Monday 31 December 2012

On New Year's Eve - "the same procedure as every year..."

Dinner for One

Image: COTE SUD 93

Dinner for One, also known as The 90th Birthday,
or by its corresponding German alternative title, Der 90. Geburtstag,
is a two-hander comedy sketch written by British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre in the 1920s.
 German television station Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) recorded a performance of the piece in 1963,
in its original English language, with a short introduction in German.


The sketch presents the 90th birthday of elderly upper-class Englishwoman Miss Sophie,
who hosts a celebration dinner every year for her friends:

Mr Pommeroy, 
Mr Winterbottom, 
Sir Toby, 
and Admiral von Schneider. 

The problem is that due to Miss Sophie's considerable age,
she has outlived all of her friends,
and so her equally aged manservant James makes his way around the table,
impersonating each of the guests in turn.

Miss Sophie decides on appropriate drinks to accompany the menu:
Mulligatawny soup (Miss Sophie orders dry sherry),
North Sea haddock (with white wine), chicken (with champagne),
and fruit for dessert (with port)
 served by James.

The crucial exchange during every course is:
"The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?"
Miss Sophie:  
"The same procedure as  every year, James!"

Diner for One with Freddie Frinton and May Ward



Since the 1960's, this sketch has become a tradition in Germany,
where up to half the population may watch it every year on New Year's Eve,
but it is relatively unknown in Britain
and has never been seen on television in Canada or the United States.
It is also shown on New Year's Eve in many other mainland European countries,
particularly Nordic countries, and also screens on SBS in Australia
 This comedy sketch went on to become the most frequently repeated TV programme ever
 (according to the Guinness Book of Records, 1988-1995 eds.)
On New Year's Eve 2003 alone,
the sketch was broadcast 19 times (on various channels).
As of 2005, the sketch has been repeated more than 230 times.



 So, as we leave this year with laughter...

...we will start tomorrow the new one with friends,
a glass of Champagne - or two,
a big smile


.... the New Year's Concert from Vienna....

just simply

..."the same procedure as every year"

:) :) :)

Wish you all a good "slide" into the New Year!

Einen guten Rutsch in's Neue Jahr!

Wednesday 26 December 2012

"between the years".....

"zwischen den Jahren"... an old-fashion German expression which means

"the time between Christmas and New Year"

After all festivities
this is for many of us the time for reflection,
'no rush - no hurry'
the time for having a review of the year.....
....leaving all "sweat" behind...

 For me it is also the time for watching old films,
historical ones, animated ones, "mouving" ones,
 and happy ending  fairy tales.


When I saw yesterday the wonderful film


 ...I remembered that I've discovered last year,
just before Christmas, on Trish's post   here

Beatrix Potter's

The Tailor of Gloucester

 which I had not seen before and was for me like a gift.

 I love it!

 The tale was based on a real world incident involving John Pritchard (1877-1934),
 a Gloucester tailor commissioned to make a suit for the new mayor.
He returned to his shop on a Monday morning to find the suit completed except for one buttonhole.
A note attached read, "No more twist".
His assistants had finished the coat in the night, but Pritchard encouraged a fiction
that fairies had done the work and the incident became a local legend.

part 1


part 2


part 3

part 4


part 5



 Potter sketched the Gloucester street where the tailor's shop stood 
as well as cottage interiors, crockery, and furniture. 
The son of Hutton's coachman posed as a model for the tailor. 
In Chelsea, Potter was allowed to sketch the interior of a tailor's shop 
to whom she would later send a copy. 
 She visited the costume department at the South Kensington Museum
to refine her illustrations of 18th century dress

The Tailor & Cutter journal's review on Christmas Eve 1903:

 " ....we think it is by far the prettiest story connected with tailoring we have ever read,
and as it is full of that spirit of Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men,
we are not ashamed to confess that it brought the moisture to our eyes,
as well as the smile to our face......"

For years, Potter declared that of all her books it was her personal favorite.


short trailer of "Miss Potter"


Happy Days... 

..."between the years"!


...and if you like to see details 
of some wonderful 18th century waistcoats....

....kindly visit the very interesting blog of  L'almanach désuet , one of my French readers,


Monday 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas to All of You!



HIVÄÄ  JOULUA  to Finland
NOLLAIG  SHONA  to Ireland


GOD JUL  to Skandinavia
FELIZ  NATAL  to Portugal
FELIZ  NAVIDAD  to Spain and South America
Shèng dàn kuài lè  to China


and to the whole world

The gift of love. 

The gift of peace. 

The gift of happiness. 


May all these be yours!


Saturday 22 December 2012

A Christmas Tale

By Ian Birket (Panikatak).

Santa was cross, he'd had a bad day.
His elves were on strike for more overtime pay.
Thay'd all been on strike since the end of the 'fall'
They wanted a 'National Elf Service' for all.

And Donner and Dancer and Cupid and Blitzen
had gone of in a 'hoof' since early last Whitsun'.
His lights wouldn't flash and his bells wouldn't ring
and his Jing wouldn't Jang and his Jang wouldn't Jing.

He'd asked Mrs. Claus for the weather forecast
and wished Christmas present would become Christmas past.
Global warming has meant there'll be no snow this year,
so she said, "Sorry my luv, there will just be 'rain dear!"

On top of it all, he'd the presents to sort
and political correctness had made the task fraught.
No dolls for the girls or guns for the boys,
no fireworks that bang or pollute with their noise.

No harm to their teeth from a sweet or a lolly.
Nothing sexist or racial, like a doll or a Golly!
No books on religion or to do with the body,
no 'Famous Five' and nothing on 'Noddy'!

No caffeine filled drinks to cause tension and stress.
No glue and no paint, because of the mess.
No jigsaws with pieces that some kid could choke on
and nothing too fragile that would only get 'broke-on'.

No feathers or fur and nothing of leather.
Nothing too simple and nothing too clever.
Nothing too violent and nothing too scary.
Nothing Royalist or 'Gay', not a Queen or a 'Fairy'!

Nothing with e-numbers or colourings that might
bring them out in a rash or be hyperactive all night.
No balls and no bats which could injure or bruise
and nothing with bits they were certain to lose.

No marbles or beads that a small child could fit
up its nose, in its ears or unmentionable bit.
And trees must be from a sustainable source
and the lights must be energy saving, of course!

Thursday 20 December 2012

"O Christmas Tree" - Ornaments...

From  antiques...

La Pouyette
1880-1900  vintage...

1950's - 1980's   (from my collection)

...and  History:

The first decorated trees were adorned with apples, strings of popcorn,
white candy canes and pastries in the shapes of stars, hearts and flowers.
 Glass baubles were first made in Lauscha, Germany, by Hans Greiner
who produced garlands of glass beads similar to the popcorn strands
and tin figures that could be hung on trees.
The popularity of these decorations grew into the production
of glass figures made by highly skilled artisans with clay molds.

The original ornaments were only in the shape of fruits and nuts,
blown "free" hand, without a mold.

1880 - 1900  (from my collection)

However artisans soon began to use molds to increase their production.
The artisans heated a glass tube over a flame, then inserted the tube into a clay mold, 
blowing the heated glass to expand into the shape of the mold.
The pine cone was one of the first designs.


It was followed gradually by the hundreds of different designs we are familiar with today.
By the 1880s buyers from American stores were coming to the area to purchase glass ornaments.
One of the earliest was F.W. Woolworth.

1930's - 1960's  (from my collection))


 Why did Lauscha develop into a center for this trade?

In the 1590's, Huguenot glass blowers, originally living in the German province of Schwaben,
were forced to flee their homes due to religious persecution. and settled in Thueringen.

The Thuringia region had been home to glassmaking as early as the 12th century.
Lauscha, located in a river valley, had several elements needed for glass-making:
timber (for firing the glass ovens) and sand.
(Nearby Jena would later become famous for its optical glass.)

Lauscha around 1900

Christoph Müller and Hans Greiner set up Lauscha's first glassworks in 1597.
Soon other Glashütten (glassworks) were established in the village.

In 1847 Hans Greiner
(a descendent of the Hans Greiner who had established Lauscha's first glassworks)
began producing glass ornaments (Glasschmuck) in the shape of fruits and nuts.

1880 - 1900  (from my collection)

These ornaments were made in a unique hand-blown process combined with molds.
The inside of the ornament was made to look silvery, at first with mercury or lead,
then later using a special compound of silver nitrate and sugar water,
a silvering technique developed in the 1850s by Justus von Liebig.
After the nitrate solution dried, the ornament was hand-painted and topped with a cap and hook.

Greiner's sons and grandsons,
Ernst (b. 1847), Otto (b. 1877), Willi (b. 1903), and Kurt (b. 1932),
carried on the Christmas ornament tradition.

In the "early days" it was a cottage industry craft.


The ornaments were blown and silvered in a workshop attached to a home.


Generally the glass was blown by men
and the silvering and painting handled by women.


All members of the family, including children, helped paint and finish them.
A typical work day lasted 15-16 hours, six days a week.
A family might produce 300-600 glass balls a week, depending on size and complexity.

Executed with style and imagination, and drawing upon their traditions of hand made craft work, 
glass  ornaments have come a long way from their humble commercial origins.
They deserve their recognition as an important form of German folk art.
Most of the images used for European hand blown glass ornaments are common subjects for Christmas tree ornaments,
and others are simply the whimsy of a creative glass blower.
But some ornaments have religious significance or are a sign of good luck,
and a few are associated with charming stories from the glassmakers' past.

made by my Great-Grandfather
who was a passionate glass blower and designer in Schlesien (Silesia)


Birds are considered a universal symbol of happiness and joy 
and are regarded by many to be a necessity on the Christmas tree. 
Because bird ornaments were difficult to create, 
few glassblowing families in Germany specialized in the making of these special pieces. 
Birds represent messengers of love and are the harbingers of good things to come.
It is said that many German families felt that finding a bird's nest was a sign 
that good luck would come to their family throughout the year.


 Additional symbols of good luck include the red and white capped mushroom stem

 1890-1900  (from my collection)

 Musical instruments,

1880 - 1900   (from my collection)

especially horns, 
are prevalent since they herald the celebration of Christmas music 
and were sounded to welcome Christ into the world.

1880 - 1900

 Reminiscent of nature's own tree decorations, pine cones, walnuts, 
and icicles are commonly depicted in glass ornaments but each have further significance. 

Pine cones were often brightly colored and imitated the cones found on European trees. 
These cones tended to be long and thin.

1950's   (from my collection)

The walnut was known to ancient Romans as "the nut of the Gods" 
and was one of the very first tree ornaments. 
Prior to the Reformation, European children received walnuts from St. Nicholas. 
And, often tiny gifts were concealed inside a gold or silver painted walnut.

1880 - 1900  (from my collection)


1880-1900  (from my collection)

Reflectors (the ornaments with geometric concave indentations) 
are sometimes referred to as "witches eyes." 
In the Victorian era at least one reflector ornament was placed on the Christmas tree 
to fend off evil spirits present in the home during the holiday season.

1900 (single one)  and 1930's   (from my collection)

Bells have always signified the spread of good tidings and good news.
,It is said that they evoke excellent cosmic energy.  
Christmas bells are also associated with a call to prayer.


 1880 - 1930's   (sold)


Soon these unique glass Christmas ornaments were being exported to other parts of Europe.
By the 1870's, Lauscha was exporting its unique glass ornaments to Britain.
Glass ornaments had become popular in 1846 when an illustration
of Queen Victoria's Christmas tree was printed in a London paper.
The royal tree was decorated with glass ornaments from Prince Albert's native land of Germany.

In the 1880s the American dime-store magnate F. W. Woolworth
discovered Lauscha's Glaskugeln during a visit to Germany.
He made a fortune by importing the German glass ornaments to the U.S.

After World War II, East Germany turned most of Lauscha's glassworks into state-owned concerns.
After the Wall came down, most of the firms were reestablished as private companies.
Today there are still about 20 small glass-blowing firms active in Lauscha.


Collector pieces

...'chacun à son goût'...

 ca 1925-1930,  11,5 cm,  86 Euro

1920-30,  86 Euro 

 Tinselchain, 1890-1900,  175 cm long, 96 Euros

 1880-1890, 18 cm high, 178 Euro

 1900, 48 Euro

 1920, 38 Euros

 1880-1900,  168 Euro

 1910-1915,  15 cm high - 10,5 cm wide,  98 Euro

1890-1900, 11,5 cm high, 168 Euro

 1930-1940,  12 cm high,  68 Euro

 1920,  268 Euro

 1950's,  34 Euro

 1900-1910,  115 Euro

 1910-1920,  4,5 cm high,  34 Euro

 1900, 8 cm high,  28 Euro

c. 1900  circa 338 euro  220 cm

280 cm, around 1900, 218 euro

all available    here



As we know by now - 
from the 16th century Christmas tree decorations have been created from various materials.

The most spectacular and fragile decorations are assembled of glass beads and bugles – 
called Gablonz ornaments (or in German Gablonzer Glasperlen-Cristbaumschmuck). 
They were produced in the region of Jablonec nad Nisou (or in German Gablonz an der Neiße) – capital of the Austrian bead industry during the Austrian Empire in Northern Bohemia (now Czech Republic) starting in the middle 19th century. 
1870 Justus Liebig from the town of Morgenstern near Gablonz invented the craft of lining glass objects from the inside with silver. Many designs and innovations were introduced and the tradition of making elaborate Christmas tree ornaments developed. Silvered, polished or even gold-plated beads were strung up and bent artistically into various shapes with thin wires. 

Glass chains, around 1900, Gablonz   (from my collection)

In the beginning production of glass beads, hand or mouth-blown, as well as multiple strings and small glass tubes was a speciality of the jewelry industry. So, originally the fabrication of beaded Christmas ornaments from the native material was developed as a co-product of a glassmakers who produced certain designs at homes for a larger centralized trading companies.

1880 - 1930's,  Gablonz   (from my collection)

Objects and ornaments were created in late 19th – first half of the 20th century. 
They were assembled with different types of beads: pressed beads, rocailles beads, 
beads with additional interior grooving, glass rods, atlas beads, wooden beads, 
molded blown beads or hollow beads with silver or gold lining 
in countless variations of color, patterns and transparency. 
see     here

Older Gablonz decorations are including small disks or cubes of golden composition material, 
which hold the wires of ornament together. Some objects excitingly combining with beads other different materials: 
tinsel, cotton spun, lametta, chenille, foil, phosphoric wax, wire etc....... 

read all     here

One of our favorite Christmas tree decoration.....

....just keeping it very simple 
in RED and GREEN - the original colors -
not too much of other decoration to avoid covering the beautiful tree,
and always with real candles!


Whether you use old ornaments and glass baubles 
or modern ones,
family pieces or self made ones, fancy or traditional.....


your Christmas decoration,
even if it is only in a vase or in an urn!


....and have a