- My dress has already been criticised today by the head of Harborough police. I saw him on the streets and he said he was not overly keen on my combination of colours; the pink tights I believe were a little too garish for him. I was a little offended and thought about suggesting he focus his attentions on arresting the legging lovelies flashing their front rumps nearby but I was running a little late for work and had to go on my merry way. The dress got me into a rather uncomfortable situation later on the same day when the Liberal Democrat councillors came to call. As a sleep deprived reporter I had not even considered the political connotations of my choice and had to come clean and admit the dress was down to an overall shortage of office wear rather than an attempt to fly the colours of any clan. Today’s dress is a present from my Godmother who bought it from a shop in Harborough called Labels for Less. As I said I was a little but sleep deprived and in a rush to get ready I paired it with Kurt Geiger wedges and police officer displeasing pink tights.
There are days like today when I truly love my job. I am being sent to a selection event where I will join with four other women of character to choose this year’s carnival queen. I am still a little sulky about the fact that I was not allowed to throw my hat into the race but considering the average age of the candidate is ten years younger than myself I may well have left it a little late in life to apply.
There are seven girls from whom we have to choose and though this is an all too common phrase in such contests, the competition between them all is close. We come up with some pretty tough questions about their views on politics, their idol and the all important desert island selection test but they all come up class. There is one 13-year-old who is so eloquent she fills me with hope for all those compelled to end every sentence with “like” or “you know what I mean”. When asked who her idol would be she states Rosa Parkes and has good reason for doing so. There are girls who want to teach abroad, to study law and to perform and they are all active in the community.
Young people often get a bad deal in the press and in all honesty I often find myself frustrated by gaggling gangs of girls shrieking on buses. These girls though give you hope, they are truly little women. They are firm in their opinions and they seem to know both who they are now and who they want to be. When I was 13 I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and was too busy chasing boys and falling in crush to think too much about it. The only difficulty of the evening is their insistence on wearing leggings but I guess they are young and I can only hope such choices are a phase. There is the occasional Ugg but being the professional judge I force myself not to let my prejudices affect my decision making and force myself not to give them fashion advice for their future.
It is great fun trying to decide which of these girls will be best suited to represent our town through the year and though I feel sad we can not give the crown to each of them there is only one tiara. The two girls we pick I am sure are capable. They are both confident and caring and I am sure they will do their best throughout the year to do well by the town. I feel bad for the girls who are not chosen but one of the town’s jewellers has given charm bracelets for the runners up and I hope the sparkle of the silver will go some way to ease their disappointment.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my good friend Kat Ingham. It is from George and is a bit gorgeous. My mother says it is her favourite dress so far which is high praise indeed. Though I hate to admit it I was a little bit worried about the evening as the judges all have to be photographed and I didn’t want to appear in my own paper looking rough. I made a lot more effort with my make up than usual and use my Chanel powder for the first time in months, a special occasion product indeed. Looking in the mirror I remember what it was like to be 13, a time when make up was for fun not for function. I remember sticking stars to my eyelids, coating my lips in cherry tinted lip-balm and trying to learn how to apply just the right amount of blush not to look like I had spent the morning on a marathon rush. I miss my teen skin but at least these days I have the luxury of using Mac rather than Rimmel.
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.
Now to the untrained eye, it may seem we had a bit of a knees up last night and the injuries shown which flatter the dress so delightfully were sustained due to the old communion wine. This would be wrong. Last night me and the girls were looking forwards to a good old girly night out. I had spent the day wearing this figure hugging, angle enhancing, darling of a dress with only a pair of knee high leather boots and a teeny tiny military style jacket to give off an air of this is honestly not the same outfit I was wearing last night. I wanted to wear it because it has been ages since I have been for a night out with the girls and I was so looking forwards to letting off a little steam and this seemed the perfect party frock in which to simmer.
As Harborough’s restaurants were all either fully booked, overpriced or closed for business I decided to cook the girls a three course meal and after the giant decided to take all the food in the fridge to the land of the poets I had no choice but to take a trip to the shops in my sparkling sequinned skin-tight number. Though the frock is hardly supermarket sensible, I was still left feeling a little upset and frankly at times somewhat disturbed by the bitchy looks and all too obvious glances of grandfather aged men at my frock.
I somehow managed to get the goods, cook the meal and even remembered not to leave the wine in the freezer all whilst wiggling around with minimal room for movement. Me and the girls had a great time getting ready; painting our nails, adding on a bit of sparkle and discussing the prospects of meeting eligible men in the Markets. Though I am not single I am a bit of a romantic and love playing at being an honorary single girl whenever I am out with my bachelorette buddies. Obviously I can not join in with any of the actual flirting but it is still rather good fun casing out the joint for suitable single men of a certain age. I am a terrible match-maker, completely unsubtle in my efforts but I do a great job of setting up mutual friends and at least one of these matches has ended in marriage.
As is the way with all good friends, what goes on tour stays on tour, but what I can say is we had a brilliant night out. It has been years since I have been to Club Enigma but I was desperate for a dance and being the only club in our compact city we drifted towards its doors as the time ticked on. At first it was amazing; they played Don’t Stop Believing from Glee and with the dance floor all to ourselves we performed the kind of choreography only a true musical fan can – see photos above.
Unfortunately about an hour after this happy hoe down there was an announcement from above about a monster munch party. Assuming there had been an error me and the girls continued with our groove until all of a sudden, beefy flavoured crisps, shot out from a canon above, began to rain down on us covering in wheat based high calorie snacks in an unprecedented and frankly foolish assault. Now I know I am rather past my prime, and that I am not necessarily down with the kids, but I fail to see how such craziness is in any way cool. The whole place stank of beef and there was crisp crumbs everywhere; in our hair, on the dance floor, even on our lovely dresses. There were even crisp crumbs on my eyelashes when I woke the next morning. Feeling a little “too old for this £$%”" me and my girls went upstairs to sit back, have a drink and watch the madness unfold. Unfortunately on the way up the stairs as I stepped off a poorly placed mat, my poor shoe connected with a murderous combination of crisp crumbs and sticky al-co-pops. I slipped dramatically, seeming to hang momentarily in the air before falling back on to my cranium, bashing my hip, elbow, wrist and thigh. As well as being utterly humiliating I was also extremely upset as I had even more crisps on my outfit and felt like a total fool as well as being in a quite horrific amount of pain. I dusted myself off and behaving like a wounded warrior, shrugged off the kind assistance of the bouncer who offered me a medic and stumbled upstairs starry eyed to the bathroom above where I burst into tears as my friend trying not to giggle did her best to soothe me.
I felt extremely sorry for myself and after a short time and another slip, this time on the dance floor itself we decided to call it a night. Though I tried to keep a brave face, after a rather tipsy discussion about the blame there is a claim commercial and a deliciously distracting desert of Chocolate cheesecake GU which helped get my levels up, my friend and I decided to document the evidence – again see photos above, particularly knee and cranium bumps.
In spite of all the medical drama and the poor product placement we did all have a really very fun night. Though I wish the frock had a little more padding it was great to wear and gave me a real confidence boost. In spite of the supermarket glares, I felt really great wearing it; for the first time in months I actually felt happy with my figure and though tomorrow will probably be another day of body loathing at this moment in time I feel happy with my figure, battered, bruised and covered in wheat based snacks though it might well be.
- Today’s dress is from HP. A friend of my sister from her University days she is an absolute legend who is a great surfer and good craic to go clubbing with. She is a business whiz, can drive a motorbike and is also the mother of two very lovely little girls. A supporter of the blog from the beginning, H has harangued her friends to find dresses for the project and shares the posts with her friends through her own Facebook wall. She once posted a very nice note about how reading the blog had replaced Farmville as a form of entertainment for when she has to get up in the night to care for the kids. It is because of this that I do make an effort to get something up on the site every day even if it is just a few photos. She kindly donated the dress a few weeks ago but I have been saving it for a special occasion like tonight. It was originally from Hennes and has to be worn without a bra which was frankly quite liberating if a little bit ris risky during the dancing.
Though I appear to the untrained eye to be a brunette people have often asked me whether I was a blonde in a previous life. I did actually have blonde hair up until I was six but then it all darkened and the last time I was even a little bit light was when I was 17 with honey and burnt red highlights.
For whatever reason today has been a bit of a blonde day for me, or a ditz day if you are blonde and at risk of being offended. I was researching a story this week about a group to get a cinema for Harborough. The dear young girl who had set it up was refusing to speak with me about it as she had been advised by Alistair Campbell not to do any publicity. At first I thought she was taking the mick and then, because I am a bit of a blonde I started to genuinely believe it was The Alistair Campbell.
When I mentioned the joke in the news room trying to case out whether it was true that Alistair had in some way involved himself in the campaign for a cinema the boys confirmed the fact. Today I got an email through from the girl requesting we did not publish because Alistair did not wish it to be so. I had a little rant about it and during a discussion one of the lads mentioned how strange it was that he had the same name as the Alistair Campbell, previously friend of downing street. Too disappointed to hide my mistake I said sadly: “So is it not actually the same Alistair?” It was not.
As though that wasn’t bad enough later on in the day I got my first follow-up phone call from an article I had written. The worst thing was I was left a message and for the life of me I could not remember where it was from. I checked through my contacts, my quote write ups and scanned through my stories but there was no sign of the woman who had asked that I call her back. I started to get a little nervous. In another example of negative thought; rather than thinking it was someone calling to tell me how much they loved my article I was convinced it was a cross patch reader who had taken issue with something I’d written.
In the end I forced myself to deal with the issue head on; I called up the woman and was greeted by a lady from the church. I had run an article about a job swap between a vicar and a landlord due to take place in a couple of weeks. The reverend had given me a great quote about just wanting to be like Jesus who after all had turned water into wine at Cana. Unfortunately I had somehow managed to write it out as wine into water which didn’t really portray poor Jesus in the best of lights. There are worse mistakes I could have made and yes it is quite funny but it was my first page three lead in the paper and I was a bit upset I had gone and got it wrong.
I went somewhere today. A place I have been putting off going to for weeks because I was too scared. There is a group in Harborough, it is affiliated loosely with Mind but is mainly a place to go, a support group for people with mental health problems of any kind. It took a lot of courage to go but I am glad I did. The people there were kind, welcoming and accepting and the group leader, the one who first contacted me months ago to tell me about the group was great. Support groups like these are so important because unfortunately there is not a lot of funding for mental health. Psychiatrists and counsellors are in short supply and so having somewhere to go where one can get advice from others about handling one’s health is essential. There are volunteers who help to run such groups and though the world at times can seem a dark place, even to those of us who are not visited by the black dog, it is people like these who give without want of reward that make our earth just that little bit lighter.
- Today’s dress is from Lara. It was a pleasure to wear but I unfortunately did not understand how to use the panels to transform it until the evening. It has an orange layer sowed into the body of the dress and can be buttoned up as high or low as one wants. I wore my wedges today because having been working from home for two days I felt the need to make an effort. They are death traps and one must totter rather than stride but I still get a kick out of wearing them. I had my first major wardrobe malfunction in town today whilst walking to the group. As I past the farmers market where half the town had assembled to purchase meats and sweet treats my entire skirt was blown up by the wind in my blonde moment of the day.
- Today’s dress is lovely layered silk with leather panelling and a hard zip up the front to stop it ending up looking too girly. I probably should have saved it for a big night out but supplies are running seriously low. Opaque tights and a black T-shirt from gap make it winter suitable and Kurt Geiger wedges make it deliciously difficult to totter around in. I got it from another sample sale and once nearly ruined it by putting it in the wash after spilling balsamic oil down it
For the first time today there was a little bit of spring in the air and as I looked out the window whilst passing the snow-capped hills of the peak district I was lifted. Today’s dress is another vintage buy by the boy. It causes quite a stir on the train when I take off the polo-neck underneath it revealing bare shoulders and even a little bit of back. Once again the journey is depressing as much because of the unsightly clothing mishaps; legging lovelies and the ever-present ugly footed Uggalugs. The dress causes quite a stir when I take my coat off; possibly because I have had to remove my cashmere black polo neck to try to deal with the constant wave of nausea. Admittedly it is the middle of winter and I am wearing a dress better suited to a day on the beach during the 1940′s so I can forgive the looks of surprise at pale bare skin but what aggravates me is the bitchy looks. Although I find the Uggalugs and the front-rump pioneers distasteful I do try quite hard to never show any outward hatred towards them. After all the poor things have been misguided by the fashion press who are clearly all in on a hilarious joke to see just how awful people will dress in order to follow fashion; the answer it would seem is very.
The difficulty I have with women, especially those with boyfriends with no subtlety or tact who stare quite happily at one’s arse with no shame, is the girlfriend will usually blame whoever her man is staring at, tossing their hair and a few evil eyes rather than berating their blundering idiot of a boyfriend for the indiscretion.
Women are strange when it comes to men. I have known plenty of strong willed women who will crumple into a wreck when there is a man around, behaving as though they were straight out of a Thomas Hardy novel. So many friendships fall apart because of a boy getting in the way and we betray our own sex by getting into the bed of another woman’s man and convincing ourselves no one will be hurting as a result of our decision.
I do not blame women who fall for married men. Marriage and love lend confidence to a man and when one is told they are beautiful and intelligent it is difficult to resist being flattered. I am in no position to judge the other woman having once had an extremely brief run in with a man who told me he was in an open relationship, fortunately I soon found out he was the only one in the relationship aware of this arrangement and I backed off at a hundred miles an hour. The problem with being a mistress is one is allowing oneself to be second best, to feel guilty and even jealous at your lovers real partner. There are for better or worse plenty of men to go around and never should one man think he is as wonderful as to deserve more than one of us. Women are strong, intelligent, powerful and beautiful; why should a man be allowed the best of us if he feels we only deserve a half of him or God forbid a quarter or a tenth.
The other thing I notice whilst in transit is the lack of gentlemen still about. I sit opposite one idiot who after speaking at his wife or girlfriend for ten minutes, telling both her and the poor carriage about his very important crown case and how he hated himself for it but just couldn’t stop looking at the red-tops to see what all the hullabaloo was with those dreadful types. I had a very heavy bag, because I am soon hoping to start-up some swap-shop events and also fingers crossed have a stall at Leicester’s Vintage Market in March I really needed to bring a lot of stuff back. Back in the day all I needed to do to get a man to carry my suitcase or put it on the rack for me was pout and look around helplessly. Usually there would be some nice fellow who would carry it down the steps for me with a smile and a “there you go darling”. It was wonderful now however whether because I have started to lose my youthful looks or more than likely because many people are disassociated from the world around them thanks to mobiles strapped to their ear and iPods which tune everyone out do not notice damsels in distress. I do like to be independent and am all for women’s rights but what’s wrong with expecting men to behave gallantly. I make the effort to dress in a feminine way and feel generally better for it. Why then can men not hold open the occasional door, get ladies petrol when they run to empty, change our tyres or even carry our children’s cot down the stairs; just look at Kevin Costner in The Untouchables, he had a gang war and prohibition on his mind but still paused to help a lady in distress with her pram. I do realise there are exceptions to the rule all of my own male friends are gentlemen in general even if they do not behave to me as one because as far as they are concerned I am not ladylike enough.
These days one depends much more on the assistance of women for such tasks, as when we are not sleeping with each others lovers we are a terribly kind and caring lot. When myself and my friend were in London trying to manoeuvre a buggy and a fair-few shopping bags up the stairs it was another lady who helped us get her safely to the bottom. When my car ran out of petrol on the A6 bang in the middle of a four-way junction it was a lovely lady who got out and helped me and my mother push it safely to the side of the road whilst others beeped at us in annoyance. Female solidarity is essential and there is nothing quite as powerful as a bond between women; once it is forged it is never broken in spite of meddling males, disagreements over fashion choices or even the time she went and broke your best bracelet and hid it so you’d never know, sorry Hannah!