This post has been difficult to put together, not because I have too few friends but because I am blessed to have so many. The only way I could think of to prevent this post turning into another never-ending essay was to try to decide which of my wonderful friends I would choose as bridesmaids if I was ever to get married. Although I am sure this list will put the fear of God into my parents financial five-year plan I couldn’t help but include so many and would have included more if I had not been trying to stop this post becoming a bore. Here in no particular order, other than the first who will always be my best friend, are the women in my life who have moved me to tears with their kindness, their generosity, their jokes and anecdotes and by always being there to clasp my hand tightly when everything around us has been falling apart.
Katharine Ryland – Whilst I was at university myself and Katherine lost touch for some time. It was inevitable in a way, although we had been the best of friends since we were 13 we both had such busy lives and it was hard to find the time to stay in touch. If I’m honest I always felt it was my fault that we’d drifted apart, she had started going out with a guy who I struggled to get on with and though I tried to hide it I’m sure she sensed it and ultimately I’m sure it effected our friendship. In spite of this we still saw each other from time to time and on my twenty-first-birthday she called me up to tell me she was pregnant. I was delighted for her but I still had another year of study up North and it wasn’t until I moved back home that we got properly back in touch.
We went out with her beautiful baby boy to Cafe Bruxelles and ended up having such a great day that I remember feeling really rather sad about all I had missed sharing with her and I made a decision to make more of an effort to get on with her partner; she was too good a friend to lose and after all she loved him and he made her happy so how could I not.
Not long after this lunch she got engaged and I was so pleased I got to share in her happiness when she told me her news. A few months later whilst out on a girls night in Leicester she turned to me and asked if I wanted to be her maid of honour. I can honestly say that even if I ever get engaged this will remain the happiest moment in my life; we had made a promise to one another when we were 16 in a bar in Lanzarote over a jug of sangria to be each other’s bridesmaids. I had assumed when she got engaged that she might ask someone else to take the job as we had been out of touch for so long so when she asked me I was ridiculously happy.
Although my dress ended up being made by her mother, when we first went shopping to find a dress I could wear she assured me I could pick anyone I wanted and whilst we were in the shop she tried on the dress she had chosen and I started to cry like a child at how beautiful she looked. The night before the wedding I stayed the night at her parents house and we shared her bed together as we had done years ago when we were kids. In the morning I helped her with her make up and getting dressed and did my best to soothe her little boy when he had a tantrum minutes before we were due to leave because he wanted to try on Mummy’s veil. There is a picture of the two of us arm in arm leaving the church and it looks as though we have just emerged from a civil ceremony and still cracks me up when I see it. She made a beautiful bride and I was inspired to give a speech after her husband and father had said their piece about what a wonderful woman she was and how truly lucky her husband was to have her by his side.
We have always shared everything with one another, although to begin with as an only child she did struggle with the concept of sharing clothing. We once had a massive fall out because she refused to let me wear her top as she was convinced I was going to stretch it. There was no secrecy or privacy between us when we were younger; after we got badly burnt on an overcast day in Devon after falling asleep together on the beach we got home and had to rub after-sun into each others ridiculous tan lines. As we soothed each others skin with aloe vera and very gentle application we were simultaneously cracking up with laughter at how silly we both looked.
We found the results of all our exams together and when we were on holiday in Lanzarote we crammed into a telephone booth on the sea-walk of Lanzarote giggling in disbelief at the amount of As Katherine had got. We also helped each other through the dark days; through heartbreak and troubles at home. It was Katherine who held my hand on the way back to my home after my parents had rung hers to ask if they could bring me home straight away because my sister had gone downhill fast and the doctors were concerned that she wasn’t going to make it through the night. She is hilarious, intelligent and caring and even with a baby boy to care for she did so well in her degree that when she graduated she had two jobs waiting for her. I will always be pleased we got back in touch, my life would be nowhere near as fun without her. I will save sharing some of my favourite memories of our friendship as she has asked if she can write a post about her three favourite memories of us but I imagine they might include the time I went skinny dipping with my sister on my sweet sixteenth in Eastbourne at midnight. Other than my sister it will be Katherine who I will tell if I ever find myself knocked up and it will be her who I will want by my side on the day of my wedding.
AC: When me and the boy first got together i always felt a little lonely when I was round at his house. he lived with six other guys, nearly all of who had long-standing girlfriends and I felt a bit of a spare wheel. The one girl who I immediately clicked with however was Anna. She had dreams of being a musical theatre star and although she enjoyed singing as much as me, people actually enjoyed it when she sang. This shared love of singing and a tendency to live our lives in a rather dramatic way means we have spent many a taxi ride home singing away even when the boys beg us to stop. When I met her I remember speaking about her with one of my friends and concluding that she was a natural beauty and that we were actually really rather jealous of her perfectly shaped eyebrows, white teeth and dancers figure. In the early days of our friendship I was rather worried that I might be a bit much for her, when I bumped into her in the library one day and started talking at her at a mile a minute about dissertations and exams and nights out I had been planning she appeared to be somewhat terrified. We became firm friends however after the boys moved to a smaller house and I think it may have helped that I opened my entire wardrobe to her and did my very best to put aside my reservations about vegetarians and would happily make her hippy friendly food whenever we had a dinner party.
The time I realised I had a friend for life was when she agreed to join me in getting dressed up as a witch to go and queue outside Waterstones for the release of the last Harry Potter book in the series. There are few friends who will partake in this kind of humiliation just to keep someone company but Anna came with me in spite of never having read any of the books. We spent the next fortnight driving the boys mad by shutting ourselves away in one of their rooms and banning them entry until we had read at least another four chapters. I think it was whilst we were lying on a bed repeating lines to one another which made us giggle that I realised I had got myself a friend for life who felt as much like a sister as my own blood.
Anna is one of those rare friends who will be by your side even when you have done everything in your power to try to hide away from the world. Three nights after I’d had a nervous breakdown and ended up in hospital I went to the launch of the boy’s first single. I was only able to do so because I had Anna with me the whole time, holding my hand reminding me that I wasn’t crazy and that everything was going to be OK even if it didn’t feel that way at the time. She is able to make me laugh at life events which are otherwise tragic and when me and the boy were having a heap of troubles last year it was Anna who held me whilst I cried my heart out over loss and love still to raw to share. We have both followed our dreams in life and I am sure I would not have had the guts to carry on going for mine if I hadn’t had her for inspiration. She never once gave up on her dream of playing a role in a musical and now she is touring the country playing the part of Neil Sedaka’s wife in the hit play, Laughter In The Rain. She is my Scrabble companion and the only one who is sweet enough not to tell me how dreadful a singer I really am.
In spite of my efforts not to make this an essay I have noticed that all to quickly the word count has crept us and so I will save the other five for another day, I promise you they are worth the space.
- Today’s dress has been donated by my Auntie Bridgeen. It was originally from Primark and thankfully has a slip to preserve my modesty. Katharine and my friend Monica took the photos and the reason I am cracking up in them is because Monica has just told me that I am in trouble with someone because of something I have said on the blog. The gingerbread man was made by Katherine’s son. Katherine gifted me another dress to wear whilst I was at her house, proof indeed that her issues with sharing have been resolved.
As I am having a mini-tis at Marks and Spencer and have banned the boy from buying flowers from there or going there to buy a Valentines-day meal; last year we rang up and reserved it the night before and it was lovely but this year Didsbury’s manager is a stickler and apparently “this is not something we would ever do.” So I have decided that buying their food, flowers or cards is not something I shall be doing. I am also a bit crotchety with them because I have tagged them and sent track-backs to them several times over the past weeks and never have I heard a word of thanks, harumph.
Anyway before I start acting like a diva about Marks and Spencers, charity shops who charge too much and other such grievances I would first like to thank those visitors from freecycle for their generosity in terms of dresses, two people have come back to me so far offering to rummage through their wardrobes or lend dresses for one wear. I would also like to thank the super star theatre lady that is Ms Anna Clayton, she has leant me two pretty dresses for the weekend and I look forwards to sharing them with you.
Well that’s now over and done let us get down to the business of today’s blog. As I could not justify my beautiful boy spending his hard-earned cash on overly priced flowers he has volunteered to instead buy me some dresses. I have told you in the past of dresses I have purchased from e-bay for minimal sums, many of which when inclusive of postage and packaging barely tip the £5 mark. Yesterday whilst searching for dresses, thinking I might be able to get for £20 at the most I was horrified to see how snooty many branches of charity shops have become. I noticed it before when I went to purchase books and was charged £5 for copies of Harry Potter that were so battered and smoke smelling you wondered whether they had been re-free-cycled five times over. i have no problem buying from charity shops, I enjoy knowing that when I buy things the money, well the percentage of it not given to expensive advertising campaigns, will be going to a cause. I also enjoy gifting clothing to them which is in a reasonable condition, clean and of good quality knowing that someone else will be a ble to get wear out of it and that it wont end up in a landfill someplace else.
Vivienne Westwood this week said she thought people should stop buying clothing for at least six months to stop the increasing landfill problem. Whatever your views about climate change no one can deny the harmful effects of excessive wastage. Wherever it end up every bag we throw out is one more to add to an increasing pile of crap in Scotland, China or even the local tip and the only way to stop this is to stop buying. However in an economy largely driven by consumerism to stop buying is to continue to damage the economy, so what can we do? Well we can have swap shop parties, or we can take our old unworn clothes to charity knowing they will go to a good home.
The problem we found however, is that charity shops, spurred on by the age of Vintage becoming cool have become carried away with their pricing and are somehow managing to justify charging up to £13 for a Next dress and around £7 on average even at times for Primark and George. It is a total joke because we went in yesterday ready to spend £20 and left in disgust at the fact this would buy us only two dresses and had we went to eBay we could have triple the amount of dresses. It is silly because people spend more when they feel they are getting value for money, less or nothing at all when they feel they are getting ripped off.
I wonder whether charity shops need to get with the rest of the fashion industry and realise the importance of discounting fashion otherwise they may find themselves getting left with people unwilling to give away old clothes when they know they are demanding an unreasonable amount for them. I wish charity shops would use a system of credits whereby if you give you get credits to buy new books or clothing, not a large amount just a quarter or a third of the proposed selling price, either that or they just stop ripping people off and get down off their high horse upon which they ride with Marks and Spencer’s Didsbury branch.