Day 48 – Mysterious strangers in motion calming down the commotion and one hell of a Valentines day gift
Today’s dress was brought for me not by a mysterious stranger but by one of my most generous friends, she is like father christmas but all through the year and is always the first to put her hand in her wallet and the last to complain about parting with cash for the sake of treating friends to a coffee, a bottle of wine, baby clothes or in this case a pretty dress to keep the project alive.
We once had an argument back when I was ten-years-old, I can’t remember exactly what she said, it usually comes to me after a couple of glasses of wine but this being the first day of lent I am stone cold sober and all I remember is that I think she may have insulted my cardigan which was white and knitted and I cried. Anyway back then I was well-known for my mood swings and my darling sisters coined the wonderful and truly inventive song to compliment my sudden sulks which was; “see-saw, mardjeri-door, Ellie’s gone off in a mardi.” Kids can be so cruel.
Anyway thanks to my ability to sulk and us being placed on different buses and in different half of the year at school it wasn’t until upper sixth when we were learning, mainly how to drink, that we crossed paths again. She had a bit of a thing for one of my friends and as she was a lot of fun and her friends clearly lacked the staying power and general hilarity factor of my circle we adopted her and since then she has been one of my best friends and my closest, in proximity (she lives just down the road) and “emotionally”, Harborian friend.
Today has been a bit of an odd one, most of the time I have felt great, really happy and quite positive but I have also been rather frantic at times. I am getting a little tired of going up and down the country and am feeling torn between my two homes and missing the security of waking up in the morning and knowing whether I am beside my darling boy or at home in a single bed reaching out for a warm body which isn’t there. Also the side effects have started once more due to the increase in medication and it is truly one of the worst so far, nausea. On the train I am constantly holding my stomach trying to settle it and ignore the hot and cold flushes which keep coming over me.
Arriving at the train station all a flutter I find the ticket machine has failed me once again and knowing I can get a ticket on the train with my railcard if this is the case I board without really thinking. It is not until I get to Sheffield that I realise I have not got my railcard or my ticket with me and that my debit card is still up in Manchester. It is rubbish because I start to go red and realise I am going to have to face the full wrath of the train manager. After speaking to my Mum and telling her what is going on she tells me not to worry as the peak district is very pretty so I can take the opportunity to be at one with nature, thankfully I go through a tunnel at this point so am spared any more positive prattle.
The train manager turns out to be a darling, extremely understanding and issues me with a not paid slip and refuses to take my laptop as a down payment. I have just started to settle down and am in the middle of finishing the final few paragraphs of my carefully constructed feature on the state of the railway network when I am accosted by the mysterious stranger. She asks me whether I know the lady who was sitting next to me in what is it must be said a rather urgent aggressive tone. I tell her I have no idea who the lady is but she persists in questioning me and just when I am about to start crying for fear I have become involved in a low-budget crime movie I remember the lady in question had been speaking to the man opposite us and like a traitor I point at him and cry, “He knows her.” The heat is instantly taken off of me, it turns out she is a ticket dodger and that the mysterious stranger is just trying to protect the kindly train manger who has a good heart.
The mysterious stranger later checks to see if I have survived the difficult ordeal and after I jokingly mention that the two of us should receive citizens award for policing the railway she mutters something about well I was ready to pull it out. Good god I think, I am fraternising with a bloody terrorist. Luckily it turns out she is in-fact a copper not as I had thought just another nosy sod like myself. I must admit it really reassured me to know there are people on the trains looking out for us. Though I am pretty sure she was just in transit herself and was not necessarily an undercover transport cop, I was impressed that this lady had gone above and beyond her duty to protect a lovely lady who was being taken advantage of.
The dress I am wearing today is from Next and I must say due to the nausea and the ridiculous cleavage and tummy room it gives one I am not surprised when during the Midlake gig when I have to run to le loo at one point to be sick people are happy to let me back through afterwards assuming I must be as the boy so joyfully puts it, up the duff. Later on the bus home from the gig the nausea comes on once again and in spite of having drunk nothing but delicious Mancunian water I have to sit with my head in my hands with the window open. I am upset because a girl in front of me watches me judgementaly and mutters loudly enough so I can hear to her boyfriend about girls who can’t handle their alcohol. I’m more upset for her than anything as I often find that women who lack confidence in themselves are more likely to turn on other girls and unfortunately I think it hadn’t helped that her boyfriends rattish eyes were drawn to my cleavage. I try not to care and for once I manage to hold my tongue, but I am disappointed in this fellow member of my fair sex and feel sorry for my cleavage which really wasn’t doing any harm to anyone.
The dress I am wearing today is one of the boy’s favourites; he has been a bit of a grumpy of late ever since he realised many of the dresses would be sold. He has a bit of a thing about me lending my clothes to people as it upsets him as he then struggles to look at me in them without the memory of happy times of me wearing the dress; anniversary dates, meals out, summer days etc. are apparently tainted by someone else having worn it. It is strange but he assures me it is a boy thing. It is perhaps because of this I am unable to persuade him to go with me to a clothing swap shop in Manchester today. It is being put on at the 8th day by some students, one of whom has assured me they can set me up for dresses for the year. I am wary however as I have been fooled before by such gushing support so I try to approach the evening as cynically as possible for a person who loves the idea of getting newish clothes for free. I smile as I enter to see a swarming mass of foxy, feisty, women, trying hard to look as though they are not waiting for the whistle to break from their friendship groups and fight as politely as possible for frocks, tops or the ever coveted brand new with labels designer item. These sales are a great way of getting money for old rope and if you are lucky or selective about visitors you can get some really good finds. I have heard an awful lot about swap shopping but at first thought it sounded a little too much like swinging; however, desperate times and a lack of dresses mean I have no choice but to investigate.
In credit to the volunteers who have put this evening together every effort is made to aid visitors; strong sustainable bags are re-distributed, clothes are laid out nicely and in relatively well organised tables and they even make a flawed attempt to filter the hoard. The problem with a lot of the things available is the quality of the clothing; there was more Prada-mark than one could believe, and though I should have been more wary after seeing the waddling shuffle of ugged hooves I had carelessly handed over my bag of high-end well washed barely worn finds before seeing the state of some of the clothing. A lot of it is from the lowest possible end of the high street and some of it is neither washed, pressed or even unstained. I would be embarrassed to put my washing out in this state let alone give it to others in return for a new wardrobe but many people seem quite happy to hand over questionable clothing with no scruples.
Interestingly there is no limit to the amount of items you can walk away with which is quite good as in spite of feeling rather forced together the lack of rules means the atmosphere is fairly relaxed. I find most people reasonably polite, many of them excusing themselves after shoulder barging you or ripping a vest from your finger tips, which is unnecessary in this shop but sweet nevertheless. I end up with one or two dresses and a horde of tops but all will need some level of adjustment or dry-cleaning to make them blog worthy but I guess that’s just part of the fun of swapping.
I am considering organising my swap shop with tea and home-made cakes where people can bring unwanted dresses and swap them for luxe items from my extensive wardrobe or for other items of clothing brought by other swappers. There will be a bit more enforcement on the door as I will not have dirty hockey tops messing up my home and though we usually run a shoes on in the house policy, any Uggaly wearers will have to leave their slippers at the door and legging lovelies showing front rump will be provided with a modesty pashmina for their own good.
Today I am feeling a little bit vulnerable. It may be a result of the flimsiness of the dress which is pure silk from Topshop unique and which once gave everyone on my NCTJ course a rather raunchy display when I entered our office after being caught in a rain storm. Never forget to check in the mirror when you come in from outside and if wearing a thin dress such as this make sure you pop on some French knickers and a covering cream bra or even a slip. That is unless you think you might enjoy a day spent blushing as red as your underwear.
I think the real reason has nothing to do with the dress which is transformed easily with thick woollen tights and cashmere cardigan; it has a lot more to do with the attitude of duplicitous and down right rude men and women. Yesterday a horrible person, stole my friends wallet whilst she was dealing with the baby on the bus. What really upset me and her is they must have kept an eye on her to see whether she became distracted so they could swipe the bag from the pushchair. I don’t really understand people who rob mothers, perhaps it is because they are on crack and think of them as an easy target, or maybe they have childhood issues. Either way it seems rather rude that they take from their fellow bus riders and not going and getting a bit itchy fingered in HMV. Not that I am advocating a shop lifting campaign at this establishment for crack users, but one must admit it would be a lot better than stealing from a Mummy. I find myself thinking today that I hope rumours of the power of karma which us Catholics are kept ignorant of are true and the person in question comes back as an assistant for Naomi Campbell and gets regularly beaten and exposed to class A drugs they are not allowed to touch for fear of punishment. Obviously none of this would be the result of them being around Naomi who has apparently softened in old age like a mature but tasty brie.
I like to think such incidents of crime are isolated but two things which happened yesterday made me realise that not everyone in this world or indeed in Manchester is a nice person. I know this will seem obvious to the majority of you but I have always been a bit blinkered when it comes to spotting the b-words of both sexes. Yesterday whilst at a cash point I saw a man who looked like a student, carrying a blackberry and wearing expensive sports gear barge into a woman as she walked away from the cash point only because she had taken too much time. I muttered abuse under my breath but other than rip out his headphones and demand he follow her to apologise I wasn’t sure how to make him see that pushing a girl half your side in the chest is just plain rude.
The other incident occurred later on the same night at the students union. I was killing time after the swap shop and feeling quite pleased with myself for managing to rescue back my Next suede coat from out of the clutches of an Ugg wearer, in my defence i am saving it for the theatre starlet when she returns from London this weekend and as a reward I thought I would treat myself to a coffee/ beer in the students union whilst transcribing an interview. I have never actually been into the students bar since I was at Manchester University four years ago and fancied seeing whether all the hype about its splendour was for real. It turned out that it was but it took me such a ridiculous amount of time to get inside that the novelty was a little lost on me after a run in with a horrible bouncer who refused at first to let me in. I tried to explain I was reviewing a gig and I had a student card still but in the end let him continue his unending rant whilst getting out my sd card and silently flashing it at him at which point he backed off a bit. I tutted at the grey giant and muttered the offensive statement, “for goodness sake” at which point his uglier even larger friend decided to join in with the fun and told his friend he had made me an unhappy lady. The charmer responded crossly he didn’t care whether he had upset the stupid cow or not. Well, I was so upset I ended up telling on him to the girl behind the bar who gave me a drink for my nerves where upon I went off to hide until the boy arrived. We crossed paths with him before going to see Adam Green only to hear him threatening to blow the place up because he hated students. Now I must admit I am not the biggest fan of students myself. It is probably because I am a bit jealous of their freedom but I also get annoyed when I hear the horrible ones on the bus who dress as though hey are wearing clothing from the original fifties, not the nice fitted flattering stuff but the clothing my grandmothers mother was probably wearing whilst saying the word like a lot and asking over and over if their long-suffering friend knows what they mean and slating the North. In spite of this the majority are quite sweet and even the annoying ones don’t deserve to get blown up by a grey student despising giant.
It is horrible how some people feel they can treat others and I do wish my general response was a lot more effective than the occasional mutinous muttering. I am going to have to work on quick responses to amateur terrorists and cash point cjawhatsits or else I will run the risk of ranting for eternity without ever making a stand against them. Watch out for your handbags wear them in front of you where possible and keep your phone out of sight. Make sure you build up your arm muscles so bank barges bounce back off you and if you go to a gig at the academy make sure you do your best to avoid the wrath of the warlord.