16 October 2011

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

I have to start with a small confession; what am I about to reveal I hear you ask? No I don’t have an imaginary friend or a penchant for pink furry handcuffs. That reminds me of a wee anecdote and at least one of you will know what I am about to say (come to think of it there may be two of you (if someone’s husband has mentioned a minor detail from his past)).

 Leaving presents are always a bit of a tricky subject for both the giver and the receiver. Experience has taught me to drop hints (when leaving) and take notes (when someone else is leaving). My departure from the Arts Council is the one to which I refer. I had been there for 3 and a ½ years not all of them a walk in the park. So it was an occasion my colleagues wanted to mark and shall we say the giving of the gifts was a memorable occasion. The Council had three offices so the presentation was in the Board Room with the video conference tuned into the two regional offices. I received a number of presents including the Diana Porter necklace you may have seen me wear often. My Friend with Benefits refers to it as ‘dog tags’ a la military identity wear. He simply lacks an accessorising gene (thankfully) although he is what my mother would refer to as a ‘natty’ dresser. The necklace has three words inscribed on it and the staff were allowed to choose the words I represented to them. A potentially a risky strategy but the words they chose were Strong, Warm and Joyful; I was truly touched. When I need a boost I wear the necklace and find fondling it most reassuring!

 Then I opened the other gifts – I was not given the option to open them in private and this should have alerted me to what followed. My fabulous PA had been shopping in Ann Summers leaving laden down with goodies including pink furry handcuffs! Funnily enough I never used them as what does one wear fluorescent pink fur with?   I must have mentioned this to a junior male colleague before I left sometime later and I gave them to him not realising he would subsequently marry someone I knew.

 I do hope I have remembered the recipient correctly but just in case I won’t mention it! The confession I am about to make relates to watching Strictly for the first time this weekend; the theme this week was Broadway Shows and apparently this is the choreographic inspiration. It was quite illuminating and I still remain unconvinced artistically at least. What pray makes me qualified to pronounce thus? Well when I was in my teenage I was a ballroom dancer, I may have mentioned before in the context of the skill not helping me in the marriage stakes. I am the (proud) owner of bronze, silver and gold awards in Waltz and Quickstep plus a range of individual ones in Tango, Disco and a few more I choose to forget. The black plastic shield from the Otter School of Ballroom Dancing is on ironic display in my bedroom.

 The contestants ranged from competent to shall we say a little lacking in technique (or skill). I am pleased to say that I was not familiar with most of the celebrities beyond the obvious Jason Donovan and the woman who sang ‘SHOUT’ oh yes that would be Lulu. If you wait the senior moment passes! If you were not familiar with the dance the choreography was based on (or parodying) you can watch the spectacle of it. However if you are then you really would struggle to find the source of inspiration as ballroom was never intended to be performed thus. Strictly Come Dancing with the orange faced Angela was almost a push too far especially when Latin American dance was on display but this contemporary manifestation is something else! The costumes were certainly imaginative but the sheer black shirt coupled with skin tight satin trousers on one professional partner was definitely eye catching. As was the bunny girl feather business worn by 23 year old Chelsea; not sure she will be showing these clips to her kids.

 Will I watch it again? Maybe if there isn’t anything else on but I shan’t be programming my box to avoid missing it – unless I feel the need to have my spirits lifted with a kiddie safe version of erotica of course! Mum is appalled by the outfits commented this morning that the women might as well be wearing nothing at all – she is not someone who subscribes to the ‘less is more’ approach to dressing especially when it involves natural spandex adorned with feathers!

 This morning it’s the Cardiff Half Marathon and as I write the competitors will have been pounding the tarmac for an hour (and I’m shamelessly still in my PJ’s). On top of the Nation’s disappointment in New Zealand I do hope the runners’ performance isn’t going to be affected as grief does curious things to a person. The sending off of Wales Captain for ‘an illegal tackle’ so early on in the match was shocking if what my father told me is true. Did Sam really pick up the Frenchman and thrown he on his head? The circa 60,000 Welsh supporters who journeyed to the Millennium Stadium at 6 am to watch the match on big screens were one committed bunch. I was in Abergavenny at the time – 10 am not 6 am – meeting a group of young people from a Youth Theatre. Whilst waiting for people to arrive we talked rugby as this seemed to be the most likely reason for the low turnout. The young women shared my interest in sport i.e. limited to when Wales were playing rugby and I confess I did allow the casual conversation to slide into the vicarious pleasure of watching men (or women) in motion!

 One young woman was grilled as to who she was supporting as her father is French and her mother Welsh. She nicely sidestepped the question of who she was supporting; she reserved the right to be smug whoever won! The more intriguing element of the conversation was half the young women who said they had a parallel persona that they used when travelling on trains. One said she had convinced a male passenger on a train that her grandfather was Noel Coward and another said a man had offered her a cheque for £1000. She hadn’t accepted the offer as the man proceeded to have an animated conversation with an empty seat! All the young women were blonde attractive and curvaceous shall we say. The confidence and self belief is astonishing but I worry about how street wise they really are. Could they get themselves out of a tricky situation? And more importantly are they risking their future health by exposing so much flesh to the elements when frankly they must be freezing? Keep your kidneys lagged for winter girls!

 The key thing these young people get out of the Youth Theatre is friendship; something that later in life they apparently will have to treat with caution if they happen to find themselves in positions of high office. This week the country has been entranced by Liam and Adam’s relationship, well not a relationship exactly, more of a supportive comfort blanket kind of thing. I find myself both intrigued and bemused by the whole story. This was followed up by another Westminster Politician wandering round a Park dictating and recycling simultaneously. Apparently he wanted to lighten the load hence placing letters from constituents in bins! Eccentricity perhaps but please tell me we haven’t got an elected house of odd balls with weird habits – no wonder the Civil Service is anxious to ensure the Members are suitably supervised! I wonder if the Civil Service entrance exams include ways of ferreting out whether the applicant has subtle parenting skills – oh yes that’s called diplomacy! Management, I have always maintained, is the subtle act of manipulation; rather like marriage I guess… no ladies this is not cynicism, it is pragmatism informed by observed wisdom.

This weekend I am indulging in a spot of self diagnosis. I live with the residual damage from historical episodes i.e. certain parts of my body are permanently dead where the nerves are damaged. Over the last couple of days the dead sensation is covering a rather wider area in my left leg specifically around my knee/thigh. I became aware of this when I realised I couldn’t feel my hand on my thigh – may I point out I was in the kitchen cooking at the time not doing anything more nefarious!

 Swollen knee joints can sometimes be a side effect of too much salt and I have unusually been eating bread (and hand raised pork pies (delicious items available on the Morrisons Deli counter)). Or it could be a side effect of painkilling drugs. So should I throw away the rest of the Toastie loaf – Morrisons Sunflower and Something granary type bread – then I can’t eat it. Or should I just live with the pain and keep my fingers crossed? Am I kidding myself? Possibly but only time will tell. To arrest an episode (of MS) the only resolution is being stuffed full of steroids. Steroids are not a route I willing go down as last time my body swelled up and frankly I thought I was going to burst! I stopped taking them and waited. What happened? To be honest I can’t actually remember as life distracted me; something more pressing took precedence!  

 This week I will be doing a final email to see if anyone else would like to come to the Salon on 24th October. So far we are a small group again but as there are no number restrictions at Wood’s the intimate atmosphere can be still be created. And yes there are new sophisticats coming along for their first Victorious Endeavour!

 After November I will pause for a couple of months on the Salon front. Booking since the summer have been noticeably slower so I shall review the model and in true consultant style evaluate the situation! But we have two fascinating speakers before then so please do check your diaries – 24 October and 22 November. Curiosity may grab you as intelligence is pleasure and the Salons aim to feed the little gray cells – although I understand brown is the colour this autumn I am firmly behind gray as my signature colour!

 In sophistication as always

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Filed under Musings of a Contemporary Spinster, Sophisticated Salons

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