Posted in Personal life

It’s So Last Century

My sister-in-law Janet’s famed theory (“The best way to get something done is to do something else”) strikes again today as I take my car to the garage for repairs.

My objective: to cure the car of making an odd scraping sound that suggests the exhaust might be about to fall off. While the mechanics try to diagnose the cause, I’m restricted to a range within walking distance of the garage. So I hit Chipping Sodbury High Street with nothing to do but keep an eye on my phone for an update on my car’s welfare.

My achievement: one new skirt, one new waistcoat, one new jacket, one new blouse, plus a bill for £68 (so a bit of a bargain, then). This is, of course, excluding the garage costs.

A frequent target for comedians as the ultimate in rural backwaters, Chipping Sodbury High Street is actually quite a pretty place, with an old-fashioned marketplace centre and a range of shops untouched by the global brands that dominate most other high streets. Until I ran out of cats, my most frequent missions to Sodbury were for the sake of the veterinary surgery. Until the wonderful Mr Riley retired a few years ago, he seemed to spend almost as much time with my menagerie as I did. He particularly looked forward to appointments with Floyd, whom he pronounced “the most amiable cat I’ve ever met”. Even when taking an animal on a one-way trip to the vet, I always enjoyed the fact that Mr Riley’s surgery was situated in Horse Street.

Our house now being a feline-free zone, I spend today’s visit meandering down the High Street. I check out the charity shops, as you do, before wandering into a clothes shop that I’d never been into before. Having previously written it off as a shop for old ladies, I soon find myself enthusiastically trying on half the shop. At one point another customer asks my permission to try on a dress. I am carrying so many clothes that she thinks I must work there. I leave with a surprisingly full carrier bag, trying not to consider the possibility that the chief reason I nowlike this shop is that I’ve evolved into an old lady.

My car, incidentally, does not get fixed. The required part will not arrive until Monday. So my sole achievement this morning is to revitalise my wardrobe.

This comes not a moment before time. Recently I rearranged my clothes. Usually I oscillate between hanging them in order of colour and pairing them up in outfits, in between the odd bout of chaos. I flirted with the idea of putting them in order by date of purchase, until I realised that a shocking proportion of items were bought before the turn of the millenium. Never mind them being “so last year” – “so last century” was nearer the mark. Carbon-dating would not go amiss.

But one thing’s for sure: Janet’s theory is proven beyond all doubt.


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

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