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.