Fashion – turn to the left. Fashion, turn to the right. Oooooooh Fashion! (David Bowie stylie)
So last week goes down as the time when my long friendship with Sue was sorely tested.
Sue and I have known each other for 8 years, and set up a local village netball club together. We compete in a nearby friendly league in separate teams. Sue is ambitious to win all her matches, I try to pick the positive out of every result. Our captaincy styles blend and it works. Our youngest sons are the same age and in the same class at school. I helped strap her into her wedding dress on her big day and we have shared many a silly, giggly evening over the years. You get the picture – Sue and I are good friends.
Er – scratch that. Were good friends.
For Sue is responsible for my attendance at the Pampered Food Fetishist party (thereby showing me up as a domestic devil, not goddess), the subject of a recent blog. Last Friday, blind trusting fool that I am, I went to another Sue-prompted event – the PTA Fashion Show.
Now what I know about fashion can be written on a grain of rice. One that’s been nibbled by mice to half its original size. Then ground into dust. My own wardrobe consists of sporty jeanswear that I am possibly too old for; workwear in any shade you like so long as it’s black; some dodgy butt-covering cardies; and a series of hideous evening outfits bought for one event, hated beyond belief and never worn again. And pyjamas – there is a glut of pyjamas going on. Not sure why.
I adore shoes and handbags. But that has nothing to do with fashion. I like what I like – simples.
So the usual sense of my impending failure as a normal woman began as we entered the village hall. Ten minutes previously I’d been ensconced in front of a warm fire, hubby had been lightly stroking the stubble on my calves and the kids were, for once, watching TV and not bickering. Now here I was, ten minutes later. Ripped from the bosom of family life. Slightly soggy from a cloud burst that, of course, erupted the minute I stepped outside the front door.
Oh my days. It was worse than expected. The lighting made you wince in its unflattering brightness. One girl had a definite greenish tinge to her and will now forever be known as “Shrek”. Someone else tall and thin thrust a raffle book in my moo-ey before I’d even taken my brolly down and picked the twigs out of my cleavage. The walls were lined with an assortment of hanging rails not a million miles from a church jumble sale (albeit on hangers instead of on the floor). The audience assembled was an average age of 72. And there SHE stood next to the microphone, waiting with evil anticipation and crinkly hair for the show to start.
What is it with the women who run these type of events? Chirpy, overenthusiastic, vocal in the extreme and – if they only knew it – alarmingly threatening. A sort of Fashion Commandant.
So Frau Fashion kicked us off, and some of the braver school mums strutted their stuff in items rejected politely by several High Street chains. The models were a little hesitant and the outfits were – ahem – challenging on occasion but under the blistering command of the head of the Fashion SS, overall they conducted themselves well. One poor love seemed to have been labelled as the “Fashion for the over 60s” model – she has a great figure and would have looked good in anything, but was type-cast into elasticated slacks and drapey net thingies in a myriad of garish colours, designed to cover a multitude of sagging bosoms and varicose veins she did not yet have. Bless.
Once Der Fuhrer had finished her patter and the “show” was finished (plus my illicitly snuck-in bottle of white wine), we were encouraged to begin a cat fight over the items around the walls. A couple of women did actually sprint to the nearest rails. I worried for their hip replacements.
I did not run. Instead, a friend and I sought out the rails to find the worst item of the night. And it was hard, believe me, with so much to choose from! But my quiet competitiveness rose to the fore, and not to be discouraged I found the piece de resistance. A handbag!
In a beautiful shade of diarrhoea tan, with a matching fringe that should catch nicely on fire at any BBQ or firework party, there it sat. I was immediately drawn to it. Not because it was nice. I didn’t want to own it, you understand. Or use it in anger for the purpose for which it was intended. No. I wanted to give it a name and a decent home – it was an ill-treated animal needing to be rescued. The name came to me instantly. I would call it “Smelly Monkey”. It would be looked after all its days and go to the great unpicking factory in the sky when its time came to be reincarnated as a butt-covering cardi in the next life.
I was only stopped from purchasing it by my friend Kate who said “Sarah – put it down. It’s probably got fleas.”
At the thought of having to de-louse it, I lost interest. Despite knowing that I was consigning him to a life spent with Eva Braun and her posse, I walked away. Who knows where Smelly Monkey is now – I hope wherever he is, he is happy.
As for Sue, she and I will be discussing what constitutes a good evening out as somewhere along the way, she has clearly lost her way. The Pampered Pickling party I can allow – it was fun with friends and pink fizz – but this – well. I have no words.