Fashion and Shopping history – The Hodson Shop Collection

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The Hodson shop collection is a slice of shopping history and a story worthy of a book. Two sisters, Edith and Flora Hodson, opened a shop in the front room of their house in Willenhall, West Midlands, in 1920. The shop sold all manner of ladies apparel and accessories, along with toiletries and fragrances. The shop is open until 1971, when Flora, finding the running of the shop difficult after her sister’s death, decided to shut the shop. However, the shop was not closed properly, Flora simply closed the door, leaving the shop and stock intact. After Flora’s death in 1983, the unique collection was discovered and handed over to the Walsall Museum.

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Currently there is a rather fabulous exhibition of some of the items from the Hodson Shop collection taking place at the Walsall Leather Museum. The complete collection has over 3,000 exhibits that date from the 1920s to the 1960s, offering a fantastic look at the social history of the time in terms of what normal people wore and used. There are also pieces that tell us a lot about the fashion of wartime, with utility fashion a key part of the collection.

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I popped along to the Leather Museum last week to take a look at the collection. I am fortunate enough to have seen lots of the pieces at first hand, I visited the Walsall Museum stores in the early millenium when I was working on a project with the museum, and was able to touch and view lots of pieces from the collection, so this was truly a lovely morning for me, swept up in the nostalgia of a shop that was forever locked in time.

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The Hodson Shop exhibition is on display at the Walsall Leather Museum until 21st January 2017.

You can also read about the Hodson Shop project here.

Mini Stars Beaded Charm Bracelet in Sterling Silver


In recent years Sterling Silver has grown in popularity when it comes to jewellery. More affordable than gold or platinum, sterling silver (hallmarked with 925) is a glamorous alternative, non tarnishing or colour changing, practical enough to be worn every day and yet attractive enough to add style and class to every outfit.

I am a huge fan of silver jewellery, if I’m honest, I actually prefer it to gold, as it seems to suit the metallic silvers and greys that I love to wear. My most recent silver acquisition is a beautiful and delicate piece that was actually picked up on Amazon. The Mini Stars beaded charm bracelet is a delicate and elegant piece that would suit women of all ages and could be worn with a variety of outfits. The bracelet has six, beautiful, solid stars and eight mini beads that are all fluid and moveable and are arranged on a pretty box chain. The bracelet also has an extender chain so that the total length of the bracelet is 7.48inches (or 19cm in new money!) which I think is a decent length and gives you options to wear this loosely or fitted to the wrist.

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I have been wearing this simply, on it’s own and not fastened too tightly, but I think it would be great layered, possibly with your Pandora or Links bracelets. The bracelet is delicate, so it could suit a younger girl as a first piece of grown up jewellery, but the delicacy also makes it great for people to wear for work, it is understated and therefore would work with a formal business suit. It would equally by great teamed casually with jeans and a plain white t-shirt for a casual weekend look.

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The bracelet comes in a cute little gift box, which would make this a great gift idea – perfect for bridesmaids, or a lovely birthday or Christmas gift. It could also be lovely for a confirmation of Christening, and it is ultimately very affordable too.

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I was gifted this product for free for the purpose of a honest review.

 

Reviewed – Dead Sheep at the Birmingham Rep

“Being savaged by Geoffrey Howe is like being savaged by a dead sheep.”

– Denis Healey

One of the greatest political stories of modern times is that of how the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, was ultimately brought down by her most loyal acolyte, Geoffrey Howe. The man who had been described by playwright Jonathan Maitland as Thatcher’s ‘political soulmate’ became her Brutus, her assassin with a resignation address that opened the floodgates to the growing dissent that had already been rumbling in the Conservative government.  ‘Dead Sheep’, which opened at the Birmingham Rep last night, looks into the intrigue, the key political characters of the time, and also the premise that it was Elspeth, Howe’s formidable wife, who penned the speech and sealed Thatcher’s fate. It is a masterpiece of political satire, absorbing, fascinating, sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant, and, quite frankly, unmissable.

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The play is a 6 hander, with three actors taking on single, key roles, and a further three actors playing a host of lead Conservative figures of the time. Steve Nallon, so famous for his Spitting Image portrayal of Thatcher, here reprises the role and is astounding. He is Margaret Thatcher, even the stance and the walk is correct, and those withering glances that could kill are there and used to powerful effect. His powerful is perfectly balanced by the wonderful Paul Bradley as Geoffrey Howe, played as a man of compassion and sensitivity, rather than the bumbling idiot Howe is often described as. Bradley’s performance is understated, part elder statesman, part henpecked husband, albeit with a politic wife and a real wife. Carol Royle is also stunning as Elspeth Howe, making her into the real heroine of the piece. Political, principled and charming, the scenes with Elspeth and Thatcher are almost a tennis match of thinly veiled barbs and insults, and the air literally crackles with tension.

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With such strong performances from the central characters, the other roles could be thankless tasks, but this is not the case. Christopher Villiers is just brilliant, his hilarious turn as ageing lothario Alan Clark, along with a very funny turn as Bernard Ingram, linger in the mind long after leaving the theatre. John Wark as Brian Walden, complete with lisp, is another highlight of a play that is full of very funny, memorable moments, whilst Graham Seed adds heart and pathos to the story as the tragic Ian Gow, forever loyal, always trying to hold things together.

Dead Sheep shows that politics can often be personal. The removal of a Prime Minister could be due to extreme matters of state, then again, it could be due to the loss of a rather beloved country pile. Dead Sheep is a look at British Politics in all it’s glory, with a story that still resonates today, Europe, politicians with beards, strong female leaders, 2016 is there to be seen in this look back at our political past.

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Dead Sheep Limited in association with Cahoots Theatre Company

Dead Sheep

By Jonathan Maitland

The HOUSE at The REP

Click here for ticket information.