I am finding things tough at the moment. I am tearful and cry at everything from Come Dine With Me, don’t ask, to One Born Every Minute. I am seeing my CPN tomorrow and in many ways the visit feels long overdue. I do not know why I am feeling so down. Things are good, they really are but here I am sad and blue not really knowing what to do.
A visit to the CPN always helps because I get a chance to offload and work out a plan for how I’m going to deal with life generally. At the moment things are tricky because the boy is not here and my parents are in Ireland so I have far too much time alone with my thoughts.
The one thing that really sticks out is the moment is my lack of a regular photographer. When I did the 365 Dresses project my mum and the boy were regular snappers and it became part of the fun of the blog and made sure that even when I was down I still had to make the effort to smile. The boy is always full of advice about how smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, is great as it releases endorphins.
When he tells me this when all I want to do is run away and cry .I want to yell at him but I’m usually just to low to summon the strength to do so.
Today saw good progress in terms of footwear. Four days in I have mastered the art of these heels and no longer waddle but stride on my way to the office. Although I am getting the hang of the courts I could have hugged the estate agent when he offered me a lift to the second viewing. As soon as I got home I slipped my purple tights into my silky red slip on shoes and heard my toes breathe a sigh of relief.
The photos will be taken tomorrow as I am too low and too tired to put on a show, even in front of a mirror.
I wanted to go anyway as I love the idea that one day we will have a Brady Bunch style holiday where the most exciting thing that happens is my mother burning the toast. Because of this tragic dream I assured the boy things would be different and I actually believed it, there would only ever be four family members together at any one time and there was going to be partners and friends to force us all to be on our best behaviour.
For the first four days everything went well; there were no sulks, no snarls and even sarcasm was kept to a minimum. I started to feel smug at how dull we had become and even considered making cookies for us all. I should have known it would not last. The giant enjoys his space as do we all and in the absence of yoga, Facebook and Sky television the tensions began to mount and all it would take for things to explode was a happy hour combined with an empty tummy too many.
As I am not really meant to be drinking I usually try to back away from situations where I feel obliged to drink. Après ski however is a traditional part of mountain culture and is one of the nicest parts of the skiing day. After the lifts have stopped the skis come off and people gather together with their friends, family and travelling companions upon the terraces which look up to the slopes and swap anecdotes of a day spent with their heads above the clouds. When everyone suggested an après ski drink I could not resist and over a cold beer we had a great time dissecting our day and congratulating ourselves for surviving a blizzard to come unharmed through the other side of the mountains mist.
The problem with drinking after a hard day on the slopes is how quickly the alcohol goes to your head. I have fallen foul of the beer fairy before and in doing so have ruined myself for the slopes the next day; with this thought in mind and an overwhelming desire to finally get up to date with my blog I headed home leaving the others at The Rhododendron; the cheapest and most cheerful pub in the whole of Le Praz. I was feeling quite proud of myself for recognising the limits of my liver and treated myself to a strong coffee and hot shower to ease the aches of the slope.
I do not know why everything went wrong but I do know when it started to slide downhill. I had curled myself upon the couch after returning to the apartment alone and was looking forward to spending some time alone. I had just finished coming up with a concept for the day’s blog when my thought structure was interrupted by my sister’s partner crashing through the door upon the arm of my father’s godson. Admittedly he had been moaning while we were in the pub and had asked for a cold pack but we had all assumed he wasn’t too injured as he had skied down the mountain on it just fine only an hour before. One look at his face convinced me he was not faking, he was pale and acting as though he was in total agony. Though I do not have the most maternal of bones I felt I should at least attempt to care for him. His knee was the size of a tennis ball after all and with my sister absent and my mother back in the UK I applied the medicine of every good Irish woman, a cup of tea and a sandwich.
After adding to my cure a couple of painkillers and some snow packs, (my father’s godson’s innovative invention) ,it was clear he might need more medical attention than I could provide. Although I did a first aid course when I was twelve all I could remember was something about a triangular bandage and I didn’t really see how that could help us now. It was about this point that I started to panic.
My sister and the giant were over at the bar with no idea about the deteriorating knee situation. Though my sister had said she would return home after one more drink I had little faith in her keeping this promise. I have echoed the same spiel myself when the boy has rang to see when he could expect me home. Though one likes to believe one will be home in a jiffy the craic of the bar will always outweigh any call to come home, especially as the caller will usually be a cross patch by the time you get back and be none too amused when you tell them you wuv them very smuch indeed.
As I feared she may not be in the mood for problem solving when she returned I had sent a messenger to find out whether there was any hope of getting help on a Sunday and found out that the nearest hospital was forty minutes away. When I heard this I had another unpleasant realisation; I was the only one capable of driving and I haven’t been in a car since December. I was beginning to feel rather overwhelmed by responsibility and upon hearing another groan from my sister’s partner I realised I had no choice but to get the doctor involved. When she arrived she seemed quite concerned and advised a hospital visit for X-rays and painkillers. After deciding it would be best to wait till the morning to take him I began to feel relieved that something had been done.
My sister had returned just before the Doctor got there which left me free to return to my writing whilst she played at being nurse. Just as I had settled into the couch however and opened up a monthly magazine, the giant returned. If it wasn’t for his rosy cheeks I probably would have jumped out the ground floor window upon seeing the look on his face. The giant had been unaware of the developments in the knee situation and as far as he was aware I had called out a seventy-five euro doctor for no reason and was a bit of a fool for doing so.
There is little point in going into detail about who slung the mud and how deep was the colour but what got said tonight has destroyed the delicate peace of the last few days. I feel foolish for coming away and annoyed because come the morning I will be the only one who will remember the harsh words spoken. The boy is perhaps right, maybe the time has come to call a day on the annual family hell-a-day.
- Today’s dress is another loan from my sister who also took the photos from today. It is from Hennes and though it looked great with a beret all of us were feeling a bit too bitter about the rugby to promote French culture any more than we had to. The mountains in the background by the way are Swiss.
- FYI – The reason I am smiling in the pictures is they were taken before everything kicked off when we were still on speaking terms. I do hope our family will be at peace again., I just find it hard right now to imagine how.
Today I fell off the wagon rather dramatically. In my defence I have been doing fairly well; other than a few drinks on a couple of special occasions over the past four weeks I have been surprisingly sober. I can not deny that I haven’t missed the drink; I love the grape and the grain as I do a long overdue conversation with a good friend so being without it has left me feeling a little lonely at times, particularly when my society consists of the suitably sozzled.
Though I had decided to do my best to have a booze free holiday it turns out not drinking in France is nearly as depressing as not smoking. When I tuck into a long lunch with a baby bubble beverage rather than one of their sweet stumpy beers I am looked at like a leper and feel like a right old bore. After all I say to myself I am on holiday and after all surely occupation of a different country means one must adopt their laws and customs. Surely I think by not drinking their delicious vino I am causing unintended offence.
After running through similarly logically sound arguments all day I finally fall well and truly off the wagon during dinner. I manage to convince myself that holidays are technically a special occasion and after all I have cause for celebration and this is the first time I have shared a meal with my family after getting my good news. It may be an excuse and I am perhaps kidding myself but it certainly feels like an occasion. We go to our favourite restaurant in Chamonix. Although The Hotel Eden do some of the most fanatic dishes in the whole of The Alps, their prices are pretty high and although I would love to go to their restaurant until I am employed it is just not realistic. Our favourite restaurant is one of the best value in the whole of Le Praz, a small village just outside of central Chamonix. It is only a five minute stroll from where we stay and their menu has I think stayed the same for the last five years.
It is one of those restaurants where as soon as you walk in you know who the owner is. The family who own it are often eating there themselves when we come in and the television stays on the sports channel for their pleasure. The y have not changed their menu or themselves to accommodate the influx of tourists into their village. We order in our very best French, desperate not to seem like the atypical arrogant anglais who can not be bothered to stretch his tongue to please his hosts. If we make a mistake she kindly corrects us and when there is an issue with translating the puddings she will switch to sign language and indulge us in our guessing games but she will not use the English tongue and for this I admire her. Once when we had fondue there the lady who owns the place along with her sports fanatic husband took pity on our peasant ways and showed us herself how best to coat the futons in the melted pot of cheesy gold.
We usually have the same, a special salad which has a poached egg on top as well as little bits of bacon and croutons drenched in oil. It is delicious and if I was more of a fool I would ask her for the recipe. The salads are followed by steaks, chips and more devilishly dressed salad, I do not want or care to know how many calories I consume in this meal but every squat, sit up or stair climb I have to do to burn it off will be totally worth it. Even I, the ketchup queen, will happily go without red sauce because everything is cooked so well it would seem an insult to injure it by adding one’s own accompaniments.
Tonight, there was just a little bit of tension at the start of the meal and as I have been fearing a repeat of last years family feuding I turned to the drink as a distraction. I find it hard to relax and just be and whether or not it is wrong or healthy having a drink just brings me down a level and loosens me up. I am always on such a tightly wound string it is nice to lose a little control once in a while and as I had told myself earlier that day I am after all on my holidays. Though I did my best to take it easy, technically speaking the tablets I am taking do not exactly advise alcohol. Two glasses of delicious table wine later I was feeling fabulously free and when the owners decided after our drunken debate with a table of Irish men about who would win the rugby the next day we all drank to France’s victory with a liquor from 1946. It totally finished us all and the walk back was hilarious. I am standing in the photos but many did not work as I was swaying ever so slightly.
On the plus side on our return to the apartment rather than falling into the trap of desperately trying to keep the party going I got myself a glass of water, watched a bit of the football until I was forced to admit that all I could see was a red and green blur I slid under the duvet, typed a few words of my blog and slunk into the loveliest sleep I have had in days. I may well have fell off the wagon, but at least I didn’t get hurt.
- Today’s dress is a kaftan borrowed covertly from my mother whilst she was away in Chamonix. Knowing the only way she would find out is if she read the blog I decided to chance it as she should be doing her essay so should certainly not be browsing through her daughters drones. I know it is ridiculous but I wore it with a beret as when in Rome and all. The green jumper was loaned to me, with permission and everything from my older sister. I love it and am thinking of accidentally acquiring it during the course and the panic of our packing. We are sharing a room at the moment and it is great fun. The top is apparently from Asda and the shirt dress is from Marks & Spencer Autograph collection. I think it is meant to be a top. The pictures were taken by my sister’s boyfriend, James Cornish who is quite the amateur photographer and kept doing strange things like practice shots.
- Thin Bra
- Busty women
- Market Harborough Job Centre… very nice
- trouble in my mind notation
- Catholicism in Lost
- Rio Ferdinand’s Summer Outfit
- Designer dress transvestite
- Does a woman dress for attention
- Chav wedding
I have been having a bad few face days this week.; there has been an attack of dry skin and even God forbid a spot. When I was a teenager I was lucky enough to never get struck down by acne and other than sporadic attacks of eczema I felt rather smug about my skin. When I reached 24 I was struck down by a series of spots which I had no idea how to handle. Thankfully Clinique were on hand to royally ravish me and fleece me of every spare penny I had by persuading me that a miracle cure could be found within their treatment plans. I must have given them easily a few hundred pounds in the one year I subscribed to their skin care screw-over and though I have a nice make up bag which has the same pattern as this dress (another Valentine’s vintage buy from the boy) none of the products made the slightest bit of difference and in the end I returned to using clean and clear and Freederm. At about a quarter of the price and a lot longer lasting, within weeks I was back to being a smooth skinned albeit slightly skint girl.
Today’s photos are a bit of a disaster due both to the lack of make-up and artistic differences with the photographer who kept telling me to smile and not cover my forehead with my hand or hair. I have excluded the picture where I tell him where he can canter away to but the grumpy expression is proof enough of the tiz. Today I was in rather a mood due to the lack of food in the house and having once again had an accidental lie in. Since the start of this project I have made an effort every day to smother myself in lovely creams, brush my hair at the very least and most importantly of all slather myself in make up. Today largely because I got up late and also because I forgot about the photos until nearly midnight due to a dreadful game of never-ending Scrabble; at one stage I had three Ts a Z and a W. If only I had an F I would have tried putting down a WTF word or what the fuzzle for those of you not in the know.
My mother has always had an amazing collection of cosmetics and so from a young age I always had access to good quality cosmetics. Although she has threatened over the years to put a lock on her door or the cupboard she usually relents and gives me enough testers and barely used bits and bobs to make up a pretty fantastic collection of my own. My sisters never really taught me how to do make up, they both had pretty incredible skin and so with just a lick of mascara and some Nivea Visage they looked like all Irish natural beauties.
I started wearing full make-up on a daily basis from the day my sister died. In the morning the house was descended upon by a host of people who came to lend a hand and offer words of comfort and casseroles but in spite of the hive of activity below decks I remained determinedly asleep in my parents empty bed. I thought that if I kept my eyes closed I could convince myself that it had all been a horrible dream, and that in the early hours of the morning I had not really kissed my sister for the last time and neither had I stood with my family by her side watching our darling Cathy slip away. When my mother’s friend finally managed to rouse me I forced myself to suck it up and get on with it, we had guests after all and I had two broken-hearted parents, a sister and a baby brother who were all consumed with grief and the god damn unfairness of it all.
I decided then and there that if I could just keep it together it would all be alright, I painted my face artfully having been shown how to do so by my mother back before the dark days had arrived. I used thick foundation, powder, bronzer and concealer to cover up the dark circles and force my face into some kind of stability. I heard someone call me downstairs and darted eyeliner and mascara on to ensure there would be no way I could cry and in doing so let my sister down who had been unbelievably brave. She was gone but there was so much to do, all I could think of was that the house was going to have to be cleaned as people would be coming to pay their last respects; the body stays in the house in Irish families until the funeral so everyone can say goodbye; and there would be guests coming to stay with us so someone needed to be there to make tea.
I can’t remember the rest of the day much, I know that we all somehow got through it; somehow we accepted plates and dishes at the doorstep; made the calls that had to be made and thanked people for their words which at the time we barely even heard. I remember at one point during the day going over to one of my oldest friends house along with her cousin and laughing which looking back on it now seems insane but it definitely did happen. When the night came though and everyone had left I remember going in to see her, my older sister who I loved so so much and I remember seeing a book on the side, a stupid Marian Keyes book, Last Chance Saloon which I had read to her up until a few weeks before when she was still conscious. I don’t know why but it was then that it hit me that I was never going to be able to laugh with her again, read her books or even argue with her and I just lost it. I cried every molecule of make-up off knowing then that time might heal one’s wounds but there is always a scar. You never get over it you just learn to live with it eventually, but even now though I thought at the start of this post I could talk about it without breaking down, just thinking of her and all the world lost when she went, I feel my heart-break all over again, the wound splits and I just can’t bear to paint on a perfect face when the pain is so raw it actually aches.
Today’s dress is gorgeous. I am a little biased as it is one of my own but I really am a massive fan, it is another Calvin Klein masterpiece and getting back to the idea of the memory of material wearing this dress reminds me of some really very happy times. It has slouchy pockets in the side which make me feel wonderfully casual whilst the fit prevents me from looking too busty and having a repeat of last night whilst the colour is terrific. I brought it back from the states and it reminds me of walking round New York by myself and with some very good friends taking in the atmosphere of possibility that smoulders from the subways below and the sky-rises above; or maybe that was just the heat and the smog.
I loved New York, we had been on the rail for so long and had so many mini stops that since Chicago we hadn’t really had a chance to just relax and take in a place. I went travelling with two of my best boyfriends, the boy as I have said is not the jealous type and my boys find me completely asexual. One of my favorite times was when we all took a day away from each other to go explore by ourselves. I am a sucker for nostalgia and theatre and took the opportunity to walk down 14th street as the good Rufus Wainwright himself had once done. It was terrific, I put the tune on my iPod soaked it all up and then sat in a park, people watching and drinking cups of coffee and bagels for what felt like an age. I walked around the harbour at the front and looked at the memorial to all the Irish people who came here during the famine after they were abandoned by their brethren in Britain. I felt extremely emotional knowing a lot of my relatives had fled here at the time and was struck by the beauty of the place and how they must have felt arriving off a hideous ship-ride with dreams of a new world which turned out to be very like the old but with a constant stream of positive propoganda telling them to never complain because their dream was only just around the corner.
I also went shopping and this was of course when I came across this petroleum shirt dress and feel head over heels in love. Without the boys to tell me I looked fat in it I was able to buy it with minimal banter and when I wore it on our last night they even told me I looked nice, a compliment indeed.
I have also worn this dress on two other occasions which stand out, to weddings of family and friends. Friends of mine and the boys, Ellen and Matt, got married soon after I returned from the states. It was wonderful to see them get it together and was so brilliant having our gang back together for the first time since University days had ended.
In a marquee at Ellen’s parents home in the New Forest, we stayed in a ridiculously overpriced hotel and spent a fortune on gifts and getting there, but it was all completely worth it, they are lovely people and there was no way we could have missed it, even though I had just blown most of my life savings on a flailing economy. We danced the night away and all felt very wild young and free, albeit somewhat coupled up. Ellen looked totally fabulous and though it rained the day was not at all ruined and in a handmade dress which was more incredible than any I have ever seen before with hair trailing down her back like Rapunzel the two of them got married in a ceremony where The Velveteen Rabbit was read out as a sermon whilst one of our friends played the guitar for music.
The other wedding I went to was in Ireland, and of course, there was rain. Irish weddings are terrific, and they are undoubtedly larger than the average English wedding in attendance seeing as the average Irish person has around 50 first cousins alone. It was the wedding of my oldest cousin, Stephen and his bride Rosin and I believe everyone’s favorite part other than the lovey dovey stuff was when the bride got up on stage to sing along with the groom who plays the drums in their covers band. Irish weddings are also big on dancing, there is no opportunity to sit down for more than one song at any time during the night. If you are a girl, a woman, a man, or basically anyone with the ability to move one limb you will be dragged to the dance floor again and again until you flop to the floor exhausted. It is terrific because the Irish well-known for their generosity do not scrimp on the food so by the time the music starts we usually have one hell of a waistband to burn off.
Today I wore the dress with my mothers beautiful silky red top she had when she was my age. It feels like liquid gold on your skin and as my eczema is playing up today it is a welcome relief to have something not woolen or scratchy against my skin. The boy has to go to practice and so I join a friend from my course, another Northern beauty named Anna from the part-time NCTJ who is a pretty hot writer, to go to a pub quiz. Admittedly I feel rather over dressed so don my wooly homeless look beret and green casual patent Kurt courts. The quiz turns out to be the worst I have ever been to in my life, including the one where my American studies lecturer was there and got to see just how little studying I had ever done during the literature round, in my defence who goes in for a nine am lecture?
To be fair the quiz was held in the Democratic Republic of Chorlton, where they pride themselves on being green and a bit alternative but this is just plain ridiculous. There are pretty much no normal pub rounds, even the picture round involves specific TV shows from 1997 and at one stage we have to draw a shield, write a letter to the lottery winners (mine kicks ass by the by) and come up with an emblem. I love the pub, it is Irish and makes me wish I was with my parents back across the Irish Sea not in rainy Manchester trying to keep warm and sneak away from the worlds worst quiz, but I am with a friend and so it all seems rather funny though I cannot deny I am glad to get back home to the boy for a cuddle and a good gossip. Unfortunately though the side effects are at large again and before I know it is 4am and I am lying awake and alone having missed out on the chitter chatter I love so much wearing a silk nightie not my pretty dress, I bloody hate Quetiapine.
Although the images are full of smiles and flowers today’s posting for a time was in danger of becoming the most bitterest yet. I had some issues with my family to put it lightly, and the long and the short of it was that when I boarded the train to Manchester I was seriously wondering whether relocating up North was my only option.
The difficulty with splitting one’s life between two homes is that inevitably both will suffer to some degree. I often find myself neglecting friendships because I am in the wrong city at the wrong time and I never get a chance to properly adjust before I am on the road again. Today’s dress is an example of the chaos of my life at present. I thought I had enough dresses to last me until today, but unfortunately I do and I don’t. In spite of my director friend’s comments I can not help but think that wearing a ball gown or bridesmaid dress so early in the project would be a bit of a shambles so instead I do what I do best, I rummage. I find in my mother’s wardrobe this fabulous summery dress it is an old one and though it is the wrong size I find a number of brooches to make it into a form-fitting fabulous frock. The brooches are all gorgeous, my favorite being the harp with the gem-stones in it, a sign of one’s Irish heritage.
Perhaps it is because the dress is rather mumsy; there are times I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror and honest to God think I am with child; or maybe it is because of the difficulties with the giant but today I am thinking a lot about the responsibilities of being a parent. In an ideal world one has a child when one has saved up enough to give said child the things one never had (horse riding lessons, French tuition etc) and one has said child once one has met the man, woman of one’s dreams. Accidents do happen and in-spite of advances in baby-making technology the reality is most of us were allegedly pleasant surprises. It is apparently an awful thing for a parent to tell their child they were a mistake but I have no qualms about myself as planned pain in the backside, but am just grateful for the fact I wasn’t sent away for adoption.
So many of my friends have had their lives turned over because of that little buggy of a blue line but all of them were, once they got over the shock, overjoyed at the thought of bringing a Baba into the world and I think this shows in how good they are with their children. I wonder though about the parents who have a child and all goes well up until the point where the child, inspired by the parent, begins to answer back and argue like any independent minded being does. Is the child still the sweetest little thing or does the parent wonder whether they made the right choice in being a childer couple.
I am a massive fan of Super-Nanny, I am terrified of being an awful mother and seeing how she is able to turn around the lives of families no matter how much the situation may have deteriorated gives me hope that I wont be too dreadful a parent, and worse comes to worse I will just have to hope my hubby is one of those stay at home types who will be able to compensate for my lack of maternal skill.
Yesterday whilst around about Manchester I saw some dreadful examples of children who were loved but not adequately watched over. When I hit 13 I became extremely aware of my body, of my self as a being able to command the attentions of boys. I took pride in boys who glanced at me and as much as my mother would ever allow at times I dressed in a way which were designed to draw attention to my curves. The difficulty with wanting to seem attractive to the opposite sex is there are times when no-matter what precautions my mother might take, and no matter how intimidating the giant might be, it is still a very real possibility that on shall attract the wrong kind of attention On one occasion in particular I remember being in a supermarket with my mother wearing a silk summery dress and flip-flops. As I went up the bread aaisle my mother spotted a man there with his wife and child, double-backing from his family to sneak a look at my 14-year-old figure. She waited till he had followed me to another isle before she jumped out from behind the shelves, waved and suggested he return to his wife.
There is of course nothing to suggest he knew of my age, but the fact remains that the way a teen dresses is dangerous no matter how innocent one’s intentions. Yesterday whilst walking from Piccadilly train station I noticed two girls who were causing a stir; semi-drunk men broke their necks to turn and leer at them and they muttered filth about what they would do if they spent a day with them. It wasn’t until I had over taken the girls, both with long hair, both wearing tiny denim hot pants and tied up shirts, that I realised the reason their legs were so slender wasn’t because of a dangerous eating disorder but because they were all about 13 at a push. It frightened me because I do not know if these girls were aware of the responses they were getting or if they had only donned these outfits for an activity they were off to in the afternoon. Either way I found myself hoping that rather than being allowed to have left the house like that they had snuck the clothes into their school bags and changed into them once they had left home.
When I was younger I fought tooth and nail against children’s clothing and apart from a couple of years where I wanted to wear tight tops and short skirts I pretty quickly transformed my uniform from blazers and rolled up black skirts to knee-length pencil skirts, Marco Polo fitted crisp cotton shirts and Sisley ribbed fitted jumpers which revealed little skin. Every child has to go through a rebel stage but I hate to see when shops encourage children to dress like little adults with slutty trends such as low-cut dresses and teeny tiny skirts. I started noticing kids out around the town which you had to take a second glance at to make sure they weren’t in early adulthood and since then the trend seems to have grown and I often see children in skin-tight leggings and low-cut tops when there is nothing to-be-low-cut-for. As much as I didn’t approve of the heel issue I do like the way that Suri Cruise is dressed as a little woman and not as a little teen. Teenage years are hard enough without encouraging your child too quickly towards them and as I remember from visits to my sister when I was a 15-year-old girl, there are far too many predators for them not to be noticed and they are men which need little encouragement to try their luck. My first serious boyfriend was 21 but I met him when I was 15 and he first kissed me on New Years Eve on the turn of the millenium, admittedly nothing really got started till I was 16 but still. I thought my parents and sister were overreacting when they heard about it and were convinced we were just like a modern-day Romeo and Juliet. He was a nice guy and I still to this day just think we got on quite well and having lost a sister the previous year after 18 months of illness I did probably behave older than my years but today looking back on it I wonder why it was that he did not want to be with someone his own age.
Many years ago, long before Primark came to the shores of our fair cities there was a place far far away in a land called Ireland where the legend of Primark was born. To this day it is known to its followers only as Penneys and it is from the loins of this retail giant from which Primark sprang forth; it took its inspiration from overseas as it came to mainland Britain and the other three (Britain sounds more in keeping with fairytale theme) to help us all “look good, spend less.”
When it first came about I remember being slightly horrified by the quality of the material I came across within. Though I had visited Penneys and its competitor Dunnes store many a time I had never noticed the clothing to be particularly poor of quality, but then again neither was it at that time as cheap as it is today. In Penneys, you mainly went to buy jumpers, fleeces and T-shirts, occasionally of course you would pick up an unusually fashionable item but at the time for a young girl to shop in Penneys (even in Ireland away from her peers) was the equivalent of being seen in Marks and Spencer with your mother. Times have changed, Marks and Spencer has been turned around into a fashion forward shop which caters for the younger generation as much as one’s Grandma, and the food, my god the food. The adverts are nearly as akin to pornography as Nigella sneaking downstairs to lick chocolate, goose fat enriched, pastries from the fridge. Anyway, getting back to Primark, or Pradamark as I nicknamed it a few years ago.
The first time I went was about 2004 when I bought a pair of flippy flops. The one I visited was in Sheffield; I was dating an American Football player at De Montfort then who was one of the sweetest guys I have ever known; and though I had a little look around apart from all the colours I found it quite dowdy and a bit too well-lit for my liking. I was more impressed with them when I returned the flip-flops a week later after using them on a camping/ walking trip. In spite of the fact that I was being a bit of a chancer £9 was still £9 and as I had little money for nasty wine and Baa Baa shots when they tore and the sole started to come up I felt I had no choice but to return them. The woman at the counter was very understanding and though I may have not mentioned the camping usage of the shoes, she was very sympathetic and returned my money straight away. The experience taught me two lessons, Primark may charge little but they know how to treat their customers once they buy something if not before; and when going on a camping weekend in the Peaks do not bring heels and a yoga mat rather than walking boots and a tent. I had envisioned singing round a campfire to cumbyea, big pub lunches and a little light exercise, my fellow friends from Canterbury Court, where I was social sec. at the time were geared up for hardcore mountaineering. Me and my fellow city lover Kevin were wearing designer jeans and unsuitable footwear, and though we were terrified at the sheer amount of sheep doo doo, we managed to climb Jacobs Ladder by ourselves. Well I did have to give my rucksack to my stronger friend but climb it so we did!
Years later as Primark’s popularity began to grow, I started to go there on the odd occasion to pick up various basics and watched with amazement at the purchases some of my friends had bought which really did look very high fashion. I would only usually buy basics, like vest tops and jumpers. I once got two cashmere polo-necks which are still in fantastic condition and are the backbone of my wardrobe. One black, one gray. I previously bought them from Coast but found they fell apart too quickly. I think my casual love affair with them started to end however after I started working. Although I had never really got into buying masses of things from there, I did go in to buy a spring coat. I have a gorgeous traditional Burberry trench which I will take to the grave, but I fancied something a bit more fun and light. I got a pale green thin cotton jacket with puffy sleeves and brown buttons. It came to a few inches above the knee and when you spun round quickly the skirt would tail with you leaving you feel like you were a little dancer. A few months after I bought it however I started to see it everywhere and on everyone. I would get on a flight and have to move to the back of the que because someone else would have it. It was not snobbery on my behalf just plain crossness at someone else wearing the same thing as me. There is a wonderful episode of Scrubs when Dr Cox tells Jordan that he does not need to know if she punches someone in the park because they have the same handbag as her and I am sure that whilst most women have never done this many can identify with the annoyance which comes of seeing someone in the same dress, coat or shoes as you.
This then is my primary problem with Primark; other than of course my ethical issues, but I do not know enough about the general issue to comment with any clout and these ethical issues apply to the majority of high street and even some designer stores so it may be a bit too tough to judge them at the same standard as companies who then go on to charge extortionate amounts for their clothing; the problem is that it is thoroughly ordinary. If you walk through Manchester city centre you can not look left or right without seeing tens of people carrying Primark bags. When me and my friends went it was somewhere we would scoot through as quickly as possible occasionally playing student, chav, chancer - a game where you tried to guess which group people fell into. These days the place is packed out and rather than buying a few choice items and then combining them with some quality pieces from other stores or as I have suggested in the past designer items or unusual finds from eBay, markets and charity stores they buy huge amounts of clothing and wear it all at once. Primark is an excellent resource for people on a budget and they do come up with some great items, the problem one has is making sure one chooses carefully from the piles of clothing within. Not going instantly for the fashion piece but for items like their cashmere, organic socks, shoes which are well designed and not likely to leave you with blisters. It is a pain but it is necessary to try things on. You may tell yourself you have not got time and you will return it if its not right but it will probably end up at the back of your wardrobe with the tags still on, and no item of clothing should be treated so shabbily. MAny of their clothes are unusual in the sizing and just because an 8 fits you one week doesn’t mean you wont be better in a 12 in another item the following month. The dress I am wearing today is from eBay but originally from primark, the ebayer in question cleverly negated to put the make but as I paid only a £1 for it plus p and p I can hardly complain. With regards to sizing it fits well but as I have a larger than normal cleavage I have to team it with a crop top to hide my bra especially as we went to dinner at the Yews.
After having a bath yesterday, a face mask, some sleep and putting on this dress I started to feel better and the darkness started to lift. Thank you all once again for reading and I do hope you will be as happy to read the more serious postings on this feature as well as the frivolous ones but if you comment I will know what it is you favour.
I also must take this opportunity to ask for some support. Although I am going to meet with a lady tomorrow about getting in some dresses for the project I am quickly running out and only have enough I think for another two weeks. I am sure you will all agree that 365 dresses is much more impressive than 36 so if you are able to send any dresses you are finished with or know of any shops who may be willing to help out do please let me know. If it is something you are sending yourself you could choose the charity which the sale of the dress goes to.
I arrived today in Manchester off a nightmare train journey to be greeted by gifts from the Gods. Prior to this project, during my days of despair I developed a slight addiction to eBay and purchased several dresses in the space of a couple of weeks for less than twenty English pounds, inclusive of postage and packaging. This was in early December and what with being in Ireland, strikes by the Royal Mail and my being absent from the North for a few weeks, it was not until I got to Manchester to see numerous brown parcels that I remembered the five dresses which had been lost in the darkest depths of her Majesty’s service. They are beautiful! Miss Selfridge vintage pin striped wool with silver braces, a pink T-shirt dress which I can wear to bed as well as around the city and various other fantastic frocks. It was a gigantic relief as after sorting through my wardrobe yesterday I realised I was down to all of about ten dresses and without serious personal pimping in Harborough town I would be wrapping myself in blankets and belted “shirt dresses” by the end of January.
After failing to persuade my father to hand me the keys to the 4 x 4 (he is still a little sensitive after I rolled the fox going round an icy corner in December on the way to collect my mother from her work do), I resolved myself to another day on public transport. Over Christmas I came across an article which suggested train fares had risen on some routes by over 50 per cent. I dismissed it as sheer poppycock due to it being reported in the Daily Mail which tends to fall on the sensational side of reporting. On this occasion, I am sad to say that the report is entirely correct. I usually spend £25 maximum on fuel travelling from Market Harborough to Manchester but at the station I was charged £25.30 plus the cost of a rail card without which the journey would have been over £35 for a super saver return. I was so outraged by the hike that I spoke to several other commuters and will publish a post on Monday about the horror which East Midlands railways and other operators have subjected their customers to.
I got this from Oasis a few years ago for £10. It is cotton and very clingy so I tend to only wear it as a top with tight jeans. As dress supplies are low I decided to change it to make it suitable for day time. Although it is designed to be worn with little more than lady tape, by donning a knickerbox vest and placing a tiny safety-pin just below the bust I was able to leave the house with my reputation intact.
The nice thing about this piece is its versatility. Paired with a polo-neck and heels it can be worn to the office; with a vest top and slouchy boots toa lazy pub lunch and on a big night out with a black crop top, spangley sheer stockings and towering stilettos. The only difficulty is that it does have a tendency to cling to ones curve leaving precious little to the imagination. In view of this it is prudent to wear a long and a short jacket if heading out for the evening. In this way you can layer up and layer off according to where you are, what the weathers like and who you are out with. Do make sure you check your audience carefully however for if you misread your social situation the consequences can be dire. On the train today I stripped down to jumper level too fast and as a result was greeted with so many bitchy looks that I had to hide in the luggage rack until I had managed to wrap myself once more within the cocoon of my Wallis winter coat.
Having spent at least three and a half years in one long distance relationship or another and having been driving just a year I have had my fair share of train journeys; the one thing which sticks out as much as delays is the various manners of commuters I have met upon the way. In a strange way it seems to be those who are brought up best who act most rudely on the train. Perhaps it is because they are angry at themselves for not having paid to upgrade to first class but the chip on their shoulder leaves them decidedly unpleasant to be around.
Having emerged from the luggage rack a kind man getting off at the next stop directed me to his unoccupied seat. When I arrived I wondered whether the reason he had vacated it was in fact the result of who he was sat with. A woman who wore a frown which made her young face seem nearer to sixty than thirty who was wrapped up in a sleeping bag inspired floor length black puffa-coat. For once, I felt rather nervous when I asked if I could sit down. After glancing up from her newspaper, The Evening Standard with a look of contempt she stood without a word and glared at me whilst she waited for me to take a seat. I for one was not ready to take such behaviour sitting down. I sat beside her, removed both jackets (layering is very important to survive dress project in winter) waited till she looked settled then asked apologetically with as broad a grin as possible if I could pop back to get my paper.
Once we were both sat down she continued to make her displeasure at my presence as clear as possible by occasionally tutting and turning her pages aggressively. In retaliation I started to read The Times whilst painting my nails in the hope that the fumes would render her more pleasing.
In spite of coming across several freaks on my travels up and down the country, including a drunken lout who suggested I joined the hundred mile long club with him, I have met some truly lovely people on the train. Earlier in the journey I had sat at a table with a journalist from the Guardian who told me an amusing anecdote about receiving a phone call from a certain head of states lawyer about an article due to be published the next day, and a girl who had just started a PhD in biomedical science in London. We all passed the time quite amicably, suggesting places to go for the girl in Leicester and discussing the merits of different papers as well as the age old debate of Northern versus Southern living. We parted our separate ways at Leicester all enriched at having taken the time to simply be nice to one another.
In the past I have met musicians, models and more recently only a day after my crash a man in the car business. He had just got back from driving on ice in Latvia and has driven with the lady who tests cars for Top Gear when The Sting is unavailable. We are still in touch today and as he like me is an O’Neill. I hope to see him again soon in our native land or for a good night out in Manchester. One thing which is important to know about the O’Neill clan is we are robust and competitive. This was most clearly demonstrated by Red O’Neill during a horse race between the kings of Ulster back in the day. Fearing he might lose a race, he cut off his own hand with a sword and threw his hand on ahead of him to ensure victory! The reason me and my fellow O’Neill discovered we were distantly related was because he aided me with my suitcase and I with his. It is important to remember no matter how stressful your journey may have been you should not turn your frustrations on your fellow passengers. You might cross the wrong person or worse lose the chance to spend a much more happy hour in conversation with a kindred spirit.