“But What Will I WEAR??”“Darling, hi, it’s Mum”
“Hiiiiiii” I croaked from the depths of my bed.
“Darling? Darling? Jem? Darling it’s MUM!”
Despite having her number stored in my phone for the best part of 17 years, which means her name pops up on my screen in advance of any talking, my dear Mum still feels she has to let me know it’s her, several times before anything else happens, lest I wrongly assume some n’er-do-well has stolen her phone and is moonlighting as Mummy Cooke in order to mislead me down some dark road and eat me alive…or something.
“Darling, it’s Mum – can you hear me??”
“Mum-I-hear-you-I-hear-you-hello-hello-hello?” I say, somewhat desperately by this point. I’m just back from a 6 day festival and my sleep deprived nerve endings aren’t coping very well with this current onslaught of mobile comms failure with only the promise of it getting worse as the panic in her voice seems to be rising with every second.
“MUM I’m here – can you hear me?”
“Yes, I – yes – sorry – oof that’s better – honestly it’s like a zoo out here.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m just – well I thought I would – well, I’m on Bond Street” – (a place she never goes) – “cos I thought I’d come and try and find an outfit for the wedding and I just – well, I just – oh golly – I just – for goodness sake – oh well EXCUSE ME!!!!!”
“What was that?” I ask, as a police siren on her end screeches off into the distance.
“Some man just literally walked over the top of me!! It’s extraordinary, he didn’t even look back, I don’t think he even saw me, honestly being small is life threatening up in town?! My WORD!” she exclaimed, forcing out a little incredulous laugh that evidently went completely unnoticed by the giant man currently mowing down all petite people in Central London.
“OK.” I manage. “Have you found anything?” nerve endings firing visible electric shocks into my head now.
“Well NO! It’s impossible – I went into Liberty’s and found a gorgeous sparkly black sparkly number, but you’re getting married in a warehouse and it’s just not really ‘that kind of do’ is it, black and sparkly, so I’ve come to Bond Street but now I’m even more lost! I just went into Prada, and darling, there weren’t any clothes in there – LITERALLY – NONE!! It was just a bare room! So I asked the man in the shop who sashayed up to me to offer some assistance, and after asking him, well, umm – where are the clothes, he said – get this, Jem – he said ‘The latest pieces – Madam – are in the back.” – at which point he led me to this 80 mile long RACK out the back with his ‘pieces’ strewn roughly 2 miles apart from each other and told me this was the new collection? COLLECTION OF WHAT??? There was nothing to see, it was so up its own arse it was making me laugh out loud so I just ran out of shop! What are they all on??”
“It’s Prada, Mum – what were you expecting?”“Well I don’t know really – so I went into Armani up the road and this very lovely sales lady said to me “The trouble with Prada is they haven’t quite worked out if they are a retailer or an art gallery” which just made me roar, Jemmy!”
I manage a sympathetic giggle before it all goes quiet again. “You alright, Mum?”
“Darling is there anyway you could pop up to town and come and look at this sparkly number?”
I know that there is categorically no way I’m able to move at this point and think of the best possible way to explain this without being mean.
“No way, Mum, just no – Bond Street? No, no, no, no, no!”
Conversation dried up pretty quickly after that as Mum gave up and went home, more confused and fed up about her wedding outfit than ever before. And it only got worse when she got home to find Dad bouncing around having spent no more than an 30 minutes in Paul Smith where he’d found a selection of suits – all of which he loved – and it was just a case of choosing which particular hue of blue he should go for. Steam visibly coming from Mum’s ears at this point as she tried to pretend to be delighted that it had all been so easy for him.
It’s not that he means to be unhelpful. It’s just that he doesn’t really see what the problem is for us gals. Comments like “isn’t it a bit ‘young’?” or “you’ll need a tan to pull that off” and “my WORD how much glue did you apply to throw that one together??’” in his eyes, are simply observations, rather than things to send you into a spiral of despair about your entire look. But despite years of tearful door slamming from his 2 daughters and wife, he merely shrugs, mutters about how mad we all are and goes back upstairs to his studio a la Mr. Bennett.
It’s now fallen to me to choose which of the suits he should wear on the day. Flicking through the pictures(he’s obviously got the poor salesman in Paul Smith to take of him against the fancy shop wallpaper) I land on the blue I like the most and point.
“That one – definitely that one. Fab”
“HA! I TOLD you she’d sniff out the most expensive one, didn’t I – didn’t I say?” Mum shriek-bellowed in between hysterical peels. “Ooooo you’re y’Mother’s girl, Jem – ha! I knew she’d pick that one!” …then after a thoughtful silence… “RIGHT, now I know what Daddy’s spending on his outfit I’m not going to worry even the TINIEST bit anymore about what I spend on mine – NO – I don’t want to hear it!”
And with that, she’s gone – flourish / exeunt – before Dad has even had a chance to draw breath and begin his objections to her latest feat of bravery concerning his credit card.
He’s left agog and silenced.
“Well that’s that then.” I hear him mutter as he disappears back up to his studio.
“But What Will I WEAR??”“Darling, hi, it’s Mum”