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Treasures of The Cinema Museum

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One of the joys of London is the multilayered history found at every tube stop. 10 minutes from Elephant & Castle, The Cinema Museum transports its visitors back to the glory days of cinema, in a former Victorian workhouse which once homed a young Charlie Chaplin.

Founded by Ronald Grant and Martin Humphries in 1986, the museum is home to a staggering collection of cinema signage, seating, projectors, lighting fixtures, hand painted posters, usher uniforms, hundreds of film reels spanning back to the late 19th century and so much more. There are surprises behind each door which would fascinate everyone from technical enthusiasts to Old Hollywood glamour fans.

Both Martin and Ronald guided the visitors on the tour I attended. Ronald, who started his career as a apprentice projectionist in 1950's Aberdeen, started the collection by rescuing items from closed down cinemas which would otherwise have been destroyed. The Cinema Museum has been a lifelong work of love and dedication…

Fannying Around In Greenwich

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Since my childhood obsession with flamenco, I have adored fans. Fans are effortlessly stylish,convey expression as well as being practical in the heat. I also have a life-long affair with Greenwich - I feel lucky to have been born in a leafy part of London rich in multilayered history. Based in a couple of Grade II listed 18th century townhouses, next to the immense Greenwich park, The Fan Museum satisfies two of my loves.

The only museum in the UK completely dedicated to fans, The Fan Museum provides a comprehensive guide to the materials and elaborate skills used to create these handheld accessories, from all over the world, spanning centuries. And, of course, the building and its countless exhibits are a treat for the eyes.

Apart from displaying fans from the past, including an exceptionally rare embroidered number from around the Elizabethan period, The Fan Museum also works towards reviving the disappearing craft of fan-making. Workshops are frequently hosted and recent campaigns i…

Inspiring Movies: What A Way To Go!

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Bold and elaborate costume design exhilarates me. When I’m low on energy, I google images of Bob Mackie creations instead of buying chocolate as a little pick-me-up. What A Way To Go!, a star-studded dark comedy from 1964, is the visual equivalent to a freakshake-induced sugar rush.

Shirley MacLaine stars as small-town girl Louisa May Foster who desires a simple life. But Louisa ends up marrying men - played by Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum and Gene Kelly - who become incredibly wealthy overnight. The success, greed and vanity of the husbands kills them in outlandish ways leaving Louisa re-widowed, richer and sadder.

With costumes designed by the legendary Edith Head, MacLaine’s character is frequently reinvented as she moves from one doomed spouse to another. Before money enters Louisa’s world, she is as sweet as apple pie in frills and red polka dots. With each husband comes a different lifestyle as well as a more sophisticated image. Living in bohemian Paris, with Paul N…

Inspiring Reads: Auntie Mame - An Irreverent Escapade

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Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade, written by Patrick Dennis (one of Edward Everett Tanner II’s many pen names), was published in 1955 and became one of the biggest American bestsellers of the twentieth century. Sixty three years later and the flamboyant Mame continues to capture hearts. In Italy, following a re-release, this comic novel topped Corriere della Sera’s general fiction list in 2009. Technicolor cinema fans, such as myself, would have instantly ordered a copy after watching the alluringly hilarious Rosalind Russell in the 1958 movie adaptation.      
The novel begins in 1928 where an orphaned (and fictitious) 10-year-old Patrick is sent to Manhattan to stay with his only living relative - aunt and bachelorette Mame Dennis. Despite the wish of the child’s late father for his son to have a rigidly conservative upbringing and education, Auntie Mame has more colourful ideas. The shy Patrick is thrust into a decadent world of larger-than-life characters, excessive glamour and …

Life: The OST

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If your life inspired a film or TV series, what would be on the soundtrack?

Cinematic stories tend to exclusively feature songs released at the time they are set. But real life cultural influences are never straightforward.
I spent the 90s listening to the likes of Suede and Blur. Yet this was also the decade where I bought CDs of Dusty Springfield and Iggy Pop. My parents played Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. So how did I discover pop and rock songs, from before I was born, that were not performed by blokes with raspy voices and boring jumpers?
Being a weird only child guided my musical discoveries. I spent hours bingeing on VH1 which, pre-reality TV, was the auntie to MTV’s cool teenager. The Box channel, in its infancy, played decade-old videos by Cyndi Lauper and Blondie as well as the latest singles by East 17 and Salt N Pepa. My music television phase also coincided with the 90s’ embrace of nostalgia. This was the decade where Erasure, dragged up in lurex, covered Abba and Kula Shaker p…