Just as there are life’s tongue-rollers and non-tongue-rollers, there are life’s scarf-tiers and non-scarf-tiers. Now, I can roll my tongue pretty darned well, though I say so myself. But I have never ever been able to wrap a scarf around my neck without appearing seriously intent on hanging myself, and I strongly suspect I never will. As a teenager I observed enviously as my fashionable friends entwined themselves swiftly and dexterously with all manner of neck attire, and emerged looking casual, suave, sophisticated and sexy. Meanwhile, six hours later, I could still be standing red-faced in front of the mirror, with an increasingly rag-like length of cotton, silk or whatever material, looking like an extra from the latest zombie movie.
Of course, my darling daughterly duo are acutely aware of their mother’s fashion infirmities. Very early they realised that if they wanted an example to follow of how to look good, it certainly wasn’t going to be coming from Yours Truly. Fortunately for them, Supergran fits the bill to perfection, being a dedicated follower of fashion. Just as her not-quite-fifty-year-old daughter (aka me) always manages to look a mess – without even trying, Supergran always succeeds in turning herself out to coordinated perfection. Better still (in her grand-daughters’ eyes), Supergran also adores shoes – pretty, delicate shoes…shoes with feathers and buckles and dainty little straps. Meanwhile, Yours Truly has an embarrassing (apparently) proclivity for plain, flat shoes, trainers and (my absolute favourite) trusty old wellington boots. In fact, I seriously reckon that the first 17 years of my life galloped by without me wearing anything other than wellies – I mean, I was a farmer’s daughter, after all.
The love of things lovely (unless you consider “lovely” to be a sleek pair of Hunters – as the writer does) very definitely skipped a generation in our family, with the result that the girls coveted Supergran’s shoes, jewellery, smart scarves and jackets almost from the time they first realised that the most fashionable item likely to appear from their mother’s wardrobe was an ancient hockey skirt. So when it came to buying Daughter No. 1’s first ballgown, Yours Truly dutifully bailed out early on and delegated the task to Supergran instead. Now, much as she adores her grandmother, D. No. 1 was far from impressed by this dereliction of maternal duty. “Most mothers,” she wailed, “can’t wait to go shopping for their daughter’s first ballgown”. Not this one, I explained kindly but firmly, adding that in view of my inability even to sport a pair of matching socks most days (where do all the other ones go, by the way?), I felt seriously ill-equipped for the hugely responsible role of co-ballgown selector. And that’s even before we start on how much I loathe the very sight of the “Changing Room” sign in any shop. So disinterested in shopping for clothes am I, that I’d genuinely rather just don a hessian bag every morning (though on reflection, it might need lined so it didn’t itch too much). Hence, whilst ever-game Supergran and the disillusioned debutante strutted the streets of the Big Smoke à la recherche de the ballgown of D. No. 1’s dreams, Yours Truly was out in the garden hanging out the washing – possibly the only job involving clothes that I will ever feel remotely qualified to do.