I’m too sexy… Wardrobe traumas to make you go starch raving mad

My friends Jill and Susan have just attended a fashion show held in the local church hall. Now instantly I suspect you are getting the picture that this was not exactly Gianni Versace or Vivienne Westwood, and Naomi Campbell did not feature on the catwalk. Instead it seems to have been the local churchfolk getting a chance to try on the offerings of the local boutique – Allison’s. Bear in mind here that the “locality” is Greenock not Milan, and that the average age of churchfolk around here is nearer Methuselah than Miss Dior. Not that I wish to paint it as some sort of Victorian freak show revival… Yes, well, OK, we’ll not go down that road.

The main upshot was we got talking about our worst ever clothing experiences as children. Now both myself and another friend had mothers who had aspirations in the seamstress department. For which read were too mean to buy us real clothes. For the purposes of maintaining confidentiality, I shall identify this friend only as Jane S. – which is as much a pity as it is pointless since that actually is her name. Anyway, Jane and I have hideous flashbacks even to this day of frightful affronts to fashion perpetrated on us by our mothers.

My childhood memory is deeply scarred by recollections of clothing items – each one vying for top place in hideousness with the one before. Such nightmare-inducing garments included at the less repulsive end an immensely itchy hand-knited beige hat and scarf set, working is way through the kilt with the onboard bodice which would have restrained Hannibal Lecter, right up to her crowning glory – the pink cape wth no discernible arm holes. I am still scarred – psychologically and physically- by these and many more items of apparel torture. It wasn’t only the design faults of such items; her fabric choice also left a huge question mark over the availbility of standard dress-making materials such as cotton in 60s and 70s Greenock. Why for instance was it necessary to construct a sun top from what was so starched that it seemed like I was wearing an industrial form of linoleum? The obvious shortcoming of this particular garment was that it point blank refused to move when you wanted to resulting in near hernias. No, you moved only when the garment decided and even then only in very straight lines. It also meant that the offending item (akin to the cladding they sometimes out on the outside of buildings) was damn near indestructible (believe me, I know – I tried. Oh how I tried!) resulting in it being a part of me for what seemed like an eternity. It is probably the one and only time in my life that I was thankful for developing a set of bodacious boobs as it meant that the inquisitorial torture device could be consigned to the dustbin of doom. I actually suspect she was so proud of it that it went to a charity shop or, as happened in our twee end of Greenock, a “Good as New” sale. I am delighted that it caused me pain no more but I temper that with a degree of concern that it found its way to some other poor sod who has now confessed to all sorts of sins such as witchcraft, adultery, murder and liking the BeeGees rather than have to wear it for so much as a nanosecond longer.

Time to go as I now need therapy having indulged in such painful recollections. People ask me why I like wearing loose fitting and baggy clothes (“it’s not feminine you know!” they cry). The truth is I am as a result of childhood fashion infanticide, a clothing claustrophobe. I have an inbuilt abhorrence of Berkertex, Dereta et al -all brought on by having been forced as a child into vile vestments that I have only touched the tip of the iceberg of here. Am I the only one in the west of Scotland who hears a menacing tone – nay, an outright THREAT – in the words “classic A-line skirt with matching fitted jacket”? I suspect not.

I shall form a support group immediately.

To cap it all…

A strange week all in all. Work, in the shape of additional tutoring sessions owing to imminent exams and panicking pupils, kept me off the bicycle in the early part. Then, my planned outing with the Oxymorons (that’s a reference to Walkers Cycling if you haven’t bothered yourself to read my previous post!) literally came to a halt 100 yards up the road when my tyre mysteriously flattened. To add injury to insult, this brought on a migraine type headache of gargantuan dimension, involving projectile vomit and a weird vision pixellation of the sort you had to pay a lot of money to experience in the 60s. It also curtailed my Johnstone Wheelers outing today as the pain has not quite departed yet. I am reminded of the classic description of the two phases of seasickness: stage one is when you are afraid you are going to die, and stage two is when you are afraid you are not.

And so, Dear Reader, I fear I must fall back on the old diarists’ response when faced with a week of not a lot to say: I’m going to say not a lot but say it at great length.

A thread over on the Internet Bonsai Club raised the issue of a plant that calls itself “lucky Bamboo” which in fact is neither lucky as it dies with a certainty and a degree of melodrama best reserved for the baddies in a John Wayne western, nor is it bamboo, being part of the Dracaena family (Now, should I have ticked the Flora box as a further classification for this entry?). Nor is it a bonsai despite being sold in countless garden centres and stores as such. It is, IMVH(and not at all biased)O, an abomination on a scale with all forms of extremism or intolerance, or with Andrew Lloyd Weber getting prime time TV slots to recruit staff to his latest insult to music. However, the story:

I overheard a wonderful conversation between two members of the public in my local IKEA a month or so ago, where this “lucky bamboo” is sold as a bonsai. The conversation was along the lines of “it must be a bonsai because it’s small and it’s in one of they (sic) shiny pots”. The chat then got round to the issue of cruelty (with the female stating that the “LB” would grow to about twenty metres high if it wasn’t so cruelly inhibited) before veering off into a decision to buy a fairly hideous s-shaped Ficus because that was a “proper bonsai”.
It was a choice between walking away and running them over with my trolley. But as I was carrying glassware I opted for the former.

Quite apart from the “it’s not bonsai” aspect, I cannot stand lucky bamboo for the totally irrational reason that it reminds me of asparagus which I couldn’t hate and detest more if it were cyanide.

For no reason other than catharsis, I shall tell you that my other flora related irrationality is Hydrangea. I detest this for the very adult and mature reason that it reminds me of the swimming cap my mother made me wear when I was younger but old enough to be very aware of what constituted “cool” and what did not. The swimming cap had rubber “florets” which wobbled about much in the same way as Hydrangea petals do. And it was sweetie pink! Cool? Not on your nellie! It was almost as uncool as the early swimming costumes which were made of that hideous ruched fabric which increased its weight at least tenfold when it came into contact with water. I am sure whole generations of Scottish schoolchildren learned how to swim simply to avoid instant drowning at the hands of their own swimwear. The hydrangeal swimming cap, btw, met its (literally) sticky end when I discovered why manufacturers put the instruction “Do not cover” on radiators. Nothing deliberate about that at all! And this momentous revolutionary strike on my part was followed not long after by a major breakthrough for equality when the powers that be in leisure centres suddenly recognised that, wonder of wonder – who’d ever have known? – boys carried nits and headlice too, and rather than tackle the issue of making boys wear swimming caps “head on” (sorry!), they took the softie route and just made the offending garment optional. Pity. I’d have loved to have seen some of the great hairy bears of blokes that frequented the Hector NcNeil baths in Greenock wearing hydrangea swim caps.

Braveheartbabe of the most bodacious kind

A certain bicycling bonsai buddy of mine gave me the heads up on a pic that appeared on a website after the Braveheart ride gala dinner which I didn’t go to, or at least I didn’t think I’d gone to. Now there are certain aspects of this pic transaction that concern me. First because the said website has a section entitled Daily Distractions which is in effect the equivalent of Page Three of The Sun, featuring as it does pictures of dolly birds submitted by a load of dirty old (and probably also dirty young) men. My boncycling buddy quite clearly must have been grubbing about in this section which I have now christened Lechers’ Lane. The second aspect is of course that it is just a tad sad that in this day and age that sports still are so misogynistic that they feel it necessary to have testosterone fuel in the form of glamour pusses. Some years ago this whole thing would have bothered me almpst to the point of staging a protest. Nowadays I take a broader approach to it and I was glad to see that at least of half of the pics provided were of women who were obviously cyclists. They also for the most part it must be said looked bloody good in cycle wear, thus dispelling the myth that we are all a bunch of lesbians with more balls than a pawnbroker’s sign. So I am not enraged but still ahve a desire to submit a couple of pics of some male cycling tottie just to even thngs up. After all, why shouldn’t I be allowed a daily distraction? Now then. I wonder how much of a sense of humour the lovely Mishan who takes my Tuesday spin class has?

Anyway. here is the aforementioned pic, and also another version which appeared later and has given me to question my memory of the dinner event. Dunno how my buddy failed to notice the significance.

The babes

the REAL braveheart babe