the machines
stop progress

on concrete
let us see

dark potential lies
behind reality, whilst it fades
in the dark hides the moon
watching you make the night dance 
don't stop

Flight of fancy

The Autumn/Winter '11 collection from Nadinoo  is very tasty. Just in case Santa's reading this, I really like the Pixie's a Bird shirt and dress, and the Lula Night Bird dress.I've been very good this year. Just sayin...

Thursday, 8 December 2011


David Bowie, George Harrison, Jarvis Cocker, Keith Richards, Nicolas Godin, Erlund Oye, Eugene Hutz, Jo Strummer

This collage is completely based on talent and was obviously a total chore to make...

This week's viewing...

Watching/re-watching the following...

Pictures of Paris

” An artist has no home in Europe except in Paris" Nietzsche

Christmas can make the most cynical human beings feel sentimental and in my case the holiday season always makes me want to go back and visit Paris. Paris is the first city I ever got to know properly. Having spent my early childhood in France I continued to visit family in Paris regularly growing up spending countless days and weeks witnessing and experiencing all manner of beautiful and dreadful things in this city. From a late night stabbing to a romantic picnic on the Seine, I have gotten to know Paris warts and all, and I still love it.

Sadly this Christmas I won’t have time to visit so will resort to listening to Reinhardt and Gainsbourg, re-watching french New Wave Films-especially Truffaut's Jules et Jim-and pawing through stunning street photography books containing images by the likes of Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson. These photographs capture – or perhaps help create – the romantic image of Paris. Not a Disneyland romance, after all this is France and needless to say ‘reality’ is a big deal in this city (check out Baudrillard’s critique of the reality of America) but I won’t divulge into philosophy today. There is so much to divulge into when talking about Paris-art,literature, food, film, wine, apothecary - but I will stick to the pictures for now.

These photojournalists captured Paris in all its states; a mixture of social classes, emotions and characters. From a passionate kiss, to a passionate protest: a prostitute taking a break to a child playing in the street. The real beauty is in Paris’ ability to really test a person’s emotions. People either love or hate this city as around every corner is a new experience, a whole heap of contrasts to take in. Paris is unapologetically raw and as a result exciting.  It’s being swept up in a moment. This is what inspired artists, lovers and all kinds of romantics. Is the feeling you get in Paris love? Well, Paris may well make me sentimental but I’m still too much of a cynic to say so. To quote Beckett (promise will stop with quote heavy posts after this);'Do we mean love, when we say love?'.
Let’s call it beauty or better still let’s not define it in a word. This is Paris after all…

Bresson was a prolific photojournalist capturing many world events. His 1968 photographs of the student rebellion in Paris seem particularly poignant right now. Doisneau’s talent lay in capturing human fragility and what these photographers both had in common was their ability to capture ‘the defining moment’. That moment that brings meaning and makes all those hours wasted standing in queues or sat on the bus feel like they were worth it. Or perhaps within these hours are the moment that's defining? 

Doisneau and Bresson also created portraits of great artists which seem to act as punctuation to the series of street shots. To quote Guillemets; ‘Grammar stops at love, and at art’. These portraits are a reminder that everyday Paris inspired and continues to inspire great art. Check out Doisneau’s portrait of Beckett. It captures the man behind the eyes, no? 

Everybody’s experience is different (again working hard not to divulge into philosophy) and everybody’s Paris is different but what transpires is that going to Paris is definitely an experience, good or bad. When asked if he did outdoor sports Oscar Wilde responded; ‘I once played open air dominoes in Paris’. Totally recommend doing this and boules! When discovering Paris you happen upon your own defining moments, like those captured in these photographs. For me it was deciding not to go to law school whilst lying under the Eiffel Tower. What’s yours?

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sight and Sound

After watching Submarine the other day (finally) and hearing the quite pleasant soundtrack by Alex Turner I started thinking about film soundtracks and how soundtracks can really make a film, sometimes even eclipsing the film they were created for. Think Curtis Mayfield's soundtrack for Superfly - yes, there was a film. 

There are so many soundtracks out there that I love but I'll stay on track and limit myself to individual/original soundtracks so that the list isn't too enormous. Who knows, I might eventually get around to creating a bigger've been warned...

Let's begin with Radiohead guitarist Paul Thompson's orchestral score for Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is as creepy and haunting as to be expected from this chap. Another film, also set in the Southern U.S, but possessing an arguably more iconic score is Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billie the Kid. Bob Dylan wrote a handful of songs for this film including Knocking on Heaven's Door, which is not a personal favourite and this is not really my favourite Dylan phase, but it must be noted how massive this song became. Simon and Garfunkel's soundtrack for The Graduate is another example of a soundtrack that's equally as legendary and recognisable.

There have been some interesting and often pretty experimental collaborations between film makers and musicians. A particularly interesting one is Mick Jagger's work on Kenneth Anger's Invocation of my Demon Brother. 

Sometimes a film's soundtrack is good because it fits so well with the film's ethos that it works to cement the film's style and place in time. Simple Minds' soundtrack to A Breakfast Club couldn't possible have made it more quintessentially 80's, John Entwistles' soundtrack for Quadrophenia is  just epic, and Air's score for Virgin Suicides supports the films parred back and slightly uneasy aesthetic narrative and style. Probably the greatest example of a soundtrack making a film synonymous to it's era is The Beegee's soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. Everybody know this one.

It would be a crime not to mention some of the great film composers some of whom where able to provoke astounding levels of tension and fear such as Bernard Herman who worked with Hitchcock and created the infamous screeching pre-murder sound for Psycho and John Williams' fear inducing soundtrack for Jaws ensured a pretty unrealistic fake shark was able to scare people out of cinemas. Angelo Badamenti's scores for Lynch's films are epic. Most notably his work on Blue Velvet where he took on the role as singing coach to Isabella Rossellini. Please excuse me but I will also again mention Neil Young's soundtrack for Jarmusch's film Deadman because I fear there may be people out there who have yet to hear it!Please watch this film and listen to this soundtrack!

Perhaps my favourite music and film amalgamation is when musicians venture into film. The 80's were a very good time for this. Talking Heads' film Stop Making Sense is perfection and who doesn't love Prince's Purple Rain and *cough* Madonna's badly acted but memorably soundtracked Desparately Seeking Susan. Then there's David Bowie's trippy kids film Labyrinth and his promotional film, Love You Till Tuesday, originally released in 1969 and including Space Oddity.Haven't forgotten The Beatles' Hard Days Night just have nothing to add on the subject as it's pretty much been talked to death. All awesome!

I have probably forgotten a load of soundtracks but these were the first to spring to my hungover Sunday mind. Feel free to tell me off and remind me of what I've missed. Oh, and in case you're wondering what I thought of Submarine, I thought it was ok and a possible grower. Stand out line,"you know what? It's going to matter when i'm 38".

Friday, 2 December 2011

Christmas viewing

I’m not really feeling Christmas yet this year and it may take a lot of mulled wine before I pull out the Christmas albums (apart from Spector and She & Him perhaps). Anyhow, Christmas is a good time to settle down to a few films and there’s a certainly lot to choose from, but I’m not ready for Gremlins or Elf just yet so let’s take a little look at the less cheery selection available…

Will it Snow for Christmas – Sandrine Veysett, 1966
This is a pretty depressing film that is about as romantic and sentimental as Jeremy Clarkson with a headache. This film’s about a woman with seven children living on a farm in rural France who considers committing suicide. What more you could possibly want this Christmas? But let’s remember that good ol’ Dickens’ approach to Christmas wasn’t always candy cane sweet. It was honest and gritty and grim, just like this film. All else failing it might conjure a sense of gratitude and relief that your Christmas is (hopefully) not as bad as this!

Un Conte de Noel - Arnaud Desplechin, 2008
Trust the French to pour misery on the jolliest of holiday seasons. Don’t write this one off just yet,it’s a really significant film about family members who gather to decide whose bone-marrow’s compatible with Cancer stricken Catherine Deneuve. Probably won’t leave you in party spirits though.

Christmas Holiday -  Robert Siodmark, 1944
Adapted by Herman Mankiewicz from a Somerset Maughan novel this little gem’s about an officer who meets a stunning demimondaine. Said beauty proceeds to break down during mass as she recalls her troubled marriage to a nasty man (Gene Kelly) who is serving life for murder. Worth watching because Gene Kelly is on form.

Scrooge – Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951
This is the grittiest version of scrooge out there. Written by Noel Langley (Wizard of Oz) this British film has a dark menacing quality - a little like boxing day.

Miracle on 34th Street – 1947, James Seaton
A mourning child, Santa put on trial…this one’s a good all rounder.

It’s a Wonderful Life – Frank Cappra, 1946
Again we have a big dose of Christmas suicidal despair and another opportunity to appreciate Gene Kelly, master of the Christmas movie sleazebag role. Fear not this film has an angel, the loveable James Stuart and a happy ending so no need to hit the sherry just yet…

Right better stop there, after all you don’t want to end up glugging Bailey’s and phoning Samaritan’s this Christmas. In conclusion, the British and French approach to Christmas film making is a little...well... depressing but from depressing comes some beautiful and poignant films. If this little lot doesn’t depress you enough this Christmas season may I recommend you grab the Baileys and look up Sophie’s Choice…oh, and don’t forget ‘tis the season to be jolly!