Monday, 6 December 2010

Being good ....for goodness sake....

I knew the game was up when waking one Christmas morning, the pillowcase at the end of my bed did not bulge jubilantly with miss-shapen, hastily wrapped gifts but instead sagged limply, a few small packages nestling forlornly at the bottom.

'Less presents, yes,' my mother said, thoughtfully, 'but more expensive.'

And of course she was right. The garish, colourful craziness of kids' toys were replaced with smaller items comprised of silver and semi-precious stones, heady smelling scents and citrus-enfused potions for bath and body replaced Kerplunk and Mouse Trap. No more the hardback annuals of youth, instead Twiggy by Twiggy and the Vogue Book of Beauty, a chocolate-brown, fringed shoulder bag in softest suede, a starter-pack of mini-Mary Quant lipsticks and a bright-yellow tin emblazoned with the Mary Quant flower logo, full of fat, waxy colouring crayons for eyes, lips and cheeks.... I couldn't have been happier if Mary Quant herself had climbed out of my pillowcase.

I can still remember the bitter taste of loss as the train where I'd left my bag, replete with my Mary Quant booty, pulled out of the station. Feet frozen on the platform, the sense of something-wrong-but-not-sure-what hanging low in the air and then the shattering realisation that my fabulous day out in Brighton with my best friend, had ended in the certain loss of my much prized macquillage....

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and last week, despite the weather outside being frightful, I went to something called a 'Holiday Singalong' at the Purcell Room on the Southbank. Billed as an evening of festive merriment with Harry Shearer (legendary base player with Spinal Tap and the voice of many characters in The Simpsons), his jazz-singing wife, Judith Owen, and .......friends. We were surprised to find the place was packed, cheek by jowl you might say, with gays in chains and uber-hip chicks in strange headgear and vertiginous heels. Who knew this was their fan base? It turned out they were there to see John Waters, appearing in the Queen Elizabeth Hall.... which made more sense. No matter though because we were soon rocking around the Christmas tree. Audience participation is not my first choice for a night out but, fuelled with a pint of wine, I was soon singing from the same hymn sheet as Richard Thopmson and Ruby was nothing if not an eclectic cast. We listened to hip-harpist Lucinda Belle and the gorgeous Jacqui Dankworth (who looks and sounds just like mum Cleo Laine) sing a fabulous version of 'Baby It's Cold Outside' to her new husband pianist Charlie Wood.....just like her dad...... and yes, outside it was a winter wonderland.

Top tip: check out this fabulous emporium of all things vintage: Detail, and from now until Christmas just enter XMAS on the checkout to receive 15% off!!


  1. Wow! That sounds a fab night out - tres festive! This year my daughters presents are not toys for the first time - and she looks like she has considerably less - even though they cost a fortune. xxxxx

  2. Cannot remember when I got my last Christmas stocking, oh the joy of discarded paper and the frissance (sp will write it out three tiems and learn it when I make the effort to look it up) of illicit chocolate before breakfast...perhaps Santa should take a quick peek at the end of my bed never know!

  3. Dear Jo, that sounds like loads of fun! There's a blast from the past - Judith Owen! I haven't seen her in years, not since she went off to marry Harry. She has an amazing voice.

    If you're in need of something sparkly you're very welcome to come an have a rummage in my wardrobe and see if there's anything you fancy borrowing. Have a great evening xx

  4. PS. Your updates still don't show up in my sidebar. Most annoying.

  5. Jo,
    You are a really fabulous writer. I know I've told you that before, but you always amaze me. It sounded like a fabulous time to me. Spinal Tap still cracks me up. Did they sing Big Bottoms at the sing along? Just kidding.



  6. I used to live in the same village as the Dankworths and they always had a great Christmas event at the local pub.
    You won't be surprised to know that I have lost/left many precious items on the train over the years. Wonderful post as usual.

  7. Sounds like just what is needed to get the Christmas spirit going!

  8. I remember when I first started to get 'grown up' presents like makeup. I asked for some clear mascara, got it, put it on and felt like a million dollars. Later I realised that it hadn't actually made a blind bit of difference... but I still felt like I wasn't a child any more.

  9. That sounds like a great present list for a coming of age stocking! And what a brilliant evening you had - v envious! Have a good week. Abby

  10. You are so write fantastic, atmospheric stuff, you cheer me up when I have weird London 'flu (like, now) with your brilliant enthusiasm for my various bits of stuff happening, and best of all, you let me know that P Smith is playing Bexhill on Sea!! what a woman. Christmas hugs xx