As part of a publicity drive for The School Gate Survival Guide when it comes out at the end of summer, there’s a wonderful PR agency working their socks off to make sure that it’s not just my Great Aunt Edna reading it. Sometimes they send through requests for my participation in magazines. The latest one was a feature on super-stylish women who wore something a little unusual to get married. I ticked a bit of that box, but clearly not the whole box.
No one, ever, could accuse me of being super-stylish. I still break out into a sweat when I think about the jogger who had the misfortune to encounter me at 5.30am on the hill outside my house, walking the dog in my leopard skin dressing gown, stripy pyjamas where I obviously clicked on the escaped convict style when ordering online, all topped off with furry purple moon boots. Obviously, I don’t usually wander off into public places in my night clothes but it was early on a Sunday morning in November, the dog was a puppy and had yet to be trained out of chasing bikes, kites and toddlers. I thought if I just popped out with her, she might stop barking and we’d all be able to get some sleep. Unfortunately, she decided to chase the jogger, which instead of allowing me to melt away quietly into my garden led to me charging across the hill, boobs flinging about all over the place, hair like a gonk and abject horror on the face of the poor insomniac runner.
I really would like to be more groomed. The sort of woman who could bump into an ex-boyfriend at any time and have the satisfaction of seeing him crumple to his knees at the prize not won. As it is, I think those who got away are more likely to form a little celebration club to skip across the hill outside my house Morecambe and Wise-style, with Ken Dodd’s Happiness as their signature tune.
I think the problem is two-fold. Often enough, the crumb of morning time available for the brushing of hair or the slicking on of lipstick is spirited away by needing to clear up the yoghurt and blueberries helpfully tipped onto the floor by the cholesterol conscious dog. Or a drama involving the shoddy buying of cereals *containing raisins*. Or forgetting to print off the history homework after promising the night before. Yet I see other women at the school gates who have more children than me, with lovely lips and shiny coiffed hair, and no doubt they puffed their pillows and squared their duvets before leaving home rather than tearing out the house, yelling ‘Where’s the dog?’ before shouting, ‘Sausage! Sausage!’ to the amusement of the early morning walkers on the hill.
(Never mind writing The School Gate Survival Guide, maybe I need to read a non-fictional version of the damn thing.)
Anyway…the upside of not being a paragon of sartorial elegance is that I never care when other people’s dogs jump up at me with their muddy paws, I couldn’t give a hoot if I get caught in the rain, and best of all, when I do dress up, the contrast is so stunning that even the husband notices.