Geriatric Shopping-a Pensioners’ Guide

                Having spent weeks undertaking gruelling online research and having narrowed the selection down to shape, acceptable colours, length and fabric I was ready to set foot inside some shops. I say this, although the foot in question was itself neither willing nor especially able due to its pesky and painful condition [see last week’s post]. I took along my personal stylist [AKA Offspring] since I believe my own opinions as to what suits me are not to be trusted.

                This was to be our initial foray, you understand. We were sheltering under no illusion of plucking the frock from the first rack inside the doorway of the first store in the first shopping centre we came to. Oh no. We had every expectation that further expeditions would be necessary; and in these expectations we were not disappointed. We had harboured the illusion that a certain, well known department store that offers a range of designer outlets would be an obvious early destination-might even negate the need to travel further. How wrong can you be?

                After some confusion in locating the entrance we found ‘womenswear’, a floor offering [in no particular order] Hobbs, Whistles, Ted Baker, Mulberry, Coast, Alice Temperley, Ralph Lauren, Miss Selfridge, ‘Kin’ [Kin?], White Stuff and a number I do not recall. As Stylist and I made our way around the racks and displays our initial silence began to be broken by snorts of derision at the array of designs that designers have presented to us for their new spring ranges. I understand that they are under pressure to come up with something new, but really-dayglo orange crimplene? Digitally printed nylon?

                Stylist insisted we try things, even though we might be repelled by them. We scooped random numbers from the racks, she snappishly scolding that I have body dysmorphia as we disputed my dress size. Bowing to her superior knowledge I accepted her advice and staggered into the changing cubicle under the weight of gowns selected for attempt. I followed my usual changing room technique of ‘back to the mirror until it’s on’, as each garment failed to do up, proving that Stylist, on this occasion, had it all wrong.

                Later, after a restorative lunch we resumed, touring the remaining shops until at last, a Eureka moment-Stylist found the perfect frock-for herself.

                Foot, in the meantime was demonstrating in no feeble way that it was done with walking. That was it for the day. ‘Tomorrow is another day’ seemed an apt quote.

                Next day we went local, selecting another only slightly less well known department store and by some miraculous fluke contenders for the role of wedding outfit began, not only to present themselves, but to positively fling themselves into our arms. Unable to choose between two I bought both, with the intention of returning one. This, reader, has not happened.

                The triumph lasted a day or two, until the realisation that shoes, jacket, hat and bag are still at large. Where’s Stylist when I need her?

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Hair today and wrong tomorrow

                Although she measured about 1 metre and a half in any dimension my grandmother was a formidable woman. She was forthright, unlikely to hold back on any pronouncement lurking in her head, without troubling over the outcome of such utterances. Despite her morbid obesity and lack of mobility she remained vigorous and lucid to the end of her 99 years and 10 months, continuing to bestow the benefit of her judgements and critiques to anyone who fell into the circle of her radar. After the last time I visited her she rang me, ostensibly to thank me for the visit, but in reality she had vital advice to impart upon the subject of my hair.

                “I had to ring you to tell you about your hair,” she said. “I thought it looked awful. Don’t you have it arranged?”

                There was more. There was a diatribe about colour, style, suitability for age and so on. I thanked her for her advice. I felt strangely calm and unaffected by the criticism, whilst appreciating the terminology-‘arranged’, I thought was a quaint and wonderful word to use. But she was right.

                The fact is I do have my hair ‘arranged’ whenever I visit the salon-roughly every 6 weeks or so. The ‘arrangement’ lasts approximately 12 hours, after which it returns to its former state. This state is akin to frayed string, or a recently harvested field of wheat, where the rough hewn stalks of chaff stick up like ancient, chewed bones.

                I love the salon. I love the wait, when I can wallow in the seldom enjoyed indulgence of ‘Hello’ magazine and wonder who all the slebs are. I love getting shampooed, made tea and consulted over my dishevelled locks. The cut and the dry never takes long enough for me, as it turns me to mush, rendering me incapable of coherent answers as to what I might be doing at the weekend. The final flourish, the mirror showing me the back view and the brushing off of the stray hairs is all part of the pleasure. I am always delighted with the result [the stylist has been dealing with my hair for several years]. This feeling of joy lasts until the next morning, by which time the frayed string will have re-emerged.

                I have never mastered the art of blow drying, where the act of a slow pull of a brush with one hand and simultaneous blowing with the other produces a sleek, shiny cap. I either get the rounded brush stuck in my hair [having to resort to scissors on occasions] or am unable to engage it altogether, so that I end up looking like shock-headed Peter.

                But I am as I am-outdoor/garden/camping sort of woman, and we camping type women tend not towards supermodel grooming. Might decide to be a man next time round.