Thursday, January 4, 2007

Queen of Grunge

The festive season is at an end, though epiphany is on Saturday and it’s not over till the fat lady sings. I suppose I mean that shopping is back to normal, you can feel it in the air when you go out to buy bread and milk. People don’t move as though they are ready to do damage for their next fix. The soap and talcum gift sets in the chemist’s are slashed to half price. I hate shopping. I don’t mean the bread, milk and vegetables kind, or even the detergent and toothpaste kind – there is a purpose and rhythm to this that I can understand. It’s the clothes and accessories kind I hate. When I was eight the most boring thing to do was trail around with grownups shopping for clothes but I assumed that one day I would come to love it, that it would assume the same importance in my life as it clearly did in theirs and that this, along with preferring to lie in bed in the mornings rather than get up, and liking cabbage, was what happened to you when you grew up. When I was thirteen there were unmistakeable signs that the shopping thing had happened to other girls and I waited for it to happen to me too. It never did. I like to have nice things, am pleased and grateful if they are given to me but don’t go out to buy anything new unless things fall apart. My last shopping expedition was two years ago with a friend who was tired of seeing me in the purple shell-suit trousers I bought in a charity shop in 1992. I have the same woollen jumpers I had ten years ago. I look after them and build a kind of relationship with them, they come in and out of favour but there is never any need to throw them away. I wear the purple shell-suit trousers with my late father-in-law’s purple cashmere jumper, sometimes with a string of pearls, and a couple of people have thought they were made of crushed silk. Or I wear them with my ten-year-old Birkenstocks and a Weird Fish hoodie I found a few years back. Him Outdoors calls me the queen of grunge. So clearly I have style.

This is all good because shopping takes strength I would prefer to use to use for other things, like starting up a new Poetry Café in my neck of the woods – which is what a friend and I spent yesterday working on. The work involved: checking availability of a room in the local community centre, contacting a guest poet to come and read, deciding what kind of tin we would use for collecting entrance money and eating a gingerbread house. The community centre said yes, the poet said yes and the gingerbread house was delicious. We still have to find a tin.

4 comments:

That's so pants said...

Congrats on the poetry cafe - sounds like time well spent to me. I found ever since punk you could wear what you liked and people assumed you were making a fashion statement. That is liberation.

Reading the Signs said...

yes, I never really appreciated at the time what punk was doing for us - but people who "know" about these things can tell the difference between designer grunge and my sort. Which is fine by me.

Liz said...

Who needs shopping?! I agree with you on that note. I don't go out clothes shopping etc unless I really need something, ie the something I already have gets a hole in it and I don't have the right colour thread to mend it. In fact, a long sleeved shirt I got for free a few years ago just got chucked into my Oxfam bag and a friend who came to stay with me recently fished it out for herself. She probably has bright red thread! Let me know if your trousers ever need mending, I have at least four different colours of purple thread. sexy!

Reading the Signs said...

That is an offer I will definitely not refuse - but it must be said that in fifteen or so years they have not sustained so much as a tear or even a worn patch. Don't know what they are made of - nothing natural, that's for sure. My purple trousers are indestructible.