My baby brother took the photos today on the one condition that he would not have to get up from his chair to do so. He has taken them before but got so carried away with finding cool angles and forgetting to include the dress in the shots that he has not been given another chance behind the lens until now. We did not start too well, the first three photos were of the armchair in front of him and the next two had the dress but no head. He pointed out quite rightly that had I wanted heads to be the focus I really should have named the project 365 heads and not 365 dresses. Darn him and his impenetrable logic.
The poor boy is not feeling so well today as he has been visited in the night by the dreaded Balti bug and after a day of drinking only water he is apparently too weak to move. I pointed out that Jesus had gone for 40 days without sustenance which unfortunately reminded him that I had recently misquoted the messiah in the local press.
When Paul was born I think it was a bit of a shock to everyone. My mother was not entirely sure how to care for a boy and we were all fascinated by the fact that we now had a baby brother. Luckily for my mother she had six willing hands to help to get him through his early years. Though none of us were ever keen on barbie dolls, preferring to play cops and robbers instead, the temptation of a real life doll to care for was impossible for any of us to resist. I worry we rather spoilt him to begin with, there was always someone to cut up his food, tie up his laces or tuck him in when he was having a bad dream. We adored him and our willingness to treat him like a little angel was not helped by his sweet nature, dusty blonde hair and baby blue eyes.
Every night before he went to sleep I would read him Goldilocks and the Three Bears to soothe him to sleep. It was the most adorable thing in the world to watch as his little baby blue eyes fought to stay awake to hear the tale. I do not think we ever made it to the point of the three bears arrival to the story but I like to think this meant no demons ever entered his dreams.
When he first went to school he could sing the alphabet, read a book and even draw his letters. There was one little issue though. He did not have a clue how to do up his coat or tie up his laces. Sister Rosario, who had taught every single one of my mother’s girls, watched in sheer horror as my brother, asked to put his coat on ready to go outside to play, put his arms out in the air and waited for someone to dress him. It really was not his fault, he had never had the chance to learn because he always had one of his four mothers there to do the honours.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my sister. It is originally from Next but I think it is definitely better suited to her. She is taller than me and suits spotty dresses better than I do. I think I look a little too matronly and wide at the hips.
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/
Cancer Research once ran a hateful little advert which showed three sisters running together in a beautiful meadow with the thoughtless tagline “One in three people will develop cancer during their lifetime.” The message was painfully clear, one of these girls is going to die of some form of cancer. Now obviously this was an incredibly strong marketing message and I am sure many people donated to cancer research as a result of seeing the advert. For myself however I was furious about the insensitivity of their actions and also I may as well admit a little bit drunk. I had been out with friends from college during the day and having come home to an empty house had polished off the leftovers of a bottle of wine so by the time I saw the advert my mind was in a rather altered state. To this day I feel terrible for the poor soul who picked the phone up to find a tearful teenager on the other day slurring sadly asking them again and again how they could dare to run such an insensitive campaign. In all fairness to her she was incredibly sympathetic and listened to me as I spilled my heart out about how much I missed my sister instead of telling me to go jump.
To this day thinking of the advert still makes me sick. It is partly because I struggle to believe how a charity who dedicate themselves to finding a cure for cancer can be so uncaring about those people who have been left bereaved by losing someone to this terrible disease. The main reason it makes me feel so sick however is that looking back at that advert I see the hidden story behind the statistic. It is not one in three, but more than one in three of us who will develop cancer during their r lifetime. It makes me feel scared but also relieved because it forces me to realise that I am at least lucky enough to still have one sister by my side.
The reason it has taken me so long to upload this posting is because although my childhood memories of my two sisters and brother will forever be tinged by sadness because of our loss I wanted this post to be a celebration of the love I had and still have for my two older sisters. I do not want to focus on the hurt and the sadness, I want to focus on these two brilliant women who I am lucky enough to have in my life; Emma Helen Marie and Catherine Yvonne O’Neill.
One of my favourite memories of when we were little ones is of our twice weekly bath time. My baby brother was still a babe in arms and so bath time was all about girl time. We would splash about in the huge tub attempting to create a giant tsunami which would cause the ducks to get tipped out of the bath. We would push our fingers in the taps and find hours of entertainment in pouring water into our three funny faced buckets. We were total water babies and only when there was more water on the floor than in the bath would our mother step in to get us washed and wrapped up in huge fluffy towels with tiny turbans. After getting squeaky clean we would be marched on through to our parents bedroom to get dried and dressed for bed in a two parent tag team production line. My father would dry our toes whilst tickling our feet before handing us over to my mother who would comb quickly through our hair ignoring the squeals and squirms as our tangles got tugged. They would then take it in turns to get us into a clean pairs of pyjamas with plenty of tickling, cuddles and the fabulous “Arms over your head and drop those guns.”
Although we never got bored of this routine, especially when it was accompanied by story telling and allocated time before lights out to say prayers and build dens there was one time the routine was made to be particularly memorable. The school had been hit by nits and after spending hours freeing us of the pesky parasites my mother decided that the reason all three of her children had fallen pray to the tics was their long hair. She therefore decided to lop it off into a much more manageable length. We all screamed about the unfairness of it all particularly me who was determined to grow my hair as long as my friend Sarah Jane who was able to sit on hers. In spite of our protests my mother decided that as she had a pair of scissors and had once cut my fathers hair (she chopped off all the curls and made him near bold) she was essentially qualified to do the cutting. Fifteen minutes after our haircuts everything appeared to have gone well, and then the hair dried and it became apparent that our cuts were far from even. My two sisters were sent to the hairdressers the next day as they were old enough to be embarrassed by her antics. I however was too young to care too much and decided that it was all for the best as after all I did want to be a boy like George from the famous five who also had her hair short so in spite of the fact that I had a multiple directional slanted bob I was happy enough.
Although I wasn’t the youngest in the family I was the youngest girl and because of this my sisters were destined to spend much of their time acting as my defenders. I have always been ridiculously over sensitive and as I was always fairly slight this meant that my sisters always had an eye out for anyone who might even consider picking on me whilst they were around. I remember being on the school bus when I was 12 and a boy grabbing my wrist to stop me from opening the window; although it was the middle of winter I maintain I was in the right because the bus was jam packed full of teenage boys who were all convinced that Lynx was a substitute for showers and general good hygiene. Emma, my eldest sister pounced like a lioness from out of nowhere and grabbed the boy by the cuff and assured him that he ever laid a finger on me again he would live to regret it. Likewise when I started going to ATC, air training cadets, Catherine nearly clawed one of the senior officers after he made my cry by telling me off for talking during parade. I was always incredibly impressed whenever they came to my defence because at the time I think they both regarded me as a constant annoyance who was prone to temper tantrums and sulking if I didn’t get my own way.
One of the things we argued about the most when we were children is borrowing one another’s clothes. We would have screaming rows on discovering evidence of clothes or shoes being borrowed without asking first. We would scream accusations about clown feet having ruined our favourite pair of shoes and would point furiously at photographs where we were wearing each others dresses or sweaters. I remember once bumping into Cathy in the school corridor and wondering why she didn’t want to stop to talk just as she was about to walk away I spotted that she had on my brand new shirt and chased her all the way to the sixth form common room where she hid till I had to go to lessons. I found a quote which reminded me so much of this moment that I had to include it in the post. ” If your sister is in a tearing hurry to go out and cannot catch your eye, she’s wearing your best sweater. – Pam Brown
In spite of all our arguments I am so glad that I was not an only child; whenever I was getting bullied at school or when our parents were arguing downstairs we always had someones hand to held. When you have sisters you might have to compete for attention and always get stuck with second and third hand clothes but you are never lonely. Whenever we were sad we would climb into each others beds to get a cuddle and tell each other everything was going to be al-right. We would tell each other everything and secrets never stayed secret for long. It was Catherine who would tell me about sex when I was eight after she was traumatised by a booklet from the school nurse. I remember us looking at our parents completely horrified at dinner the next day and when the time came for me to have my talk I told my teachers that there was really no real need as my sister had already told me all I needed to know.
Emma who was the eldest of all of us was a great big sister. When I was a teenager and going through the usual angst she took pity on me and let me come to visit her at University even though I usually managed to get myself into some kind of trouble whilst there. She taught me how to handle my drink and introduced me to poached eggs, muffins and gin and tonic. It was Emma who would teach me how to surf and who taught all of us an alternative much more realistic way to cross the road which I can still hear her saying in my head to this day whenever I cross the road: “Look left, look right, look left, count to three then run across the road.”
My big sister still takes care of me to this day and no matter how many times I have head troubles she never gets mad she just gives me a cuddle, and helps me to pick up the pieces. When I last had a breakdown she travelled hundreds of miles to spend the weekend with me and give the boy a break from trying to care for me. She brought me up my favourite foods, drove me around to get us a takeaway and some rose to numb the pain and even cleaned out the fish to take away at least one worry as well as letting me moan like a child for hours about how miserable I was feeling. In the past she has paid for me to go surfing just because she knew I needed a break and even puts up with giving me countless lifts whilst I wait for my car to be returned from the body shop.
When I was looking for quotes and articles about sisters there were two that stuck ion my mind, one of them was, “What is the good of news if you do not have a sister to share it with.” Although it breaks my heart that there is so much I cannot share with Catherine, such as all the times I have fallen in love since she died, what results I got for my GCSEs, the day I got a frontpage by-line in the MEN, I do realise how lucky I am to have my Emma who always lights up when something good comes my way and who will always lend me a lap or a shoulder to cry upon when I am having a hard time.
The other quote which I fell in love with a bit was by Sara Corpening, “How do people make it through life without a sister?” It makes me realise how lucky we were to have had one another and for all the time we got to spend together. My childhood would never have been as fun without them by my side and I am a better person for having been loved by them.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my sister Emma Helen Marie. It is from some unknown designer and I had to iron it and combine it with an under-slip as it was pretty much see through. My mother and the giant were out and about in the evening so I tried at first to take the photos myself using the landing mirror but in the end I decided to wait up till my mother returned to get some better images. The flowers were a gift from my fairy god mother to my mummy and me.
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.
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.