Vitaphone on camera

December 5th was a great day for fans of Vitaphone short films. Ron Hutchinson of the Vitaphone Project screened on the Turner Classic Movies TV channel 24 hours of continuous Vitaphone shorts. These wonderful old classics have been collected and restored by the Vitaphone Project over many years, and this marathon showing, interspersed by Ron Hutchinson chatting with Ben Mankiewitz, was a first. Sadly I was unable to watch being still in London, but I’ve been reading the enthusiastic comments on Facebook of those fortunate enough to have watched this historic event.

My enthusiastic friends, David Wyatt and Malcolm Billingsy, at the Cinema Museum invited me to be videoed talking about my father, Stanley Watkins, and his part in the development of Talking Pictures. That was fun, although I’m sure I left out lots of important stuff when I roared off on a tangent, as I am wont to do.

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Color your world: Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown

jan-2-2017-068My feet get cold in winter, even in the house, so I like to have slippers that reach up over my ankles. And these did – just. But they were quite cozy as the cuffs hugged my legs. And as you can see, they were very fuzzy-wuzzy and definitely brown.

Soft slippers, however, don’t hold up very well after long use, and for some reason one of them began to sag a bit to one side at the heel. Nothing to do with the way I walked, of course. Oh, no. We always followed our mother’s gait, one foot in front of the other – Indian style, as she used to say. But somehow one heel had begun to slide over to one side. This made it very uncomfortable – though it still kept my foot warm. I even wore them on the wrong feet sometimes but that didn’t even it out.

Then we went to London. In June. So I didn’t take my fuzzy-wuzzy brown slippers. But the house in London was chilly. New Mexico is so nice and dry one doesn’t feel the cold so much, but a rainy, damp day in London can be very cold. Even in June. I did have some over-the-ankle slippers there, gray ones, but – guess what – they were wearing down just like the ones back in Albuquerque. However, needs must, and I slopped around in them whenever the weather dictated.

Meanwhile my PA was slopping around in his traveling slippers, but they are black, so they don’t fit into this story. For a while it sounded like an old people’s home with both of us shuffling around on the wooden floors. Wait a minute, we are both old people, but at least my house smells better.

So one day I took the bus to Croydon where there is a big shopping center (we don’t call them malls in England). I love having a day just to wander around and check out everything. This time I was looking for a Clarks’ shoe shop. They seem to fit my feet best – wide at the front, narrow at the heel – though they are not cheap. Luckily it was sale time – isn’t it always, these days? So I got myself a natty pair of navy blue (though AP says they are black) suede booties with sort of netting at the sides and zips up the back. Less than half price, too. I will feel really chic wearing them after living in trainers. Or sloppy slippers.

But I digress. Back to the fuzzy-wuzzy brown footwear. As I strolled around the Whitgift Center (wondering who Whitgift was to have a Center named after him/her) I chanced upon another shoe shop and lo, there they were: the perfect pair to replace my worn out slippers. They were in my size. They were brown. But the nicest thing was the fuzzy-wuzzy wool lining. These would come back to Albuquerque with me, I decided. As they look like boots and have a rubber sole I even kept them on for the flight back – ah, comfort and warmth.

I love them so much, and I’m sorry London; we’ll have to make another trip to the Whitgift Center to get some ‘over there’ slippers next time. These ones are staying right here.

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