I have a photoshoot with the lovely Grace tomorrow afternoon.
We booked it months ago, which means the date has snuck up on me, and while I’m very excited, I’m also incredibly disorganised. This week I have been frantically making these beauties:
while simultaneously freaking out about how little preparation I’ve actually managed to do.
Discovering at ten to five on Wednesday that a) a key part of one of my costumes was locked in my parents’ garage, b) the location I had scouted would be overrun with students investigating their futures at university (how inconsiderate, lol!), and c) I hadn’t actually got round to ordering two other key costume components yet, I haven’t been the most serene in the run up to the shoot.
Fortunately Grace has found us a new location, the internet is magical and I have both costume pieces in my hands, and I did a detour on the way to see my accountant last night and got the other one from the garage. Phew. Now all that’s left is dyeing my hair, deciding on make up and actually getting there in one piece tomorrow…
Worst case scenario, I guess we’ll fly…
I have been scouring the internet and my Craftsy classes for posing ideas and practice, because despite all my dance history and being a photographer, generally when you stick a lens in my face I get the giggles, and not in a delicate and attractive way, usually in an all out snorting, crying-with-laughter-while-rolling-on-the-floor kind of a way. Which is going to be difficult in a corset.
Fortunately the two main looks we’ll be shooting are my two newest alter egos – Nell, real name Petronella Blythe Merriman, who’s a steampunk gypsy with a story all her own, and an as-yet-unnamed woodland fairy with rainbow wings and western boots. (I love how this alter ego work feeds off who you actually are.)
So though I’m excited-nervous to be the other side of the camera, I’m looking forward to drawing out more of Nell’s character, and perhaps finding out my fairy’s name and personality.
A dear friend’s 41st birthday… our new favourite bar in town… a balmy Saturday night… and a quick detour to the ruined priory at the bottom of the high street for some photos on my way in…
Jacket and tshirt: ancient components of my wardrobe | Tulle petticoat: Hell Bunny | Polka dot pencil skirt (underneath): M&S | Rainbow shoes: Schuh, custom work by me | Handbag: genuinely not a clue, possibly from Dubai. (I’m in that delightful stage at the moment where most of my wardrobe is so me, but also so old, that I have no clue where most of it originated)
My hair was in ringlets before I left the house – but it’s now so long and heavy that a twelve minute drive rendered it vaguely wavy, instead. It still felt mermaidy though.
And apparently I need to work on my poses – I do actually have two legs, it’s just not that obvious from these photos.
Will definitely be wearing my petticoats as outerwear for the rest of the summer, though!
(for the uninitiated: Hogswatch is Discworld’s equivalent to Christmas. Discworld is Terry Pratchett’s alternate universe. Wincanton (a real town in England) is twinned with Ankh-Morporkh (a fictional city in a fantasy universe) and every November, a bunch of, in Terry’s words, bloody loonies descend upon Wincanton to celebrate Hogswatch. Clear as mud?!)
Though some of my friends go regularly, I’d not made it last year as it was my parents’ 40th anniversary. This year I was nervous but exc;ited – and hadn’t put a whole lot of planning into my costumes. I knew I was performing twice, and one of those involved chip packets.
So after a 3.30am alarm, staggering out of the house (watched by some very confused cats) at 4.20am and a 3 and a half hour drive, I arrived in Wincanton. Threw myself at my Travelodge room and slept and slept and slept.
At 10am, I found myself at the Memorial hall with Annastasia, surrounded by fellow loonies in outfits and costumes varying from mild to extreme, and I couldn’t stop grinning.
We taught a burlesque workshop to seven brave ladies and one extremely brave gent. Our chosen music, to match the theme of Going Postal, was… no, not Return to Sender, or any of the usual suspects. We went for Postman Pat.
Then I could wander to my heart’s content (and also packed in meeting Anna’s parents, the Boggises (who have long been heavily involved with Discworld and Hogswatch), long chats with new friends and some shopping, as well as a sneaky nap after lunch.
Come 5pm, I was in the green room, taking fuzzy but excited pictures of myself:
And then we got up on stage and danced. And oh, I had forgotten how much I enjoy performing. 2014 has been so busy and so manic (pfft, so much for my word of the year of “balance”) that I haven’t had much of a chance to dance at all, and it is still an unmatchable feeling to come off stage to appreciative applause (and sniggers, in this case).
Also got to sing the Twelve Days of Hogswatch (harder than you’d imagine, when you’re standing at the front holding up the words but you can’t actually read them yourself… it goes something like “On the FIRST day of Hogswatch, my true love sent to me, a mumble mumble blah blah blah. On the SECOND day of Christ-Hogswatch, my true love sent to me, TWO something mumble…” And that’s entirely sober!
Then the traditional sausage supper at the Bear, and on to the Pink Pussycat Club. Where we danced another number… dedicated to Rincewind the wizard, it involved a red pointy hat with stars on, three kimonos, doing some suggestive things with a potato masher and having a fight over some crisps. And the final reveal was…
(photo credit: Paul Heyes via FB)
(if you don’t get it, don’t worry… it’s a long story. If you want to get it, read Interesting Times.)
Here’s another pic of us during Postman Pat…
(photo credit: Tatyana Arbuzova via FB)
As cheesy as I know it sounds, the whole weekend felt like coming home. I didn’t feel like a newcomer (apart from when Nanny Ogg/Renta made me have a Hogswatch Virgin badge…), and as I’ve often found with my more niche hobbies (most notably model horsing – this felt a lot like that), there’s an instant sense of kinship. I even found some more stationery fiends (and friends) during our letter writing salon (an Ink Drops venture) on Sunday.
We were all letting our real selves out to play – our alter egos, but the ones we wish we could take back to everyday life with us. As so often recently, Lotta and I were perfectly in tune. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Having made so many new friends and felt so at home so quickly, coming back to the round world (not the Disc), and the prospect of the day job and doing housework were less than appealing.
I put this off by popping in on the way home to see my ex-headmaster and his family – which I know sounds weird, but my primary school was muchly special. Totally failed to get any photos of us all, but he did keep the sign when the school was demolished to make way for flats…
And it was so lovely to catch up after more than a decade.
So I drove home to my silly kittens through the night, arrived at 10pm, fell into bed to dream of the Disc, and woke up still half there today. I spent this morning waving photos at anyone who would look, and am now settling down to the important work of planning next year’s costumes and skits.
Big thanks to Annastasia for giving me the chance to attend – it’s now an immovable fixture in my calendar.
Happy Hogswatch… I hope you’ve been naughty AND nice!
PS for any non-Pratchett fans, normal service will resume shortly. If you’ve read him and don’t like it, fine. If you’ve never read him then for goodness’ sake go and borrow a book from your library and try one. You’ll never know if you don’t try…!
PPS You don’t actually have to be a fan to come to Hogswatch. I would love, love, love to see some of you there next year! Or at any of the various cons I hope to now attend in 2015 🙂
PPPS If you fancy creating your own alter ego, hop over and have a look at Unfurling Your Wings. It’ll launch a little later than planned due to some mad new VAT laws, but on the plus side, it’s now going to be a much more immersive experience, with goodies coming to you in the REAL ACTUAL POST.
A weekend of pure magic is over… and I’m looking back and sighing with happiness at every moment of it.
On Friday, The Night Circus arrived at Tea and Sympathy, my favourite place in Colchester. The dress code was black and white and circus-appropriate, with a red accent for the reveurs – those who had read the book. (And if you’ve read it, you’ll know why!) For those that haven’t had the pleasure, the theme was around the book The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.
My red accents were my sequined shoes, scarlet lipstick and a peek of a red bra… 🙂
I don’t think I’ve ever felt more thoroughly myself, though my outfit wasn’t entirely appropriate for the multi storey car park where we put the cars when we arrived… lol. But I’ve always been fascinated by the circus – my burlesque name is a tribute to my obsession with Enid Blyton’s circus stories!
I arrived with Gabby and Chris, after the quickest house tour in the history of the world, and we wandered in a haze of happiness through the shop, up and down the tiny, twisting staircase, to hidden rooms, magic and wonder at every turn…
There were fire dancers, burlesque from Miss Fanny Darling, magicians, fortune tellers and some cocktails, which I’m told were lethal… I declined to sample them, as I quite fancied getting home without getting arrested!
Here’s Gabby and Chris, looking like they belong with the Cirque…
Miss Fanny Darling as the Raven…
And the incredible fire dancing duo (I have plans for a skirt just like that one… I LOVE IT!)
I’ll leave you with the video of the fire dancers – a little taste of the most magical evening I’ve had in a long, long time! With thanks to Tea and Sympathy for making dreams reality 🙂
I'm Carla, a quirky thirtysomething with a penchant for unicorns and glitter. I believe in magic and make-believe, and the gorgeous rebellion of making your life absolutely your own. And I'm a proud multipod!
Proud to be both girly and geeky, when I’m not writing, photographing or daydreaming, you can find me dancing burlesque, riding my bicycle Bluebell, growing herbs and collecting typewriters.
Things I want to do in 2020. Partly from my Daydreams To Do list and also from my general goals for the year.
~ Steampunk events
~ experiment with film cameras
~ walk more
~ explore Colchester
~ beach time
~ kitty portraits
~ western riding
~ spa days
~ learn to make bath bombs
~ recreate Lush's Angel's Delight soap fragrance
~ work in sterling silver
~ build a catio
~ handwritten letters
~ photobook of the house project, the cats, Poppy & Dad
~ print my own photos