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.
- Today’s dress is from George at Asda. My friend, Monica Kenny bought it for me along with the red dress last week. It is a little on the short side so I try to tame it with black tights. Unfortunately I end up looking like more of a hussy than ever. The tights or so I am told have two massive holes in them. I briefly consider filling them in with a black marker pen but it seems a little extreme and I can only find a purple marker. In the end I go for bare legs and trainers as I am travelling up to Manchester to see the boy. When he sees me he tells me I look cute but I fear I resemble an N Dubz fan, which I am not.
So far I have had two front pages. One with a shared by-line whilst working for the Manchester Evening News and one whilst working at the Mail. My first front page at the Mail was a bit of a dud as I didn’t feel as though I deserved the by-line. Though I had done the research, got the quotes and done the running around, when it came to writing the story I stalled. I had no confidence and felt as though I had forgotten every lesson my tutor ever taught us, all in all I bottled it.
For this reason, when the bosses decided the splash for the week was going to be the piece I was working on I wondered immediately whether I would be able to hide under the desk without either of them noticing me. Unfortunately today’s dress has minimal scope for manoeuvrability so instead I had to settle for going to get a glass of water.
I am trying to adjust my behaviour to stop myself from self destructing every time I am presented with a challenge so I took the sensible option and discussed the best way to write the story with my seasoned colleague. What was really amazing was that in the end, other than the original urge to hide I did not freak out any further. I wrote the story, submitted it and actually felt fairly pleased with what I had written.
Tomorrow morning when I walk into work there will be shops selling our paper which will have my name and my story on the front. I remember watching an episode of The Wire when a reporter got up before sunrise and drove down to the printing press to see her first ever front page. Whatever hours you have to do, or how tense things get on deadline day it all becomes worth it when you pick up the paper on Thursday morning and see your work published for all to see; so long as they live within the Harborough district. Doing what you love is an absolute privilege and even if it does make me want to hide under a desk from time to time i wouldn’t do anything else.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my Fairy God Mother. Along with my mystery donor she is perhaps the woman who has contributed the most to the continuation of the blog. As well as loaning me some incredible dresses from when she was a girl she has bought me dresses from charity shops and even lent me jackets to make my racier outfits better suited for work. As well as this she has encouraged friends and family to read the blog and whenever possible comment and rate each post. This dress was one she wore to a wedding. It is from Minuet which is stocked by Debenhams and House of Fraser.
Every year Salford puts on a two day festival called Sounds of the Other City. It has a little more grit than most two day inner city dos and plenty of good ales, fancy foreign beers and tasty fresh food more commonly found at a farmers market than a festival. The weekend has not started well but I’m trying to be a more positive person and so I pick out the prettiest dress, comb out my hair and with my glad rags on try to raise my spirits for what has traditionally been a slamming party.
Though it wasn’t meant to be the way the boy and I end up alone and having the kind of time alone together that we rarely have these days. It is one of those days when you find yourself falling in love just a little more than ever before, I hope you’ve had them. You remember why it is that you work through the tears and the tantrums because in truth this is the one in your life with who everything just feels right.
We go skipping through the shops like children, searching for a cardigan to keep me warm because I was too worried about looking good for my boy in the band. The weather is freezing and the boy does his best as usual to usher me into his hooded top but its blue and for boys and the dress is too pretty to be covered by it. We end up settling on a long grey cardigan from Wallis which will now be my new cover it up for work. The problem with the project is that I have lots of very pretty dresses which are borderline suitable for the workplace, some a little short, some a little low, this will make even the shortest shimmery shift suitable for the most conservative court appearance.
After sipping down strawberry beers and munching on chicken tacos and tasty chilli which even my soft-core taste buds can handle we slink back on the walls to watch a wailing guitar guy leads us in a chorus of She’ll be coming round the mountains when she comes. We glimpse an old friend who I haven’t seen for some time, she is looking well and loved up and there is something about seeing somebody so content that cheers me through just as much as my cherry beer; strawberry got sickly quickly.
We head over to the gig where the boy plays an acoustic set. The crowd seem to like it and I wish I could be playing the part of the reviewer once more. The venue has a great feel to it and the two girls who put it on are either extremely excitable or just pissed. Either way their enthusiasm is infectious and the crowd laps it up.
We end up hanging out with the other Onions and our friend Ben, who is just lovely. The last time we were here our gang was a lot bigger and I miss the rest of the crew, especially the girls; Anna, Clara, Ellen and Niki. They are all great company and I wish we had all found work in the same city. Sometimes I find myself a little jealous of London which has landed all these great ladies and I lament not making it down there to see them as I should.
We watch a surf band from Wales. They are playing at one of the city churches where they are selling beer and alcopops. It is surreal and though I fear my mother might not like it I lie beside the boy on a blown up sofa beside the altar. I figure its okay because this is the Church of England and I figure they do things different from us Catholics, we kneel.
Later on we head back to The New Oxford, where the boy had his gig. There’s a band Frazer King, friends of the boys who are playing and based on the last time I saw them they are well worth a watch. Though I do not tell the boy, there is something a little sexy about their lead singer who growls the lyrics. When we get there we find the band outside, setting up on the steps of Salford Magistrates Court, having decided they are too big for the venue. I am amused by their arrogance but their choice of setting is inspirational and the set is sublime. I shiver throughout and see traces of blue on my lips but I don’t want to miss a moment and dance and sway with the boy just to keep warm. They put on a show and its one of those gigs you just know you’ll never forget. I wish the crew were all here but its great and I’m happy and in love and I don’t care if it lasts, its here and we’re happy.
- The dress is from Topshop, a tea dress. I usually hate showing my back, its broad and has a mole which I would love to move but its an eight and when it fits I get a bit carried away and forget all my usual insecurities if only for one day. It is on loan from Kat Ingham, who is in Manchester but who I unfortunately missed out on seeing tonight as she was at the sound of the other city, or Maps.
After spending a weekend on what may well have been a mini high I have now entered free fall. Last night the boy and I had a horrible fight over the “future”. Admittedly I was probably being a little irrational. I wanted him to show me in some way that this is going to work; that we will be able to get through the next 18 months without falling to pieces and that this will all have been worth it in the end. It just feels strange a month ago we were considering the possibility of moving in together and playing house and now I am looking in the local paper for flats to move into by myself.
Though I am quite excited about the prospect of living alone for the last time I am sad to see our little dream end before it had really started. I know we can make this work but when I’m feeling low and pessimistic its hard to persuade myself of the positives. I do feel for him, I know it can not be easy going out with a girl whose head is so often in the clouds; the dark and the thundery as well as the light and the fluffy. He has always been the realistic one of the two of us. Though I might run away in my mind with schemes and plans about trips away to Cuba and a home in the Lakes where he can teach and I can write, he will be there holding my hand, ready to pull me back down to earth when the schemes become too wild.
Yesterday we argued because he is frustrated at how little I have been looking after myself. He hates to see me go into decline and understandably gets angry when he thinks it might be because I have been staying up too late, forgetting to take my tablets or just taking on too much. Although he has upset me this weekend by choosing to spend the Easter holiday at home rather than coming down to be with me, considering how much of a mess I was last weekend I can hardly blame him.
So often with mental illness it becomes all about the person who is sick. It is we who are given the tablets, the counselling and the coping strategies, all to often it is our partners, family and friends who fall by the way with little advice or explanation on how they should cope with the giant grey elephant in the corner who can not seem to stop crying their eyes out or talking at a hundred miles a minute. There are groups and websites which can help friends and partners but it is hard to know where to turn. There was one stage when I was living in Manchester when the boy was having to spend so much of his time making sure I was okay. I wasn’t seeing a Doctor, I was no longer on any anti-depressants and I had started having panic attacks. When I am a wreck it is all to easy for me to forget how much he has done and continues to do for me. I never want him to be my carer but there has been times when I know I couldn’t have coped without him. We work the best when we are both happy and I hate it on days like today when I sink so low that I refuse to believe anything he says. I tell him he should not be with me, that he should find a normal girl who is not so high maintenance but because he is sweet he tells me I am not and that he would not have me any other way even if I was.
I do love him dearly but I am so afraid of what the next eighteen months will bring. I am terrified that one day I will shoot us in the foot by saying something I do not mean and he will walk away for good and find himself a girl with fewer issues. One day he tells me he will write a blog which he hopes will help the partners of other people with problems, but at the minute I think he might be a bit too mad to write.
- Today’s dress comes from Lara. It is beautiful and I put it on because I knew the boy liked it when he first saw it in the bag of donated dresses. I wanted him to get on the train with a happier memory of me than the tired, tearful, weary eyed woman he went to bed with last night.
Today has been a sad day for footwear. Back when I was a a 23-year-old with the world at my feet and a job as an events manager which paid a tidy little sum my main outgoing other than restaurant bills and bar tabs was shoes, I was obsessed with them. For the first time in my life since I was 18 I was totally debt free. Out of my monthly salary after all bills were paid I still had an indecent amount left over to spend on myself. Though I smoked and had a fondness for Marks & Spencer sushi and sausage and onion cobs every Friday when I was too hangover to use the phone, I had no children, no mortgage and no monthly car insurance or pension payments. I was young, free, practically single and absolutely loving the independence of it all.
The boy was living a hand to mouth existence as he was still studying for his music degree but I was free to fund our outings and as one of the girlfriend of Manchester’s hardest working band I got to play the part nearly every weekend; we would all hangout backstage drinking down the riders, dragging on rolled up cigarettes and generally just hanging out feeling ever so slightly like the cool kids.
At the time I guess I knew the life we were living would not last forever. I was having a hell of a good time but work was taking its toll on my health and I’d dropped down to my smallest size since I’d had a minor eating disorder back when I was 18. I remember looking at my bank statement and feeling sad at how little I had to show for all the brilliant nights out and evenings just spent drinking red wine round a rickety table listening to music and playing cards in between musing upon our dreams for the future.
Other than Sylvanian Families I had never really felt the desire to collect anything. My sisters had their key-rings, their badges and even at one stage their dice and my brother had the monopoly on every phase and craze out there including Thomas The Tank Engines, Thunderbirds, Power Rangers and even at one stage care bears which was extraordinarily cute. It was when I realised I was spending much of my money on momentary pleasure products that I decided to start a collection and as I had no particular interest at the time in tea cups I decided I would collect shoes. As my regular readers know I am a slave to Kurt Geiger. The shoes they make are so well balanced you can stamp around in a pair of stilettos for sixteen hours straight without feeling an ache. They are creative, original and considering how well they last lusciously priced.
This then brings us to today’s dilemma. There is a man in Market Harborough, his name is Andy but I have always known him as the saviour of shoes. Many times I have brought him a forlorn pair at the end of their life and he has carefully restored them to beauty. One time he managed to restore my red or dead spike heeled stiletto ankle boots to spanking brand new in spite of me having ground the five inch heel to a mere three inches after a weekend in Liverpool visiting a friend where we danced till we dropped to sleep in his dorm just before dawn. Today Andy very kindly explained to me there was sadly nothing he could do for two of my favourite pairs.
One of them was the first pair of pricey shoes I had ever purchased. Brought in my lunch break from Berties at Kendall they were soft white leather with five inch thick wooden heels. Generally I believe white shoes should be saved till ones wedding day and even then they should be hidden and if possible cream but these were divine. Unfortunately as I tend to run in heels as well as walk whilst racing to get the bus back to see the boy after an after work drink my heel snapped on Deansgate. It was humiliating and I actually sat down and cried. I hadn’t even had any hooch but I was just so sad for my poor innocent shoe. Andy said it could be saved in an expensive operation but the job would have to be sourced out and the operators may well break the wood in the process.
The other pair are of the Kurt Geiger variety. I bought them foolishly after getting made redundant from Webb PR a month before Christmas. I was a little heart broken about losing the job and in a fine example of someone who had temporarily given leave to their senses and indeed their financial situation I sneaked away on a Christmas shopping trip with the boy, and bought three pairs of shoes in the sale. Admittedly they should have cost £400 and came to just £120 but still I had just been made redundant and with no job on the horizon it was a foolish mistake. I guess I have never regretted it because today, 15 months after the fact, I still have the shoes and they are still stunning. Unfortunately one of them, a pair of mustard yellow t-bar three inch heels was mortally injured back in May. I was chasing a story at the time and as I tore down the road the pin snapped and I had to traipse around on tippy toes the rest of the day. Andy says there is no hope for them and though I know I should consign them to the bin they are just too lovely, perhaps at some time in the future there will be better technology for such injured shoes? I live in hope.
- Today’s dress is from the wonderful Rebecca Allison. She sent this in a lovely package from the states and as well as a pair of earrings there was a beautifully written letter. I realise the dress comes up a little short on me but I hope you will not take too much of a hump at me modifying it for the workplace by pairing it with the skin tight Lycra number from Zara sent by the lovely Clara, believe me it is to protect your eyes from a legging lovely sight. Again if you do get the chance take a little look at her website. It is a fabulous way to start ones day and has given me goosebumps in the past with the sheer poetry of her posts. http://solsticetosolsticetosolstice.tumblr.com/
At half five this afternoon I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I am already missing the boy and wanted nothing more from this evening than to curl up upon his chest and have a nice cuddle whilst having a chat about our day. Alas, we are once again in a long distance relationship and it will be the end of the week before I get my wish. Feeling a little fed up I had just about resigned myself to another evening attempting to counter the curse of writers block when I got a phone call from downstairs telling me a Ms Kenny was there to see me.
I had completely forgotten that I was meant to be meeting my friend for a cup of tea after work and feeling rather relieved that the choice of whether or not to work late had been removed from my hands I hurried downstairs to greet my friend. When I got to the door I was delighted to see she was joined by another of my great girlfriends and being the emotional wreck that I am at the minute I nearly burst into tears when I saw them both. I had mentioned to them that I was having a tough time and being the lovely ladies that they are they had turned up with flowers and friendship aplenty.
Good girlfriends are worth their weight in gold and these two are of a kind which one would never trade in. As well as bringing me pretty flowers to make my desk more effeminate they also gave me a card with a sweet little message inside about how proud they were of me for following my dream. We spent a couple of hours gassing away about the latest gossip and generally just putting the world to rights. Even though I was feeling glum they managed to make me giggle and by the time we left for home I had forgotten all about my troubles.
Though being apart from the boy is going to be tough being based in the borough does mean there will be more wonderful moments like this. When I was travelling back and forth between Manchester and the Midlands I was always missing out on girly get togethers and it’s so nice to now have our little gang back together again. One of the greatest things about our friendship at the moment for me is that I am actually honest with them about how I am doing. In the past I would always hide away when I was down as I was too embarrassed to tell them if I was having a dark day, week or even month. They are brilliant friends because they do not back away when I am low, they keep in touch and try their best to find a way to drag me out of my melancholy mood. I am a lucky girl indeed to have friends as good as these.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my sister. It is from Florence and Fred/ Tesco and I am a little bit in love with it as it makes me feel like a forties femme fatale. The photos taken by my mother were base attempts to show off the flowers from my friends, my mother’s herb garden and the earrings sent to me by a wonderful woman from the states who writes a daily blog about the rising sun. Sometimes there is just a description of the colours but every post is pure poetry and for those wanting a break from my verbosity will love her more succinct style. http://solsticetosolsticetosolstice.tumblr.com/