Can’t Buy Me Love.

square

Over the coming years I was to become privy to the eccentricities of a few notable ladies, some with a surprise or two up their sartorially splendid sleeves…

In a fashion house commended for its attentive, one-on-one service, it was somewhat overwhelming when we were faced with numerous customers vying for our attention. My most challenging to date came courtesy of a woman who strutted through the door with an air of majesty, and was very much the mother hen to a clucking dozen of beautiful twenty-somethings that trailed in behind her.

Possessing a presence that overwhelmed, this lady’s polished exterior was considerably rehearsed; her morning’s dressing was done with a well informed consciousness… From her status-bearing Cartier watch and her Chanel initialled earrings, to her Prada pencil dress and the gold Bvlgari band on her ring finger, she was every inch the epitome of an elegant woman of wealth.

Instantly she sashayed towards me, and in a demanding-but-politely-so tone she told me she needed several outfits for her girls; outfits that exuded sexiness but with elegance, that made one appear youthful but accomplished, and that were classy but dangerously so.

The gaggle stood, now silent and hanging on her every word, each one a living version of the girls that graced the pages of the Vogue magazine I was about to thumb through during my lunch break.

As she sifted through outfits and passed them to each appropriate protégé, our upper floor transformed into a scene akin to the backstage dressing area at London Fashion Week; a sea of semi-naked bodies, clad in agent provocateur, hips-a-jutting and making every outfit look a million times what it was worth.

Just an hour and a hefty five figure sum later, having danced circularly within my own head, I had failed to deduce exactly why these girls were being decked out in lavish clothing and I certainly couldn’t fathom what the woman’s relationship with them actually was.

For all the inventive, off the wall scenarios I had fleetingly entertained, the most realistic reasoning I could dream up was that these girls were in fact soon to have their own place on the coveted pages of my fashion magazines, and the matriarch was indeed their agent.

Nevertheless, when I joked to her that surely models were the one envied breed that were excessively showered in complimentary attire, she replied in her plummy, husky voice “darling, I think you and I both know that these ladies are no models, and I am no booker.”

As she and her tribe departed, I couldn’t decide whether to be insulted or flattered when she handed me her business card whispering provocatively in my ear “if any of you ever fancy a change in direction…”.

The card read “Leading London Escort Agency”. Madam she was.

Advertisements

Monday Muse. I Seem to Have Misplaced My Clothes.

Mondaymuse5

To the left of me a man peeled the last of his clothing from his tough tanned skin and stretched as though he’d been hankering for this freedom his entire life. To my right sat a group of women in their 60’s, ordering drinks and leaning over tables of tapas, skimming the food with unclad body parts that gravity had got the better of.

Gill told us the nudist beach existed just past the painted cliff face. The one that was brandished with a no swimwear sign. The one that we weren’t planning on passing. Apparently the nudists had spread their wings and decided their sandy quarters needed to stretch further afield.

Whilst sipping on my tinto de verano I noticed I wasn’t the only one in need of some refreshment, and that’s when I first noticed a perplexing point about nudists…

Being perhaps an ignoramus in thought, I had assumed that with the removal of one’s clothes in public came a certain adaptation in relation to one’s bodily movements. I was proved wrong when I noticed a beachgoer rummaging through his cooler box for quite some time, facing away from where I sat, bent from the waist up…

Nudism, you have not won me over.

Bare Faced Cheek.

Confessions9

Just a couple of months of working in SW3 and I had almost settled into the rich comforting cradle of this borough. That said, it was as though the powers that be were aware of my contentment when they decided to prescribe me with a dose of reality, giving me a ruthless reminder of the antics I thought I had left behind in Soho.

In this designer boutique for ladies, once again I was mainly in the company of women, so I was surprised to greet a tall middle-aged man on this particular day.

Hurrying through the door he hastily ventured to our lower floor, one that was softly lit with skylights and favoured amongst the more private customers who wanted the very best in sales attention.

Following the man downstairs I asked if he would like a hand; a turn of phrase I would unquestionably regret just minutes later. At his request to find a dress, I ventured deeper into the basement into our luminously lit stock room, which sat beneath the pavement and the footsteps of the well heeled.

Triumphant in my search I rushed up the stairs, dress in hand, to be greeted by the customer, lingering in the centre of the room, his outfit having seemingly disappeared from sight. The stoic response I had so carefully perfected in Soho scrambled out of the window, as I stood, jaw ajar, staring at the man I’d assumed was lovingly hunting for a gift for his betrothed.

An unfamiliar wail whipped through the room, startling the visitor with its decibels and astounding me when I realised it was emanating from my own throat. As I continued to shriek, I wandered robotically to the changing room, retrieved his clothing, walked upstairs with the pile and hurled it onto the pavement outside. Leaping up the stairs behind me, the visitor hurried outside, bent at the waist, tiptoe prancing and covering himself as though he’d been caught skinny dipping in the Thames during the coldest of Januaries.

As my screaming subsided and I witnessed him cowering on the pavement, I wished for a passer by with an oversized palm to make contact with the cheeks of his bottom, but then again, that probably wouldn’t have been deemed punishment for someone who obviously got his thrills from the most bizarre of acts. He thrust on his socks and scurried along the street, worriedly glancing back as though I could add insult to his injury at any moment. I saw his hand flailing in the air as he drifted… I wonder if he did ever manage to flag down that taxi.

New Balls Please.

balls

Laura turns critic for the night at the Oxford Fringe’s new sketch show from Mullins & Gladwin…

There is something deliciously awkward about an expectant audience awaiting a comedy show. But there is something even more appetising about an expectant audience perched on the chairs of a Baptist church, the ones where the bible sits tucked behind the derrière of every spectator, just willing you to read it whilst you are waiting.

So it was amidst my education on the likes of Deuteronomy and Exodus that I was given my first taste of tonight’s comedic pair. It came courtesy of the kind of retro tune that wouldn’t have stood out of place on an 80s Saturday night sports show. The music teetered for a few moments longer than was natural, those extended seconds that comedians have revelled in since the likes of The Office and Family Guy discovered that audiences do like to be pushed past the extreme point of unease. I could only laugh… first serve to Mullins and Gladwin.

Behind their simple staging, the duo was kitted with a dress up box that even Mr Benn would have crossed mountains to claim, and thus we were treated to a compilation of colourful characters. There was the shop owner that had an insalubrious affection for the word ‘balls’, and the golf coach whose career goals were entrenched more in the West End than on the putting green. There were carefully tailored parodies of characters that even those who never even entertain the idea of sports-watching could recognise, such as the gum gnawing, talks-out-the-side-of-his-mouth, unresponsive football manager. Some sketches played with our sense of the familiar and the unexpected; a pair of boxers gearing up for a tumultuous game of tiddlywinks, and the snooker player who really is listening to THAT commentary.

It was with a shrewd wit that the duo took on the England squad’s notorious affection for the National Anthem, treating us to a dance that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Sadler’s Wells… here we had two performances for the price of one.

Mullins certainly tickled some funny bones with his love affair with a cardboard cut out of Jessica Ennis – if only he knew she was having another man’s baby – whilst Gladwin delighted with his uncanny impersonation of Chris Tarrant; it was all in the twitching eyes…

Laughter is without doubt the best medicine, and there is certainly no scientific formula as to its creation, but you might just be able to self medicate if you catch these two in action.

Catch Mullins and Gladwin in Oxford at the end of July for the Oxford Archway

www.archwayfoundation.org.uk