Monthly Archives: December 2009

Noughties Fashion Comments

Just a minor observational round-up.

This decade was obviously the first decade in which I really got into clothes and fashion. Starting at the age of ten, when I was still wearing various bizarrely dated outfits from charity shops, and didn’t yet own a pair of flared jeans, by the age of fourteen things were a bit better although I was still wearing the same old jeans and a selection of tops in a range of dull blue, grey or brown hues, I always had a certain sense of what did or didn’t work even if it was a very mousy dress sense. By the time I left school I was getting more confident and had a bigger disposable income and more friends and a good hair cut, as well as contact lenses, so I started to buy nicer and more fashionable clothes; went through a few years of dressing slightly outrageously, and now I dress, well, I don’t know. Reasonably well. Stylish, toned down, but edgy, I like to think. I probably still look a bit drunken 30-year-old clown sometimes but never mind.

So yeah, over the last decade I gradually became aware of fashion, gradually followed it more and more slavishly, and then less slavishly again. And what I noticed was that this decade, in some kind of 20th century retrospective, we’ve had ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’ as major themes. Since 2005 we have worked through, roughly in order, fashions harking back to the Fifties (prom dresses and swirly big skirts in about 2005), Sixties (shift dresses, later that same year, and Amy Winehouse’s beehive), Seventies (remember that whole gypsy/hippy thing?), eighties (bright colours and this years Huge Shoulders), and now we’re doing the nineties again, or at least the late eighties (body con, grunge/rock (all though this time, girls, it’s all glam, doncha know?), antifashion, calf-length skirts, ankle boots). We’ve also had moments from the Twenties and Forties but as far as I’m concerned the Twenties and Forties should be harked back to at all possible moments anyway.

I think my favourite thing though was maxi dresses with empire lines – it’s the nearest I’ll ever get to actually being in a Jane Austen novel, although I’m never brave enough to wear mine, it needs mending and adjusting a little bit, and anyway, back at the beginning of the nineteenth century they (honestly) used to drench them in water to make them as clingy and see-through as possible. And there you were thinking that the regency was all lace parasols and subtle signalling with fans… .

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I Am Not Your Good Cause

I am poor. I have been poor for quite some time. This is because I am hopeless with money when I have it and so very rapidly I don’t have it, although I am getting better at holding back.

For some reason, more recently, all my friends have started offering me money – offers of going halves on train tickets so I can go and see them, offering me meals out and nights out on them, even offering bald cash with dubious justifications as to why they may or may not owe it to me.

I am not that poor. I can stick up for myself. And I’m quite happy to accept that there are times when I may have to miss out on things because I can’t pay for them, or times when I’ll have to drink tap water all night so that I can pay for my bus fare or entry fee or whatever. It’s just the way it is. If I had enough money that I could sub other people then yes, I’d be happier about having things bought for me because there would be some kind of equality there, the idea of reciprocality at least in the vague future, but no – I have little enough that your cash handouts and free meals are not likely to be paid back, or paid forward, for a long while yet, and so the idea of you basically giving me money is, actually, a little insulting, because it suggests (and I know none of you mean to suggest this) that actually I’m so poor that I can’t even provide for myself – and I’m not. Yes, I do some fairly inventive things with lentils and oats and I’m not averse to filling up at church on free tea, coffee and biscuits, but, well, this is my life, and don’t you dare pity me.

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Dear Everyone

Quite often I find myself opening up a new post and having a complete and utter rant for a while about things probably far too close to home, and then I don’t actually post them because there is no use in being a whiny bitch, but having done that whining without telling anyone makes me feel better. What I don’t then do is tell people to their faces what I was ranting about and never posted. So that’s one new year’s resolution for you. I also want to get regular exercise and find a church I’m truly happy with and not listen to anyone else when they say I should like such and such a church or this or that denomination purely on the basis that they do and clearly they are right. If I want to become a Quaker or a Methodist or a Catholic, don’t kill me, OK? I don’t know how likely any of those things are but it is my choice. And I’m still a Christian and surely that’s the point? So I want to stand up for myself a bit more too. And also I want to get a lot more sensible about clothes shopping once I have money again. Currently I can’t really afford new clothes but nor do I need any, so when I do next need clothes I want that to be a case of buying less, and buying things which are better quality, will last longer, and are as not-ethically-dubious as I can manage. I’m also going to bother cooking properly, rather than throwing together some same-old-same-old combination involving probably lentils and vegetables and maybe rice or pasta or something, because I can cook and there’s no need to prove this by constantly baking silly things. And I’m going to do some decent cello practice and do well in this degree, and do you know what? I think actually that all of this is possible, probable and realistic, because I am wonderful like that.

Also, new years. I am going to a party this year and very much looking forward to it. Time was when I expected to go to a party on New Year’s Eve and get more than usually drunk and stupid and probably naked. Last year I went to four parties in a row and ended up having sex in a bathroom – that was fun. The year before that I went to one party and spent the night torn between an extended game of strip poker, and keeping my sister alive and conscious (to my knowledge this is by far the most drunk she has ever been because unlike me she’s a good girl). The year before that I walked to the party I was going to, with K and a bottle of pink gin, and we got quite lost and nearly ended up sitting down on the verge and cracking open the gin and getting drunk and celebrating the new year by passing out all alone in the middle of nowhere but just as we were about to do just that we rounded a corner and there was a house, balloons, and cars we recognised as belonging to our friends, so we went inside and, well, general drunkenness and promiscuity ensued and it was fun. The year before that nothing much happened but there was a piano and I remember ending up in the town square for some reason and bumping into a load of chavs who had been at my school. The year before that I was at home with my family, as I had been for the previous however many years.

Anyway, quite by accident I seem to have got in on the obligatory new year’s posting several days before the rest of you :P. The one aspect of the obligatory new years post that I haven’t done is to provide any kind of overview of the year and how this year was better or worse than the preceeding one or several. But hey, I need to find something else to write about in the next few days so watch this space, I guess…!

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*Gasp*

I’m not sure how I got to this page, or why, but I did. I’m not going to link to it. But I just saw a slide show of photographs of aborted foetuses, aborted between 6 and 24 weeks, on a pro-life propaganda website, abort 73, and I’m angry, because these were very emotive photographs, and truly horrifying and disturbing, and such tools should not be used to pressure girls into not having abortions, because I can’t see how keeping a child out of guilt is in any way a good or ‘Christian’ thing to do.

I would say I am definitely pro-choice, but that I think it’s a position some people get themselves into too lightly, if you know what I mean. I originally held this stance partly because in PSHE in school (for those of you who weren’t dragged through the National Curriculum in the noughties, that’s Personal, Social and Health Education) our introduction to moral issues and sensible sexual behaviour and stuff was very heavily biased to the ‘Just Say No’ camp; and my sole information on abortions was one lesson when we were showed some thankfully very grainy photos of aborted foetuses and told you can’t abort after 24 weeks, with a very heavy ‘lots of people consider this morally completely wrong’ slant. Our RE/PSHE teachers were very religious and not in an understanding or informative or useful way at all, and I think they strongly affected a lot of my moral views for years, scaring some of the class into blind submission and making the rest of us adopt a devil-may-care attitude to sex and to the pro-life/pro-choice debate (well, not literally, but certainly pushing us in the opposite direction morally to that which our teachers wanted us to take, just in reaction to their particularly obvious Bible-bashing variant of Christianity).

Yet again, there are ways to do things, and there are ways not to do things. It’s like hellhouses all over again… .

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Rockabye Baby In The Tree Top…

Today I am dismantling my old bed, a wide single, three foot six, with it’s twenty-five-year-old mattress and slightly wonky headboard, and in my room instead I am putting up my parents’ old double bed, which is fairly similar but obviously a darn sight wider, and with a newer mattress. Meanwhile my parents are getting my grandmother’s old bed.

Now I’m debating moving all the furniture around…

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Christmas Round-Up

Was great. My extended family are all completely mad as March Hares, which means that our family Christmases are noisy and shambolic and warm and shouty and loving and baffling; there are injokes, new and old, and actually, we enfold new people as fast as we know how – W, my sister’s boyfriend, came up for boxing day. My uncle will wander into rooms and bellow at whoever is sitting there peacefully reading, ‘so, what do you know about [something obscure]’ before going off on a crazy, rambly, but probably fascinatingly esoteric lecture. I am an absorber – I am interested by almost anything and I will quite happily sit just listening to him, or to anyone else who thinks that something completely random and complicated and unusually geeky that they know is interesting enough to talk about at length. I may not have anything to say but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested – and in my family not having anything to say is probably a good thing. I came out with one or two great one-liners and sometimes I was as loud as anyone else, but to be honest, no-one can compete with my uncle and cousins, they’re a comic team, unstoppable, bowling along and sweeping the rest of us up with them. It’s surreal but beautiful and in my mind the way Christmas ought to be. Meals full of far too many people at one table all shouting for the sprouts and the butter and the turkey all at once whilst drinking and holding three conversations each and constantly topping up one another’s glasses. A sitting room full of people shrieking and bellowing their way through a million madrigals, a smattering of Tom Lehrer, and Flanders and Swan, most especially the Hippopotamus song, and probably spending a good half of that time in fits of laughter. And afternoons surreally quiet because we’re all also voracious readers when we get the time so suddenly everything stops and everything is quiet because we’re all a bit tired, so we get out our books and there is peace, for once, not for long.

Meanwhile the Christmas service was hysterically funny. My cousin C and I were the only two to sing the descants to carols which Got Us Noticed, and we wre complimented by the priest, which was nice, given that ‘singing’ would be a fairly generous description of what we were doing. It’s a slightly happy-clappy church (or as my uncle says, ‘A bit Zinger Zanger’, after his son’s mishearing of ‘Sing Hosanna’, surely the ultimate in middle-class school-assembly happy-clappy-ism, as a small boy), so we did of course sing ‘Come and Join the Celebration’ which is probably my mother’s least favourite noise ever. For this all the children in the church were invited down to shake various bells and rattles about a bit and have a nice fun time, but as it happened all the children were in fact very small, still babies really, so what actually happened is their various mothers picked them up, stuck a rattle or some bells or whatever into one or both of their child’s hands, and then shook said child jauntily in time with the music. Honestly, imagine the spectacle: very simply a row of men and women solemnly standing in the front of the church vigourously shaking their babies. Surreal. The children seemed to enjoy it, anyway, or at least not mind too much.

As for presents I got a lot of books, most notably a bible, an ESV study bible in case you’re wondering, a pair of jeans, some nice new bedside lamps (one for Uni, one for Home? Or one for each side of my bed wherever? I have yet to decide) – and, my one non-family present, the most beautiful shiny shiny silver cross, which I wear every day, and have been obsessively taking off and replacing in its box every night just in case sleeping on it will somehow damage it (we are talking to the girl who got through five watches in two years and probably has more unmatching earrings than matching ones so it’s not a completely paranoid notion. Although my current watch has sadly lasted nearly two years, which is a shame because it’s the cheapest and most horrible thing… anyway). My old cross was from a junk shop and cost me a fiver, so I never cared too much about it and it showed after a while. This one… it’s perfect; it’s staying that way.

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Sales Shopping… Or Not.

The thing about Christmas is that for most of us students it’s probably the point in the year when we’re poorest. We’ve paid larger bills to heat our homes and we’ve probably eaten more food because it’s cold and in order to have fun you have to go out because it’s no fun sitting in your garden with a beer in the rain – or if you’re like me, you’re just hopeless with money, your account is still reeling after the summer, and anyway you’ve been overdrawn since the year dot, so that’s that. Furthermore you have probably spent money on friends and relations – presents, for a start, and reunion drinks and meals with friends Back Home, and so on and so forth. You’ve just spent seemingly half your life in the shopping centre because your mother’s specifications for her new handbag are so very exact, or because your dad needs a new coat, or because your sister wants a million books for Christmas, all of them equally obscure. So: presents, drinks, meals out, travel, blah: you’re poor, and shopped out.

And then for some reason you get the January Sales. As far as I’m concerned this is highly advanced psychological torture on a number of levels. I can’t afford anything in the sales anyway, because I’m too poor. I’ve just got Christmas presents, so that means for once in my life I own jeans that fit and don’t have holes in, and I’ve just survived a term in the coldest house known to mankind, so much as I lust after a nice new long cardigan in fancy colourwork with a big sloppy collar and a belt that ties at the waist, I don’t really need any new knitwear, and if I was slightly less tired and slightly less poor I might treat myself to one anyway, but visually I have glutted on all the clothes that are now in the sales, and I can’t bring myself now to shop for things I don’t strictly and absolutely need. So far, so clever, torture-wise: I see lots of pretty things but I’m too jaded to buy any of them and too poor to quite justify the idea that I need them.

It’s not unlikely that over the next few days I’ll be back in the shops, looking through sale racks with one friend or another. It’s not unlikely that I’ll try on a rather nice fancy new dress in a shop whose threshold I can’t usually even afford to cross, let alone whose rails I can honestly browse without feeling shabby and out of place and conspicuous, as if someone will see that I’m blatantly neither classy or wealthy enough for their shop and strut over and request me politely to leave, now. But during the sales most shops become a little more democratic, so yes, I’ll be with a friend, browsing some beautiful, good quality clothes at prices I can probably just about consider, and I’ll try on the perfect dress/cardigan/boots, but because I’m so fed up of materialism and acquisition, and because I’m just not quite rich enough not to feel it if I do buy said Perfect Blah, I will walk out empty-handed and virtuous. And I can guarantee you that, within a few days or weeks, I will really regret that decision, but by then it’s almost certain to have gone out of stock in my size and anyway I can’t be bothered to plod back into town on the offchance they haven’t run out.

This happens every year; and this is why I hate the January Sales. Just wait and see… .

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Where I Wanna Be

Since coming home so far I have noticed a dreadful trend: I am behaving increasingly like a Southern Rah. This is not an attractive trait. So I’m going to try and remember all the best bits about Jenny Oop Norf and act like that instead and be a lot nicer about and to everyone.

This is by way of a (hopefully none-too-necessary) apology. I’m also PMS-ing like anything as  I write, so no wonder. I nearly hit some stupid boy on his bike earlier because he nearly slammed right into me and my sister. Bad times.

However, I do think it’s interesting how I change from here to Uni and back again. I am nicer back at university, I think, by and large, and less posh. I make more of a joke of myself when I’m back in Uni Town, though, and that’s annoying. Here I am less tolerant and less helpful by and large, I think, and probably even more of a homebody than I am back in Uni Town. Anyway, today I am not entirely satisfied, and I can’t say why. Do you change from Here to There and Back Again? And how?

Anyway, I think it’s time for a bit of Mumford & Sons and a bit of a tidy-up (yes, this is being written on the 21st and scheduled to go up in a few days, yes I’m really sad like that, but if I have lots of things I want to write, I guess it’s better to space them all out a bit so you don’t get all my crazy tedious ramblings at once, maybe? Or, more optimistically, so you have a daily dose of Jenny, if that’s what you want…?).

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Hooray for the Post-Scheduling Tool

Because, to all of you online today, it means I can say this: Happy Christmas, and I hope you’re having a wonderful day, and that things are going swimmingly, you’re surrounded by the people you love, and you’re giving and receiving wonderful things.

As we speak I am probably: getting out of bed and opening a book or two in lieu, this year, of a stocking (no chocolate nor nuffink because I’m a big girl now…); then breakfast (don’t you find breakfast on Christmas day is always really boring because it’s not like there’s a special Christmas Breakfast you can have so you’re just chewing through your porridge or whatever and thinking Presentspresentspresentspresents!; then we’ll all dress and a delegation of us will go to Church (this is the second year in my life that I’ll have gone to church on Christmas Day (fingers crossed); and then we’ll settle into my aunt’s sitting room for, well, the presents, me and my parents and my sister, aunt and uncle, cousins, grandmother, and the tree. There will probably be coffee and too much chocolate and things – how many times will we all be told to watch our appetites? and probably Bailey’s before too long, to be quite honest. The meal, and attendant preparation, crackers and hats and whatnot before the walk over the Common and back again, recounting anecdotes from all the many times we’ve done this walk on this day before, and back to madrigals and charades and other games and musical entertainments and too much to drink probably on all of our parts and eventually bed.

What do you do at Christmas? Because it’s weird, there are so many traditions, and you kind of assume that Christmas day is roughly the same for everyone, but some of my friends see cauliflower cheese as a traditional side dish to the Christmas Day meal, and/or yorkshire puddings; we have never watched the Queen’s Speech and I don’t expect that we ever will (I always half mean to, out of curiousity, but I never have); and I suppose there are plenty of people who don’t play charades or sing madrigals or go for a walk but do something equally eccentric instead. Actually our most eccentric family tradition is to do the 1812 overture and where there should be canons being set off, to have party poppers instead – so we’re all given a supply of two or three, and my uncle conducts us to set them off one by one or all together, waving frantically at us to indicate (somehow) what is supposed to happen. It’s hilarious and it can work really well but equally it can be just a disaster, albeit a well-meaning, amusing and wonderful sort of a disaster. Last time we all did it my uncle was pretty drunk, which was very funny, although I believe he then went to ‘have a nap’, and promptly passed out… .

Anyway, as I type, I still haven’t tidied my room, and I still haven’t put on any music… Once again, a very happy Christmas to you all, and all best wishes for the coming year.

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Christmas

I am packing. Well, I’m not – I’m avoiding packing, as you can surely tell.

I can’t wait for Christmas – a few days surrounded by my loving, mad family. Because for the non-religious at least, the nearest you get to a spiritual point about Christmas is that it’s a time for family, to crawl back into the bosom of familiarity, to utterly relax among people who uncomplicatedly, unconditionally love you. And so that is what I am doing.

I’m just very tired, that’s all; honestly, I’m fine.

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