Today has been a sad day for footwear. Back when I was a a 23-year-old with the world at my feet and a job as an events manager which paid a tidy little sum my main outgoing other than restaurant bills and bar tabs was shoes, I was obsessed with them. For the first time in my life since I was 18 I was totally debt free. Out of my monthly salary after all bills were paid I still had an indecent amount left over to spend on myself. Though I smoked and had a fondness for Marks & Spencer sushi and sausage and onion cobs every Friday when I was too hangover to use the phone, I had no children, no mortgage and no monthly car insurance or pension payments. I was young, free, practically single and absolutely loving the independence of it all.
The boy was living a hand to mouth existence as he was still studying for his music degree but I was free to fund our outings and as one of the girlfriend of Manchester’s hardest working band I got to play the part nearly every weekend; we would all hangout backstage drinking down the riders, dragging on rolled up cigarettes and generally just hanging out feeling ever so slightly like the cool kids.
At the time I guess I knew the life we were living would not last forever. I was having a hell of a good time but work was taking its toll on my health and I’d dropped down to my smallest size since I’d had a minor eating disorder back when I was 18. I remember looking at my bank statement and feeling sad at how little I had to show for all the brilliant nights out and evenings just spent drinking red wine round a rickety table listening to music and playing cards in between musing upon our dreams for the future.
Other than Sylvanian Families I had never really felt the desire to collect anything. My sisters had their key-rings, their badges and even at one stage their dice and my brother had the monopoly on every phase and craze out there including Thomas The Tank Engines, Thunderbirds, Power Rangers and even at one stage care bears which was extraordinarily cute. It was when I realised I was spending much of my money on momentary pleasure products that I decided to start a collection and as I had no particular interest at the time in tea cups I decided I would collect shoes. As my regular readers know I am a slave to Kurt Geiger. The shoes they make are so well balanced you can stamp around in a pair of stilettos for sixteen hours straight without feeling an ache. They are creative, original and considering how well they last lusciously priced.
This then brings us to today’s dilemma. There is a man in Market Harborough, his name is Andy but I have always known him as the saviour of shoes. Many times I have brought him a forlorn pair at the end of their life and he has carefully restored them to beauty. One time he managed to restore my red or dead spike heeled stiletto ankle boots to spanking brand new in spite of me having ground the five inch heel to a mere three inches after a weekend in Liverpool visiting a friend where we danced till we dropped to sleep in his dorm just before dawn. Today Andy very kindly explained to me there was sadly nothing he could do for two of my favourite pairs.
One of them was the first pair of pricey shoes I had ever purchased. Brought in my lunch break from Berties at Kendall they were soft white leather with five inch thick wooden heels. Generally I believe white shoes should be saved till ones wedding day and even then they should be hidden and if possible cream but these were divine. Unfortunately as I tend to run in heels as well as walk whilst racing to get the bus back to see the boy after an after work drink my heel snapped on Deansgate. It was humiliating and I actually sat down and cried. I hadn’t even had any hooch but I was just so sad for my poor innocent shoe. Andy said it could be saved in an expensive operation but the job would have to be sourced out and the operators may well break the wood in the process.
The other pair are of the Kurt Geiger variety. I bought them foolishly after getting made redundant from Webb PR a month before Christmas. I was a little heart broken about losing the job and in a fine example of someone who had temporarily given leave to their senses and indeed their financial situation I sneaked away on a Christmas shopping trip with the boy, and bought three pairs of shoes in the sale. Admittedly they should have cost £400 and came to just £120 but still I had just been made redundant and with no job on the horizon it was a foolish mistake. I guess I have never regretted it because today, 15 months after the fact, I still have the shoes and they are still stunning. Unfortunately one of them, a pair of mustard yellow t-bar three inch heels was mortally injured back in May. I was chasing a story at the time and as I tore down the road the pin snapped and I had to traipse around on tippy toes the rest of the day. Andy says there is no hope for them and though I know I should consign them to the bin they are just too lovely, perhaps at some time in the future there will be better technology for such injured shoes? I live in hope.
- Today’s dress is from the wonderful Rebecca Allison. She sent this in a lovely package from the states and as well as a pair of earrings there was a beautifully written letter. I realise the dress comes up a little short on me but I hope you will not take too much of a hump at me modifying it for the workplace by pairing it with the skin tight Lycra number from Zara sent by the lovely Clara, believe me it is to protect your eyes from a legging lovely sight. Again if you do get the chance take a little look at her website. It is a fabulous way to start ones day and has given me goosebumps in the past with the sheer poetry of her posts. http://solsticetosolsticetosolstice.tumblr.com/
My mood has been all over the place today. The first part of the day I was feeling as high as a kite, after having a luxurious lie in and bubble bath I started snooping around the house for dresses to wear which were conservative enough for my visit to my new place of work to sign the contracts. After having a bit of a snoop in my mothers wardrobe I came across a combination of flowery shirts, one old dress which I know is her favourite and a kaftan top which is quite long. Though the shirt was too short and the dress was just to desirable to steal without first asking the long kaftan dress fitted just right and I added it to my pile of packing along with my dinner dance dress, a silk 1920s Vintage ball gown or bridesmaid dress and a jumper dress which may well be a tad too transparent. Having had such a productive start to the day I set about the task of finding an outfit for the day again. I tried on countless nighties with fancy belts and slimming slips, attempted to turn a skirt into a dress and even raided the giants wardrobe for shirts with “shirt dress” potential. Whatever I tried though just wasn’t right, although I was rather keen on one nightie when combined with a silk cotton 1970s French Connection sleeveless top, there was no way of getting around the behind issue; whichever way you looked at it the nightie was see through and as the contract I was signing was not an agreement to enter rear of the year I started to despair.
Having just about resigned myself to a “shirt dress” with a long coat which would never come off I traipsed downstairs for some tea. Imagine then my delight then when I stumbled across this dress which I had only received yesterday from my lovely London based friend. I had somehow completely forgotten about it and although it is a teeny-weeny bit tight and shows off every hump lump and bump it is a dress and it is black. To ensure the look was completely conservative I classed it up with some blue Marks & Spencer tights which I bought in one of their outlet stores for £1.50. I had to pour myself into the dress so I quickly did some evil squats and sit ups to prevent the seams from splitting once I felt confident enough to breathe in it. Once I got the hang of sucking in my stomach and throwing my shoulders back I loved wearing this dress and by the time I was ready to head down town I was feeling like a slinky with a hill to master rather than a set of stairs.
Unfortunately a slight damper was put on my day by the usual troubles with getting a prescription and having a uncomftarble conversation with a doctor I had never met before about why exactly I was on weekly prescriptions. ”I think it might be because they were worried I would take an overdose.” Que awkward silence followed by me grinning in a misguided attempt to lighten the mood which probably left me looking a little loopy. Couldn’t be helped but not the easiest start to an acquaintance by any measure. In spite of this little awkward moment I had a really rather lovely bubbly day. As well as signing my contract without bursting into tears of joy, I also found a bar in Market Harborough which has WiFi. It is called The Square Bar should anyone ever be around the area and is as pleasant a place to work as any. Delicious coffee, plenty of natural light and unlike Cafe Nero two doors down does not charge for internet access and gives you a warm glow for doing the right thing by local business.
I do not know when the anxiety started to kick in. It might have been after I got home and realised just how much I had to do. I have been putting off a couple of reviews and doing the women’s week proved more difficult than I thought. I am trying to find decent quotations and if possible direct quotes from the women in question particularly in letter form to give the postings more warmth and authenticity but all of this takes time and as we all know so well time has a habit of hurrying on regardless. To be fair the anxiety may have well been much to do with being alone in the house for a couple of days and having little contact with anyone other than shopkeepers and cyberspace. Usually there is at least one person in the house or even the dog to keep one company and I find it difficult being by myself for too long. I love the idea of getting my own place once I start work but perhaps I am more suited to the social aspects of sharing a flat.
Though I managed to get quite a bit done with a little help from the Glee massive, by the time I went to bed my head was ticking with all the things I wanted to do the next day and it was impossible to switch off. By all rights the dose of the dreaded nauseating Quetiapine should really be all that is required to send me into a near comatose state for eight hours but for some reason tonight it just never kicked in. Perhaps it was the eight cups of tea I drank whilst trying to stave off hunger pangs; the tablets stimulate ones appetite but I am desperate not to gain any more weight even though I know its shallow I just don’t feel I look like me and it makes me feel fed up. Whatever it was I ended up lying here till three am, trying to get to sleep and desperately trying to ignore all the unanswered questions in my head. I think it was about three that I gave up on getting any shut-eye and just decided to do the work I wanted to.
For months now I have been considering getting business cards but have not yet found a suitable site. Last night however whilst tweeting through the witching hour about my desire for prettily designed cards of my own with lostinnotation as my home I was sent a tweet from a stationary angel from across the pond. She writes a wonderful fashion blog called Prim Knickers and recommended me a decent site. I do not actually remember ordering them as I was so tired but here within my email is a confirmation of the 500 business cards I ordered. The difficulty of the internet for occasional insomniacs like myself is it allows you to do pretty much everything 24 hours a day. Decisions which would previously be denied to the sleep deprived are now available and openly promoted. Once after not having slept for five days I booked my boyfriend at the time a trip to Amsterdam for his 21st birthday, it cost me around £800, nearly all of my savings and for some unholy reason I had booked us in to The Botel, a boat which is also a hotel because I thought it sounded romantic. It was not, but there was no getting out of it because they had my card details and I had confirmed it. I sometimes think there should be a universal law for those who suffer from instances of mania no matter how brief that once they have emerged from their spell they should be allowed to take back all their ridiculous purchases and get a free refund. Alas they do not and so soon I will have 500 business cards, at least they look pretty.
- Dress today is on loan from Clara De Los Acres Diez. She is an utter legend and the dress is a great shape from Zara and with blue tights and Kurt Geiger boots it looks extra special. I wore my hair up today as I think it makes me look more serious plus it has started to get on my nerves and if it continues to fall into my face I will be getting a bob before you can say limp lank and lifeless.
At last I hear you say, the end of the story is nigh. Today I considered not finishing this little modern-day romantic fairy tale because I have had a bloody awful day. I thought that if I was going to write this blog, I was going to do so by waxing lyrical on how utterly awful I am feeling; how sick I am of taking tablets which leave me nauseous and sleepy; and, how awfully cross I am about finding I have put on weight, another joyful side effect of quetiapine. Instead however I have decided to swallow down the bitterness and rather than dwell on the present pain to immerse myself instead in the ghosts of my past in the hope I can fight off the persistent pull of negativity which has been weighing me down since yesterday.
And so the boy and I after spending a night and day together but had parted ways with no way of contacting one another. Luckily our mischievous matchmaking friend had more up her sleeve having decided we were the perfect match. The next day whilst I was daydreaming about the boy and puzzling over whether or not I should go on a date with the other Chris, the boy was sending a message to our friend along the lines of, “Niki I’m a total idiot, I forgot to ask her for her number. Please can you send it to me.” Niki did not hesitate to strum the strings of fate and shortly after I received a text from the boy asking if I wanted to come and see him play a gig at Glass in Fallowfield. In all honesty I wasn’t terribly impressed, in spite of taking a fancy to him whilst he was on stage, I was certainly not about to behave like some kind of groupie girl and go along to watch adoringly as he drummed away like a toy soldier. Instead I went out with some friends and it was not until he invited me on a proper date, to see Gideon and The Deadbeats, now known as The Ten Bears, that I conceded to come along.
When I went to meet him I arrived early so I could catch up with my friend and after admitting I was rather terrified about the prospect of going alone to a gig with a man I barely know she decided it would be best to come along to assist with the magic, and also because she really fancied seeing the band. As this was the wonderful hazy days before the smoking ban, the Academy looked rather magical and with the hippy smoke floating about it was hard not to relax a little and take in the music. Gideon Conn is a bit of a lyrical genius and when he played the little ditty, Londonderry, which is about a first date between two people who are from Derry gosh darn it not Londonderry, I leaned back into the boys chest and felt rather loved up. We ended up all going back to his place for some drinks after the gig and when my friend and her lover went to bed we shared a little kiss before I went on home. I was mad at myself because i was being so careful to take it slow, because I knew I really liked him and was aware most of the last years affairs had ended as a result of me becoming too quickly involved. Though the kiss was nice it was a little too much down to how much we had drunk to steady our nerves.
After this date I tried to back away a little bit and after talking to some friends decided the best thing to do was to play it cool. I was in the middle of doing a dissertation on dating literature and though I had condemned the Rules as utter rubbish more dangerous to women than sexist males there were a few things I had taken from it. For example if you make it too easy for a man it can take away the fun of the chase and they will soon be looking for another lady who is willing to treats them mean. Though there is no way of knowing whether the boy would have been as keen on me if I had turned over on the night we first shared a bed and given him a good snogging, I am always glad we took things a day at a time. It made everything so much fun and meant we went on a host of date nights including a disastrous cinema outing where I demanded we leave after 10 minutes because it was so dire and a pub crawl which was rather messy but all of them ended in the same civil manner with a bit of a peck and then a goodnight sweetheart.
As our first date was spent in the company of a chaperone, we have come to the conclusion over the years that the night on which we should celebrate our anniversary is the first date we had by ourselves. I was completely nervous about the whole experience as by then I knew I really rather liked him but was still technically dating the other Chris though I knew it was just a matter of time before it fizzled out. After several hundred outfit changes I settled on a knee-length reddy brown leather skirt, a pair of black Red or Dead pointy ankle boots with a silver spike heel and buckles which one of my exes had brought me, a black T-Shirt and a frilly sleeveless black polo neck over the t-shirt to hide the ridiculous print on the t-shirt. Over the whole thing I had to wrap myself in my Burberry Mac which I was cross about because it meant the first thing he saw when I walked in would be the coat and not the carefully chosen outfit.
We were both late for the date, though I had messaged ahead to tell him not to hurry he still got there before me and was sat with a drink and a cigarette looking nervous. I couldn’t spot him when I first came in and the butterflies in my stomach started to dance about. He smiled when he saw me and I myself felt all a flutter when I saw he had made an effort to look nice. I fancied him and we had the nicest evening chatting about music, life, art and even our mutual friends and our own families. The evening took a bit of a turn when he decided, or maybe it was me that it was only fair we brought a second bottle of wine so as not to leave the other person out-of-pocket. I am by my own omission a total light weight and when we got on the bus I was horribly aware that I had drunk too much. He had suggested going for another drink in Withington at Solomon and Grundys which would soon become our local hang out, but when the bus started to move I was suddenly aware of how much I needed to get some fresh air. Turning to him I muttered something vague about having had a lovely evening and how it really was time to go home, then I lurched off the bus. I still could have retained some of my dignity if he had not stepped off with me sensing something was amiss and had the pleasure of watching his date throw up outside a building site in Fallowfield, a friend of mine later moved into the flats and I never had the courage to tell her I had thrown up in the foundations of her flat.
In all credit to him the boy was an utter star. rather than leave me to stagger home poorly and vulnerable he looked after me and took me back to his house. He tucked me into bed fully clothed but got me lots of water and a bowl, just in case. He shared the bed with me but surprisingly enough didn’t try anything funny and when he got up in the morning to go to work he kissed my forehead and brought me a cup of tea and left me some money just in case to get a cab home. I was utterly humiliated and as soon as he had gone I pulled on my jacket and bolted out the door. After a daytime nap I came clean to my flat mates about the dreadful date and was subjected to hours of teasing and even drawings to illustrate the incident as well as cries of, “well at least you’ll know he is not calling you because you slept together.” After it got past three however they seemed to have exhausted their insults and were now acting quite sympathetically as it had become clear he was never going to text back. I started to cry a little and decided to stop obsessing about it and leaving my phone in my room I joined the boys for our Friends and scrubs marathon. When I came upstairs to bed later on it was to find he had sent me a message after all: “Hey sweetie, you looked really pretty this morning. Was horrible leaving you. Hope you are feeling better, thanks for a great date x The rest as they say is history.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my lovely Auntie Bridgeen. It is from Primark and she loves wearing it on holiday. I managed to do something to my hair in spite of being fed up, put it in a bun after washing it then letting it down in the rain, and am wearing it with a vest for the cold and some suede black boots and opaque black tights for the warmth. The giant took the photos today thus why they are as my mother said a lot more demure than usual.
Today has been one of those days where my mood lifts but only for a short period at a time, much like the periods during which I managed to find a live stream of the United match the highs are short lived and unsatisfyingly fuzzy. I blame the dress; although it is gorgeous; a mac design by Topshop which has to be pinned together at the bottom to stop any Cheryl Cole esq front rump, (yes I know she is having a hard time but really why did this mean we had to see so much of her) but even still I am not a fan. It is partly because I feel I look too healthy to be wearing it, the last time I wore it I was decidedly more slender. The other reason is that wearing it reminds me of a bad decision I once made in it when I had too much to drink and trusted someone to look after me who was a friend, but isn’t any longer.
The details are unnecessary but it is foolish decisions like this and my tendency to feel low for days after if I have had too much that has led me to want to give the booze a rest during lent. I am not giving it up as such, I find that as soon as I give something up it is all I can think about so I am going to treat alcohol in much the same way as I did cigarettes. I’m not giving up, I’m just not having it at the moment. This way I don’t put myself under too much pressure and if I fancy a glass of wine one night or am out for a friend’s birthday I wont feel the need to be a total kill-joy. I just feel I need to get back to the point when I have a limit on what I can drink which I know suits me and which I can stick to. .
The last time I tried to give alcohol up for lent I was in an incredibly intense but simultaneously extremely destructive relationship. I was utterly in love with the guy, not at first but he wore me down and eventually I let myself go to him. Unfortunately when I met him I had just recovered from my first episode of depression and having left my first boyfriend I was vulnerable and although the euphoria of falling in love at first kept the lows at bay, once they returned he couldn’t cope especially when I drank to try to get me back to what everyone expected me to be, fun.
To be fair to him he was younger than me by a year and prior to meeting me was widely known as a man who played the field. It was inevitable that something so intense would end in tears, and it did when he got with someone else whilst I was back at home trying to put myself back together. I had sunk too low and he wanted to be with the girl I was when we had first got together, I tried desperately to get her back but with being away from home and a doctor that was keeping an eye on my moods I couldn’t lift myself and so understandably he went elsewhere.
What was so strange is that when I decided to knock the booze on the head for lent he brought me a shot of vodka and placed it in front of me. I don’t know why, perhaps he too hoped the drink would cheer me up and it did if only for a time. After things fell apart, as all destructive relationships do, I was left a sad little soul and it wasn’t until a year later that I really began to recover from our affair. Eventually I got my drinking back under control, I learned what my limits were and avoided drinks that had a tendency to send me tearful and other times just chose not to drink.
The one person who helped me throughout this period was a boy I lived with in my flat in the halls I was President of at the time. He was a muslim who was enjoying his first taste of freedom, loved getting down to R&B as I did and cooked the nicest curry I have ever had in my life. He also shared my insomnia patterns and so we would stay up watching Godfather together and playing silly computer games and pranks. He kept an eye on me and never let me unravel too far and even put up with my pathetic tears. If it wasn’t for him I think I had the potential at the time to fall into full-blown alcoholism simply to escape the hurt and sadness which had as much to do with my mental health at the time as it did with the humiliation of being publicly betrayed.
What my friend taught me which was extremely important at the time was first and foremost to hang on; that I needed to get my confidence back because I was a good person I just couldn’t see it. The other was why it is that we give stuff up during lent and the importance of sharing ones wealth for one’s happiness. During Ramadan I joined with him in his fast, unfortunately I only lasted two days because of my delicate disposition, my low blood pressure and my tendency to faint if I stand for too long. What the experience and my friend taught me is that we give things up to recognise how much we have available to us. although for me it is essentially a religous tradition it is equally a chance for me to reflect and be grateful on all I have.
He also told me about how it is the done thing in the muslim world (and forgive me seriously if I am getting this wrong I am happy to be corrected but this is what I remember) to give 10% of ones earnings to the poor. I always thought it was such a brilliant idea as if we are lucky enough to have money why not share it. Even when I’ve had jobs that paid I’ve always been struck with how much I have compared to how much I need. The boy told me I was crazy when I suggested this to him as he pointed out that tax means I don’t need to give it away as someone will do it for me but it is a nice idea and I hope i will one day get paid again so I can carry it through.
For the meanwhile though this will essentially be my last day of chocolate and sweets. Also because I want to make sure I can and because I am concerned about what the latest drugs may be doing to my liver this glass herein pictured will be my last glass of wine for 40 days and 40 nights, I’m gutted it isn’t bordeaux.
Four years ago I went on a Valentines date with a boy named Chris, he was sweet, good-looking, tall and had a great body. I had met him just a couple of weeks before when a friend of mine who worked at student direct, Laura Wales had called me up short of someone to take part in the paper’s blind date. At the time I had a little argument with the giant and as a result had been cut off and so the idea of food and more importantly wine was appealing whoever else might be there. I remember thinking it might be nice if my date didn’t show up so I could have more food, but he did and we had a good night. My housemates took the mick as less than a month later the pizzeria where we had eaten had burnt down, according to them it was due to our firey passion for one another. As the original date had gone well and as I was under strict instructions from my wiser slightly older housemate to play it cool I found myself on february 14 at a noodle bar with said Chris. It was a nice date and there was even a kiss but no coffee and I remember wondering if there was enough of a spark.
Today I went on a Valentines date with the boy, or Chris. He has a great body; he still works out after all these years and being a drummer for Onions means in spite of his sweet tooth he keeps on the trimmer side of cuddly. He has the kind of shoulders and arms you want your man to have and is tall enough so I can get away with wearing up to six-inch heels and still have to stand on my tippy-toes to kiss him. He is kind and sweet and this morning, once he stirs he brings me a cup of tea and a dozen red roses.
I have to swallow down my annoyance because I notice they are from Marks and Spencer and I know they cost him far too much. I am annoyed because I would have been happy without roses, happy for us to use the money for a meal or a cinema date but secretly I feel the wonderful smug feeling you only get when a man you love gives you a great big over-the-top gesture that he loves you back. Still sweet after all these years he has also got me a Valentines card with a ticket to see Midlake this Wednesday within. I am surprised even though I knew he was planning to take me to a gig for weeks (his friends have no tact and kept letting slip at which point I had to sing loudly and walk out the room as though nothing had happened) I have managed to convince myself that we were off to see The Wild Beasts, I prefer Midlake.
Unfortunately although I had planned to treat him to a wet shave and massage at the boy beauty parlour; something he would never book himself but which I know he would love; I finally got round to summoning up the courage to check on my overdraft the other day and the results were not good. In spite of me being unemployed HSBC are charging me an unseemly amount for being overdrawn and unless I get paid work soon I have no way of paying it off; because of this although I get him a card and make him cups of tea I offer to sort through his wardrobe as a gift and iron him ten shirts as a way of showing my love, and though it is not terribly romantic I pair his socks up for him because I know he hates doing it.
Our good friends are about and the boys join me to watch the football in the afternoon after the boy has had a practice; he needs to tap or the tension builds in his shoulders and he gets crotchety ; one of them is sulking as although I know his girl got him a very nice present for his birthday the day before she has not had time to get him a valentines present. As I have a dozen roses and need none, I call her quietly from the room and give her a rose to give to him. It’s nice to share the love but in the photos the boy takes later on I have to be careful to conceal the missing bloom. Thankfully the dress is remarkably busty and so his eyes are happily distracted. The dress today is on loan from the very lady, the musical theatre legend that is Anna Clayton. I believe it is from Primark and I must admit that I struggle to button myself into it as she has a much slimmer figure than me, one of the benefits of being a dancer.
After we have taken the photos I don my faux fur hat and we head out to Abode, Micheal Cain’s Michelin star dining experience. I have eaten here twice before, once with a friend on my birthday when me and the boy were having troubles and once with the boy for my birthday when we had patched things up. Both times I have loved the place. We always eat in the upstairs area as the downstairs just feels a little too formal and the tables are too big and so I feel we lose a little bit of the intimacy when we struggle to reach each other over the condiments. We are booked in for six and happily they are out of the chicken so instead they have quail, which is delicious. After Marks and Spencer irritated me the other day I rang around trying to find a reasonable deal and happily came upon Abode who had only added £5 to their usual offer of four courses for two people with one bottle of wine. It is usually £25, the same price as the M & S deal but as we didn’t have to wash up or cook it we did not mind the extra charge.
As we sit snuggled up together in the bar area after finishing our meal, sipping the last of the wine, I am so glad I met the boy before falling into something that wasn’t quite it with the Valentine’s day Chris. A week after the Valentine’s date which lacked the sparkle I bumped into The boy, The Chris, and from then on there was only him, my boy, my Chris, my Valentine.
A funky little disco tune, Stand, is a tricky little track which urges us repeatedly to Stand Up for our minds. It sounds like a meaningless but pleasantly familiar lyric ideal for dancing; but as the song ends you realise Woolf was issuing an early warning to us to beware of a tune which leaves you questioning your sanity.
You can’t help but shake your hips to his soulful voice, but just when you get used to the beat, Woolf lets rip with a musical head fuck so thoroughly unexpected even Red Riding Hood would have been unprepared. You wonder if you imagined it, you might have even liked it but mostly you will probably think the DJ has messed up or that you’ve swallowed one too many dodgy disco juices.
It is clear that Woolf has gobbled his way through back catalogues of Talking Heads and Prince and found inspiration from both. What is unfortunate is that although he has clearly tasted their tracks he has failed to digest them. Instead of assimilating them into his sound with the reverence, they command they are spat out at random with little understanding of their genius. The track has got a good enough beat to keep you on the dance floor but is not quite strong enough to get you there in the first place.
The problem with Woolf is not that he has a lack of talent or is musically too narrow; it is that he has gobbled his way through so many genres that his own music sounds like a mass musical crash with too many bars that clash rather than compliment each other. It does create a new, sound which in many ways gives a great tune, but more than anything it leaves me feeling a bit dizzy and in need of a sit down.
I was lucky enough to come across a fantastic blog the other day in which a girl who is really into flea markets has given herself a budget of 365 American pounds to dress herself for a year by scouring flea markets and re-working dresses she finds there. I saw a brilliant post where she took a faded lavender nightgown, dyed it and reworked it into a stunning dress worthy of London Fashion Week. This is a worthy example of how re-working a dress to make something far cooler and most importantly more suited to yourself; the dress I am wearing today is an example of why one should be careful of assuming DIY dress design is not for everyone.
When I was head bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding her incredibly talented mother made my bridesmaid dress from a vintage Vogue pattern from the 1950s. Being involved in the process of creating a dress is a brilliant experience. You might get the occasional pin in an unexpected place but I got to watch as what started as a pair of old cotton curtains got turned into a fantastic fitted silk dress with a tiered petticoat which was carefully stitched and crafted by my friend’s mother. It was an absolute honour being maid of honor and having a dress which wasn’t being worn by every other bridesmaid around the country added to this privilege. Dress making is tragically a dying art in the majority of households. Back in the day mothers used to make the majority of their children’s clothing; my grandmother would knit us cardigans for school and indeed one of my friends received matching booties, hats and cardigans for her baby from a wonderful elderly friend of hers.
The difficulty with dress making and indeed clothes making is that with clothes available now so cheaply there is no incentive to spend considerable amounts of money or what is more important for most of us these days, our time, in creating something from nothing but material, needle and a love of design. In our time then it makes far more sense to take the clothes we have, particularly those which have gotten a little frayed, loose, tight or faded and create something new. Stitch and Bitch classes are at large all around the country and for my Manchester followers I know of one taking place at Fuel Cafe on a Sunday. What you have to be aware of though is that re-working a dress is not as easy as taking a pair of scissors to a demure hemlines and turning it into something suitable only for showing one’s smalls.
This danger is I am sorry to say illustrated by the dress I am wearing today which was purchased from a girl on eBay. Though I thought it looked quite cute when I brought it I failed to look carefully enough at the hem of the dress. Bare in mind, a bad hemlines and stitching will ruin an outfit and can make one look crumpled and cheap. Whether you buy your clothing from Primark or Prada make sure you check the quality of the stitching on the hemlines, cost is not necessarily a guarantee of quality.
When this little frock arrived I was a tad worried for two reasons; first it was not as I had originally thought a hand-made frock, it was brought by its previous owner from Bay Trading and re-mastered into a foxy little bustier dress/ boob tube. It is undeniably sweet looking and reminds me of Manga but has unfortunately been cut so short it would only be suitable for someone who is around the 5ft mark. At 5ft 5″ I am hardly tall but on me, as the boy takes great pain in pointing out it looks as though it is designed for a 13-year-old girl.
As I packed in a hurry last night and had not previously tried it on I only realised the unsuitability of the outfit this morning. As with the T-Shirt dress of last Sunday I felt as though once chosen I have no choice but to wear a dress till the day’s end and ignoring the boy and struggling into a pair of form-fitting 60 denier black tights and my life saving M & S T-Shirt I bit the bullet and went in search of a full length mirror. To be fair it has been a reasonably nice choice and once I got used to having to keep my back to the wall when in company I started to warm to it.
It is so brilliantly cheerful even though I was woken four hours after i got to sleep by the enthusiastic alarm clock that is the best friend’s son, I felt rather chirpy. After I had gotten up and persuaded him to wake the boy as well we spent the day pleasantly telling stories, taking it in turns to snooze and fighting off the hoards at M & S to get the dine in deal. In spite of my disheveled experience me and the boy had a lovely dinner date together and got to relish in a rare opportunity for it to be jut the two of us to dine. When you are in a long distance relationship and both have a dream you want to pursue the time you do get to see each other can I find at times be rather stressful as you are so concerned about fitting a weeks worth of dates into one weekend; we try to see our friends; go out to gigs and restaurants and movies all the while trying to make sure we look our best and don’t end up having a tiff and ending the weekend on a bad note. Perhaps because of this then it is when we get to just chill out on our own together, catching up on the week behind us lazy eyed and unkempt with my panda eyes and his weekend stubble that we often have the most fun together. When you get a night to relax in it can sometimes be the nicest thing in the world, even if you are disheveled and sleepy it can be really great slowing down with someone especially with someone with whom the clock is always ticking on your time together.
Although I have previously waxed lyrical on my lack of any burning desire to pro-create; thank the stars I hear you think; there are three children who I fear will eventually change my mind leaving me a child wanting wreck of a woman. The children in question are all those of three of my closest girl friends and are also the offspring of some of my oldest friends. The first with whom I chose to accessories with today is Isabelle Faulkner the child of my married friends Sue and Chris. Isabelle ran the risk of being called Smedley by her father but thankfully when she arrived into this world, her dark hair and dastardly cute behaviour ensured Isabelle was a more proper choice. In the photos Isabelle can be seen in the early stages of a fashion addiction which will bring her parents as much joy as it will pain. She became fascinated by my shoe especially when teamed with the shoe song, you really don’t want to know. Unfortunately whilst trying to kiss or possibly chew the shoe; she is teething; she somehow managed to head-butt it and turned from giggly angel to crotch patch in a split second.
The other two children are Ben Slessor, a four-year old who rises about the same time but who has a very pleasant way and who when he is told it is bed-time will go with minimal fuss leaving myself and my friend to gossip well into the early hours of the night; and Olivia Nicholson Steel, the curly blonde toddler who stole my heart back at Christmas when I taught her The Pogue’s Fairytale of New York and carried her with a blanket over her head through the naughty section of an art exhibition I had gone to with her mother at the Tate. She is ridiculously advanced for her age and gives both her parents Niki and Marcus endless pleasure with her sing-songs, sticker art and bed time run about. She is a fashion forward young woman with a wardrobe which puts even my collection to shame and already owns a matching fur coat and hat; gifted to her by yours truly; and a leather jacket with sheepskin lining; all animal friendly of course.
One of the greatest things about these children is that becoming a part of the smug parent clan has not resulted in them becoming smug or horribly mature at all. Though they are all wonderful parents who go out of their way to meet the needs of their child without spoiling them they are still all bloody good fun. Kat in particular is my oldest friend, I was her maid of honour at her wedding and we opened our GCSE results together after a holiday in Lanzarote where I had a rather foolish affair with a Greek waiter called Eric who was utterly gorgeous but had extremely limited English other than “honey vodka?” or “Ellieali”. We still go out on the town on the odd occasion but are equally happy to stay in for a bbq or cook a meal for one another. Kat is utterly hilarious and in spite of being scarily intelligent she never makes anyone feel foolish for being ignorant on any point. On arrival at Sue’s house on Saturday on being asked by my friend Monica whether she had read my blog, she promptly lifted up her long checked shirt dress to show carefully covered leggings beneath. Although I was traumatised I was very pleased to see she had made time to read.
Isabelle’s mother Susanna or Sue is one of the sweetest people one could ever meet. She is a wonderful hostess, relaxed but generous with her home and delicious cups of tea and when wanted pink rosé wine to satisfy both the drinkers of red and the drinkers of white. Katherine and Susanna are as I said are some of my oldest friends, and the fantastic thing about old friends is how well they know you. There is never a need to put on a fake smile or hide how one is feeling. When around old friends I find as I imagine many people do that I can relax and become part of the furniture or join in with the banter and tales of past naughtiness as much as I wish. Older friends are also thankfully never afraid to give you a good telling off if they think you have gone astray; I was carefully questioned by my friend Monica over what my problem was with the legging lovelies as well as my dig at Moyles. They also had no qualms about asking me whether I had abandoned the 365 dress project for the day and was instead going for 365 slightly longer than average tops. I covered myself with a sky blue scarf when sitting down and did all in my power to stretch it out once more.
The dress I am wearing, yes it is a dress, today is by Topshop from their autumn / winter collection 2005-2006. I bought it during a rather large spending spree at the beginning of my last year at Manchester University. It was an extravagant buy at £40 but we were having a cops and robbers themed house party and it seemed worth the green. It was longer to begin with but has I believe shrunk now a little. As you all know by now I am not one to shy away from high hems but I would recommend that if one was to wear a hemlines this short that you do so with longer slouchy boots or perhaps thicker denier tights or dare I say it leggings; so long as you have no plans for front rump flashing.
I shall end the posting with a joke from one of my oldest and bestest friends and mother of the beautiful Isabelle; “Look Ellie, it’s a horse shoe”.
Day 18 – Fashion is for fools following endless rules, style is for those in pursuit of what it is they will suit
We are pretty near convinced the dog has developed post traumatic stress syndrome from being present in the car at the time of my accident back in December. Immediately after the car had flipped over three times and spun 360 degrees, she seemed rather eager to repeat the experience and showed no sign of trauma apart from desiring to be tickled a little more often than usual and being a bit clingy with me. Over Christmas however we soon realised when left alone in the car she would start to tremble and not stop until a while after we returned. Although we have not yet been able to secure the dog psychiatrist, though I strongly suspect it is because of his myth like qualities, we had hoped she was starting to recover.
When we called her over to her usual favorite spot underneath the Aga today for photos we realised just how damaged she has been by the incident. Usually she is happy to pose for photos and my parents long-suffering friends have had to sit through various images dog sitting, lying, or (and I kid you not) laughing. Today she refused to come over and spent 15 minutes hiding under the table where she ignored treats, calls for walks and the temptation of coming to love or more often shred to ribbons her toy pup. As a result we used a stand in for most images and so I may guarantee no animals were hurt during this shoot. Obviously had the dog been willing it would have been her who was put in the Aga.
We based the shoot around an advertising campaign Aga started with a girl lying in front of an Aga with her dog. I am not sure why she was lying beside it but it made me laugh and meant I got to stay in the warmth without having to attempt to look like a domestic goddess. Saying that it may well have been quite easy to do so in this hip hugger of a frock though I would have had to use the pup for extra padding on the old north face.
The reason I wanted to cover this theme now, of the difference between fashion and style, and the necessity of recognising the difference between the two is because of several frustrating magazine articles I came a cross over the weekend. As well as promoting Uggs and leggings as two of the top trends of the decade, they were also littered with rules about what one should and should not be wearing. The difficulty of pushing a trend like leggings on an entire nation is it does not recognise the fact they suit a small minority of women. Although I am not a fan and have never worn them I can no doubt see the appeal. Thicker and cozier than tights, when worn with boots they can I am told feel refreshing and leave one feeling a bit less restricted. They also allow women the freedom to be a bit more racy with the length of their hemlines which I can not see as a bad thing.
The problem I have with leggings which the magazine was pushing is the idea they suit everyone. Worn with high heels or cut off shoe boots they can very easily give even average sized women cankles. When wearing tights one tends to be more conscious of how one sits and stands in a short skirt. With leggings however some women forget they are exposed on all fronts and far too often one sees sights more commonly associated and indeed more welcome in the deserts of Egypt.
I shall save my rant on Uggs for another day, but I do need to point out these boots are not suitable for the snow if they are to keep up their lovely dusty colour. Ralph Lauren are doing fabulous snow boots in lovely colours for £150 whilst hunter wellies will last a lifetime and take you all the way from snow through to summer festival. Uggs need replacing all too often and considering the cost I can not help but think there are better alternatives out there which should first be explored before settling on something so unsightly. Although it is silly to dress for men, it would be wise to ask yourself if your boyfriend or indeed any man in your life has ever said, “Oh I am so pleased you are wearing those boots, they make your legs look so long and slender and I really think we should go out on the town as they should not be wasted inside.” Far more likely I believe this may be what goes through their minds, one would hope they are wise enough not to voice their opinion, “Oh no she is wearing her slippers, she is clearly giving off the pyjamas vibe again so I may as well go play with my Wii.” Or whatever it is they call their man toys these days.
Having said this if you enjoy wearing Uggs and or leggings, do carry on, just bare in mind they are better worn for casual day wear and not as a constant staple of your wardrobe. You would not always wear your hair up would you?
Carrying on with the rules, the one I decided to defy today was that which instructed the maxi dress was now back in fashion. Although I keep an eye on the runway and love flicking through fashion magazines, I prefer to let them inspire what I wear rather than serve as a direct instruction. Long dresses are a great staple of any wardrobe and hopefully you have not thrown yours away due to it having been out of fashion for two years. If you are tall or curvy especially, long dresses look great in winter and summer and have a really lovely floaty romantic feel to them. Another trend which comes in and out is anorak. Often written off from season to season I often see women wearing them with wellies and denim skirts in the rain and it looks fantastic even away from Glastonbury’s mud soaked fields. The best advice I can give is if you find a trend which suits you, such as black, skinny jeans or even though I hate to say it flat boots, stick with it. Do not throw it out just because a magazine or even a blogger tells you to. Take advice from people, and especially from friends. Listen to what they say with an open mind about what they like best on you. If you constantly receive compliments on a coat, do not feel as though you must equip yourself with a new one come next winter just because it was on the going down list or because it is last season. Wherever possible stick with key classic pieces and then build on them. To get the most out of fashion always ask yourself whether you will be happy to wear it next winter or summer. If the answer is no and money is tight maybe do not buy it or if you can not resist jumping on board get a smaller take on the trend; if you like metallic you do not have to buy a whole dress just get a T-shirt or a lipstick or nail polish in bullet silver.
In the magazine I purchased at the weekend, not only did they say the maxi dress was back they also told me it was back but only if worn with a battered belt. It also failed to recommend on how one is to wear a sleeveless dress in the middle of winter, something I had considered to be crucial information. I chose not to wear this dress with a belt as I think the pattern is just too pretty and the shades too subtle to be interrupted by accessories. I may not have enough of a waist in it but I feel a lot more floaty than I would have done otherwise and worn with a sleeved low-cut top I was able to leave the house for a hospital appointment at Leicester General to review my medication. I was tempted to wear yesterdays nightie but i guess there’s no point in asking for trouble.
Thanks for reading and I would just like to thank you all for reading and continuing to recommend the blog to your friends. My hits reached over 1000 today and I am delighted, (see photo of delight). I have also got some interest from Amnesty International about them being a charity for whom the sale of the dresses would raise money. Any suggestions or feedback on this would be much appreciated. Thanks again, Ellie.