Let me begin by reassuring you that despite appearances to the contrary this dress is not a shirt. Though I chose it thinking it would work quite well for a night on the town as well as a day dozing in the garden it turned out to be rather unsuitable for both.
I decided to take today off so I could squeeze in some extra time in Manchester and finally get the chance to catch up with my friend who has been on a show stopping musical theatre tour all over the UK. After having a lovely lie in I sat outside in the garden to have my coffee and it was so nice that I didn’t really move much during the rest of the day. My friend came to join me outside and I got so lost in catching up that I foolishly forgot about the wonder that is sun cream. By the time the boy had returned I was a ridiculous shade of pink which did not at all suit today’s dress and is extremely painful.
As we are going out to a gig tonight I tried to calm it down and undo the damage by applying layers of after-sun. After the tenth layer I started to wonder why it was having no cooling affect in spite of the cucumber coloured bottle. At this point I had a look at the label and realised that what I had in-fact been applying was body glitter which had no healing affects but did make me look like an orange disco ball.
There was no time to take it off so I slipped on some other sparkly stuff in the hope of creating an overall impression of a woman hell bent on matching every accessory, arm make up included. The gig was set to take place at a mansion in South Manchester so I treated my feet to fancy shoes and wincing from the pain of my arms clambered in the taxi with the rest of the band.
I must admit that when I hear the word mansion my first thought is Mr Darcy’s estate at Pemberley. For this reason when we arrived at a rather beautiful but derelict mansion which had soil where I was hoping for grounds I was a little disappointed. It was still however a location for a gig and once I got over the soil which was staining the bottoms of my feet it actually turned out to be okay. There were bands playing sets in their pyjamas, toddlers singing magic penny to a hundred people and if one dared to explore the mansion there was an artists rabbit run inside. There were books on every subject you would ever want to study from the 60s and beyond, a grand piano, an artists easel and rooms where musicians could record, for free.
- The dress is originally from H&M, the belt from Topshop, the shoes from Kurt Geiger and the jewellery from Pilgrim. This was one of those dresses donated by the lovely Lara. Though it made for difficult descents from the taxi it is a cute little number and on someone shorter may be rather less revealing.
I have crab-crawled feet-first under a bush, took a running leap to clear a babbling brook and stood still, eyes frozen with terror as two hundred men came hurtling towards me; I have spent the day at the annual Bottle Kicking contest at Hallaton.
Some of you may have heard of this sport before but for the uninitiated, a little explanation will hopefully suffice. The competition, which is believed to date back a thousand years, sees villagers from both side of the brook compete to get the bottle back to their village. The only rules are no strangling and no gouging other than that competitors may do whatsoever they wish to return each of the three ceremonial bottles, filled to the brim with ale for the champions to drink, back to their village.
When I first heard of the game, I must admit I had pictured things rather differently. I had imagined a line of largely unbalanced men queuing up in a line to kick Carling bottles off the top of a brick wall. In my head I could hear the promotional voice which would speak over the contest: “Probably the best bottles in the world.”
As it turns out the Bottle Kicking contest is hands down the best way to spend a Bank Holiday. When we arrive, we cast away our city reservations and get right in with the crowd by tagging along with the parade towards the centre of Hallaton village. We passed Medbourne on the drive down here and though i am accustomed to supporting the underdog the boy and my bestest persuaded me to side with the winners and align myself with the Hallaton men. As I am reporting from the battle field I feel it would be rather rude to take sides so in the interests of soaking up the atmosphere I decide to follow the scrum wherever it may go.
I always thought I would do quite well in a war situation. Though I am petite, I am fast, strong and sneaky and as I had been a bit of a British Bulldog champ as a child I has rather assumed I may be of use to the scrum. As it turns out I am a horrible hindrance in battle. Though I keep on trying to sneak my way into the middle, whenever the lads start to drift towards me, I scream like a girl and run away as fast as I can telling everyone in my path to run for their lives. Everywhere I look there are fallen champions who are pinching at bloodied noses, gasping for breath and doing their best to slip shoulders back into place. There is a fantastic cross-section of society at this event and everywhere I look I can see society’s barriers broken down by the united aim of getting the bottle back to base.
I am fascinated to see women in the huddle who appear tougher than the men they challenge. One girl tells me she has been punched in the ribs by a rather rude chap but assures me she managed to get her own back. Whilst looking him directly in the eye she elbowed him straight to the steriles. I am amazed at what good fun the whole day is. We chase the scrum up and down the hill, through the hedges and over the fences and only after the games are done do we find the time to rest our weary heads upon the hill. There may have been blood shed, there may have been hate, but all this was over once the bottles were brought hurtling over the hill of Hallaton’s gate.
- I have made my dress as functional as humanely possible. Though I do rather look like I have been, and I quote, “shagged through a hedge backwards” I did work quite hard on finding a look for today which was not going to make me appear too girly. The dress is another of those donated by the lovely Lara but the belt and the black top are my own. The boots I am wearing are strong, structured and most importantly of all, not slippers.