IT’S FRIDAY! Well done everybody for getting through the week. I shall now attempt to provide light entertainment by talking about today’s outfit. Sit back, relax, don’t forget the fizz – the fizz is important.
There is one character in my life who gets me through the tough times, the good times, the onesie times, the knitting times…all times really. It is of course the wonderful Miss Marple. I love her with a most ardent passion and my admiration often prompts some dress up, as is my way.
When I’m feeling good, or need a bit of gumption I do a little Post-Modern Marple. This must at all times involve tweed, luckily for me I have quite the collection…
What kind of self-respecting Marple wannabe would I be without it?
This particular costume does, however, pose one intensely troubling problem – which hat?
Nothing says “sleuth” like a wide brim.
Of course the torment of choosing the right hat does add a certain drama to the daily task of dressing ones self, however, what kind of Post-Modern Marple would I be without some serious drama in my life?
After much soul searching this is the choice I ended up with…
And of course the legendary Miss Marple wouldn’t be caught DEAD (couldn’t let that pun pass me by) without a warm knitted scarf and a nice pair of leather gloves.
Wearing this most tweedy of outfits I ventured off to visit my Oma in her care home thinking her and her fellow residents would enjoy it, old people are after all my kind of people, however as soon as I walked into the lounge the particularly feisty Edith pointed and laughed. Ouch. But my Oma loved it and wherever Agatha Christie is I’m definitely sure does too!
I’m fed up of the “got…” thing because invariably it’s just “old” or “witchy”. So now it’s just “!” – better, I’m sure you’ll agree.
This week I’m being mostly woolly…
I am, of course, dressed as the legend Katherine Hepburn. It’s a mixture of Katherine Hepburn winter gardening in her New York allotment plot and Ethel Thayer (Hepburn’s character from ‘On Golden Pond’ – “you old poop!”).
If you haven’t seen ‘On Golden Pond’ then go, go now! Don’t go out on this coldest of Friday nights, stay in and watch Jane Fonda and her dad hate each other while Katherine Hepburn provides the ultimate voice of wisdom and forest knowledge.
Small warning; this look can be taken too far…
I was actually just about to leave the house like this and my mum took one look at me and burst out laughing. I couldn’t really fathom why my outfit has caused this response so I made her take a picture of me and upon seeing the evidence I did indeed understand why I caused such hilarity. My Katherine Hepburn words of wisdom to anyone adopting the look would be: three jumpers is too many jumpers.
So with the lack of anyone around to take the #FashionFridays photos I have been resorting to selfies…in the mirror – I know, it’s bad but in the absence of a real camera and any kind of tripod situation it seems to be my only option. It’s like when you’re on a long car journey and you stop for some food and the shitty service station only has three really gross egg sandwiches or a Gingsters pasty, so you buy the pasty. You know it’s a low moment but you’re a hungry driver and needs must. It’s a bit like that.
Anyhoo, I may have mentioned in the past that I’m really not a fan of clubbing but around the Christmas period I found that my festive plans would be leading me to a club. The only way to combat the crowded, sweaty, gyrating situation that is modern-day ‘socialising’ is to come up with a persona for the evening. Cue subtle dress-up.
I am, of course, a medieval witch who has been transported through time (probably by her own powerful and meddling ways) and finds herself on a modern night out. Medieval (and magical) sensibilities, modern clothing. The combination works rather well I think. Plus very shiny shoes, or booties to be precise.
I even attempted medieval hair…
If you look closely you can see that I have also plaited a beaded necklace into the whole ‘do’. This picture makes it look like I might have something sinister crawling through my plait which I actually quite like. I’m generally always pretending to be a witch who uses her powers for good but every self-respecting witch has to have a little bit of scary ambivalence about her. With great power, comes great evil temptation, if history has taught us anything, it is this.
Medieval magical lady, modern setting – it works, I think I’m going to do this more often!
It’s no secret that Depression and anxiety are tough illnesses to bear, but not least for your family and loved ones. Any illness puts strain on any relationship – man flu could (and most likely does) break up the most solid of partnerships. And when your partner is lying on the floor rocking back and forth with tears streaming down their cheeks and asking you to section them, I can understand why that might be a tough thing to take.
Two weeks after I first had to leave work due to mental illness Chris went away for three weeks on a work trip. It seemed like terrible timing, however, looking back on it now leads me to think it was actually exactly what I needed. I heard a stupid song not too long ago, probably written by a stupid man, the lyrics of which dictate that “you’re nobody ’till somebody loves you”, which I have to say it utter codswallop (euphemism). Love helps, it really does, but the love of someone else can only go so far, love for oneself has to do the rest.
The three weeks I had without Chris gave me the perfect opportunity to work on me, spend a little time with myself and get comfortable with who I am. And it was nice! I think one of the best things you can do for any relationship is make sure you’re happy alone, because if you’re not, the likelihood is that no one will be able to fill the gap you already have within you. A partner can stop you feeling lonely, but may be not stop you feeling alone (I have a feeling that might be a song lyric?)
When Chris got home we went through a bit of an adjustment period. He wanted to help and tried to be understanding but it was hard for him to comprehend it all and it was hard for me to communicate with him. It was a bit of a mess really, not an oh-my-giddy-aunt-this-is-never-going-to-work-out mess, but a we-need-to-make-a-few-changes mess. So I wrote him a letter (time-honoured and much underrated communication form). I did a few drafts, I made sure I was explaining myself clearly and I gave it to him to read alone. After he read it he came downstairs and gave me a big kiss and we’ve had very few miscommunications since!
I decided on a letter because I’m a crier. I cry a lot. About every other day I burst into tears, either for good or no reason, it matters not. Chris is kind of used to it now but I have been told that the sight of their spouse crying has a somewhat panic inducing effect on many loving partners. It’s like what happens to me when someone poses me a maths question; I panic, I can’t actually focus on reason any more, it feels like numbers are shouting at me, it’s stressful. So I took tears out of the equation (evil things) and instead of me explaining myself through sobs and snot, I did it in a way that Chris could take as much time and space as he needed to mull over my point of view.
And it worked! He has been the most amazing support system since (not that this wasn’t always his intention). The other day I text him to say that I didn’t think I could get out of bed because I didn’t know what to do and he text back straight away with the best advice – to do just three small tasks one at a time; to get out of bed, to make myself some breakfast, and to do some yoga and then the day will have begun and I’d know what to do. And it worked. I told my therapist about it this morning and she said “he’s a really good fiance isn’t he?”
So as mentioned in my last blog post on what care homes are teaching me, my Oma is my idol, she is The Legend. But she has Vascular Dementia which is a very cruel decease because it seems that when someone in really old all they have left is their memories, their life experiences; the children they’ve raised; the adventures they’ve been on; the big achievements of their lives, but Dementia strips you of all of these things, leaving you with only a few moments of the present that disappear quickly into the misty blue hole of the mind where all other memories and knowledge have also travelled.
I LOVE visiting my beloved Oma every day but it is emotionally draining. Visiting her is a whole world of highs and lows. One minute she’s providing witty banter, the next she’s trying to remember who my mother is (that would be her daughter) and what my mother’s name is (that would be Georgina, the name she bestowed upon her as a baby). Or she’s worried about her son Stuart because she thinks he’s recently been in a serious car crash – which he was…in around 1975. That sort of thing. Sometimes I leave the care home and just cry the whole walk home, it just seems so unfair, she’s such an amazing woman who has had the most interesting life (she’s a German woman who married an English solider in 1949 for goodness sake), she shouldn’t have all that taken away from her! But she mostly just laughs when she realises who my mum is, and that it’s 2015 and that made me realise that I have as much control over this decline as she has. Neither of us can change the inevitable, and I’m not an uber scientist able to delve into the depths of chemistry for a cure, so all in all I’m just going to have to accept it.
The only thing I can control is how I feel and how much better I can make her daily life, whether she remembers it or not. That is what every other visitor at the home is doing, that is what every other resident at the home is doing. They would be weird if they liked loosing their marbles, but there is nothing they can do so they live with it, they make the best of it, the wonderful nurses there keep happy and upbeat at all times – every one has accepted that this is currently an inevitable part of growing old and are doing their best to make it as painless as it can be. And actually she’s doing okay, she has her bad moments but she knows who I am, she can’t remember what day it is or which city she lives in but she can remember what my name is, and for some reason she can remember that I’m getting married on 30th May, random woman.
This is a “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” thing. Apart from I don’t believe that God grants me this wisdom, I believe it is within my power and learning to teach myself acceptance; to grow from my experiences and be able to congratulate myself when the choices I make come good and learn from the choice that come out badly. My stepdad always says “the luck you get is the luck you make yourself” which has always stuck with me. I really do believe in fate, I believe opportunities are put in our way but I believe that it’s up to us how we utilise these opportunities, how we recognise them and benefit from them – that is the luck we make. I want to take responsibility for my own life; for the good and the bad – it’s all within my power. And I learned all this from visiting a care home full of some very confused but lovely old people. These old folks are teaching me an awful lot – just wish they knew it!
As my most recent blog post stated, I have recently returned from a skiing trip to Switzerland, it was a good trip but probably the best thing about it was that I discovered an amazing new dress-up character, though the medium of underwear! Now (before you jump to conclusions) I don’t mean knickers and bras, I mean the stuff that goes underneath your outerwear, vis-a-vis: thermals!
Those of you who have noticed the side plait will indeed have guessed that I’m being Katniss Everdeen of the oh so famous Hunger Games Trilogy (or if you’re a Hollywood producer the Hunger Games Quad…Quad…Quadrillity? Quadril? Well you you know what I mean). This dress-up costume actually came about completely by accident; side plaits are actually, in my tried and tested experience, the best way to tame hair into being obediently encased in a helmet. The thermals are of course Lidle’s finest and once I put the whole thing on I looked in the mirror and saw that my holiday had taken on a whole new meaning. I spent all my time on the slopes imagining being chased by fellow desperate killers and singing Lorde’s Yellow Flicker Beat in my head. Then it occurred to me that I couldn’t be a real Katniss without a weapon. I have always wanted to try archery, but that’s more of a kick ass medieval warrior queen fantasy thing and seeing as I do not yet have that skill I decided to use the only weapon at my disposal…
…my knitting! And actually I think if knitting were adopted as a more popular weapon in modern warfare the whole world would be a much better and much woolier place. In fact that wool was used to knit a sparkly tea cosy covered in hearts (which by the way can be found on Etsy very shortly!), the perfect weapon in teaching a broken world that drinking tea together is the true path to loving and accepting each other. I digress. Anyway, look at my proud chins, I could definitely defeat any dictator leader of some American utopian capital.
There’s only one problem: saving Panem can only happen before a days skiing, because I get a bit sleepy afterwards…
In mid December I was feeling really good. I felt that I had my darkness mostly under control and I hadn’t had to pop a propranolol for a while. I was feeling hopeful about the future and ready to set to work as a freelance writer in January. Life was looking up, and then something weird happened, I completely fell apart. On the 22nd I took to my bed with wild crying eyes, begging Chris to come home from work because I just couldn’t be alone. I was so scared, and of what I just didn’t know. Until I realised it was Christmas – I was scared of Christmas. What a fucked up situation!
It’s not usual that one is scared of Christmas but when you break it down it is sort of frightening; bright and often flashing lights everywhere, copious hugs and awkward hellos with distant family members who you’d rather not have to touch at all; the stress of watching someone open your present when you’re really not sure if you’re going to get the genuine “thanks!” or the not so genuine “oh, thaaaanks”; the stress of indeed getting the “oh, thaaanks” when said parcel is eventually exposed. And, I just have to be brave and say this…I hate Christmas dinner. It’s just a bigger Sunday lunch! I feel like Christmas calls for the kind of meal that you don’t have once a week, it’s special, it’s one day out of 365, what about a nice truffle risotto? Or a tasty Beef Wellington? Fondue! Just something that you don’t have every week for the rest of the year. Perhaps I should just change Sunday dinner to a weekly Fondue and then Christmas dinner really would feel like a treat. Although you would probably have to roll me to the table because after a year of weekly fondues I would indeed be a very large Milly Marble. And really good at solving countryside murders – obviously.
So what did I do? I took it easy actually, I took it all in my stride, not anyone else’s. At first I felt stupid and guilty for not being able to enjoy a time of year I usually relish and look forward to but that kind of emotion really did not help the situation. So I took time out from the festivities when I felt I needed to. That and I made sure a glass of fizz was always within reach. Dear readers I would love to tell you that alcohol didn’t help but alas, that would be an untruth.
So when Christmas was over, I breathed a sigh of relief as we drove away from the Uk and on to Switzerland, on a skiing holiday, for the New Year. I haven’t been able to go skiing for about 2 years and being spoiled as I am and used to at least one annual trip to the snow, I was really looking forward to getting back out on the slopes. But when I got there I found that I was racked with guilt. Holidays seemed to be things for people who work and I don’t have a job. But my sister put it quite succinctly when she said “but you have been working hard, you’ve been working hard at getting better and that’s a pretty full-time job.” It took me a while but I did eventually settle into the idea that just because I hadn’t been working in a 9-5 job, I did deserve a break, or at least I definitely did not not deserve one, if you know what I mean? So I let go a little bit. I counted my blessings and tried to enjoy them.
And I stopped putting pressure on myself to enjoy things that I felt I should, for example New Years Eve – I have always hated New Years Eve but always felt that if I treated it as any other night and went to bed when I felt like it, I would be missing out on something but I actually had the best New Years Eve I’ve ever had. We went to watch a band in a local bar at about 5.30pm, who were so bad that they managed to clear the entire place, when we got up to leave the guitarist said that we couldn’t go because we were the only ones left and that if we agreed to stay he’d buy us another drink! He then gave Chris the tambourine and we all joined in with the last couple of songs until the poor musicians really did have to admit defeat and pack up. Then we went home, I changed into my special New Years Even lounge outfit (stretch waist band), we had a great meal and then watched a Julie Walters documentary at which I laughed until I cried and then at 11pm we all went to bed. At 12am the fireworks woke me up but then I went back to sleep and we got up nice and early to catch the first lift up the mountain whilst everyone else nursed their New Year hangovers. Gloat.
This holiday season was a lesson in letting go. Opening up to the way I was feeling and just trying to be okay with that, by doing that I naturally let the better feelings in and the bad ones sort of seeped away. It did take the entire holiday to learn something I wish I’d know on the first day but now I know for next time – roll on honeymoon!
So, bit of an announcement: off the back of my 2014 “stuff” epiphany I have made a very important decision about this the year 2015; I have decided not to buy any new clothes for a whole year…I know.
I can buy second-hand clothing, I can make any clothes I need, but I cannot buy any new items of clothing. Now there are two ‘genres’ of clothing that are exempt from the rule, but only because I have neither the machinery, expertise or equipment to produce them, these are shoes and underwear – but I’m only allowed to buy these if I need them, which is unlikely because I believe that bras are the work of the devil and I have really awkwardly shaped feet.
I made this decision for two reasons:
I have way too many clothes already. I go shopping to buy black jeans (which I actually do need) and come back with 3 occasion dresses (I do not go out often enough to warrant these – can’t stand club crowds). So now I have a wardrobe full of beautiful dresses and nowhere to bloody wear them. In the meantime they clog up my wardrobe and I spend most mornings and evenings trying to force the clothes I actually do wear into tiny spaces in-between slowly rotting chiffon and a strange neoprene dress with fluorescent orange and turquoise flowers on (this always gets a laugh from my nearest and dearest but I bought it when Chris was in Thailand during the military coup so I claimed temporary insanity when I bought it and now whenever I put it on my mental illness provides the perfect excuse – get in!).
I’ve decided that I should be as environmentally conscious as I can possibly manage, which means (among many other things) staying away from the disposable fashion items that fill every high street shop – arriving at the store wrapped in copious amounts of packaging (which is rarely made from recyclable materials), as well as the clothes themselves which can be produced in either environmentally harmful ways, or in morally questionable working conditions. And it seems that what were once cheap disposable fashion items are now cheap expensive disposable fashion items. Have you been into Primark recently? I actually I haven’t because I’m trying to avoid locations that induce panic attacks but the last time I went there I was pretty shocked that the quality of the clothing (stitching, materials, finishings) seemed to have dropped but the prices seem to have sky rocketed. And don’t even get me started on H&M which stocks what appears to be exactly the same clothing made from exactly the same materials and exactly the same standards for twice the price. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought some clothes from both these shops in the past that I love and wear often, but I’ve gotten to the stage in my life where I don’t want eight nylon mix, highly flammable, made in Bangladesh and mass-produced jumpers; I want one or two organic fabric, handmade, less flammable, unique jumpers – which is surely the better option? Luckily for me I’m not a follower of trends and fashions so I won’t be in the position where I see something I like and then by the time I’ve managed to find a pattern and some reasonably priced fabric and made the item myself, the damn thing will be out of fashion again, although I don’t believe that anything that could go out of fashion in that amount of time could possibly have been worth buying and wearing in the first place. So there.
I have quite a few important events and weddings coming up in 2015 (including my own ‘big day’) but I have a wardrobe full of lovely dresses and can make anything new if I feel I don’t already have the right outfit somewhere in my house (unlikely). I’m actually a bridesmaid in September and have obtained permission from the beautiful bride to make my own bridesmaid dress (we could both end up regretting that one). I haven’t bought a new wedding dress, a lovely and very talented lady who I know is making it instead. I do need a new pair of wedding shoes although I am considering dying a pair of shoes that I already own purple and sticking gold stars on them instead of going out and buying a new pair (I’m coming up against some opposition on this particular style point but they’re my feet and it’s my wedding – I reserve the right to dress them in the way I see fit, and purple starry shoes are fit).
Anyhoo I shall be documenting this year of No New for your reading pleasure, as I’m sure I’m going to come up against challenges and temptations as well as exciting discoveries and style ideas.
If anyone has any helpful tips on the above, whether it be sourcing organic sewing materials or just living a life of less rubbish please let me know!