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Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Beatles - as brought to you by Miner's make-up

While making a half-hearted attempt to tidy up in my work room at home I came across this copy of The Beatles' "Hello Goodbye" from 1967. The B-side is "I Am The Walrus". That's another reminder of this group's uniqueness; no other act before or since has scattered its jewels so freely. Anyway, the Miner's make-up ad which was printed on the bag, as it was on most of the Beatles classic singles, attests to the fact that brand tie-ins on pop records have been going on for a long time and aren't some post-Simon Cowell abomination.

I used to get the bus to school. When we came home we passed Shaw Cross Pit just as the miners were coming off shift. They'd been in the pit baths but they still had coal dust round their eyes. I can remember wondering if there was a direct relationship between the eyeliner applied by girls prior to going out and the black outline that remained on the miners' eyes all the time and whether the make-up manufacturers had deliberately named themselves after the miners. I never voiced this thought at the time. Can't believe I'm doing it now.


  1. As a teenager, I went house-hunting for the first time. My own Leeds locality being too expensive, I targeted the coalmining area to the south around Normanton/Wakefield/Castleford. During my first viewing, I was heavily distracted by the male householder, due to his animal slippers and 'eyeliner'. Only once I moved into the area did I become aware of the coalminer's signature look.

  2. I love the brief for the ad. "The more you cake it on the more natural it looks. Say that. Of course it's stupid, but so what? Oh, and use a model who's none-more-Dusty. That'll work."

  3. It's not a play on words around "Khol" eye make up and miners is it? Oh and and the men of our pit village had the same "makeup" . Also the coal dust would "tatoo" old wounds etc so scars would be picked out in black on miners' arms etc.

    on the subject of record bags I've been following the saga of fran the fan on old vinyl for a while.

  4. Gosh, BLTP - Fran The Fan. Having seen those in a while. I note in one frame her friend calls her "tattyhead", which was an expression brought into the mainstream, I think, by the original Liver Birds. I was thinking about this after watching the terrific documentary film Good Hair, which explains how African Americans refer to "nappy" hair, which is a word they use in the wool business to talk about the coats of sheep. By the time it got to Jamaica it was "natty". Hence Natty Dread.

  5. I have 2 theories on 'tattyhead' (being a not-quite-scouser, from the Wirral) : 1) When my mother used to comb my sister's hair, the clumps where hairs were stuck together due to stickiness from sweets held in clammy hands, were called 'tats'. Therefore, tatty head. 2) Potatoes were known as spuds or tatties in our house. If you were a tattiehead you had a spud for a head, so it was an affectionate term for an idiot!

  6. That may certainly be one of the meanings. I was reading the chapter about Fetter Lane in Peter Ackroyd's book about London and he had about twenty different possible derivations for the name. I imagine that applies to anything over a hundred years old.