Thursday, 29 April 2010

All Change

I'm going through the change. No, not the change of life, the change of clothes. No, I'm not hormonal. No, I'm not mad. No, I haven't suddenly decided that jeggings are sensible wear for ordinary women, instead of a satanic instrument designed to make size 12 legs look like the results of a hippopotamus' botched liposuction operation wapped in a square inch of cling film. And with stitching in the most unfortunate place, as though your labia had gone crispy. No, my feelings on jeggings are utterly immutable. They will never change.
But the real change of clothes, which has nothing to do with jeggings, hits all of us. All women, once they pass twenty-six, come into contact with the change of clothes. One day you're bounding down a midwinter street in a skirt the size of a cake frill, praying you don't slip off your towering stilettos in case your arse cheeks get frozen to the pavement; the next you're standing in Oasis' fitting room giving girly squeals at the thought of getting your knees out for the lads. One day your black hoodie looks all yoof-duz-sexy with your perfect makeup and immaculate hair; the next time you wear it for those country walks you've started taking, you daren't stand still in case a passing farmer mistakes you for a hay bale in a tarpaulin. And then you know the change of clothes has begun.
The thing is - the point I've been trying to make, in my laboured, smart-arsed way - that what looks good in your teens and early twenties is practically anything. You lie around doing frankly bugger all, eating cheesecake out of the packet and drinking so much your liver threatens to leave home, and yet you never seem to rise above a size 10. Your skin has the bloom of a perfect peach, your hair is fragrant and shining, and you can wear whatever you goddamn please. (Looking back, it's rather a pity you spent your time dating candidates for Dickhead of the Year award and whingeing about the size of your bum. You could have done so much more.)
And then you hit twenty-five, and it's fine, nothing really changes, and quietly you congratulate yourself on ageing gracefully and accepting your move towards mature womanhood....until your twenty-seventh birthday, where everything suddenly goes HAYWIRE. You develop a stack of spare tyres. You look at a cake and instantly put on a pound; except if it's a choux bun, then you put on three. And suddenly you have a wardrobe of shoes you can't walk in, skirts that showcase your cellulite, and size 8 tops that rise remorselessly over your size 14 muffin top whenever the laundry situation gets desperate enough for you to need to force them over the vast pallid barrage balloons that pass for your bangers these days. And all that sophisticated black number does is make you look like a widow left out in the rain.
And so cometh the change of clothes. My days of t-shirts and combats are sadly going west, bloody fast. Of late, my wardrobe has developed a creeping diversity; reds and hot pinks now sit in among the ranks of black, and as a desperate attempt to hide my bangers, I even bought a kimono top in a very loud print that makes me look like a rockery. Skirts skim my knees and my shoes boast smart wedge heels. I've even started covering up my exuberant cleavage with a scarf now and then. And as I totter past the mirror in the belted black coat that I faintly imagine makes me look like Lauren Bacall, I suddenly think: whoa. I look like a GROWN-UP.
I can't tell you how unnerving that is. It's so unnerving that after the second time I had to watch an episode of He-Man and eat Jammy Dodgers just to reassert my self-identity as a big kid. It's therapy for my identity, but I promise you, it's done my waistline no good at all.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Maybe It's Because I'm Not A Londoner

I am Not Good at modern life. One symptom of this is that I really, really hate London. Not London where people live, places like Ealing and Richmond. No, central London, where my day job occasionally takes me. That's the bit I hate.
I walk everywhere in central London, being as how the thought of of being crammed in a minuscule metal cartridge and shot through tunnels that both in looks and hygiene resemble someone's actual rectum after winning Top Eater at a chili cook-off inspires me with fear the like of which only Amy Winehouse's gynaecologist can understand. And when you walk, you see a lot. A lot of milling tourists pointing at the Household Cavalry and taking up the entire footpath to do it. A lot of beetroot-faced, yelling maniacs driving cars who like to park on pedestrian crossings, then run over your foot as you attempt to cross when it is your legal right to do so. A lot of fashionably-dressed people running flat-out with a trolley case bumping along the pavement behind them and a large decaf soy latte in the other hand. I've been laid out by those before.
I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me Nottingham or give me death. Actually, death is about right. I often wonder if I'm going to survive the day in London, what with all the road rage flying about, and what with how my liver jacks up bile production enough to shrivel itself the moment I walk out of St. Pancras onto Euston Road. It's not that I don't like places other than where I live - Sheffield and Liverpool are two cities that remain close to my heart. Manchester too, despite the hubris. Or maybe because of it. I like modesty in my cities, but Manchester's hubris is the turkey-strut of the mill-boy made good, curiously loveable and emblematic of its history. By contrast, London's hubris is just plain smug. Probably because it has such an innate and massive economic advantage over everywhere else in the British Isles that it seems like Usain Bolt striding out to race the 100m sprint against a fat lad from Hull. It has all the best jobs, all the government (not that most cities would compete for that advantage) enough blue plaques to tile a swimming pool, and money chucked at the egregious place from all over the world. And what have we got in Nottingham? Caves, which are cliffs with holes in. And in Sheffield? The hospice of the British manufacturing industry, dying on its arse.
No, wait. It's not all that bad. I've just thought; they still have to fight their way through the tourists to get to work. Perhaps they're being punished enough after all.