Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Where I would sell my soul for a pair of comfortable shoes...

I don’t think it’s just me, but summer dressing for work is a nightmare.  This little burst of good weather has thrown me into a frenzy.  Things are made worse (in a good way) by being two clothes sizes smaller than I was last summer, so when I say I’ve got nothing to wear, I mean it literally.  Ok, I’ve got a couple of strapless maxi-dresses, but it’s not the kind of capable, in-charge yet (slightly) human image I like to rock in work.  And we have a no bare shoulders policy.

Crisis One:  Colour.  Am I ready to bare?  Of course not.  My natural pallor makes Wednesday Adams look healthy, and I don’t want to embrace pale.  There’s a difference between ‘pale and interesting’ and ‘let’s check for a pulse’.  So, Operation Tan must commence.  And of course it’s not just a case of slapping it on.  There’s scrubbing and buffing and bed linen to consider.  It was a bit of a school-girl error to change the bed and do the tan on the same night…

I’ve promoted myself over the years from novice tanner to high grade professional tanner (ever aspiring to get to C’s Advanced Tanner status), and a decent foam and a velvet mitt have revolutionised my tanning.  Elbows and heels remain a problem though.  And it was very interesting to see what colour it went on Daughter, when she snuck into bed with me the night I’d done it.  Starting her early, although she is absolutely puzzled by my ‘painting’ myself a different colour! 

Crisis Two:  Footwear.  I do not have a single pair of comfortable seasonal footwear for work.  I finally laid to rest my faithful M&S nude peep toe courts at the end of last summer, knowing that if they went into storage, I’d wear them again, and they truly had had their day.  And M&S aren’t known for change, so I was confident I’d just pick up another pair this year, but NO!  They have replaced them with a lurid snakeskin, which I will probably buy in the end out of sheer foot desperation.  I picked up a bargain on Sunday, pretty much exactly what I wanted but with a bit of a shimmery patch, but it wasn’t a shop that did half sizes.  Unable to keep a 7 on, the 6 came home with me, but by Monday lunch time they were under my desk and I was wearing illegal flip flops (against policy.  No mention of slippers though…).  So today I’ve unearthed a pair of lovely gold wedges I’d forgotten I had, which are ok as long as I’m sitting down.  Is it too much to ask?  And then of course there’s the big fat hot summer feet to contend with.  Show my trotters a bit of sun and warmth and they rise like a home-made loaf.  If that wasn’t enough, I have to think about quiet shoes for the exam season.  When I’m setting up or supervising exams, I don’t walk about peering over their shoulders like Miss Battle-Axe, but spend the time running about catering to their every whim – more paper, new pen, toilet trips etc etc, but in the deathly silence of an examination hall, you don’t want to clippity clop about in your heels, but over the years students have told me there’s something worse – the sandal foot slap.  You know, the noise your mule makes when you walk and it reconnects with your foot?  Definitely a concentration breaker!
 Crisis Three:  Is it long enough?  I’m tall, and standard lengths are often short.  This isn’t so bad in the safety and security of the Opaque Months, but as soon as it’s time to ditch the tights, much of my work wardrobe goes out to pasture.  
Crisis Four:  Is it smart enough?  I still need to look like the boss.  I won’t look like the boss in anything floaty, flowery, tropical, short, see-through or with a draw-string waist.  Its times like this that I wish we had a uniform policy.
But of course I don’t need to tell you that Daughter has no such wardrobe crisis.  Range of footwear:  Check.  Do they go up to an adult 6 in those new gold gladiators, I wonder?  Lace up pumps, flashing pumps, sturdy sandals, glam sandals, ballet flats, flip flops…all footwear eventualities covered.  T-shirts, vests, floaty tops, appropriate cardi’s:  Check.  Dresses, shorts, cool MC Hammer pants (you can’t touch this), skirts, blah, blah, blah:  Check.  The child has a sunglasses collection (including a matching blingy pair of aviators to me; so vomit-making for us to have the same, but so irresistible to me) and has to keep her hats in the spare wardrobe because they won’t fit in hers.  I might be willing to admit she’s potentially short on summer coats though, so there’s my mission.  Now we’re past the Peppa Pig and chums age, and she’s ditched cutesy for cool, I’m quite envious of her wardrobe.  Not sure it would help me out of my work wardrobe crisis, but the kid’s got some nice stuff!  And my worries about her thinking her name was George or Florence due to the labels in her clothes have proved unfounded!
But as for me, I’m at the mercy of the forecasters.  I reckon I can cobble about 5 appropriate outfits together, but I am truly in footwear crisis.  Other than that, there are some basic rules to follow:  Stay tanned, stay smooth, and always have a pair of flip flops under the desk and a bobble in my bag!  Maybe this clothing crisis is the real reason I entertain ideas about being a writer and working from home.  I would definitely have a completely unrestricted dress code – bare shoulders and flip flops all the way! 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

In which I have no plans for Easter...

I find the Easter break a bit of a strange one.  It has far less appeal when every food item has a weight-loss plan value as soon as you look at it.  Yes, that hot cross bun dripping in butter might be divine, but it costs about the same as stir-fried chicken and rice…or 3 gins!  I love chocolate, but an article in my weight-loss mag haunts me with values of 12 plus for Easter eggs – not far off half of my daily allowance.  And yes, of course I’d eat it all in one go!

In my single days, me and Sister would hot-foot it to Cyprus.  The first year we were promised glorious weather, and shivered for a week.  One of our favourite haunts became a bar with an open fire.  But it was always a fantastic holiday.  We were wise in subsequent years and packed a bit better (only a bit).  Picking up fiancees, husbands, mortgages and children put paid to the Easter jaunt, so now it’s all about searching for the Perfect Day Out.  But we’re hostages to the weather and Easter opening hours.  And I know that my Perfect Day Out does not involve sitting in a traffic jam of people also in pursuit of the Holy Grail PDO.  So, here on Maundy Thursday, I sit with NO PLANS for the Easter weekend.  I’ve got a few more days off across the two weeks school holidays, and me and Daughter will easily amuse ourselves.  But, I repeat – WE HAVE NO PLANS FOR THE EASTER WEEKEND.  I have clearly failed in basic festive parenting 101.  I have bagsful of Easter craft, but no plans as to when to use them.  I’ve been very ill prepared full stop.  We have no food shopping for the weekend that starts tomorrow, and I realised at lunch time that I had nothing for my class (of 17 year olds…) and so went out to buy something.  I think they all agreed that a Freddo really does symbolise Easter in a different way, and clearly the Easter Frog gets a raw deal.  I did buy some emergency hot cross buns in M&S before, and have taste tested one before taking them home to the family.  No butter, I haven’t lost the plot!

Of course I could go for suitably festive food tonight after work, except I am doing Sister a kindness by accompanying her to see a boy band that she likes.  I am going in dark glasses and a scarf.  I expect it will sound like an explosion when a venue full of old-enough-to-know-better women All Rise – all those cracking knees.

So, in a most unusual way, I’m going with the flow.  It’s not my style, and it makes me a bit twitchy.  But I’m giving it a go.  Wish me luck!