Anglophile heaven thanks to ACORN tv!

I had never heard of the company ACORN until a few years ago when I was lucky enough to receive Christmas gifts, purchased from their catalogue, from two friends. I’m surprised I wasn’t aware of them before that because I love, love, love British television, and I’m a self-proclaimed anglophile, and ACORN sells lots of great dvd’s plus all kinds of quaint and quirky gifts. Sorry, I’m sounding a tad like a commercial!acorn tv

Just a bit ago I discovered something on their website that really got me excited, ACORN TV. Every month they have 18 British television shows available for viewing on this website. Of course there is an annual fee of $29.99 but they will give you a free 30 day trial which allows you to watch their current selections while you decide whether to sign up or not. It’s fantastic! That’s the option I’ve used…twice 🙂
I love it because I have been introduced to so many television shows I hadn’t known about before. I am very fortunate to belong to a library that has quite a few of these shows in their collection, so once I’ve watch the first episode on ACORN TV, I am then able to order the rest of the series through my library. It’s wonderful!

I have yet to purchase a membership, but maybe, just maybe. if a certain spouse of mine reads this he might get the HINT 🙂

Here are just a few of my favorite shows that I’ve discovered through ACORN (if I listed them all this would be my longest post ever!)

midsomer murders New Tricks Vera tv show

My Mom and Joan Crawford

Cropped screenshot of Joan Crawford from the f...

In my last post I mentioned that my Mom adored movie star biographies. She really loved reading about her favorites like Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis. Being the child of older parents I probably had a larger knowledge of the old movies and the old stars than other kids my age, plus I was a bit of a shy introvert!

I remember my mom even let me purchase a large coffee style type book that was chockfull of movie stills and I would pour over that book looking at all the beautiful faces and hoping I would one day get a chance to view some of those films.You have to remember there were no vcrs or dvds back then so the only way to watch them was if they happened to come on TV or if a movie theatre might have a classic movie night and show them. Boy, this makes me sound like I lived in the horse and buggy days!!

I was lucky that a lot of these old movies were shown on TV on Saturday afternoons. My mom and I would curl up on the sofa together and watch movie after movie. We both loved musicals and comedies but we would usually watch whatever was on that particular weekend. Though she would get up and leave if one of those cheesy monster movies came on, like The Attack of the 50 foot Woman, or Godzilla 🙂

I loved spending that time with my mom. She and my pop both worked all week so it was so comforting to have her by my side. My pop would usually join us after he got finished doing his weekly yard chores and more times than not we would end up eating our dinner on TV trays while finishing the movie. Good times for sure!

My trip down memory lane was prompted by something I rediscovered the other day in a box in my closet. It’s a typed and signed letter from Joan Crawford to my mom! I bet you’re thinking that this is just a form letter. That’s exactly what I thought until I did a little research and find out the Ms. Crawford was quite a prolific letter writer.

This is an excerpt from a 1951 Cosmopolitan magazine article about Crawford

“The filing cabinet contained some fifteen hundred names of Joan Crawford letter-writing fans. No other motion picture star would have bothered to look at them, let alone file them and dote on them, but to Miss Crawford a letter writer is a jewel, a cupcake, a sister-under-the-skin, a human being whose dignity must be protected at all costs. “By heaven,” she says reverently, “if my fans can write me, I can answer ’em.” The addresses never were found, and Miss Crawford, who will go to any unreasonable length to please a fan, was compelled to labor from sheer memory to answer admirers who, after twenty years’ intimate thralldom, now neglect to set down their return addresses. The ardor of Crawford fans, a special kind of ardor possibly not equaled by any other star’s, is actually overmatched by Miss Crawford’s passion for them. This passion is both sentimental and calculating: emotionally, Joan is as responsive as a strange and grateful child at a birthday party; at the same time, she is as professionally competent as a slide rule. And there you have it. Add the red hair, the big blue eyes, and the imaginative flair, and you’ve got yourself a movie star. No actress living works harder at her job.”

The book Joan Crawford: Her Life in Letters also mentions her detailed attention to answering her fan letters. She felt that if her admirers could spend time in their lives to write to her, than she would have the courtesy to write back to them. She worked very hard at being a movie star. It wasn’t a role that she took lightly. Maybe some of these so-called ‘stars’ of today could learn a thing or two from her!

I have no doubt that the letter sent to my mother back in 1951 was from Joan Crawford herself. Although she never mentioned it to me, it must have meant a great deal to my mother as she kept it among her possessions for over 50 years. I only discovered it when I was cleaning out my parents things in preparation for the sale of their house.

Maybe it was because of the circumstances that my mother found herself in back then that she neglected to show it to me. She was raising my sister alone after a divorce and she was struggling financially. It seems she had written to Ms. Crawford for advice on getting work as a script girl at a movie studio.

I only wish I had found this letter when my mom was alive so I could have asked her about it and her plans to move to California.

I’m sure glad that she didn’t end up moving out west because then there wouldn’t have been a me, as a few years later she met and married my pop! That turned out to be her happy ending.

1940’s theme running through my days

Somehow the 1940’s has become a recurrent theme in all my media outlets this week. It all started when I tuned into the Big Band Pandora radio station over the weekend, progressed into my television viewing on Sunday and advanced into my reading choices my midweek.

Maybe the launch of Season 2 of Downton Abbey on PBS has caused this need for me to immerse myself in a time period that I’ve only known about through my parents and television. Or maybe I kind of wish I had experienced the romance of it on my own. Of course movies and TV do tend to glamorize and sanitize things to the point that I’m sure they aren’t recognizable to those that actually lived through the events.
Downton Abbey, the TV series and Gosford Park, the movie, are two of my favorites and they are both from the creative mind of Julian Fellowes.

I’ve just finished two books set during the beginnings of WWII in England that I really enjoyed. The House of Tyneford by Natasha Solomons is set in a country house, much like those depicted in Downton Abbey and Brideshead Revisited, the novel by Evelyn Waugh. In all three stories these stately manors are given over to the british army to assist in the war efforts. Downton Abbey and Brideshead during WWI and Tyneford during WWII. The House of Tyneford is set around Elise Landau, a 19 year old Austrian Jew. Elise lives a glamorous life in Vienna but her parents decide to send her to England to escape the feared Nazi occupation of Austria. They decide to stay behind and wait for visas to America. Elise is fortunate to be able to secure a position as a parlor maid at Tyneford where her life is much different than before.  I raced through the book and recommend it highly.

The second book, Mr Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal, was a giveaway of an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) on Goodreads.  It was also a page turner but with a slightly different premise and more of a mystery quality to it.  Maggie Hope, an American with dual british citizenship, becomes a secretary to Winston Churchill during the beginnings of the war. This novel gives you the beginning views of the war from London right in Churchill’s war rooms. There is also a pretty darn good mystery at the heart of the story.

I have one more 1940’s theme to DVD to watch before my week ends, Land GIrls, and then maybe next week I will progress into a different decade!