Posted by Tania Kindersley.
One of the things I am finishing now for the book is the fashion chapter. For a while, I contemplated not putting anything on fashion into a book on beauty. I had waxed cross with fashion, and thought it had grown more silly than beautiful.
I think it was the trend for mustard yellow that did it. Do you remember that? There was one terrible season when all the experts tried to get everyone into yards and yards of mustard yellow. If that failed, they were determined on cobalt blue. I love blue, but that bright cobalt is a very unforgiving colour to wear, unless you are twenty-one, and come from Madrid. (It needs that wonderful strong olive skin.)
Then there was all that nonsense with the It-bags. These cost thousands of pounds and were properly ugly, baggy and saggy, with endless huge buckles and straps, and the designers kept sending them for free to Kate Moss and Siena Miller so they could say: look, look, Kate and Siena are carrying them so you must too. To which I replied, sometimes out loud: No I must not. And: bugger off.
Also, I did not like the shoe boot. Or boot shoe. Or shooboot. Or whatever it is called. And then Galliano, whom I had always admired for his what-the-hell sense of theatre, went all anti-Semitic, and the models seemed to get sadder and paler and thinner, and magazines aimed at so-called ordinary women still featured dresses costing three thousand pounds in the middle of a recession. So I gave up on the whole shower.
After all that, I have, in the end, done a fashion chapter. As a result, I have been buying fashion magazines, something I have not done since I was in my twenties. I have several of them sitting about the house. Today, on account of The Thing making me sad, I decided that it was time for a treat. I have earned a bit of cash this year, so I thought maybe I might spend some of it on one really beautiful item for the autumn. It would be part of my living well is the best revenge strategy. I could search through the magazines and find something lovely.
Grazia had just come out with a huge fashion issue, which I had bought for research. I’ll have a look at it, I thought, and perhaps there will be something I might like to buy. It might even be good for me. I live in a uniform of jeans, All Stars and sensible cardigans bought from the lovely John Lewis. Perhaps a wild, delicious, impractical item might be the very thing to stop me sliding into a dull middle-aged rut.
So I looked. And I looked. And I looked. And there was nothing there. There was only one object of true beauty in the whole mag, and that was a couture Valentino dress in dove grey chiffon, which was so grand it did not even have the price on it, and is the kind of thing only a film star or a new Russian would have the occasion to wear.
For a moment, I felt furious with fashion all over again. I remembered the days in the early nineties when Dolce and Gabbana used to produce coats of such raging beauty that they made you want to weep. Now it’s all Eurotrash disco hooker chic, which is not my idea of chic at all.
In the end though, I felt rather relieved. I thought of all the money I had saved. I went down to the village and bought a lovely Arran Aromatic candle that smelled of figs, and some contraband hundred watt light-bulbs. (I refuse to believe that energy-saving light-bulbs will contribute one whit to saving the planet; and they make everyone look as if they are dying of consumption. So I get the naughty outlawed ones, under the counter, and fight global warming by not flying on aeroplanes and buying local.)
My delightful fig candle is burning on my desk as I write this. I look into its steady flame and feel better. The Thing too will pass, as one of the wise readers remarked yesterday, and in the meantime, my room smells of figs.
Can’t get enough of these delightful sheep:
My favourite view of the sagging old iron fence:
Looking over the dry stone wall, across my garden, facing north:
And over the other stone wall, facing south-east:
The light on the wild garden:
The geranium leaves are developing splendid pink tips:
The honeysuckle is having its last, wild fling:
This splendid fellow belongs to a friend of mine, and suddenly appeared, yearning all over The Pigeon:
That face is the look of love. Sadly, cruelly, the Pidge has no time for him at all, and ruthlessly chased down sticks, whilst ignoring the poor chap completely. This is her triumphant I have no time for toy boys look:
And this is her I am far to elegant to pay heed to rackety fellows pose:
And this is just sheer beauty:
And here is the hill:
After I wrote this, I went into the kitchen to start thinking about my supper. I had a feeling for kedgeree, with smoked haddock and saffron and chilli, and perhaps a pinch of turmeric. I turned on the news. The global economy is collapsing, apparently, although I do not really recall a day in the last three years when that was not happening.
America is going to pot, Europe is ready to go smash, Japan is stagnating. It always interests me that no-one ever mentions South America when these doomy pronouncements are made.
I remember when the whole continent was written off as a matched set of Banana Republics. Now, almost all the South American economies are recovering well from the crash of 2008, with sturdy banking systems and steady growth. Even Columbia is described as a magnet for foreign investment. Peru’s banks are apparently the most robust in the world. But these places are obviously too far south to count, so the stock markets in New York and London panic and fall, and I wonder more than ever who is going to buy those £3000 frocks. (Elegant Peruvians, perhaps?)
As I make my thrifty kedgeree, I feel more grateful than ever that I got a fig candle instead of a Dolce coat. And I wonder if the little joke my sister and I have about getting goats and going self-sufficient, like Felicity Kendal in The Good Life, might not be such a joke after all.
Oh, and I know I should not gush and fawn over the Dear Readers. It is not becoming. But your comments yesterday were so particularly kind that I must take my hat off to every single one of you. I particularly enjoy it when people describe themselves as de-lurking. Yes, yes, I cry: de-lurk. I can’t tell you how it cheers me. Bugger The Thing; I have the Readers.