Saturday, 20 February 2016

Brace Yourself

I really didn't think I'd be wearing braces at the grand old age of 47, but there's no mistaking that I now have a mouth full of metal.

A little bit of vanity goes a long way and a tentative enquiry to see if my top, front teeth could be straightened flagged up a whole load of horrible issues that only two years of upper and lower braces, a bridge and permanent wiring would fix.

Adult orthodontics aren't cheap, so in my debt-ridden state I've been very lucky to have been graciously funded by the Bank of Mum.

I'm three days into this and although it feels like I've got Lego glued to my teeth, I'm sure it'll get better. I'm conscious of every word, laugh and smile, and every tiny bite of food I try to sneak past the portcullis, worried it'll become welded to the wires.

This afternoon I bumped into our neighbour's kids on the stairs and had this conversation with one of their friends:

"Ooh, you've got braces! How old is your dog?". I tell her that he's 13.

"Is that dog years or human years? Is he 100?". I explain that it's human years and in dog years he's probably about 77 because he's quite a small dog.

"Imagine having braces when you're 100!" Oh, good grief, where is she going with this?

"But you're in your 30s, so that's still okay."

I love this kid, even if she does appear to need her eyes tested. Momentarily, I even lost my self-consciousness enough to laugh through my Lego.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

It might be one of the coldest Valentine's Days in years, but I hope you're reading this with warmth and happiness in your heart. As the saying goes 'cold hands, warm heart' and, I don't know about you, but my hands were bloody freezing today.

So, how did your day of romance and love go? Were you woken to the sound of an Aston Martin purring in the driveway (not a euphemism), the sight of a sparkling, diamond tennis bracelet or the smell of a full English breakfast being cooked by your loved one for your bleary-eyed arrival in the kitchen? No? Me neither.

Between my efforts to pay off my debt (yes, it's still haunting me) and my other half's belief that you can't win affections through flowers, gifts or candelit meals, our Valentine's Day has been much the same as any other Sunday in the year. He claims - and I'm rolling my eyes a little as I type this - that there's no need to spend money on this one day when he loves me every day and while this clearly isn't true - as there are some days he can't stand the sight of me - I guess he has a point.

Instead, we wrapped up against the cold and drove to our favourite village for a pub lunch - no frills, no roses or candles on the tables - then walked in the chilly, winter sunshine with our little terrier bounding alongside us (while we debated whose turn it was to poop scoop) until it got to the point that we couldn't feel our noses, fingers or paws anymore and retreated indoors for a coffee and our one concession to this day of love; a teeny, tiny heart-shaped chocolate. A perfect Valentine's Day.

But, if anyone did get an unwanted Aston Martin and felt like re-gifting, who am I to refuse?

Sunday, 7 February 2016

New Year - Old Me

I've had a bit of an epiphany about the year ahead.

I know this is usually a notion best suited to the first day of January but I've always been a bit of a late starter (in everything except talking, it seems) and I reckon being born in the Year of the Monkey, which is being celebrated from tomorrow with the Chinese New Year, gives me the gift of a second fresh start in 2016.

It's been sparked by this fabulous Peter Schlesinger photograph of Cecil Beaton and David Hockney that makes them look as though they've just taken a break from the film set of Alice in Wonderland meets Wind in the Willows. I came across it over breakfast this morning as I was browsing through the Sunday Times 'Style' magazine and it made me think about how I used to dress.

Let's be honest (and hipsters, I'm talking to you too), most of us don't really stand out from the crowd the way these guys did. When I stand on the train platform every week-day morning I'm surrounded by people going to work and, just like me, they look like they're going to work. No-one looks like they're going on an adventure or that they woke up that morning and thought "I feel like dressing up as a pirate today"; the way children do before convention and, in time, work forces them into suits and smart-casual.

My daily dress code now is determined by the weather or if I have a meeting, not by the fact that I fancy dressing like Ronnie Corbett on Gleneagles Golf Course circa 1970. I partially blame my time in the public sector - a workplace that engendered a look so uninspired that I once turned up at the office to find two of my colleagues wearing exactly the same suit as me. But, I blame me too for losing sight of how dressing with a difference can, quite literally, bring so much colour and joy to your day.

I don't want to be Isabella Blow or Daphne Guinness (actually, that's not true - I would love to be Daphne Guinness) but I do want to go back to the me that was so thrilled to open the wardrobe every day and find an adventure in my attire, even if wasn't to everyone else's taste.

So, farewell to the dependable Year of the Dog, a warm welcome to the cheeky, adventurous Year of the Monkey and thanks to a scene by Schlesinger for pointing out that there's nothing quite as fabulously dandy as an eccentric Brit with a wardrobe full of fun.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

I Think I've Had A Brainwave

Despite cringing when I look at how long ago it is since I last blogged (I can only apologise for being such a slattern), I think it's important to start off a new year with a happy and positive attitude.

So, I'll make this post short but sweet and instead point you to the wise words of the scientists who looked at brain functions relating to addiction.

The Addictive Brain was the first of 13 programmes on BBC Radio Scotland in their Brainwaves series and you can catch it here on i-player.

I might be a little biased as I was one of the contributors, but my contribution was minimal to be honest and it's the science bit that's really interesting. If you're a fellow shopaholic, I'm not giving you this little gem as an excuse to say "We can't help it, we're just wired that way", but there appears to be an element of that and it explained a lot of my obsessive behaviours that my partner and I joke about ie. the nine massive, unopened and all different types of washing powder and liquids currently living in the cupboard in the kitchen, and next time I go shopping, I'll be sure to find another one that might, just might, do a slightly different thing to all of the others.

I might be a little bit crazy, but at least I'll always have clean clothes.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Step Into My Salon

For most of adult life, I've had the same haircut - a bob.

Layered, short, long, sleek, razor cut, parted in the middle, parted to the side, graduated, jet black, streaked bright pink, with a fringe, without a fringe; but mostly a bob.

There have been a couple of ventures into uncharted territory - the Gwyneth Paltrow crop that left me resembling a demented pixie and the 80s permed-to-the max long mane which just make me look like a female Brian May (that'll be Anita Dobson then) - but it's the bob I always go back to.

On a skiing trip to Italy, it was achieved by the hairdresser scraping it back into a ponytail and hacking the bottom off, before fleecing me out of a small fortune. But weirdly, it was a cut that worked and years later - on the camping trip from hell, where my hair turned into a ball of frizz - I begged with Kevin until he did the same.

That's why for the last 14 months, I've been letting my other half cut my hair. I'd like to point out that he isn't a hairdresser, barber or dog-groomer - he works in the print trade and is a clumsy left-hander - but I think he does it really well and (so far) no-one seems to have noticed that I've skipped the professional trim which was costing me around £60 every six weeks. (If anyone has noticed, they haven't said and, while polite, my friends would certainly be at pains to point out a dodgy do.)

And there are other advantages, apart from the financial.

Usually, my hair would go all wayward around 10:45pm on a Sunday night, leaving me in a state of near hysteria that the weekend had passed with it behaving perfectly and now it would be at least another week until I could book an appointment. Now, when that happens I just have to haggle with Kevin until he gives in and trims my tresses. I have a hairdresser on demand! It's every girl's dream.

But best of all - he hasn't, not even once, uttered the *words: "Going anywhere nice this year love?"

*with apologies to hairdressers the world over - I know you don't really say that. You don't, do you?