Friday, 28 May 2010

Flower Power

Friday night. I'm supposed to be at the Chelsea Flower Show with The Antipodean Beauty. The reasons I'm not are an annoying mish-mash of The Bearded One being away for work, breastfeeding and Flower Show rules forbidding the presence of babies.

The Beauty and I went last year; we've been friends for almost 20 years, having met during the course of my weekly buying raids on the boutique in which she worked. Eventually she took pity on me and gave me a job so that I could get staff discount. With such beginnings, it's no wonder that the fun of going to the Flower Show last year was as much to do with what we wore and what everyone else was wearing as it was about the gardens. I was particularly taken with a woman, dressed head to toe in yellow, taking photo after photo of the daffodils with a concentration I'd usually reserve for a session with the latest Vogue. Which reminds me: my summer wardrobe could do with a burst of sunshine. (I am hankering after a playsuit, legs permitting - I love the DVF Leana but would settle for the Dahlia. In the words of Crowded House - always take the weather with you...)

I had several outfits in mind for tonight, none of which were the skinny jeans, Blondie tee, Isabella Oliver cable cosy and fluffy leopard skin slippers in which I'm currently curled up on the sofa (I've just watched Gok and have now got one eye on Supersize vs Superskinny - the glamour!). The strapless snakeskin, the bodycon Breton, the Hawaiian print halter - oh well, they'll keep. In the meantime, I'm sticking my tongue out at Flower Show organisers with the thought that The Bub may not have been welcome this year, but he was there last year as I proudly displayed my 22-week bump in an American Vintage maxi, Gap denim jacket and flat gold sandals from Primark. And besides, the extra cuddles that we're having because I'm too lazy - or maybe just too soppy - to go upstairs and put my sleeping boy in his cot are definitely worth staying home for.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Eeny Meeny

The DHL driver, once such a regular visitor, hasn't rung my doorbell in weeks. My porch has been devoid of packages and "Sorry we missed you" slips. Have I been shopping less? Have I heck. No, no - what's occurring here is something very special, a rare and magical window in time and space, the moment between dreaming and waking, a never-to-be repeated alignment of forces within the universe.

In short, The Princess is at nursery a few days a week, The Bub has stopped requiring constant feeding and is content to be lugged about in the Bjorn and Master C is pretty happy with anything, as long as there might be an ice cream in it for him at some point. All of which means that I have once again discovered real life shopping.

Recently, I made my first visit to H&M in, literally, years. I don't mind admitting that I was excited - too much so, maybe; I was flitting from rack to rail like a butterfly, drunk on colours and styles and textures, too inebriated to actually take anything in and ending up so overwhelmed that I was underwhelmed. Gutted! Am I seriously going to leave empty-handed? And then I saw the dress. Love at first sight.

But I'm out of practice. The khaki or the blue? The 10 or the 12? These decisions are easily made late at night on a laptop in blissful post-bedtime silence (buy 'em all, try 'em on at home, use the free returns system to send back the rejects) but in a shop, with banging music and Master C agitating to go on the Bob the Builder ride irritatingly placed within eyeshot, not to mention The Bub, attached to my front and making it impossible to gauge an item's suitability by holding it up against myself in the mirror, I'm getting frazzled. I prefer the khaki but it's only available in a 10. Years of pregnancy and post-natal heftiness have warped my perceptions. Am I a 10? Surely I'm a 10? Is Bob the Builder a 10? What??!! Bob the ...?? Oh god, yes, yes, in a minute!

I need to distract Master C from the Bob thing. "Honey, which one do you like? Which one should mummy get?"

He looks, considers. Looks confused. Then his face brightens. "Me do eeny meeny mamma," he says.

He gets as far as "catch a tiger by the toe," and stops. A broad smile spreads across his face. "That not tiger mamma, that leopard!!" He laughs and laughs, slapping his chubby little thigh. "Me like that one," he says pointing to the khaki. He is still laughing as I pay for it, still chuckling when we get to the Bob ride. I am so in love with him, I let him ride on it twice.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Bonne Anniversaire

I'm a sucker for an anniversary, no matter what it's for. Weddings, birthdays, the time I went here, the first time I met so and so... you get the picture. I have an almost Rain Man-like approach to dates, randomly unnerving The Bearded One with lines like "Just think: this time seven years ago..." He, on the other hand, struggles to remember his own birthday. Fortunately, he's now very good at remembering mine. Note the use of 'now'.

He's also - now - good at coming home from work-trips bearing gifts. But when he went to the States to shoot a doco about the indiscretions of Tiger Woods recently, there was never going to be a lot of time for shopping. Fortunately, I'm a pretty easy-going character (cue riotous and incredulous laughter from anyone who actually knows me) who is just as delighted with a swag of magazines as I would be with a session with (and subsequent purchases from) a personal shopper at Selfridges.

It's slightly frustrating to peruse pages of fashion that's not readily available on these shores so I'm devouring features instead (You give your partner blowjobs to encourage him to do jobs around the house?? Seriously? Time to abandon Glamour and move on to Vanity Fair, I think.) when I come across a Christian Louboutin story. Best quote: "You know, I love it when women say to me, "Oh, I am your biggest customer - I have 15 pairs of your shoes!" I'm like, "Darling, you have no idea." For me, a big customer has to own at least 500 pairs of shoes. But those aren't the biggest customers. Those customers have about 6000 pairs."

Six. Thousand. Pairs. Can you imagine? Among these, apparently, is Danielle Steel - leading me to think that I should ditch this blog and start doing some real (ahem) writing. I mean, I may not be dishing out blow jobs for DIY but I can probably write about someone's thrusting manhood without laughing. Or gagging. Much.

But seriously. Six thousand? I mean, are they all gorgeous? They can't be. The thing I find about CL is that a lot of his shoes aren't actually that nice. Take the purple Forever Tina boots. Isn't there something just a teeny bit Jim Henson about them?

But, dribble, he does come up with some stunners, like the Very Noeud slingbacks. Pure vintage pin-up girl with their oversized bows and pedi-essential peeptoes: it's two years this weekend since I crept excitedly into the Rue de Grenelle boutique in Paris and bought my pair. Not even the slight sneer on the face of the assistant as he asked "Your first Louboutins?" could dull my delight, nor my insistence on The Bearded One photo-documenting the event.

They've been languishing in the wardrobe for a while now, not being the most conducive to pregnancy nor walking in the park with a newborn. But with The Bearded One away for work and my weekend plans for when the children are asleep consisting of playing dress up with pieces new and old, I think that my shoes and I are due a reunion. Happy Anniversary, my beauties.

Louboutin quote taken from Vanity Fair May 2010, shoe pics from, other photos mine.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Bad Mood, Good Bank Balance

D'you know, it really hasn't been a good day. The lovely weekend that we'd planned as a last hurrah before The Bearded One disappears into the dark fog of filming for the next few weeks has rapidly disintegrated into, well, a dark fog. Of weather and work.

I don't want to complain too much, but you know what, I'm going to do it anyway. This weather is a joke. I mean, the longest day of the year is just over a month away, which, to take the half-empty approach (which I will do as I am in a mood) means that it's a downhill slide from thereon in. And, ahem, have we had any warm weather to speak of yet? Have I had a chance to wear the summery clothes that I bought with dreams of sunshine (and a baby who is now old enough to not be having a detrimental effect on my wardrobe) in mind? Do I have - never mind a tan - so much as a glow?

It's. Not. On.

And then there are the parties that have been cancelled because of the lousy weather - admittedly, mostly for people under the age of 6, but that's not the point. After all, there's usually wine for the grown-ups, and in the current absence of nights out in pretentious bars (my favourite kind; anathema to The Bearded One) I'll take what I can get, thanks very much.

Finally (no, I'm not done yet) The Bearded One's job is too annoying for words. It's one thing that he is going to be away for 3 weeks; another entirely that he has been summoned to go and sort out technical problems on a Sunday and that it takes all bloody day.

He's not happy when he gets home and, although it's not his fault that the day's gone awry, I'm moody with him. Sensing our irritation, the children, too young to know to pour oil on troubled waters, play up. Argh!! Someone pass me a drink!

Once the children are (finally) in bed, The Bearded One closets himself away in his office to get up to date on invoices, leaving me itching for just a teeny bit of retail therapy, just to cheer myself up a bit. Slumped over the dining table, I consider options listlessly. Not compulsively, frenziedly, excitedly or avidly. Listlessly. Listlessly! What's wrong with this picture?

I mean, there is nothing, nothing I want!! Obviously there's nothing I need, since I still have unworn purchases jostling for my attention in the wardrobe (hang in there, my lovelies, we shall be as one as soon as this sodding weather sorts itself out. Or I emigrate. Either one) but to not even desire anything on an "ah, what the hell" sort of basis is unheard of.

Unless .... unless. I spy a Mango stripe dress which has a touch of the Westwood about it, but not so much that I'd be constantly tugging at folds and twitching my shoulders. And I'm a sucker for an exposed zip. Nyaaaah, I dunno. Is it too worky? Bright, bold and unnecessary enough to almost bring a smile to my scowling face is a daisy print sundress by Ringspun. Cute. But too Orla? Too ambitious, given this elusive summer?

I seem to have lost my purchasing mojo, folks. Which, if any, should I buy? Let me know what you think: in the meantime, I'm going to work on getting a disposition as sunny as that dress. Being a moody cow might be good for the bank balance, but god, it's soooo boring.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

J'aime my New Boots

Despite the fact that I'm approximately 3 feet taller, it seems that CBeebies' Pui and I have some wardrobe crossover: namely a red, ruffly, flamingo-print blouse from Next that I bought last year as a 2nd trimester top. I hardly wore it then, and never wear it now, but hang on to it purely because it delights The Princess and Master C so much when she wears it. "Mum-meeeeeee! Pui's stolen your top!! Call the police, she stole your flamingo top!" Cue two pairs of little feet thundering upstairs to check whether it's still in my closet: sometimes I get there first and hide it.

And then there was the time, about 18 months ago, that she wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the Eiffel Tower and the words "J'aime Paris". I wouldn't call myself fashion forward but I was that day: forward enough to email CBeebies and ask where, please, might I find one? Much to my chagrin, they didn't answer.

Variations on those tops are everywhere at the moment - I've seen them in Oasis and River Island, for starters, but, still sulking about CBeebies and their blatant disregard for my interest in their broadcasts, I've refused to buy one on the grounds of general bloody-mindedness.

But then I was tinkering around on the New Look site one day, after a fellow fashion-obsessionista bought and spoke highly of their turned-up chinos. Height-wise, she's of Pui-like proportions (though much slimmer) but I'm not about to let that put me off: add to bag, and while we're at it, we may as well fill it up because, well, it would be a waste of the delivery man's time not to, wouldn't it? So although I was iffy about their take on the Gay Paree thing - a long-sleeve cotton knit saying "J'adore Paris" on an Eiffel Tower background - it was a tenner and worth a punt.

Unlike the CBeebies lot, New Look emailed me: to say that despite my size appearing to be available when I placed the order, it actually wasn't. I can take a hint - clearly my love of Paris is not destined to be advertised, at least not across my chest.

In fact, most of that New Look order wasn't meant to be. The chinos looked good but were of dubious quality: my fingers went straight through the inside-pocket seam when I thrust my hands in and affected a nonchalant pose in front of the glass doors (this household's answer to a mirror). There were a few tops and t-shirt dresses - too dull to write about and certainly too dull to keep. And then there were the suede lace-up ankle boots.

In the store (despite the free returns policy, I've decided I don't trust Royal Mail) the harassed assistant is struggling to fill out the returns form, her naturally loopy handwriting crabbed and awkward in the teeny boxes provided for the 'reason for return'. "Didn't like it," I say flatly. "Didn't like it. Didn't like it. Lousy quality. Didn't like it."

It's when we get to the boots, however, that she gets really flustered. "Reason for return?" she asks. I lean over the counter conspiratorially. "Well the thing is, right, almost as soon as I bought them for £50, they got reduced to £20! So I've reordered them at the lower price, and I'll leave these ones with you."

She looks at me, looks at the form, looks vaguely horrified. I affect nonchalance, rather well after all that practice with my reflection.

A few days later, the £20 boots arrive. I'm surprised by how much I like them, but I really do: comfortable, heel high enough to make my legs look longer and slimmer but not so vertiginous that I can't wear them when I'm with the children. I rather like them with my Leona Edmiston tea dresses and lucky-find trench, and love them with my skinny jeans, slightly turned up to sit just above the boots, and a sand-coloured linen tee from Zara. Wearing this to Sunday lunch, my flat-shod friend goes to kiss me and complains that I am too tall. I don't think anyone's ever going to say that to Pui. Not that I'm still smarting from the email incident or anything (oh no) but you know what? She can keep her bloody Paris tee.

Paris sweater photo from, other pics mine. I admit, I ain't no stylist, nor photographer!