Friday, 29 January 2021

These Are The Days Of Our Life

 


                                                     Sometimes I get to feelin'

I was back in the old days, long ago

When we were kids, when we were young
Things seemed so perfect, you know?
The days were endless, we were crazy, we were young

The sun was always shinin', we just lived for fun.*


Have you seen Channel 4's 'It's A Sin?

It's got me all nostalgic for the 80s.

That was definitely the time that I had the most fun and while it has been wonderful being a mum and seeing my four children grow up, it has always had an undercurrent of fear.

Not so my youth.

During the time 'It's A Sin' is set, between 1985 and 1988 coincided with my years at Bangor University, when life was all about fun, friends and squeezing the most out of every day and night.

It was such an optimistic time when I truly felt I could do anything and be anything I wanted.

If only that feeling could be bottled.

My first day at uni in late September 1985

I was the first in my family to go to university.

My dad left school at 14 and my mum, 16.

They were so proud.

But I couldn't wait to leave my two up, two down terraced home in Manchester and hit the bright lights and big city of Bangor - well it did have a cathedral!

I remember my Chemistry teacher saying 'going to university was the respectable way to leave home.'

I didn't needed an excuse.

In my first year I lived in a women-only hall of residence which left a distinct smell of disinfectant on your clothes and hair. 

Everyone at uni knew where you lived when you walked into a lecture.

I swear when I picked these photos out of the album, they still had that smell.


Few people had a television in their room and I remember we would meet up in the TV room next to the dining hall every evening.

It was there, during my first week that I watched the news and heard that Rock Hudson had died.

It was around this time that Aids started to enter my consciousness.

And then my friend told me how her gran had thrown away a cup after she had taken her gay friend round to the house for coffee. 

A very similar scene is in "It's A Sin.'


On my first day I stuck up photos of my old friends and family from home and very soon the walls were filled with snapshots of my new friends.

I was never without an instamatic camera in the days when we had to send the film away to be printed.

Mungo Jerry played in the students' union during Fresher's Week but it was Divine who for some inexplicable reason decided to play at Bangor University that stole the show later that year.

Sadly, he had died before we graduated.

In our second year I shared a house with my then boyfriend (and now husband) and four others.

We lived in an amazing house called Pen-y-bryn which means top of the hill and I had a fabulous view from my bedroom window.

I think we only cleaned the house once on our first day.

In 1988 Paul and I shared a tiny house and the year was frantic trying to fit everything into that final year.


While I have been fortunate enough not to lose any of my 80s friends to Aids I did lose one very good friend, Gideon, who died in a climbing accident.
I can still see his lovely face now and to me he remains forever young, smiling and sweet.

I left uni with a husband, an English degree and a feeling I couldn't articulate, one I discovered last year is called saudade.

A feeling summed up in this fabulous song by Queen.

In fact it was only when Freddie Mercury died that I felt a connection to Aids.

I just loved him and remember staying up all night with friends watching Live Aid on the telly.

And if you like watching a telly - I would high recommend 'It's A Sin' although beware who you watch it with as the first episode is on the hedonistic side.

Those years between 1985 and 1988 were the days of my life but these are the days of my life too.

These are the days of our lives
They've flown in the swiftness of time
These days are all gone now but some things remain
When I look and I find, no change

Those were the days of our lives, yeah
The bad things in life were so few
Those days are all gone now but one thing's still true
When I look and I find, I still love you
I still love you *

* lyrics by BRIAN MAY, FREDDIE MERCURY, JOHN DEACON, ROGER TAYLOR




So today in homage to the 80s I am wearing big hair, lace, bling and bright colours.


Have a great weekend.


I wore:

Boots and Lace Body - M & S

Dress - H&M






Thursday, 28 January 2021

$#*! My Dad Says

 




My dad didn't swear much.
So when he did, it was a big thing.
My brother and I would look at each other in horror.
His second favourite saying was:
"Do that and you will find yourself up $#*! creek without a paddle."
We thought it was hilarious!
So when I started watching the fabulous Schitt's Creek I was laughing louder and harder than the rest of my family as those glances exchanged by the brother and sister whenever the old dad say something stupid reminded me of my late dad.
But it's not just the humour that appeals to me.
I am in love with Moira Rose.
She is my new style icon.
And when I was looking through my wardrobe for something to wear today I was drawn to this dress I bought on ebay last September.
It cost £9.99 and was allegedly £129.



The tag was still on and I bought the matching BNWT coat too for £12.99.



It has Moira's penchant for black and white and accessorized necklines.
But I not only love her clothing style.
I love her parenting style.
Whenever my grown up kids pull at my heart strings with a caustic comment I think: 'What would Moira say.'
It keeps  me sane.
Moira is so far from the other character this actress is famous for - the mom in Home Alone!
I couldn't believe it when I found out.

If you have never seen Moira Rose, here are some of her finest moments.


So if $#*!'s Creek was my dad's second favourite saying, what was his first?

"If you get knocked down and killed

crossing that road, don't run back crying to me."

Totally illogical.

Just like my dad!


I wore:

Boots, jumper and tights - M&S

Dress- Coast from Ebay






Monday, 25 January 2021

I Love My Dog

 

Here he is.

Literally, a born poser.



How can I compete with Frankie?
Not even four months old and he is posing like a professional.

 
I swear he was trying to give me some tips here.



OK Frankie. I will give it a go.
Eyes right.



What do you think?


Today's skirt is this week's ebay bargain.
It was £5.51 after some fierce last minute bidding.
When it arrived the tag was still attached and it was £29.95.
I am not surprised, it is a lovely textured material and the perfect length for me.




See you soon when I have mastered some of Frankie's moves.

Today I wore:
Boots and Thermal body: M&S
Skirt - H & M from ebay
Tank top : Oasis
Necklace - old, I can't remember







Thursday, 21 January 2021

Girls Just Want To Have Fun

 

When life is a little gloomy I like to turn to the light.
I usually find it in fun frivolous stuff like food and fashion.
But yesterday during Joe Biden's inauguration, the light didn't just shine out, it exploded in the form of a 22-year-old poet called Amanda Gorman who recited her self-penned poem, The Hill We Climb.



I was mesmerized by her performance.
Amazing for a young woman who once had a speech impediment.
Over the last week I have been taking part in an Instagram style challenge with the hashtag #loveherstyleshareherstyle and Wednesday's challenge was to choose someone with a different style and be inspired.
There was no contest.
I scrolled through Amanda's Instagram account and found this photo.



I rarely wear jackets and most of my skirts and dresses are way below the knee.
So I gave it a go with what I had in my wardrobe and here it is.



I am pretty pleased with the final result.
I think I have learned a few things from Amanda too.
I also had great fun sharing other styles too this week.


This challenge was to find someone with a similar bodyshape. 
Well I may be a few sizes bigger but I am the same height as Kylie.

Another inspiration was the pearls and hairslides favoured by the lovely Lucy Worsley.

As I said, when life gets gloomy I head for the frivolity to find the light.

Although Amanda sums it up beautifully in the final three lines of her poem.

"For there is always light,

if only we're brave enough to see it.

If only we're brave enough to be it.'

Today I wore:

Dress - Boden (at least 6 years old)

Jacket - Next (at least 4 years old)

Leggings - Sweaty Betty

Boots - M & S

Bag - Zara.









Monday, 18 January 2021

If I Could Turn Back Time


 Who knew appearing on live national radio could be so stressful?

According to my Fitbit my heart rate soared higher than it had done all week as I waited for Dermot O'Leary to introduce me on BBC Radio 2 to talk about my nightclub memories when I was a student at Bangor University in the late 80s.


Here's a video with an audio of the interview if you missed it.

The Octagon in Bangor was the biggest nightclub for miles.

In the 1980s despite being a city with a beautiful cathedral, Bangor was pretty much a backwater.

Tourists visited as a gateway to the Menai Bridge which took them to Anglesey and locals went about their business - it's claim to fame before The Octagon was more pubs on a High Street than any other in the country. 

And I can vouch for that as I got together with my husband on the Rag Week multi-leg pub crawl - but that is a story for another day.

Anyways, back to The Octagon. 

It was so of its time. 

And we are talking late 1980s.



It was opened by the glamour model Sam Fox who was big in the charts at the time with three Top Ten hits including "Touch Me (I Want Your Body). 

The waitresses wore stockings, suspenders and black tailcoats no doubt emulating the London vibe from Stringfellows.

I did say, it was of its time.



It had the biggest moving light rig in the country and was, I have to admit pretty spectacular.

I felt like I was on the set of Saturday Night Fever.

It offered a rare place for students and locals to mix, not always in a good way - a bit like the cocktails they sold.

And as I worked behind the bar I can vouch for their dodginess.

At the end of each shift my eyes would be smarting from the mix of cigarette smoke and dry ice and my clothes and hair would smell for days.

But it was fun.

My 21st birthday wearing my grandma's necklace and second-hand  ear-rings from Affleck's Palace in Manchester.


A year after we graduated a group of us who once lived  together returned to Bangor for one night only and The Octagon was top of our list of places to go after a curry and a mini pub crawl.


As we walked through the streets awash with unfamiliar faces we all felt a little uncomfortable with groups of giggling students crowding the Saturday night streets.

We didn't recognize any of them.

It was no longer our city.

But we weren't about to admit defeat.

We continued to the end of the High Street and reached The Octagon.

The music was pumping, the light rig was dazzling and the drinks were flowing.

But it didn't feel the same.

Then a song came on.

If I could Turn Back Time by Cher.

Reader, I wept.



I wore:

Boots - M & S

Pinafore and shirt - New Look






Friday, 15 January 2021

Green Day

 
 
Even though it was freezing today I felt my green dress shout 'pick me,' as I opened the wardrobe.
Today was a mixed bag - yoga, walk with a friend, zoom meeting with our financial adviser, work on my online course and a big clean-up.
I always start the base of my outfit with a yoga vest and leggings so I can get my yoga practice in.
I only do slow flow so I don't  get sweaty!


I love this dress as it has pockets and I love pocket . 

They are a real deal-breaker for me.



I am also trying to keep wearing heels inside - just so my legs don't forget how they work.


I tried the jumper over the dress but prefer it underneath.
Frankie was determined to get in on this little photo shoot looking nonchalantly into the near distance.

He is a born model.


When I do get a break I will be catching up with these two books.

I started both books before Christmas and I am determined to finish them both this weekend.


Both books are connected to places where I live/have lived.
Beryl Bainbridge's story is set in Liverpool and she grew up in our village.


Andrew O'Hagan's novel is a coming of age when a group of friends from Scotland visit Manchester which is where I grew up and I recognized the 1980s Manchester where it is set including the nightclubs I used to go to.

If you would like to hear my memories of my nightclub days I will be interviewed by Dermot O'Leary on BBC Radio 2 about 9.45am tomorrow (Saturday) morning.
All being well!

Today I wore:
Boots - Rag and Bone
Dress - Wallis
Jumper - French Connection
Leggings and Vest - Sweaty Betty

Thursday, 14 January 2021

In The Pink

 


When I was a child with white blonde hair and a pasty face I often looked washed out.

Except that was when my mum dressed me in pink.

It had nothing to do with gender and everything to do with bringing out the slight colour in my cheeks.

And it still works.

Not only on my face but on my mood.


By coincidence the Times ran a piece in their Wednesday style section about how colour lifts the mood - feelgood fashion they called it.



And how wonderful when your favourite cardi matches your favourite cookbook!


Another bonus was that this cardigan came from the M & S sale - in the kid's section!


When I wear pink I feel in the pink  - which according to my internet trawl of phrases - originated centuries ago and has emerged to mean the picture of health.

Although don't look at the urban dictionary - in the pink means something entirely different!!!!

Today I wore:
Boots, Jumper and cardigan - M & S
Leggings - Dorothy Perkins


Sunday, 10 January 2021

Thank You For The Days

 

I was going to blog about something completely different today until I read the comment from Lulu on my last post.

Lulu from Long Mizzle Garden commented on how her art teacher talked about the beauty of minimal lines and it reminded me of my old friend, Peter Grant.

Peter was the Showbusiness Editor at The Liverpool Echo where I was a features writer.
We sat opposite each other for about four years.

Apart from the times we were both writing, we spent most of our working day talking.
He was so helpful, a true mentor.
When I organised a ball to raise funds for Macmillan nurses after my friend died of cancer, his connections helped to make it a great success.
Peter was very generous with his advice and support.
We shared many views, apart from The Beatles.
He loved them. 
Me, not so much.
When he spoke to Paul McCartney on the phone I used to roll my eyes.
But we never fell out.
When I left The Echo he gave me this framed picture which he  drew using minimal lines.



I may not have been a fan of The Beatles, but I was a great admirer of John Lennon and this picture takes pride of place in my lounge.
I haven't seen Peter for many years.
We kept in touch for some time.
I have written about him here when his partner, (he affectionally called Tugboat Cath as she lived on a boat in The Albert Dock in Liverpool), won a writing competition.
And here when he opened a second hand bookshop and his old pal Ken Dodd performed the opening ceremony.
Ken Dodd was hilarious and called me Little Red Riding Hood all afternoon.


Maybe that is why the colour red always cheers me up.
Today is a grey day so I instantly sought out some item of red clothing.
It is Peter's birthday on January 12th.
I think I will surprise him and see if I can find him.
While we never agreed on our favourite sixties band, I would like to say to Peter in the words of my favourite sixties band:

Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I'm thinking of the days
I won't forget a single day believe me

Today I wore:

Boots and Jumper - M & S

Leggings - Dorothy Perkins

Top - Ganni




Thursday, 7 January 2021

Copycat


According to the Cambridge dictionary, a copycat is 'someone who has few ideas of their own and does or says exactly the same as someone else!
So here I am copycatting this picture of the new Woman's Hour presenter, Emma Barnett.
As soon as I saw this photo in one of the Sunday papers I cut it out and pasted it into my inspiration notebook.

And I much prefer the definition of inspiration, 'the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.'


I have had the pleather skirt in my wardrobe for about five years and had never thought to wear it like this with the new to me ebay kimono top.

It is a perfect dressed up/dressed down look which I like.

I even cleaned the house from top to bottom in this outfit so it is very practical!


I love the detail on the back.



And when I finished cleaning I gave myself half an hour to read my new book.
I am onto my second book of the year after finishing Ann Cleeves' Raven Black which is set on Shetland.



My new book, Patchwork could have the subtitle: The Small Fabric of My Life as it is a memoir linked to the memories Claire Wilcox, (the senior curator of fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum) has with clothing and fabric.
She says it is all about the gaps in the words and why the simple labels may say:

 "Maternity dress. Unfinished. Unworn" 

There is so much more to the story.

It reminds me of the time I was teaching creative writing at HMP Garth and we were looking at flash fiction.
I used the example of the six word short story which is attributed to Ernest Hemingway.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.


But more than that, I love this book for the spare yet evocative style and expansive feelings she evokes.

This book was a Christmas present to me from my late father, Frank.

When dad died in 2010 I continued to buy myself a gift and pretend it was from him.

I have received pens, notebooks, watches, necklaces and books.

Things I know we would have both loved.

I shared dad's love of trees, running and reading.


My dad left school at 14 but he loved words.

Our favourite poem was Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas.

I am proud to be a copycat.


I wore:

Skirt and Kimono Top: New Look

Jumper: French Connection

Boots - M & S





 

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