Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Unsafe Text

Would love to see you if in London.
That's what the text said, one wet Wednesday evening. He'd used my name, signed his name: Adam, and then there was an x. And the Adam in question was the Adam in my phone's address book. Well, I thought, that's nice but ........ who the hell is Adam?

Now, part of the joy of old age is the loss of memory. Particularly memory of more recent events. And I couldn't remember any Adam. So, I phoned a friend.
'Do you know if I know anyone called Adam?' I asked.
'No', he said.
I called a girlfriend.
'No', came the reply, 'never heard of him'.
I scoured my little black book which I never leave home without. It's full of everything: notes to self, to do lists, pictures I like, things I want, homemade monthly planners........4 years at art college not wasted ....... and finally, there it was: lunch Adam. In April I had had lunch with Adam, right between the wedding rehearsal and the wedding day of a very good friend. Still no bells were ringing. Someone with something to do with the wedding perhaps? Nope.

Several hours later it came to me. Adam: the friend of a friend, of course, my one and only blind date....... and I wasn't even blind drunk....... he lived in Notting Hill, 50, tall, full head of hair, bingo! The lunch I remembered: a pleasant enough affair, despite the lack of instant chemistry on the menu. But, I reasoned, minds need to be open, judgements corralled, there was nothing obviously awful about him and he'd suggested we do it again. Messages were left, calls returned, but we never actually made another date........ c'est la vie.

So, I was a little surprised at this text, six months later. Surprised, intrigued and most importantly....... still single. I may not look like Angelina Jolie but on a good day I scrub up OK and with the wind behind me I can still zip into a size 12. However, although I may not be so slim, pickings tend to be, as the years roll by, so after careful consideration I replied. My natural instinct was to call him, I prefer voice recognition, there is no nuance in texts and emails and I'm nothing without nuance. But, he'd texted so I texted. He'd put an x so, following his lead, I put an x. A lunch was planned for the following week, details, as ever in the modern world, to be decided on the day.......x

Come the day a dawn text arrived expressing just how much he was looking forward to lunch...... x at a place and time of my choosing........x Dashing, as I was, to a yoga class....... it's what we all do in Islington ........ I suggested he come to my hood (well I'd schlepped over to Portobello Road for him). Imagine my surprise then, after emerging from my class, stretched in both mind and body, to read: Gosh that's a bit of a hike call me x ..... I think it was the use of the word gosh by a middle-aged man after 1945, that had initiated a certain unease or maybe it was a premonition.
'I thought you were still in Thurloe Place' he said.
'No', I said, wishing I'd called him when he'd first texted me, 'Do you know who I am?'
There was a pause, quite a long pause, before he said,
'Of course I do.'
And I knew he didn't.
'You've made a mistake haven't you?' I said, wishing I hadn't spent so much time deciding what to wear.
'No, no, no,' he said.
But I knew he had.
'I didn't even know who you were, it took me hours to remember you, I had to ring not one but two friends and they didn't know who you were either, really, I can give you their numbers, and then I had to really think about whether I actually wanted to see you, I haven't thought about you once in six months, haven't even mentioned you, I only said yes because you asked me.'
..........Is what I wanted to say. But I didn't. And then he said his day was actually busier than he'd thought and that we really should get together ..... as and when ..... but he didn't have as much time as he'd like so we should speak.... as and when ...... and........ I began to realise I was being dumped before the date. And worse than that, I'd put an x and I didn't even fancy him........

Top tip: In matters of the heart voices speak louder than texts.....

Friday, 24 September 2010

I've been fashion blog tagged......

The ab fab Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted has thought fit to include A Girl's Guide To Turning 50 in her list of fashionistas to be Fashion Blog tagged........touched, honoured, shocked, stunned, I'd just like to thank her, the academy.......anyway, who am I to disagree, as anyone who has ever read Christina's brilliant blog knows, the woman invented good taste an lives the kinda glamorous life style the rest of us can only fantasize about....thank goodness some one's doing it.

And so:

What is your favourite fashion accessory?
A Cary Grant look alike would be nice, failing that......sunglasses and a hat can cover a lot of sins.

Who is your fashion role model?
Well......I have a big love for Vivienne Westwood because lets face it, the woman is unique, I like things to be a bit quirky. And I like that Patti Smith does her own, age-defying-thing, and Diane Keaton gave me my Annie Hall moment. But I really like my Grandma's style, back in the day. I have a champagne, raw-silk, pencil skirt that was hers, that I adore and a fantastic, Pucciesque print, silk caftan top with matching Capri pants that can only be worn individually for fear the psychedelic design might send people crazy.

What do you always carry with you?
Rescue Remedy, a black, mole skin note book and my Transport for London Oyster Card........oh the glamour!!

How would you describe your style?
Desperate? Wanting?.......usually to be somebody else, eclectic......my closet's a bit like a dressing up box.

What's you favourite-jeans, sunglasses or heels?
It's got to be sunglasses, they make my jeans look glamorous.

What inspired you to blog about fashion?
I don't really blog about fashion and until last year I'd never ever read a blog. The whole blog thing started by accident when a friend was out of work and I was encouraging her to do it. She ended up getting the TV producing job of her dreams and never did it and here I am.......

What is your favourite fashion store?
Anywhere with the sign SALE in the window.......I tend to buy the majority of my clothes second hand, partly because of financial constraint and partly cos I love a bargain. I don't really do second-time-around Dorothy Perks or H&M, but seek out the labels. Most of my disposable income goes to Seconda Mano in Islington, who will sell your designer threads for you. Fortunately, I live in an area where a lot of people wouldn't be seen dead in last season..... so I hoover up all sorts of goodies.

What is your favourite fabric in clothing?
Anything you don't have to iron.......seriously, I'm a shake and go girl. I did buy an iron...for emergencies....my son was about 12 and asked me: "what is this?" I've been out with guys who've refused to leave the house with me, and actually ironed the offending item themselves. Also cashmere gets me every time.......what's not to love?

Who are your favourite designers?
Got to be Vivienne Westwood because she's just such a brilliant person. Barbara Hulaniki, I'm always keen to channel my inner Biba. I like Marc Jacobs, a bit of Prada and am quite taken with what's happening at Celine now.

Would you choose to buy something high quality or make it yourself if you could?
No........I'm probably the only person that can destroy a garment sewing a button back on.......recently snipped through the sleeve of a much loved cardi doing just that.....how did it

Who's left that hasn't already been tagged?

A Femme d'Un Certain Age
Forty Not Out
A Rose Beyond the Thames

Saturday, 18 September 2010

TV Times

I was watching telly the other day. Nothing new there one might think, except I was watching daytime telly. And daytime telly, to me, is wrong. A forbidden fruit, a guilty pleasure, possibly only allowed during periods of ill health. Who would admit they found themselves with nothing to do so rather than sit in the winged reading chair, reading, or doing a spot of yoga, or learning Mandarin or mulling over the knotty problems of the Palestinians, they'd stretched out on the sofa and watched telly? I watched a show with a very large Michael Ball interviewing a very large Dom Jolly. I'm not really sure of the purpose of Dom Jolly. I think he made a show with a very large phone but I missed it. Anyway, then a very large Clarissa Dickson Wright (unbelievably a year younger than Patti Smith........) cooked something that looked delicious, and they ate it (while I lived in New York me and my gay best friend were obsessed with Two Fat Ladies which we would watch every night at 11.30, he was Clarissa and I was the other one.....). The show was sort of rubbish but with a cup of tea and a Chunky Kitkat I was quite enjoying it, partly because it seemed so wrong......on so many levels. The fact that it actually has a name, 'daytime telly', means it's different. Different from nighttime telly. Even if the show was originally shown at nighttime. Because I come from an age when daytime telly was watched only by the under 5s, unemployed or over 60s. And students. And it was not the smorgasbord of delights it is today. Honestly, it was Sesame Street, Crown Court, a show called Whose Baby, where famous .....ish folk would parade their kids in front of the panel who then had to guess.......whose baby (this would probably be deemed some kind of child abuse today), and Through The Keyhole, not so much Come Dine With Me as come live with me. America had tons of daytime telly and tons of channels to chose from which we all wanted but as we all knew, American TV was devoid of taste, culture and quality because of it. Not like us. And then we got Richard and Judy.

The show wasn't actually called Richard and Judy back then but something like Good Morning. However, the irresistible husband and wife combo soon proved to be the most entertaining thing on it. They flung the door of their private life wide open and we were invited into their domestic bliss, life with the twins, homework, holidays.......shop lifting, they were really just like us. Oh how we laughed at Richard's now legendary faux pas, Judy berating and contradicting him in equal measures. And so, the double act of 'Richard & Judy' was born and ran and ran and ran. I was on the show once. I say 'on', it was more a voice over. Having newly returned to England from the Americas, where the TV guide was the size of a Reader's Digest, and being without gainful employment, I was helping a friend run her stall at Spitelfield's Market. She had a handmade greeting card empire and on the run up to Christmas, the Market, quite a different scene then than the one they have now, decided to open during the week, instead of just Sundays. So, I too set about making my own wares (4 years at art college not wasted) and had a fine selection of cards and decorations to flog along with those of my friend. Not being a stranger to market work, I was well aware of the mind-numbing, finger-freezing, toe-throbbing cold that permeates one's entire being about eight minutes after you've set out your stall. So there I was, clad in my many layers of wool, topped-off with the deeply unattractive but ever so warm puffy-jacket (an item of clothing everyone in New York wears to get through the icy winters but does render you a shoo-in for the Michelin Man), a large fluffy white hat that came down over my eyes and a thick home-knit scarf that came up over my nose. Attractively attired and hunkered down on a fishing stool, I was surprised by a chirpy young woman with a microphone and a camera poking over her shoulder looming up before me and announcing:
"I'm from Richard & Judy, we're doing a piece about Christmas Markets......"
So, despite being new to Spitelfields, I talked of the camaraderie amongst me and my fellow traders, the notion of enterprise and of course, the spirit of Christmas ........presents. And thought nothing of it. Until that is all sorts of friends and acquaintances rang me up to say that my nose had been momentarily glimpsed in close up on Richard & Judy, while my musings about the marketeers rang out over the wide shot........ although of course, they never actually watched daytime telly, it just so happened that just as they were changing the video for their tiny children/tuning in for the lunchtime news/dusting too vigorously causing the telly to spontaneously turn on............ it was that precise moment.

Top tip: Mad Men......if I have to explain it you'll never get it.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


I've had a hair cut and I'm not one hundred percent happy. It's OK, not bad, but not great. The thing is hair, or at least my hair, knows when it's going to be cut. I have very thick hair that can, on a good day, be the envy of all, far and wide. But on a bad day, I look like an organic social worker who spends her spare time singing harmonies with one finger stuck in her ear. So, when it all starts to go a bit care-in-the-community I make the call for a cut. And as soon as I do it looks fab. Family and friends peer intently and remark: 'you look good'. I check in the mirror and they're right. I trip down the street and heads turn as I toss my auburn mane and the nearer the day of the coiff, the better it gets. So there I was, working my Sophia Loren meets Julie Christie look and now it's all gone............ a bit boring, a bit too short. I didn't really pay that much attention as the long, dark tresses fell to the floor, so intent was I to devour as many glossy magazines as I could. I once had this bloke cut my hair who was clearly way too over excited to be on a natural high. He talked incessantly whilst maintaining eye contact with me in the mirror.......how could he know what he was cutting if he was looking at me? Clearly he didn't. The result was grim but what do you do once the hair is gone? I hate hair cutting conversation, I just want to drink the coffee and read the Vogue. Fingers crossed my hair is just sulking and will forgive me soon for getting the chop. And, in a couple of weeks, I'll morph into Liv Tyler.

On my return from the salon, I stopped to peruse the fruit and veg at my local greengrocers.........keeping it green and real in north London......I discovered a fabulous fruit new to me: the doughnut peach, a peach that looks like a doughnut, so sweet and jucy and delicious and it kind of makes you think you're eating a wicked doughnut when actually you're eating uber-healthy fruit. Diet food of the Gods, surely. For all I know this delicacy may have been on our shelves for ages, everyone may have been chowing down on the soft white, almond scented flesh, but no one has mentioned it to me. In many ways it looks more like a peach that's been sat upon by a large peach-picker, but no matter, I've discovered them now and shall be feasting on them while stocks last.

Top tip: brighten your dull Autumn day with an easy trip to the countryside, just go see Tamara Drewe, a highly entertaining movie featuring the fabulous Tamsin Greig.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Heading for a spin....

I'm laying on the sofa, wrestling with the knotty problem of a sesame seed, part of my Omega sprinkles, inconveniently wedged between the back molars. I should be working but I'm not. I'm reading. Reading my book and listening to Lauren Laverne on 6 Music. Dancing Barefoot comes on the radio:

'She is benediction
She is addicted to thee
She is the root connection......'

This is one of my most favourite songs. Ever. This is the song I will take to the desert island. I want this song played at my funeral. I love this song. I have seen Patti sing this song many, many times. I have seen her standing on stage, removing her shoes and socks, dancing like a red Indian......that's a native American to you.....to this song.

The September sun shines through the yellowing leaves of the plane trees outside my window, the trees that obscure my view and usually keep me in the dark, are sparkling. I should be outside on such a day, enjoying the glorious end of so many wet weeks; the dying days of the season washed up on the beach, summer spluttering it's last before the fall of autumn wraps it up for winter in the amber glow of oranged leaves and smokey bonfires, while fingers, sticky with the butter drips of crumpets, reach for cashmere blankets they wished they'd purchased in the summer sale.

'Here I go and I don't know why
I fell so ceaselessly.....'

But I'm not outside in the sunshine. I am instead, transported to New York, September 1996, to the grassy knoll near the Summer Stage in Central Park. People, strewn across the park, sprawl on the grass, listening in the dark, to Patti Smith. I'm late: the child, the babysitter, it doesn't matter, I'm here now. This is the first gig I will write about while I live in New York. I will even interview the guitarist, Zeke Schein, when I discover he has stepped in last minute and usually works in Matt Umanov's Guitars on Bleaker, spitting distance from my apartment. But I don't know this yet. Right now I can hear the music but I'm too late to meet my mate Dave. He's already on the other side of the fence. I join the line, my hand is stamped, I'm in.

'She is sublimation
She is the essence of thee...'

The Summer Stage is a small, intimate, outdoor venue. Patti, untimely widowed, has recently returned to performing, just as I arrived in New York. How lucky am I? Dave and I have seen her read her poetry on this stage already, and, beaming with motherly, musical pride, introduce her young son Jackson. Armed with his guitar he played what I imagine was his favourite song of the day, 'Smoke On The Water'. The boy was good. But where is Dave tonight? We have no mobiles to navigate us through the shiny, happy people. I buy a beer in a plastic beaker and stand in the crowd, alone, and I think: I will not move, Dave will find me. I look up and Dave walks towards me, smiling, and Patti is singing.....

'I'm dancing barefoot
Heading for a spin
Some strange music draws me in
Makes me come on like some heroine.....'

Top tip: Read 'Just Kids' by Patti Smith and get to unravel the life and times of Patti and Robert Mapplethorpe while you hang-out in the lobby of The Chelsea Hotel with Bob and Janis and Andy and Sam and............