Friday, 8 April 2011

Happy Birthday Vivienne Westwood

Happy 70th Mrs Fabulous. I promise to be as unabashedly glorious as you so effortlessly are, by practicing, practicing, practicing ...

Colour me Happy!

On my way to my favourite cafe not too far from where I live. Well now it's far enough for a little leg stretch and close enough to persuade myself out of the door on lazy days. (The coffee there is easily the best in Bristol, I'd reveal the location but it already gets rammed with the local Mummerati by 11.00am so selfishly, I won't).

On my way I spotted a little girl on her scooter, the low, fat plasticcy type that all the really little kids bomb along the pavements harem scarem. This particular Tinchy Strider barely had the fundamentals of steering under her belt and was veering wildly off course, pudgy little paws gripping the handlebars, shrieking with a giddy mix of glee and fear. As she whizzed passed me I was struck by her gorgeous outfit.

This little toddler was rocking a bright red riff!

She was sporting a tiny dirndle skirt covered in cherries with bold, bright green leaves. It had a red ribbon border at the hem and again at the waist and all finished off with a jolly, big red bow. She matched her cherrytastic skirt with happy little red, polka dot, canvass shoes and green socks and a very, very pink T.shirt. She really was just perfect in every way. Her wonderful skirt, the hair raising, giddy charge down of the lampost and her cavalier acceptance of her moment of speed and style.

I love colour, and I wear a lot of clashy - matchy colours and prints they make me happy and energised and I like to say they say good things about me.

"Look, Look! ' says my riotously coloured 40's inspired dress. 'This woman is vibrant and fun."

'Hey you!' my purple tights hail from across the street. "How cool is she in her little multi coloured dress and us. Check out the flash of green she's cleverly introduced to confuse and delight. She's a real trend setter, a wardrobe maverick. SHE has FUN with clothes..."

That's what I'd like to think... I do sometimes worry though. More often than notI suspect that what they are actually doing is whispering to each other across the vast plains of my adult backside. "Good grief! What was she thinking? Turquoise tights at her age, with those thighs ... ".

So as I watched the little cherry skirt girl whiz by and she rewarded me with an approving nod back, I wondered if my sense of colour and style needs to be toned down, or growed up. I know Trinny and Suze would loathe my pink plastic rings and my home madey shell necklace strung on an old bit of pink suede. In my defence I've been self gokking since I was 14, long before he shed his puppy fat and shoved a shark tooth through his earlobe.

Something about approaching 50 makes me crotchety about being told what to wear, or how to dress. My arse does look big in most things and my knees are fatter too - I have no idea why. The little girl reminded me of the conservatism of ageing style. Apart from some notable exceptions who are often seen as eccentric (Vivienne Westwood, Pam Hogg) or so beautiful they can do what they like sartorially (Gaga, Little Boots, Alexa Chung) most of us don't indulge ourself with 'fun' clothes anymore.

Pattern becomes more grown up, colour choices more sedate, or singular. (Thank god for colour blocking). Surely as we get older and more comfortable in our body we should thumb our noses at convention, stick our foot out in the corridor and trip up the finger wavers and wear what we bloody well like?

Get your colour mojo workin'! 

Here are my top tips for getting your colour groove on. Lets paint a rainbow people!
  • Pull out your 'for best' dress and wear it today, whatever you have planned. You don't have to put on the shoes and the hat - just that 'feel great' dress. 
  • Figure out what you love about it. Is it the cut, the colour, the memories it holds. Could you treat yourself to an everyday version? What about making that beautiful dress your everyday treat and invest in a new best frock? OH GO ON!
  • You can have the same fun with your favourite jewelry too - Posh or costume - it doesn't matter just as long as you get fancied up today.
  • Go to the 'teenage' section of the make-up counter and go mad with nail varnish and lippy. Paint your toenails bonkers colours - and choose a stand out, day-glo colour for your nails too! Paint your mouth and pout at the milkman!
  • Next - chuck out all your old tatty undies and use it as an excuse for a lingerie trip. For every sensible pair of pants you purchase - buy yourself something wildly inappropriate and brightly coloured. As long as it fits - you'll look amazing. 
  • Buy yourself a huge bunch of whatever flowers are cheap and in season - and if you don't dig on cut blooms then a pot plant. Tell you what? Buy some seeds and grow your own pots of colour therapy.
I also think that while we're on the colour me beautiful tip - you could make sure you have a full length mirror placed somewhere sensible so you can see yourself from top to toe. Before you go out to meet the world - check youself for colour... If you've gone all monochrome - chuck on a scarf, grab a daft brolly and march out there in motley.

Don't believe me that you'll feel better with an injection of colour into your life? Paint a wall your absolutely favourite colour - go on just do it! You can do it in the loo or the kitchen if your lounge room won't take the blast. I painted my flat cream to get it sold and I felt so depressed for a week - I bought a house with a ridiculously orange kitchen - and I can report that it still is as orange as the inside of a tango man's tummy!

Wear more colour this week. Enjoy it, be a kid, pin cherries to your jumper. Have fun.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Letting Go is hard to do...

While in London, I've spent a few days and evenings with a younger friend who is struggling with the loss of a significant relationship alongside a tough time at work and undertaking an intense therapeutic journey. I've been struck by how exhausting it all is - and how much of that minute self examination I no longer do.

It's not that I think it's not important. It's just so tiring maintaining such a high level of closely monitored misery - surely letting some of it slide wouldn't hurt?

Do what you wanna do... Go where you wanna go...
I remember years ago telling another, also younger friend, that I never did anything I didn't want to do - and it sparked the most catastrophic row I've ever had in any friendship. In fact it ended it, such was the fury and passion of my friend who was outraged at what he saw as my arrogance and selfishness.

If I'm honest the statement wasn't entirely true, but back then, once committed to a position I would argue it fiercely - like Crane Dog once said 'Form an opinion quickly and stick to it!'. So I started by arguing a point I didn't fully live by - but the more entrenched I became - the more sense I was making to myself.

By the time our argument was done, so was our friendship, but as hard won as the insight was, I remain grateful for it. I learnt something important about myself and my boundaries. In my 30s and early 40s I used a lot of trickery, deception and skullduggery to protect my time and I felt guilty about it too - not much but some. I avoided family gatherings, special birthday parties, friends with problems, calls at inconvenient times, shopping, excercise and even work on the odd occasion. (Oh bite me - you've done it too).

Fibbing is an artform
Now I'm much more relaxed about being up-front with my decline and if the person I'm turning down is too fragile, insistent or distant a pal to take a truthful 'no ta' for an answer then I'm completely happy to fib. Yup you got that right. Fibbety fib fib fib...

I've been described as a 'truth missile' in the past but that's just a perception - the truth is, it really  is worth letting go of some of the stuff that doesn't matter all that much - and focus on what really does and you need to practice being dilligent about it too.

Stop doing what you keep doing
Stop doing things you don't want to do, it wastes so much time. You waste time thinking about it too much, then you squander some more doing it and resenting it, then  how about dropping some on feeling guilty and or cross and no doubt you'll waste yours and someone elses time talking about how much you don't/didn't want to do it. When if you'd just said no - and let it go.

You'd be doing something worth the thinking and the doing and the sharing.
Hooray for you!

So make a list of all the things you plan to do that you don't want to do this week.


Miraculously you now have some time to do something you do want to do. Paint, read, clean out a cupboard, go see a friend, walk the hills, take a singing lesson, maybe just stare out of the window for an hour - it doesn't matter, as long as it is something you really want to do.

Oh and if you don't want to be sitting around snotting up hankies and feeling sorry for yourself - then that's the perfect time to stop it and go and do something else.

But if you do...want to spend some more miserable time feeling blue, then do it and fuck it and for heaven sake don't call me about it because I er... I've lost my phone, yes that's it! - terrible thing, really inconvenient...

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Time is a strict mistress ...

For the last few weeks I have been schlepping up to London on the coach, bundling along the motorway, lost in between the pages of a posh mag wondering if at just 5ft 4in I could really get away with polka dot palazzo pants and clashy, mismatchy florals - or exhausting the tiny weeny battery capacity of my 'not so blinking smart' smart phone while I try to tweet funny, invariably missing and sounding carpy or cross.

I could use the time to write, but I don't. I berate myself with thoughts of the uber talented Adele who by 21 has now eclipsed the achievments of Madgeonner. A feat I'll bet, she didn't manage by sitting at home craving chocolate and twiddling the knobs on her washing machine.

I treat myself unfairly by over committing to everything. I even over commit by buying too many books in the charity shop. Now I've got piles of them - random titles from a clutch of old Nick Hornby novels to a mustard yellow copy of  Harold S. Kushner's on Conquering Fear - sub titled 'Living Boldly in an Uncertain World'.

We're justified and we're ancient ...
Seems to me when you get to a certain age, it's easy to overschedule - just to feel justified. By the time you've finished your full beauty routine, coiffed your hair, smoothed on your ginger and twig body cream to avoid cellulumps and done a few early morning pilates stretches to wake up the system - it's getting late and time's a ticking past the optimum breakfast opportunity.

Now you have to skip the full 'all over' dowing session, and go straight to a type-skype with Australia. Friends are important. I'm always saying that. Why am I always saying that? Well because they are. Hmm they are, but the bugger of it is that good friendships, real genuine, heartfelt - 'there for you always, you know that' friendships - well they take a lot of time. Don't they?

Then there's time for me, time to think, time for work, time for chores, time to pop out to get some food for himself, so he doesn't starve while I am taking time to go up to London to spend more time working in a cupboard. Time for more stretching so my back doesn't bloody give out on the bus up to London. Just enough time to write this before it's time to go...

Time can be folded apparently - not in my house it can't. No-one picks it up off the floor, let alone folds it up and puts it away. Time wouldn't stand a chance at number 44. Nope. Time is in an untidy pile under the bed of a grumpy teen.

And even as I type this as fast as I can, so I won't be late for the bus - that track from Ghost is playing out on the radio - Unchained Melody and time seems to be mocking me. Really Time? What are you telling me? That my face will wrinkle with or without jolly expensive creams or the tender touch of a facialist. That my back twinges are because I'm bloody old - so there! Oh lord as Mr Righteous hits those high notes I'm beginning to realise - I am Time's pathetic plaything.

So if I can't beat Time - I plan to stop wasting it ...
  • no more anti wrinkle anything | I accept
  • up when I'm awake, to bed when I'm sleepy | I accept
  • eat when I'm hungry | I accept
  • shop online always unless I feel like it | I accept
  • turn off my phone | I accept
  • drink coffee slowly with relish | I accept

Monday, 24 January 2011

January is the moanyiest of months...

It's the fag end of January, the last of the late Christmas cards has plopped onto the mat, all of the cheese and chocolate has been scoffed and every single one of my new year's resolutions has been abandoned in favour of a hopeful, catch all 'will do better' crie de coeur.

Nothing much new has leapt out in front of me in recent weeks and if I keep this level of whining up, I'll be nominated by friends and family for the Moany Old Cow of the Year award. I've already had a couple of concerned calls and emails in response to a recent string of facebook status updates. They'd be mobilising the national guard if I was in the habit of writing what I really feel like day to day...

Today my true status would read:  

"On the way to 49, feeling sick & dizzy as my life rushes past me. Help"

Is there a direct causal link between the increasing size of my backside and the shrinking aspiration of my social life? I use the word aspiration advisedly. When I was younger, I used to long for glittering parties, gorgeous, beboob-tubed pals in slingbacks and stretchy skirts to go out with and drive sexy looking, rich chaps bonkers as we skipped by in a haze of Opium and cheap liquour.

Now what I want, what I really really want - is a decent cuppah and maybe a chocolate hobnob... and if I must go out then I want a cab - paid for both ways and a seat when I get there! Yes I bloody well do.

After a bit more planning this week, I will begin a new writing project - which will start proper on my 49th Birthday - 13th February - thanks for asking...  I was always secretly disappointed that my mother didn't clamp her legs shut for a few more hours, so romantic to be born on Valentines Day.

Still I do like to imagine the postman thinks me very popular, and apparently childbirth isn't a matter of applying will power. I wouldn't know, I've never been in the family way - another thing to ponder in Moanyary!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Cold feet, warm heart | excuses excuses excuses ...

I'm forgiving myself for not turning up at the blog often in the last few weeks. I have been writing, just not creatively and not specifically for Shoboome. This isn't meant to be an excuse, it's just how it is. So for now - please find a new shoe shot, by way of apology. These are my most loved shoes from United Nude. Bought for me by my beloved Podge when we were freezing in New York a few years ago. They go with nothing and I wear them with everything.

read on for some more writing prompts ...

Oh the weather outside is frightful
Lots of writers just sit down and get on with it, I am one of those procrastinating curs. Which is why I started this little blog in the first place - in an attempt to create a structure that would support me to write every day as well as sharing some of the process. True to form, I started off ok - but more recently I spend a lot of my time writing piffle elsewhere.

My current excuses revolve around how bloody cold I am, and how uninspiring I find the constant battle against holes in the roof of our crumbling Victorian terrace, ice on the inside of the hideous reworked bay window panes and freezing, I mean 'can't feel them mother' freezing, cold feet. The effort it takes to not be miserable about the endless coughing, sneezing and snotting up of hankies like a dying consumptive - uses up all my available push...

I am a whining, moaning, groaning, sniff monster.

but the fire is so delightful ...
So it's off to very good friend Kath's for supper and a much needed, reset tonight. Struggling is all very well for some creative types, it just doesn't work for me. I need a cuddle, a good talking too and some double glazing.

If you get stuck you could try some writing exercises or do what I do - just write about why your not writing. It might sound a bit daft but it's important to a) face into your block b) write and c) get over it! Lets all pull our Christmas stockings up shall we?

Five prompts for Christmas

  • 10 things to do with a paperclip | no stopping - GO!
  • Woke up this morning ... | finish this classic blues line and keep on going ...
  • What's the best dump line you've ever heard? (mine is: 'Bitter? I'm not bitter... THIS is bitter!' cue pint tiped over his head, and flouncy walk out. Oh yes I did!).
  • There's an alien in my loft - what am I going to do? 
  • I'm putting off writing because... (keep writing until you get to the real truth of the matter)