Posted in Personal life

Janet’s Theory Strikes Again

Compelling further proof today of my sister-in-law’s theory that the best way to get something done is to do something else. (See blog entry for March 4th).

I take my car to be valeted. This is not a moment before time, on two counts.  Firstly, a journey with me has lately become increasingly like travelling inside a speeding wheelie bin.  (I was tempted yesterday to pull over by a van offering a wheelie bin cleaning service.)  Secondly, the valet service is actually a Christmas present from my husband, and in three days’ time it will be Easter.  In keeping with Janet’s theory, by finally having the car valeted, I manage to complete not one but five other tasks:

– I get to try out two new coffee shops while I wait for the work to be done

– I  finally sort out the toys, books and colouring pens that have been multiplying around my daughter’s car seat

While drinking the coffee, I draft article with an imminent deadline (working at home yesterday, I allowed the ironing to displace my writing plans)

– Feeling I’m stretching the goodwill of the coffee shop proprietors, I also visit the nearest  public library and am able to find the two books that my usual branch was unable to provide last week

– And last, but not least in terms of profitability, the mechanic finds  two major items of interest down the side of the seats – a purple fairy doll of my daughter’s and a nearly-new mobile phone that I thought I’d lost 18 months ago.

This is particularly good news for my husband.  As luck would have it, I invested in a new mobile for myself just the other day, so the rediscovered phone will now be passed on to him, replacing his current ancient handset.  This phone cost me rather more than the valet service has cost him, so this Christmas, at least, he has made a net profit.   And of course I benefit by having an immaculately clean car.

I wonder what I should request for next year’s Christmas present?
Posted in Personal life

Dressing Down

Two days to go before I leave my job and I cast a critical eye over my wardrobe, earmarking my dark green suit for the charity shop.  I’ve vowed never again to have a job for which I have to power-dress, so a suit will definitely be surplus to requirements.

I’m planning to go through my whole wardrobe next week and prune it down.  It’s too full of dull black tops and brown jumpers, crowding out the things I really love to wear: soft, comfortable vests and cuddly, yielding cord or denim skirts in lush, lively colours – watermelon, lime, sky blue.  When I’m my own person, after Friday, I’m going to dress just for me.  So charity shop here I come.

I’ve always fancied a capsule wardrobe, but in its present state, a warehouse would be more appropriate.  Reducing my clothes on the old 80:20 principle will make getting dressed so much simpler and quicker. Actually, it’s probably more like 95:5 in my case – a tiny 5% of my clothes certainly get 95% of the action.

This streamlining won’t solve all my sartorial problems, though: I’ve just discovered I’ve been wearing my brown jumper back to front all day.  Never mind, at my current rate of progress, getting progressively more casual as my day of departure approaches, by Friday I’ll be pitching up at work in my pyjamas.  Well, that will certainly brighten up the office.

Posted in Family, Personal life

In Defence of My Pyjamas

A great news item on the Today progamme this morning about a Tesco store in Cardiff banning customers who are wearing their pyjamas, “in case it offends other customers”.  Apparently there is a trend among young mums to wear pyjamas all day.

On the evening news, a lady makes an eloquent tribute to pyjamas as comfortable, well-made, easy to launder, cheap, colourful, appealing to the wearer’s children and so on.  By the end of the article, it is hard to resist the argument and one begins to understand why young mums are spending all day in them, not bothering to change if they have to pop out for a pint of milk.

I am particularly gratified by this article because I spent a large part of the Christmas holidays in mine (and not only because I had two rather smart pairs as gifts).  Having been snug and warm in them all night, and intending to do nothing more energetic than a bit of gentle pottering around the house, hiding from the snow, there seemed no good reason for getting dressed.  It drove my husband mad.  (So there’ s a further justification for keeping them on.)

Of course, just wearing pyjamas is not in itself a sign of indolence. Despite being on two weeks’ holiday, I’d be up every day by 8am, make hot drinks for us all, empty the dishwasher, load the washing machine, tidy up,  write a letter or two, check my emails, feed the guinea pigs, break the ice on the birdbath, putout  scraps for the birds  – all before my husband and daughter were out of bed. As I was just about to sit down to catch my breath, my husband would trudge downstairs, having done nothing more strenuous than drink the tea I’d made, and claim the moral high ground because he was dressed.

What is it about pyjamas that makes people brand the wearer lazy?  They would have to be an excellent disguise for a spy.  No-one would think for a moment that they might be on active service.  Perhaps those Tesco store detectives had better look out.
Posted in Personal life

Crocs R Us

One of the things I am most looking forward to about going freelance is wearing Crocs every day if I feel like it.

I’ve never been fond of trainers, and before the arrival of Crocs, I alternated between boots and sandals, according to the time of year.  But Crocs (and the numerous cheap imitations) could have been invented especially for me: liberating, comfortable, practical in all weathers, not requiring socks, and available in every colour, from camouflage to brash.

It’s not just the feel or the look of them that I like.  There’s also something very levelling about them that appeals to my left-wing leanings.  Go into a hospital and you will find them on the feet of all kinds of people, from the lowliest porter to a top surgeon, all of them hooked on their comfort.
You can also use Crocs to express a certain rebelliousness against conformity and expectation.  A school lab technican I know chooses to offset his crisp white coat and top pocketful of pens with a wildly mismatched pair: one orange, one lime green (and yes, before you ask, he does have another pair at home just like them).  From the ankles up he’s sensible; lower down, he’s mad as a box of frogs that have just been disected by Year 9.

Crocs are an antidote to snobbery and a welcome escape from the tyranny of the business suit and sensible shoes. They put two fingers up (or should that be toes?) to the pain and challenge of balancing on spiky fashion stilettos.  I bet Germaine Greer likes Crocs.  If footbinding is at one extreme of podiatral fashion, Crocs are at the other.  With my size 8s having rather missed the small-is-beautiful boat of fashion, it’s no wonder that I’m hooked on Crocs.  My only footwear decision each morning from now on will be which of my many pairs of Crocs to choose – scarlet, lime, navy, black, orange…  Or, like my lab technician friend, perhaps I’ll just ring the changes.  They say that doing something different every day fuels creative thinking. Even if it does frighten the horses in the streets.

Footnote: this blog has not been sponsored by Crocs.  Other holey plastic shoes are available.  No feet were harmed in the writing of this blog.

Posted in Personal life

What’s Going On In My Wardrobe?

Something is happening to my clothes.

Ever since I made the decision to quit my day job to concentrate on my writing, all the dark colours seem to have disappeared, and I am stepping out in ever brighter and cheerier clothes.

It can’t be the effect of spring.  It’s still very definitely winter, even though the snow has gone.  My lightweight clothes are still in their annual hibernation, under the bed, and several layers each day are essential.  A couple of months ago, all I could find in my wardrobe to wear was black, brown and, when feeling relatively frivolous, perhaps I’d go mad and add a touch of grey. Now, all the acid greens and watermelon pinks are somehow leaping off the hangers at me.

And today I felt the need to dust off my sunglasses.  It’s got to be a good omen.