I have just realised that soon I have to attend three 'events' on three consecutive days. This means giving my attention to the matter of CLOTHES. Having spent many years renovating houses and running smalloldings with my husband in England and France, the matter of clothes, let alone smart clothes was never a subject that raised its ugly head. Working outside in the blazing hot French summer heat, there was no call for fancy clothing, not much more than a nod to a pair of shorts and skimpy T shirt. At the other extreme, on the windswept hillside of a remote Durham dale, a thick boiler suit, coat, fur hat and fur-lined wellies were the order of the day. Hannah Hauxwell eat your heart out. You had nothing on me in the glam stakes.
But - as I dip a toe in the literary waters, it is borne in on me that neither of my previous dress modes will fit the bill. My wardrobe, in a nutshell (and you could probably fit it in one), is pathetic. The trouble is, I really detest clothes shopping. Take me into an antiques/bric-a-brac emporium or bookshop and you could collect me a week later and even then I might have to be dragged out by the hair. But take me into a clothes shop ... my eyes glaze over and my spirits droop. Droop? Nay, they sink to my boot-strap bottoms. I am lost and bewildered by the sartorial array on offer and frankly haven't a clue where to start. So I either lose heart altogether and scuttle out again sharpish, or grab the first item I see in my size and hope it will do. Don't even mention style. It's a foreign country. But now I need more than a fig-leaf to cover myself with and will have to make a vague stab at looking presentable.
So I am girding up my loins to go and visit my sister. She is tall and elegant and has taste and style in abundance. She will take me by the hand (I am five years old again, out shopping and my little legs going like pistons trying to keep up with her long-legged stride). She will lead me with superb and knowledgeable assurance around these emporiums of fashion, make me stand up straight, (five foot two if I make an effort on a really good day), whilst she tries outfits against me and then ghastly of ghastlies, make me try them on in the shop. Getting dressed once in the morning is fine, but having to try on a succesion of outfits all in one day is my punishment on this earth. Upon death, purgatory will not need to open its doors for me. I will have paid my dues by enduring this clothes-horse exercise now. But my sister and I come out of the same mould and tenacity in a given task comes naturally to us. She, God bless her heart, will stick with it until I am clothed and shod to her liking and fit to turn out into the world.
So Cinderella will go to the ball, even if she can't go in her old Barbour jacket and wellies.