Tuesday, 29 November 2011


I've been dealing with a nightmare that has gone on for nearly 2 months and it looks as if it's going to still be weeks before I can finally put this 'episode' behind me.

I'd had a difficult few weeks, including a significant bereavement and decided I needed a bit of a pick-me-up! Anyhow, October 10th,  reading blogs, following links, and a small advert about a suburban woman who combined 2 anti-ageing moisturizers together and within weeks lost about 20 years in age and angered doctors as it was more effective than botox(?) caught my attention. There's loads of them about, but I'm not going to name any names. Why? Read on...

The free sample of the first of these, (you only pay p&p. looked everywhere, no catches) Looks good, just what I need, I'm a single woman, 59 in December, don't give up hope yet.... Anyhow, did some google searches on the product, loads of hits came up, was reading them, all seemed ok.  Paid the £1.99 p&p online with a debit card. Started looking for the second cream to make this magic formula, found it, googled it, all seemed good. This one cost a bit more, about £2.50 p&p. Still good. Ah, there's some terms and conditions... Damn, not recommended for people with high blood pressure or those with kidney disease, I have both. Was looking for a phone number and saw some very small text. Something about 2 weeks to cancel and then be charged the full price of £89 pm and you will automatically be sent a new months supply, every month?. Hang on! That's a bit steep.

Anyhow, the confirmation email of the 1st one has now come through. No mention of monthly payments, but there was a customer services number. Called straight away, told them I had seen the T&C of the 2nd cream and realized I couldn't use it as I have high blood pressure and kidney disease.... Blah blah blah, yes I know I can't get the p&p back, just wanted to cancel the order, don't want it as I can't use it. OK cancelled. You'll receive a cancellation email within 24 hours. Still waiting for that.

So the next day, I'm bemoaning the loss of the opportunity of using the miracle products, but relieved not to be paying £80 for it. So I start searching for the ingredients to see if I could find them in other products I could find sold in a more conventional way, like in a shop and come across a very interesting forum. A forum of people who have been scammed by this and similar companies. Most of them didn't get any products, most had £100s taken from their accounts, the performance of different banks to this issue, and some really informative people.

Basically, I've given my address, date of birth, email address and bank details to a complete and total thief and con artist.  To cut a long story short, I didn't get the product,  but within 6 weeks, nearly £260 had been taken out of my account. I've had to change my debit card, thankfully, as I informed my bank what had happened before unauthorised withdrawals were made, they are being really helpful. But the stress of checking my account every half hour for a couple of weeks was so high, it was almost a relief when the withdrawals were spotted. Then I found out all my friends on FaceBook were getting spammed adverts for all kinds of  so called 'health related' supplements and treatments, acai berry weight reduction stuff,  teeth whitening products, colon cleanse 'stuff', 'work at home and earn a fortune 'stuff' all with a personalized recommendation from me, all claiming I'm using and advocating the stuff and advising them to sign up for trials for the cost of p&p! I spent a week apologizing.

Last week I came back from a day in outpatients in my local hospital to find and email from my ISP to say they have quarantined an email for containing malware. Yep, saw a web mail image of it and it's the cancellation email from the company. By coincidence, overnight 70 emails from the same outfits/different companies flogging the stuff to my friends on FaceBook. All screaming to me to 'try' this wonder product just for the cost of  the return p&p. And the next thing I know is that my laptop has slowed to a crawl and I only have about 6% of free space on my hard disk it's so full of malware and spy ware.

I'm so pissed off and stressed, I can't tell you. I'm waiting for the delivery for a new portable drive and then I'll have to waste a couple of days cleaning, backing up and copying my hard drive before I wipe it clean and totally re-install Windows, and that's an extra expense I can do without at the moment.

If you thought I didn't have a protected machine, you'd be wrong I had all kinds of anti virus and spyware on it and pay an extra few quid a month for my ISP to check all incoming traffic too. No the truth is I compromised all of the security I put in place, myself. The chances are, I was not buying anything worth having, even at the p&p price. A lot of people who apply don't get anything at all.  The products, if you do get them will not live up to the claims. The aim of the adverts is not to sell, it's to get your bank details, tie you into a bogus monthly rip-off contract and get your personal details, access to your PC and sell through you. The whole international industry (Utah, Cyprus, Israel) is set up from top to bottom by scammers, they write the adverts, they write all the other 'sites' that come up in Google that discuss the product, they manipulate google analytics to make sure you pass on to their sites, they have bent lawyers working for them, they lie to legitimate companies to get their adverts posted in legal sites that sell advertising to 3rd party ad space sellers. It's a mind boggling racket that put's James Bonds adversaries to shame. It's a boiler-room share scams for the health conscious. Don't believe me? Check out
and to find out how people are responding to being scammed

I gave out all of my essential information and contact details because at a moment of weakness, I was chasing a mirage. More than anything else I have trashed the image I had of myself as a prudent, careful, intelligent, savvy, well educated, confident,  intelligent, mature woman. How about gullible, stupid, irresponsible, not safe to be left alone online with a debit card, idiot. Seems to fit somehow.

To anyone who's wondering where I am, catch you when I've got this sorted out.  

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

I Love Reading Blogs

I've spent the last month glued to my laptop reading the blogs of others and I'm so much the better for doing it. On the surface it's been a bit of a tricky transition of a month and I've gratefully realised I'm not the person I was a month ago.

There was a lot going on. Elizabeth's death hit me unexpectedly hard, very hard. I was also in the middle of a flare up of RA, tried a new course of anti-inflammatory medication which had me doubled up in pain until I was changed to another one. I could also hardly walk. So a lot of time and energy was spent in pulling myself out of a deep 'pit'. Today things look a lot more promising. I walking loads better. Tomorrow I'm starting a course for people who have RA in how to live with it and manage it and in a few weeks I start a course of physiotherapy to improve my mobility. But best of all I feel really motivated to start living again, and it was the sensation of enjoying life I had totally lost and really missed. It felt at times as if it would never return.

I really feel that a lot of this credit has to go to the invisible friends I'm finding who blog. I've been intrigued, educated, excited, envious, entertained, inspired and enriched by all of their hard work and creativity. It has also helped me clarify and focus on my interests that will shape my future. The blogs fall into a few related categories, but I would never be able to get the feedback and support I need in my local real life community, There isn't the interest in women of my age or any links between the groups of people who may have similar interests her in Bristol UK. But on-line, it all seems to work out fine. Admittedly, it does make me wish I lived in the USA, I suspect I wouldn't be such a fish out of water there, as I probably am here.

One big interest is my love of vintage clothing from the Belle Epoch 1915-1920s, the Jazz Age 1920s, Art Deco  1930s WWII to the late 1940s. As I have never had much of a waist, I've never been that interested in the new look 1950s, that's not something I could or wanted to do with my figure, but put me in anything from The House of Elliot to Poirot and I'm a happy bunny. As I'm far too curvy to wear real vintage, (why are all real vintage clothes so small?!) It's this wardrobe I want to make for myself. So a number of the blogs I love are from a whole community of women who love and wear these clothes. Some make them, some sell them, some model them, all wear them. They are an inspiration. I've also discovered they come in different sizes, some of them are really curvy too. They do all seem to be a lot younger than myself, mainly in their 20s and 30s but you never know, this might change with time too. I think the top blogs in this section have to be This Old Life and Wearing History. They both make and wear vintage stuff really well. Thank you girls.

So that's the top 10 of the 24 blogs I'm following daily at the moment. As time passes, no doubt I'll lose some and add more, but it has been a revelation to me of how much they have impacted on my life at a time when I needed it the most. Now I'll have to start actually doing the stuff I'm meant to be doing. Making my clothes and going out and enjoying my life, doing the things I always intended to do when I started this blog. Tomorrow, I've a day in hospital out patients, but come on, get something started by the end of the week, please.

Then there are the blogs that are really informative about the culture of vintage ephemera. It's just interesting stuff about interesting stuff. It's addictive. I think my favourite blogs that do this are How Retro from Australia and The Vintage Traveller in North Carolina who also takes you on visits to her local museums and days out.

There are some really quite high brow sites which have a more academic artistic intent. The Silver Screen Modiste covers classic Hollywood costume design and it's relationship to fashion and culture. Enchanted Serenity of Period Films is a blog that recently closed,unfortunately, but he's kept the blog online and it has to be the most fantastic resource of period films ever.

Then there are the blogs that just make me laugh, Dairy of a Vintage Girl makes me fell all is possible, Va-Voom Vintage makes me feel my size isn't a barrier, The Retro Natural is a much appreciated (by me) young Black American woman. It's the only other woman of colour I know who has embraced vintage styling. Why there aren't more of us I don't know. But thank you for being there. Lastly, in my blogs of note, there is Vintage Black Glamour where for the first time I've seen the history of the cultural icons of the African Diaspora celebrated in all of their glory. It feeds my soul. I wonder if I'll see my Dad in it. Hope so.