17 April 2011

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

It was bound to happen sooner or later; I am writing this before Sunday evening so you have my undivided attention. What’s more I am in a public place so it’s an excellent opportunity to people watch and eves drop of course!

The ladies on the table next to me, I surmise, are engaged in a similar profession. As with women of a certain age they are having an apologetic lunch. By this I mean they are most animated when one comments that a mutual acquaintance has lost weight. ‘How much are we talking?’ asks one of the other two, ‘Stones?’ ‘Well I don’t know’ replies the other. ‘A decent amount’ says another, ‘it’s noticeable. You can see it’.

A collective sigh of resignation follows, they might as well have said ‘lucky bitch’ as I’m sure that was what they were all thinking. What follows is an analysis of what each person has on their plate; the words ‘I shouldn’t’, ‘It’s a treat’ and ‘I can’t possibly finish it all’ are heard. At another table a stout solid woman in her late 60s sits slouched down in her seat; eyes firmly focused on her lunch. No guilt here just a tad of silent ‘I don’t mind sitting here on my own’; the stories we tell ourselves to justify our behavior! I did vaguely recognize her as someone who had bothered and berated me at my time at the Arts Council so I selfishly didn’t acknowledge her; I doubt she would remember me as if it is who I think it was she is a serial botherer of public funders!

This week has been littered with shocking examples of poor sartorial choices; not on my part I hasten to add. In the same establishment described above the waitress was frankly not playing to her strengths; of course she is wearing the uniform apron around her waist, nothing wrong there although it is awfully difficult to do much with such an item. I confess to owning a Cath Kidston full apron myself, a present from my mother, and it is quite stylish!

Worn above the waist apron is a patterned/embellish stretchy t-shirt material top; the item is a shall we say a snug fit. If she had left it there then she could probably have got away with it but no we have finished the ensemble with a short sleeve shrug cardigan! Nasty and gives the effect that her arms are being yanked backwards. Brace yourselves ladies I haven’t finished yet!

The shrug is tied under her bust emphasizing the muffin top between the apron (waist) and the shrug (bust). I implored you all to take a moment to check yourself from a range of angles before exiting the homestead as the trauma inflicted on unsuspecting members of the public from your outfit can be significant. Sadly, and rather irritatingly, even the slightest of us can create oozing rolls of flesh ~ think bread dough ~ when wearing overly close fitting garments!

Today was quite possibly the highlight of the crimes committed on the wardrobe front. The sun brings out flesh exposure on a magnificent scale especially in Barry; I didn’t realize how many tattoos a person could have, or indeed the places where the ink filled needle might have been employed. No matter how much I trusted someone I wouldn’t have a picture drawn on the back of my neck. Standing in the queue at the Morrisons tobacco/lottery stand I was behind a couple with matching name couplings on the back of their necks; and no I am NOT making this up!

Tattoos have always worried me, not that I have anything against them in principle you understand. After all they are a form of self expression and can be a visual art form in themselves. The ones that look the most aesthetically pleasing are, to me at least, the Chinese characters. But again how do you know that they say ‘beautiful goddess’ and not ‘no parking’? And given the location of some of them one wonders if the latter might not be more appropriate! (Harsh but, I’m sure those of you giggling as you read this, funny!)

At the petrol station I spied a woman wearing jeggings; who ever invented this concept should be tried on the grounds of crimes against humanity. They DO NOT FLATTER anybody I promise you! This poor specimen obviously thought she was chocolate in this outfit as she skipped into the kiosk to pay as her male companion milked the pump. Yes they did emphasize her small ankles to the extent one wondered how she managed to maintain an upright position!

The fit was way beyond snug and because denim doesn’t give the fabric ruckled up, and down, in a most unforgiving manner. A skin tight sleeveless v necked stretchy pattern top rode up to reveal a two tier muffin top. Note to produce a two tier muffin top first apply a bra that is too tight: result four breasts, a pair of fleshy shelves under the arms (pits) and tier one under the bra line. Second squeeze into ‘jeggings’ or jeans will do just as well, result: tier two above the waist band. (Add in a flash of ‘luminescent’ stretch marks for a human ‘lived in’ touch).

The addition of Rhine stone flip-flops and you have the complete picture. Oh no you haven’t! Before I continue I confess this next misdemeanor was a new one on me and, as I write this, I think I’ve worked out how to create this effect. Now the rear view of the ‘jeggings’ was enhanced by a curious pronounced outline of her underwear i.e. her pants; (note to my US friend ‘underpants). The middle of each buttock had the indentation of the edge of her pants; she must have been wearing tummy control / bottom lifting elastic jobs. Heavens to Betsy what possessed her to leave the house thus attired?

And what was her man thinking allowing her to humiliate herself in this way? OK I can hear some of you saying ‘if she was happy with the way she looked I have no right to judge her’, and of course you are right. But in true Gok style it pains me to see women dress in such an ill advised manner when a little more attention can flatter any woman no matter her shape! Take it from someone who knows ~ have you ever tried to put together an outfit that accommodates walking with crutches? Guaranteed to ruin the sleeves of whatever you’re wearing making the addition of leather elbow patches seem like a practical albeit hardly stylish idea!

On a related issue Auntie has just been to London with her friend; they took in the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London and a couple of galleries. The Afghanistan exhibition at Tate Britain is recommended. She and friend didn’t really shop as between the tourist destinations, and taking my other Godson out for dinner, there really wasn’t time. However, and I don’t understand this myself, they did find some nice pyjamas in Marks and Spencers. Because there aren’t branches of Twiggy’s emporium in their home towns of course!

The amusing thing was that they both, Auntie and her friend, bought exactly the same nightwear. Now I remember doing that when as a young teenager I was allowed to buy my own clothes (within limits; specifically not for school).  I quipped that they better remember this when if on holiday they shared a bedroom and resembled twins! She said, rightly, that this would be highly unlikely; Saga don’t, I think, levy a single person supplement.

This weekend I have had my parents and brother to stay; we have been to the municipal dump with the contents of my shed, dad being most annoyed that we didn’t share this experience with him. I know this because he told my neighbor who told me! Lovely as it is to have a supportive family the organisation that goes into planning how they can help is overwhelming. And that’s before I get onto the huge pile of washing I have been left with!

One job I thought my brother, who is officially my hero, could do was to go with me to buy a new television. The he could set it up for me; perfect in theory. To cut a long tedious story short I have a new TV and my old one is at the dump. Unfortunately during the set up process the cable box ceased to function so I can’t watch it until the nice man has been on Tuesday! Still Waking the Dead finished last week and Lewis is a poor substitute in my book.

And finally ladies, the planning for the next Salon continues hampered by the number of bank holidays and the wedding. So the next date is more likely to be in June than May as I know you have other calls on your diary. Please bear with me and your Hostess will deliver a deliciously tantalizing soiree.

As I sign off this week’s missive hope you have enjoyed the glorious sunshine today and wore sun block facilitating a nice rosy glow oozing with well being; avoiding the appearance of third degree burns in the morning! Now I must sign off as I simply must water the pots as they will be dying of thirst after the heat of Gavin and Stacey land today. The second tranche of ‘goldfish’ sadly seem not to be responding to fresh water and I think I shall have to render the fish containing vessels to the vase cupboard; my inadvertent cruelty will only stretch so far!

But before I do leave you I must share a salutary story that made me sad and realize how fortunate I am. Whilst shopping in the supermarket this week I was behind a woman at the checkout; I notice that rather than items being scanned and put in her trolley the process was in reverse. I too live off a limited income but not to this extent. The woman was going through the items already in her trolley to see what she really needed so she could work out which things on the checkout belt she could afford. I have noticed this more often recently and it is a real indictment of the state of our nation today.

As a person addicted to fresh produce I have noticed how expensive it is to eat healthily; how affordable is it to feed a family with five a day on a fixed income? Politicians are quick to judge from their position of privilege me thinks; and that’s without me having a good rant about the decision to cease/limit funding for the Poppy Project (who supports women who have been trafficked). Apparently the Salvation Army, who has been award the funding to support this client group, can do the job more (cost) effectively! I’d shout loudly if I thought anyone was listening!

In frustrated sophistication

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