I’m Not Quite Ready To Wear A Leopard-Print Kaftan This Christmas

Full-Length Kaftan by MollyKaftans

How’s everyone faring in the depressing search for the perfect dress for Christmas parties and, ultimately, the big day?

I’m going to admit that – having trailed all the stores to the north of Sydney and exhausted the seemingly limitless stocks of The Iconic (and the patience of the very crabby lady at our local post office who handles my returns) – I’ve decided to opt for pants this year.

You see, I’ve reached the conclusion that there isn’t a dress waistband sturdy or stretchy enough to cope with the number of Pigs-In-Blankets and Christmas pud I intend to put in my belly this year.

I’ve also reached a level of post-winter, middle-aged lardiness where shift dresses in size 14 make me look like I’m wearing a tent – albeit that I haven’t quite reached the point of no return that is the Kaftan.

So this year, I figured that a smart pair of natural-colored culottes – neutrals are currently the rage in that center of fashion excellence commonly known as the Northern Beaches of Sydney – with the diamante-encrusted top I forage from the wardrobe every December, will do the trick. 

To be honest, I’m not fretting about my decision, not when to “dress up” in Australia can simply mean the choice of a pair of sandals over a pair of thongs. 

Unlike London, where the refusal to dress appropriately for an occasion is almost as disrespectful as not ordering the roast in the pub on Sunday – a cultural difference that I miss. Albeit that there few rules over there (and certainly no apologies) when it comes to daytime fashion – making it easier for middle-aged women stuck in that impasse of whether to dress for their age or wear what they bloody well want – there are rules about evening wear. Particularly at Christmas, when you wouldn’t be seen dead out at night in anything less sparkly than the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square.

And while their climate provides the mature woman with the perfect excuse to drown sagging boobs in voluminous jumpers and tuck escapee paunches into thick woolly tights – and trust me, it is possible to look stylish in winter woollies with such a vast range of jumpers and sturdy winter coats available in the shops – the British take fashion up a few notches at night. Unlike Sydney, where due to the climate or the laid-back culture – I’m not sure which – you’d struggle to spot a sequinned cocktail dress at the ballet.

But understandably, many British fashions simply wouldn’t work over here – and that’s not just because our seasons are out of kilter. Brits embrace color and elements of fun and quirkiness in their style – undoubtedly a concession to the climate – but that could be a terrifying prospect to the breed of middle-aged women who adhere to the motto that “black is the new black”. 

So, while in Britain, the little black dress has been ousted in favor of metallics, luxurious textures in deep reds, purples, and orange, and this year’s print of choice, the animal print – a design that I have avoided like the plague since I hit my fifties…because, cougars – I may have to place my leopard-print kaftan on hold until I reach the true zenith of not-giving-a-fuckery, (which I imagine will be closer to my sixtieth year). Although, admittedly, that time is starting to feel reassuringly closer.

Have you reached the point of no return?

When You Travel Back To The Motherland And Feel Like A Tourist

When You Feel Like A Tourist In Your Own Country

Anybody who has migrated to another country will understand the conundrum of whether “home” will always be the place in which you were born or your adopted country.

At this stage of life – the old AF period just prior to death – the question can become all the more poignant with our tendency to become over- nostalgic.

The grass appears infinitely more lush in the company of family, old friends, Jelly Babies – not the green ones, obviously – and Earl Grey tea.

And it’s easy to fantasize and get carried away with how great everything is when you’re on holiday and everyone seems excited to see you and eager to catch up on your news.

It’s particularly easy in London at Christmas time, a city that morphs into the chocolate-box fantasy created in films like The Holiday and Love Actually, if you let your imagination run away from you.

Few countries do Christmas as well as the UK, and Brussel sprout-flavored crisps, decadent Advent calendars with drawers for gifts, mince pie cocktails, and pubs with real fires suck you right back into its charm quickly.

And yet, there have been changes in the country since my last visit.

Not that it should really come as any surprise to find that one’s home country has evolved at a similar pace to one’s adopted one – indeed, much faster when it comes to cities – but subtle changes can cause problems for the out-of-touch, middle-aged tourist, returning to the land of her birth. I refer to the need to remember that pounds do not equate to Aussie dollars, which was something I struggled with, in spite of the intense schooling provided by the old man for several weeks prior to my departure about the meaning of the word budget.

A number of times, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at the cost of a round of drinks or a dinner out, only to remember later that I was paying in pounds, not Aussie dollars.

Admittedly, maths were never my strong suit at school – as was proven when I was hoisted up to top set maths for two weeks in Year 9, only to be dropped back down as quick as a hot potato when my teacher discovered that my new (and impressive) marks had less to do with any previously undiscovered talent and more to do with my access to the answers to our homework in the back of our textbook.

However, in spite of my struggle with basic mathematics – I remember that decimal points and percentages were particularly tiring – I still managed to achieve a first-class degree in spending money, a skill that I have since learned can be highly dangerous during trips to the motherland, in which the currency has become …well…a bit foreign. Added to which, I am not used to carrying cash in my purse – a rule instigated by the old man during Kurt’s pick-pocketing stage (which now has more to do with my husband’s micro-management of my problem) – which means that I struggle to fully understand its value.

It is very easy to convince yourself that you are richer than your husband has ever allowed you to believe when you add in the complication of a foreign currency that looks and feels as genuine as Monopoly money. And as pounds no longer feel “real” to me – particularly those I withdrew from the very generous overdraft facility of a dormant British bank account that (I hope) the old man has forgotten exists – I knew that I had to be careful with coins that resemble the old French franc and tiny bits and bobs of silver – that my father calls “shrapnel” – which frankly could be Italian Lire.

“Bits and bobs” was an example of cockney rhyming slang that Jeff Goldblum attempted to get to the bottom of during his jazz show at Cadogan Hall, which we saw whilst in London – Yass, darlink! Jeff was merely attempting to understand the meaning of expressions such as mince pies for eyes and apples and pears for stairs – obvious, really – and yet I found myself identifying with the expression each time I waded through the play money at the bottom of my purse in search of a tip for a cab or the 30p now charged for a pee in several of London’s larger train stations.

Such changes, along with Pret’s egg and cress sandwich, (stiff competition for the M & S version in my opinion), the choice of the medium or large servings of wine in pubs, dogs in pubs, and the 12.5% service charge, were only a couple of a succession of changes that had me feeling like a tourist in my own country at times, and at others, completely at “home.”

 

Royal Baby #3

I like to think that I am a good person, but fundamentally, I must be a bitch, (as well as a hypocrite if you look at my last post about women supporting women), because I can’t help feeling a tad jealous about the way Kate squeezed out another heir, seemingly without a perfectly-coiffed, soft-curled hair out of place. Which leads me to suspect that they’ve legalized marijuana in the Lindo Wing.

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I’m certain that in the past twenty-four hours, every loaded, heavily pregnant woman in London has added herself to the hospital’s cancellation list and is hastily changing their birth plan to ‘whatever she had.’

I mean, you look at the woman (who, in a less privileged life could have been a successful catwalk model), and you have to question where exactly in her body she stored that eight-pound baby, and where she found the energy to push him out. I bet she never got accused of having child-bearing hips – thanks, Granny.

I’m sure many of us women have watched Kate’s pregnancies with the same tinge of (well, let’s call it) admiration. And some of us might even have felt that there was a touch of karma involved in her hyperemesis gravidarum. Just me, then? Because the term ‘all bump’ was an exaggeration for a woman who has never really looked pregnant until the last hour of any of her pregnancies.

I struggled to keep both of mine under wraps until the twelve-week scan. And frankly, I still get asked if I’m pregnant. 

And how fricken amazing did the woman look when she left the hospital? Bearing in mind that most women teeter out gingerly with that lumpy pad between their legs, rock-hard boobs and the sort of soreness down below that makes contemplating ever sitting on the toilet again an impossibility. Yet somehow, Kate managed to look like the baby had been airlifted out of her, or at worst, removed via keyhole surgery. I looked like I was on the way to the morgue.

I couldn’t show my face in public for weeks after the births of my two babies. I lied about them not feeding – I think I used the word “starving” – to extend my hospital visit for as long as possible, until eventually, they wheeled me out onto the street, screaming, ‘But I’m not ready.’

And I wasn’t.

I know she had help. Presumably, a Royal medical SWAT team that would have climbed in there and pulled the heir out if push came to shove. And I understand that, in general, each birth gets that bit quicker and easier. But I can’t decide if the speed of her recovery and her styled appearance has done us a favor by highlighting the incredible strength of womankind in the face of one of the greatest tests that nature throws at us, (apart from men), or if she’s set up any woman that needs a few years weeks to recover, to look a bit lightweight.

 

 

Heghan – There’s Something About Harry

I failed miserably to maintain the cynicism of my Royal Grinchness as I watched the Harry/Meghan engagement interview yesterday, although it is irritating how difficult it is to turn their names into some catchy moniker such as Kimye or Brangelina, which is why I’ve decided on Heghan

 

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My apologies – I’ve used this phot before. But I bloody love it!

 

I only watched the interview for research purposes, obviously, but I have to admit that not even the stony chambers of my cold heart could fail to be moved by the young couple’s declarations of love. Sure, they are both old hands at the media game – which helps – and Harry does a fine job of concealing his contempt for the press. But he knows how is bread is buttered, and at thirty-three, it’s time to add to the most famous family tree and tow the family line.

 

Meghan, meanwhile, appeared a natural; supremely confident in who she is and in her relationship with the spare. Let’s face it, the job description ain’t bad – she gets to carry on with her humanitarian work and live in a palace, with far less scrutiny than poor Wills and Catherine. When the reporter brought up the question of children, I could feel my middle-aged ovaries beat loudly against the crumbling sides of my uterus.

 

Meghan’s response to the reporter’s baited question about sacrificing her career for a man was impressively measured. Personally, I probably would have leapt off the sofa and beat the shit out of her for opening, what I am sure, is a fairly recent wound. But who wouldn’t make a career shift for Harry? There’s definitely something about that boy. And even I, bitter and twisted Feminist that I am, can see the influence of this couple together, whose work stands to leave a far greater legacy than Meghan’s role in Suits – I should mention that the old man disagrees on this point. These kids make the Obamas, the Beyonces and Brangelina look like Barbie and Ken, so all credit to this girl – there aren’t many of us who’d choose the slums of third world countries over time on set with Harvey Specter.

 

I suspect she is aware of the daunting future she has ahead of her: spearheading campaigns, keeping on the right side of the RF – a welcoming, open-minded family, from what I hear – procreating and taming Harry, whose wildness, (linked to PTSD, I believe) will never be contained. But if there was any sense from the interview about who wears the trousers in this relationship, it wasn’t the fifth in line to the throne and that’s probably what Harry needs.

 

The boy done good. He, out of all the Royals is the one the public identifies most with. If his mother was the Queen of Hearts, he is the prince. He has conquered the public through his closeness to normalcy, he has grown up with us and always worn his heart on his sleeve for us, as well as making the sort of public cock-ups, (that while awkward at the time), have endeared us to him. What’s not to love when he slips into the modern-day vernacular to talk about ‘upping his game’ for Meghan? Swoon.

 

The world will never forget Harry’s face, plastered across our tv screens, as he followed his mother’s coffin down the Mall – the face of a boy whose heart had been ripped out. And I always sensed that he would need a strong woman to fill the shoes of the most important woman in his life. It looks like he has found her, and while most of us have come to realise that fairy tales are a load of bollocks, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this one.

And Now For Some Food Porn From London

IMG_2121The old man lost weight while we were away – which is obviously grounds for divorce – and as far as I can see there can be no biological culprit of this inequality, other than my old friend menopause.

Because we ate mostly the same quantity of food while we were away – if you don’t count that afternoon tea I scoffed with my tiniest girlfriend who managed to put away almost three tiers of cakes as well as vats of bubbly and still looked enviably Hobbit-like the next day – BITCH!  He also drank a fuck-load of bitter and became particularly partial to the Magnums my dad had foolishly left in his freezer. He’s SO out of the will.

 

LIFE’S SO UNFAIR!

 

Since we’ve been home, the scales flinch every time I go near them, and I’ve decided that Sunday night is bad enough without that added level of pain. And if I’m honest with mysef, the extra kilos were probably worth the two weeks of gluttony enjoyed in a capital city not usually known for its gourmet food fare.

 

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Camden Market, innit?

 

So while the jet lag continues to mess with my thought processes, and in particular with an contemplation I have about writing anything meaningful, I thought I’d indulge you in some food porn from our trip, because the food was Poldark good, if you know what I’m saying…and I’m sure any Brits out there most certainly will.

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Meals that were stand out were not necessarily the most expensive – take the falafel kebab I demolished at Camden Market or the Tuna Salads from Pret A Manger that became our staple lunch in an effort to save money and calories, but it was the diversity of food we tried that made it so memorable. That’s the great thing about holidays – how all your usual disciplines float away in a sea of ‘don’t care’ petulance once you look at a menu.

IMG_2026There was the hangover food, which after classier nights was usually a croissant or two, posing in front of one of the trendy bread shop/cafes, dotted down the Kings Road.

And then there were the not so classy mornings when we had both lost the will to live and only animal fat would reach the spot, courtesy of a good old-fashioned ‘that’s what Statins are for’ English breakfast.IMG_2117

 

 

The dinner at the wedding of the year was pretty special and included this wonderful dessert which I had two of because (sadly!) my brother was so nervous about his speech, he couldn’t eat a thing. I might have also had his beef and lobster!

 

And talking of cakes, can you believe I freaking well MADE these macaroons at a cooking class with my sister? Although if you speak to her she will say that these perfectly round ones were in fact her batch because me and piping bags…well, let’s just say that we’re not the best of friends. But I won’t give too much away about that day because I have to dedicate an entire post at some point to our cooking class and how we finally managed to make our Chef smile…at us, rather than with us. IMG_2142

Seared tuna is my current foody passion and I managed to source ocean loads on this trip – this school came from a little French restaurant in Earls Court.

 

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But the repas extraordinaire has to go to the tapas we shared with my brother and his family at a little place in Chelsea called Tendido Cero. Of course I knew it would be a memorable experience as soon as I saw the art work …IMG_2180But even that much promise didn’t prepare me for the quality of the food. Even traditional favourites such as Patatas Pravas were pimped into these tempting bites of potato encrusted deliciousness with the mayo and tomato sauce inside.

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Patatas Bravas, if you please…

 

The Gambas Al Ajillo were frankly sex on a plate, as was the Tortilla Patata and I haven’t even got photos of the lamb because by that point the old man was giving me that ‘put your phone away’ look, which was the most succulent, young meat I’ve tasted since my twenties.

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Garlic Prawns!

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Tortilla Patata

 

 

Finding The Perfect Cocktail Dress At Fifty

Exciting! I remember thinking facetiously as I ripped open the invitation to my father’s third wedding, which takes place in London this week – (hence journey from hell mentioned in previous post) – unable to repress the feeling  of being every inch the middle-aged Cinderella, when it dawned on me I’d need a dress.

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Eat your heart out, Kate Moss!

And not just any dress, but a cocktail dress.

 

To be followed by a loud fuck (!) and a serious wallow in ‘I’ve got nothing to wear-land’ when I also remembered who else from the fam was going and why I had zero chance of being one of the belles at this particular ball with stunning future step-mom, beautiful (much) younger sister, new potential sister-in-law (close in age to NC) and a couple of new step-sisters’ who are far from being wicked.

 

And then there’s the fact that I’m more of a leggings and tee kind of a girl.

 

And it was blatantly clear that the Pretty Woman moment where your man says ‘you need a dress’ and points you in the direction of the most expensive boutiques, just wasn’t going to happen.

 

Finding the perfect cocktail dress is testing at any stage of your life; at fifty-plus, it’s terrifying. You only have to look at some of the monstrosities at the recent Met Gala, where the women have money and stylists! 

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Registry office wear

 

And  I really fancied dressing to impress for what may be my father’s last wedding. I wanted the posh frock – something we rarely get the chance to wear out here in flip flop/thong land.

 

But eventually I got myself some Helen Mirren balls and decided to visualise myself as the fifty-something version of Kate Moss, rather than Olive Kitteridge.

 

And I actually started to feel excited. Right up until the finance Nazi got involved, rapped my knuckles by spelling out the impracticality of spending a fortune on a dress I would wear once, and came up with some ridiculous budget to aim for.

 

Which was obviously plain silly, because like fine wine, evening dresses don’t come cheap when you’re a woman of a certain year and size…and I’d used up my lace card at my father’s birthday party last year and just about every fucking cocktail dress in the shops was lace …and did I mention that it is a principle of mine never to buy from any shop that suggests my body is a size 14 rather than a 12, which narrowed my choice by about eighty per cent?

 

But not one to be defeated, I tried on a lot of dresses, growled in front of a lot of very unflattering changing room mirrors and swore that I would lose weight. But then…food. In desperation I even looked above budget, and if you have a caring, giving partner and $300-$500, I strongly recommend Myer’s Montique brand or Karen Millen as a great starting point.

 

But the thought of listening to the old man’s moans of grief when he checked out our bank statement was enough to bring me back to reality.

 

I couldn’t even decide on a colour. ‘Red’ made me look like I should be in the Pretty Woman cast, ‘maroon’ washed me out and ‘blue’ wouldn’t match my shoes. At one point I even hunted out an old Cue dress I’d worn for Melbourne Cup a few years ago, starved myself on cabbage soup for a week and cut my wine allowance by half – sadly, the zip on the side still refused to budget.

 

So this is the final result, ladies – a black and cream classic from Portmans at a very budget-friendly $99.95, which although really a work dress, I’m glamming up with some huge cream drop earrings. I’m still not sold on the floppy hat for the registry office, and it turns out that my half-priced raincoat from Gap is not waterproof, (so let us all unite and pray for uncommon occurrence in London of sunshine, please), but this girl IS going to that ball.

 

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‘Evening Wear’

Photos patiently (!) taken by Kurt in exchange for a box of Goon.

 

Man Spreading, Bread Rolls And Lesbian Sex: The First World Issues Of The Global Traveller

I’ve moaned before about the Everest of all tortures; that is the twenty-four hour long-haul flight from Sydney to London. One that rivals any agony ever to be invented for breaking terrorists by the Americans at Guantanamo Bay. appetite-1238406_1280

 

Well, somehow we survived it.

 

Unlike childbirth, it’s not so easy to forget every moment spent gritting your teeth on the cusp of your body’s breaking point once you step off the plane. From the wails of desperate children ringing in your ears and the sight of true desperation of their parents trudging aimlessly around the economy deck, to the queues for putrid toilets and cold, congealed scrambled eggs, if any teenager needs a lesson in humility, this is it.

 

Uncharacteristically, the Gods looked down on us for the first leg of our journey this time, by offering up a half-empty plane and all the promise that brought with it – by my calculations, a reduction in the toilet queuing time by half and double the potential for free booze. Even they must have realised what a truly shite couple of years we’d been through, and how deserving we were of a bit of slack.

 

In real terms it meant that the old man fucked off to a row of empty seats, leaving me to the treat of what was effectively a bed, and what I imagine is similar to the sleeping arrangements of Business – without the Champagne, canapés and sycophantic smiles of the hostesses.

 

Having slammed it in the past as a leftie luxury only available to the ‘more money than sense’ classes, I now fervently believe that Business is one of life’s necessities.

 

However, to be spoiled so early on set us up to fail for our second leg, where wedged between two long-limbed males with major man spreading issues, I struggled to straighten either leg for the entire eight hours and at one point believed my knees had permanently locked into the pap test position. Not even Cate Blanchett in ‘Carol’ could help me through the seven hour ordeal, (which really should have been a breeze after the previous seventeen). When your body is deprived of deep sleep, your back has been reshaped into the shape of a car seat, your stomach is a bloated carb mountain from the number of rolls forced into it to stave off boredom and the hosties have a three hour round trip to bring your first drink, it’s hard to digest the possibilities of lesbian sex.

 

Sod education, sod the migrants, sod Waleed for Prime minister, it’s time our government invested in a decent transport system for the cattle classes.