This is the longest time I have worn a dress this year whilst still staying conscious. It is 6am and I have just got back from covering the count of the county. It is strange to think that this time last year I was doing my best to stay awake during public affairs lectures and now I am doing my best to stay awake during public affairs in practice. I am rather worried about all of the ways I could mess this up; telling the candidates what I really think about their policies; letting slip who I voted for at the polls or accidentally tweeting out the wrong winner.
After watching the alternative election night for a couple of hours I make my dress more conservative by removing my pink belt and bright pink shoes and powdering up my nose. I deliberately chose this dress after carefully checking that none of the parties in the area have chosen pink, grey, black and white as their official colours. It is a good job as when we get there I give a mini interview to each of the three candidates which we upload to our site as soon as possible.
I know it sounds silly but after the third interview I am beginning to feel like quite the little journalist and I reward myself with the worst cup of coffee in the world. It is however two in the morning and the lady served it with a smile so I resist the urge to gag and swallow down the sweet caffeine goodness hoping it will keep me going for at least another hour. I slip into the bar to take a look at the swing and am met with the ends of an argument between a Tory and a Labour supporter. As I silently watch the swing I find myself hoping the spat will get going again as I am starting to drift off and can think of nothing better to get me going than a fight between the left and the right. I am just about to send a tweet to my followers asking them who they think would win in a fight between the reds and the blues when the coffee kicks in and I remember that this is the kind of tweet which could get one in trouble. Hurrah I think, I am a sensible journalist with good coffee powered instincts.
We are sharing our media table with the Leicester Mercury, BBC radio Leicester and Harborough FM. Though we are all technically competitors there is a great little buzz in our corner and we all speculate over who will be the next leader. Harborough FM in particular are a great crowd. They are funny, happy to share their electrics and when the BBC lady breaks her microphone their engineer kindly steps in to sort her out.
It is gone half four before the rumours start to fly about who has taken the seat and it all becomes very exciting. We have councillors and politicians flock round the table to give us their take on who is going to win and I even try to do my own little assessment by sneaking round the voting tables trying to take a count. Mathematics has unfortunately never been my strong point and trying to look subtle whilst keeping count is a bit of a nightmare and in the end I skulk back to the table to have a biscuit and look at the results which are now coming in quick from other counts across the country. I have a biscuit, which was given to us by one of the Liberal Democrats wondering but not really caring whether chocolate constitutes a bribe.
One of the candidates comes over to our table at one point and asks me when I will be submitting my work. I give him a bit of a death stare and asked him what exactly he was implying. ”For the university, you are a student aren’t you?” Perhaps in usual circumstances I may have been flattered by his mistake, but it is 4am in the morning and I am not at all amused. Fixing him with a look of finely veiled fury, I ask him whether he perhaps is referring to my paper? He is a little embarrassed and mutters something about all young girls looking the same. I force myself to breath, I am a professional after all and filing the comment in my things not to forget file I smile sweetly and excusing myself head to the ladies room where I line my eyes and try to adapt a more hardly look. Where are those bloody wrinkles when one needs them?
At half five the candidates are called forwards to the stage and the winner is announced. There is a flurry of activity; cameras flash, phones ring and the BBC lady takes to the microphone during the Labour candidates speech near drowning the poor lad out. I lurch forward to grab a word with each of the candidates about how they feel while my colleague finishes filing the story. It is all very exciting and when I speak to the candidates who have lost there is a little bit of me that wants to give them a consoling cuddle, but I fear this would be slightly beyond the boundaries of my role and may lead to me being black listed from future elections or jobs generally.
As we step out into the parking lot all but three of the cars have gone and though I am so close to tears from tiredness I feel really rather proud to have been a part of this night. I had wondered whether it was a good idea for me to go earlier on in the day but if I hadn’t I get the feeling that I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. No matter what anyone says about our political system, we have a vote and a choice and a quarter of a century ago for many men and women in the land, this wasn’t the case. Being a part of a night like this, being able to report on it live back to anyone who may still be awake and watching feels a little bit magical but that might well be the coffee and the sleep deprivation talking.
- The dress I am wearing today was another donation from the mystery lady, or maybe the mystery man? It is originally from Select and luckily before I left for the count I noticed my cleavage was just a little too much on display. I covered it up and tried to make it prim and proper with a pair of sensible green courts and a vest to keep everything under wraps.
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/
Today was a pretty dreadful day. It has been months since I have felt this low and although I managed to get dressed in the end the project came close to coming under a new name; 364 dresses and the boy’s best t-shirt. Part of the reason for the low was loneliness; the boy was at work today which left me alone with my thoughts which are particularly unpleasant at the moment. It has now been months since I finished my course and longer still since I have been in the work place and I am starting to feel frustrated at the sheer amount of rejection and red-tape involved in the job market at this timde. I do not think I am a particularly unemployable person; in spite of my head troubles whenever I am in the work place I am generally in good health, am hard-working and committed and throw myself into every task and have been told I am great fun to have around the office as I get on well with most people, even tolerating questionable clothing choices for the sake of harmony in the office. My illness has never effected me in the work place as far as I am aware other than perhaps taking things to heart more than most.
When I woke up this morning and found myself drifting into melancholy I tried my best to regroup and remind myself of all the wonderful plans I had made for the day. The night before I had made a lovely list of things I wanted to do today; I am a freak about to do lists and can think of few things more pleasurable in life than ticking off an entire to do list in one day. Upon my list there was a couple of CD reviews I wanted to get finished before the weekend as well as a note about a trip out to see John Ryland’s library on Deansgate; it has been restored for some time now and I am desperate to explore the literary treasures within and see the splendour of a building filled to the brim with beautiful wonderful life affirming books. I had also planned to spend the day hunting out a new purse, finding some thermals for skiing in Chamonix and tracking down some reasonably priced vintage tea sets for an event I’m planning.
I like to think that had the boy been about I would have tried harder to prise myself from my mood. As it was however he was not and seeing as there was nobody about to make me feel embarrassed for mooching around like an angst ridden teenager I put my plans to the back of my mind, pulled the quilt up to my chin and queued up an indecent number of episodes of Glee to keep me calm.
I am not usually a big fan of television. There are few things I find worthy of dedicating my time to on the schedule other than the football. I did become hooked on Celebrity Big Brother at the start of the year but generally I find trash TV rather disturbing as the producers of reality TV seem genuinely hell-bent on going out of their way to find the most mentally disturbed people in the country and placing them all in a confined space. If they are not unbalanced when they enter the house they are certainly lacking in reality when they leave and most develop delusions of grandeur which are really rather worrying.
There are however a few series which I am happy to dedicate hours of my life to at a time. These are, in no particular order The Wire; The West Wing; Dexter; Glee and Scrubs. Scrubs, West Wing and The Wire hold a special place in my heart because when I was suffering from severe episodes of depression they kept me company and eventually aided me to abandon my bed in the hope of brighter days which laid up ahead.
When I was at University in my second year I was hit by a virus which knocked me for six right in the middle of a string of deadlines. I was ill for about three weeks in total and although the virus was severe I probably would have got better sooner had I not allowed myself to sink into sadness. My boyfriend at the time was not the most understanding of fellows and it was easier to tell him I was sick than psychologically flawed and in this way I was able to keep the truth of my crazy from him for a little longer. In fairness to him whilst he thought I was sick and not sad he did try to help me out, he downloaded me three seasons of scrubs to keep me company whilst he went to lectures and even cooked for me on a fair few occasions. Although Scrubs is terribly twee I found myself comforted by its softly softly delivery of lessons on morality and motivational speeches from the infamous Doctor Cox and in the end I forced myself to get showered and dressed all at the same time and dragged myself out of bed. I managed to keep my poorly at bay for a while longer but less than two months after my Scrubathon I fell into a much deeper depression. The same Scrub sourcing sweetheart had become bored of my blues and without too much trouble had found himself a distraction. He dumped me the day after I stumbled upon a conversation he’d had with a friend via MSN about a stunning girl who was apparently model hot. He had pulled her in front of his friends whilst I had been back home with my family and had apparently been speaking with her every other day since. Unfortunately when he left me I couldn’t even find solace in Scrubs as it had become too closely linked too him so instead I turned to the bitter sweetness of 80p Apple Sours from the hall bar along with any other alcohol available to numb the pain. I did try yoga for a while and even went to the doctor in search of a magic pill but oblivion was a much more attractive albeit destructive way to heal my wounds.
The West Wing helped me out in much the same way as Scrubs did. After struggling for months to find work after graduating I sort of gave up and started sleeping more than was strictly healthy. Admittedly it didn’t help that I had given up my medication upon some manic hippy notion that love could cure-all but depression did indeed beckon it’s familiar claw and without the help of medicines I gave up the fight to it all too easily. As I sleepily struggled to force myself from the safety and comfort of the quilt I found myself happily distracted by the popular sharp tongued protagonists. Escapism enveloped me as I became entirely focused on deciphering the endless dialogue spoken at a speed which even I struggled to keep up with. It took me twenty-four episodes but in the end I got myself back to reality and even managed to make tough choices to move home and take a job at my father’s company as a purchase ledger clerk. It wasn’t my dream career but at least it gave me a routine and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Finally the other series which has been a band aid in disguise over the years is The Wire. Unlike the other programmes I have mentioned, this was a series which was watched from a decidedly upright position. Knowing as I did that exercise is one of the best ways to combat a low mood I decided to combine my usual remedy of box-set with bench work. Every morning before I got a shower, I would watch an episode of The Wire whilst working out with weights on the stepper. In this way, with a lot of help from family, friends and pharmaceutical companies I finally managed to get my mojo back and even got a fairly flat tummy for my troubles.
This morning when I chose to watch Glee rather than get out of bed I was annoyed at myself because I knew it was a bad decision. I knew that if I could just drag myself from under the covers and into the shower I could still stand a chance of going for a walk, getting out the house and maybe letting the sunshine and the sound of others getting on with their lives do the rest. Unfortunately it wasn’t until gone four in the afternoon that I managed to get myself in the shower and dressed and by the time the boy came home he was too tired to do anything other than drift off to sleep on my lap. I moaned like a child about wanting him to fix me and make me feel better but in my heart I know that when I am in a mood like this there is little he or Glee can do to make things better. All I can ever hope for when I am struck down by a low like this is that come the next morning the clouds will have cleared enough to tempt me into taking the tiny steps needed to bring me out of doors to see the daylight. Only tomorrow will tell.
- Today’s dress was donated by Sinead Kenny, sister of Monica who loaned yesterday’s gorgeous grey dress. This maxi dress is a size 14 but is one of those wonderful one size fits all dresses which is elasticated round the waist and bust. With pink Marks and Spencer tights and extremely high heels I avoid the fatal mistake of letting it trail on the pavement and prevent it being soiled with Manchester muck – leaves and rain mashed together to create a grey and brown paste. It was totally freezing today and though I did spend the majority of the day hiding out indoors I did make it out in time for the last of the light even if I did jump straight back in to bed afterwards.
- Today’s dress was kindly donated by Sinead Kenny of Market Harborough. It is on loan but was brought from Boohoo. It probably needed a belt to pull it in but the pattern was too pretty to touch it. I’d like to say the ironing was a stunt but I actually have so many dresses to press I just had to keep on with it. My Mummy took the photos again today but the boy provided the tulips in the background as a present to cheer me up after an awful consultation on Monday at the Brandon Unit.
I want to tell you all about the delights of my day. About the interview I had with a small locally based paper who are looking for a senior reporter with multimedia skills and the ability to hunt down a story. After having a little think however I think it is probably best if I don’t; I am scared of getting my hopes up and so hopefully one day soon I will be able to share the experience with you as even if I don’t get the job it was without a doubt the most enjoyable interview I have ever had.
For the first time in weeks the family and I are getting on rather well. There was a great energy in the home which only a near full house can provide. As my mother and brother attempted to unnot a 50 meter climbing rope sausages were sizzling in the Aga which me and my little brother kept trying to pinch even though we were due to head out for dinner. Even the giant and I were getting on quite nicely thanks to him taking my attempts to steal one of the four cars in the drive in good humour. My new tact to get a car back is to just keep asking for lifts everywhere, so far it is having little effect but I shall persevere.
When you come from a large family; the giant, the mother, two sisters and one brother chaos and high decibel chatter is just as soothing as a lullaby. At University I used to put on regular Saturday morning brunch clubs to try to recreate the family unit of my childhood home where we all attempted to have a nice dinner but inevitably tiffs would break out and by the end of the meal our mother would lose her patience and demand we eat in silence. Although the most fierce rows took place around the table they were also, and I think I speak for all of us, the location of our happiest memories and the place we learnt to speak up or get sidelined. When there are four women in a household your ability to communicate becomes so acute you are able to skip quickly between different conversation topics, finish each others sentences and send the males into near meltdown by a sudden succinct tongue lashing about the need to put the toilet seat down gosh darn it.
During the week I managed to book us into Ascoughs, Market Harborough’s greatest restaurant. They do a great set menu for £15, less during the day, where you get two courses, plenty of vegetables, potatoes of the day and the all important baked that morning bread roll. Although I have been on several occasions with friends, family and former lovers never before have myself and the boy been together. As today was our four-year anniversary I was delighted when I managed to get us in for a 9.15 setting, usually you have to book up to a month in advance if you stand any chance of getting a table, even on a week-night.
The boy was too kind to say, but just before I went to meet him at the station I checked the time of our meal in the diary and realised my mistake. It is in-fact not our anniversary till tomorrow. Oh dear. As it was we had the table booked and I had spent too long on my make-up and prettifying myself to cancel the reservation so I thought I’d just not bother mentioning it. The meal was utterly fantastic, apart from one unpleasant moment during my starter when a piece of pancetta lodged itself in my gum and I had to run to the toilet to stem the blood. There is crispy then there is just cutting, the boy for once even let me give them feedback on this culinary assault which was present enough as he never usually lets me.
I love going out to eat with the boy, especially when we have been apart for some time as we have hours to catch up on what we have been up to. He had also had an interview so we chatted late into the night and were the last to leave the place at midnight. I am a terribly slow eater, mainly because I am a chatter box and when I was young I was always put on the slow eaters table which I think is just a recipe for an eating disorder. I hate rushing my food particularly when it has been put together so carefully as it is at Ascoughs and can’t bear rushing a meal, I do not see the point.
Other than the lovely food, what I love about going on “dates” with my love is the little gestures he makes to show he still cares; he pulls my chair out for me; helps me into my coat and once I have decided what I want he will even order for me. In spite of all the feminist bravado there is something terribly romantic about such gestures and it is lovely to relinquish control, though I always am the one to taste the wine. We had a lovely evening but are both terribly tense about the result of our respective interviews and although we wanted to share our experiences we were both trying so hard not to get our hopes up particularly as the jobs we have applied for will place us further apart. The die is rolled for both of us, they are our dream jobs but I do wish they were in the same Zip-code.
Come this Saturday me and the boy will have been going out four years. In spite of me having a fair few up and downs and in all honesty a couple of quite serious breakdowns during this time, I think the reason we have come the distance; aside from the fact that he has the patience of a saint and we still quite fancy one another; is because we have always right from the start applied the basic vows of marriage to our relationship. Now, I’m not one to say that marriage is essential to make a relationship work; I have plenty of friends who have got along quite nicely thank-you very much without ever feeling any urgent need to put a ring on it; but nevertheless I think that relationships work best when you apply principles such as “in sickness and in health”, “for richer for poorer”, and unless you have a really very cool/ liberal lover, “forsaking all others”.
When myself and the boy first met I was flat broke and though I was not looking for anything serious as tends to be the case we accidentally went and fell in love. At the time I was spending all my spare pennies on cigarettes and alcohol and because he was a sweetie and probably because he didn’t want to see me lose my rather curvaceous figure he kept feeding me fry ups and insisting on cooking me dinner. I remember one day when I was about to set off for home he slipped me a tenner to go and buy food. Ten minutes, 20 Marlborough mediums and a bottle of red later I came to the conclusion that yes 12p chicken noodles were a suitable source of nutrition.
Although he was the provider at the start of our relationship by the time I graduated I was making a tidy enough package so that if he was skint we could dip into my privy purse to pay for cinema outings, bottles of wine, nights on the tiles and steak.
The boy graduated two years after me, not because I am seeing a toy boy you understand but because he was rather more keen in being the drummer in every Mancunian band around the way than getting all academic. It was because he was still a student that when our one year anniversary came round, I ended up treating us to a holiday to Rome and when we were too lazy to cook it was me who paid for us to eat out in West Didsbury, Manchester’s one stop haven of heavenly cuisine.
When I lost my job though, both times, it was the boy who helped me pick up the pieces, kept me financially afloat when I was too proud to go to the job centre and who even helped me search through the rubbish to find a new role.
Although most of our relationship has been spent just below the poverty line we have always found ways to entertain ourselves; games of Scrabble where JB, Onions lead singer always wins; games of monopoly where I always win; tea and music; my ever more elaborate attempts at dinner parties for ten even when we have no table; gigs; walks in the woods; running (failed after one attempt when he smoked throughout whilst I had a series of small heart failings) tennis, technically not necessarily legally sound movies and more gigs. Although we loved it when I was making a tidy package money never brings happiness and as Neil Sedaka’s wife says to him in Laughter In The Rain, “Sometimes I miss the cold days.” Struggling together is terribly romantic and there’s nothing quite like playing cards through the night with nothing to fuel you but a pot of decaf tea.
The other issue is of course the sickness and the health. Luckily the boy is fine and dandy other than the occasional sulk and the dreaded man flu, according to the boy he has single handedly fought off swine flu and is a pillar of strength in the face of modern medicine most of which he views as being in some way linked to a conspiracy of making us weak. Maybe because of this, when we first met I waited till June to come clean with him about my crazy. I didn’t want to scare him away and if I’m honest I thought I had completely recovered, love does wonderful things for your brain and your body; eating becomes a chore and your entire mind turns to mush. if you don’t watch out you end up boring all of your friends to sleep by talking about how fabulous your lover is. Luckily however, by the time me and the boy got together I was a cynic about love and when he etched the words “I love you” on my back I told him to, “Get a grip”.
When I told him about my poorly head it was because I had decided to come off the anti-depressants I’d been taking for two years. Buoyed up by love and the wonderful newness of it all I didn’t think I needed them. With his approval and no advice from any medical practitioner I came off the drugs. Within a month I crashed so hard and so fast that some days I couldn’t even look in the mirror because I felt so ugly and frustrated with what I saw. I put on weight and because getting out of bed was so hard I would sleep for hours and rather than looking for work I would watch West Wing episodes convinced there was no point trying because I was useless. In the end I had to move home so I could survive. The boy did try to support me but he was still a student and one part-time job shared between two people equals not a lot left to live on.
With the help of some friends in the know, my family and the boy I managed to pick myself back up but it wasn’t easy. Every time I go down hill it is always the boy who has been there over these last few years who is there straight away to drag me back up again. Every time I get poorly he’s there to wipe away my tears, calm me and convince me that the world is a good place and that things will get better.
On one poorly head occasion when we somehow found ourselves at A and E after a particularly bad reaction to Sertraline, (the name still gives me the shudders), we came face to face with a psychiatrist who had obviously decided he was not a fan of women. After deciding, from looking at me rather than my notes you understand, that I was anorexic with father issues he banned the boy from hugging me, told me there was nothing wrong with me and then finished by telling me I should just go ahead and give up then and live in a mental health ward. Thankfully both the boy and the psychiatrists assistant realised I was just extremely anxious in a very scary place and needed to get some sleep and the boy got me the hell away from him before had a chance to lock me up and throw away the key.
I have never forgotten what he did that day and acknowledge that what ever happens with us in the future, without him being by my side that day I could still to this day be living in a closed ward, misdiagnosed and miserable overseen by the most tyrannical mentally unstable medical professional I have ever come across.
We never signed any contract when we got together but both of us always find a way to work it out, scream it out or just forgive regardless. I like to think that its because he like me knows that whatever our problems with us when its good it’s so very good, though at times we can of course both be wicked.