This bank holiday weekend, I decided it was time to revisit an old hobby that has somewhat fallen by the wayside since I had a baby.
Yes, I went shopping.
I arrived home, laden with shopping bags full of clothes, just like in the olden days when I used to spend every weekend admiring the wares all over Oxford Street, or pore over the vintage wares in the coolest parts of East London, searching for the perfect Pat Butcher-esque 1980s knits and 1970s evening dresses last worn by Margot from the Good Life for a spot of fondue over at Abigail’s Party.
The only difference was that this time, the clothes were not for me.
“Look what I bought!” I cried excitedly to my mother, conveniently forgetting the fact that she was likely to respond by bleating about ISAs and credit cards and aren’t-you-supposed-to-be-saving-up-to-buy-a-house solidly for the next three weeks at least. I began to pull the full range of adorable toddler-sized Breton tops from Joules out of the bags and fantasise about my probable future life as a lifestyle blogger with immaculate white furniture, posing coquettishly on the front of my coffee table book of photographs of me, beaming, and holding aloft various plates of courgetti and raw kale with a jus of blueberry and pomegranate made in the nutribullet; suddenly having perfect skin, and perfect hair with absolutely no visible greys. Maybe there would even be a perfect labrador at my heels, excited for his morning walk on the beach near where my perfect spotless white-furnished house will obviously be; and an immaculate Piglet, possibly with suddenly more hair, so that I can complete the look of general ruddy outdoor health by curling it and ruffling it a bit for the photos in that adorably middle-class way. Hell, while we’re at it maybe there would even be a perfect husband sat nearby, possibly behind the vintage oak rough-hewn table in the perfect kitchen, gazing at me adoringly, although obviously he would have to avert his eyes when I pulled the enormous M&S “thigh and tummy slimming” knickers out of the bag.
At last, having shown my mother both the fantasy-life wardrobe from Joules which I had purchased for Piglet, and the enormous knickers for me, courtesy of the need to hide certain aspects of reality in order to partake of this fantasy life, such as the increasing girth around my midsection, I pulled out the one thing I had allowed myself to have; the one remnant of my former life that lay within those bags…..
“OH MY GOD THOSE TROUSERS HAVE GOT AN ELASTICATED WAIST!” was my mother’s cry as I triumphantly removed that one item from the bag. “YOU’RE TURNING INTO ME!”
Suddenly deflated, I looked down at the trousers.
“No I’m not!” I wailed. “These are….these are…..THESE ARE FROM AMERICAN APPAREL!”
How had my mother failed to realise that I am, at thirty-five, (or “nearly thirty-six” as my mother cruelly likes to point out, despite the fact that there are still a full three months until my next birthday and I could totally, like, run a marathon before then. Or win the Nobel Peace Prize) still on the actual bleeding cutting edge of cool?
I looked down at the trousers. Sure enough, my mother was right. They did have an elasticated waist. They were a very dull shade of blue. The legs were tapered into the classic parsnip shape that flattered absolutely no one. In fact, they looked a bit like the sort of trousers that a woman of my mother’s age might buy, had they been in BHS instead of American Apparel. And had they been in BHS, I would not have bought them. I would not have seen them. I would not have even been within a hundred metre radius of the building they were in, let alone lifted them triumphantly and waved them under my mother’s nose expecting platitudes about how I had still got it, still down with the kids, still thinner than most teenagers, and definitely still rocking American Apparel.
Not only had I been taken in by the false glow of shiny marketing and the promise of instant hipster chic if I only purchased said overpriced old-person trousers, but I had been tragic enough to believe that I still do have it. That I still had the insouciant ironic granny style of some model-esque nineteen year old Hoxton hipster in Deirdre Barlow’s old glasses. Instead I just looked like Granny. Piglet’s granny, to be precise. My own mother. The very same mother who had just quite literally collapsed into fits of giggles at her middle-aged daughter’s folly at thinking she was still cool.
Cheers Mum, I get it. I’m old.