Dragging the Queen.

Confessions7

Saturday mornings were always the most interesting when it came to wandering to work. The daybreak sunshine would cast quite a different light on Soho than the previous evening’s starlight and neon blend, and as I wandered to work I would witness the remnants of debaucherous nights spent getting up to no good.

Besides the usual nocturnal mammals queuing up for coffee and retracing their steps in a bid to find the nearest escape, more often than not I would unearth something a little more eye catching.

My most memorable morning moment came courtesy of a gentleman I shall call Sue, for no male name would be worthy of the feminine spirit and the ladylike attire he was emblazoned with when we first met.

When I approached the doorway of my little girly boutique workplace I noticed something awry. Just like the side bobbing head one witnesses when a film character overtly double-takes, I glanced back and forth several times before I noticed a slender heel sticking out from within the recessed doorway. As I got closer I noticed that one of the previous night’s revellers had decided to give in to his impending coma and slump between the pink framed entrance of my shop, buried in baby like sleep and dressed in an outfit that was definitely deemed x rated.

The Pakistani man from the paper shop opposite smiled at me from his doorway, muttered something about the cesspit of today’s society and its interpretation of fun, and then retreated back inside, helpfully leaving me and the drag queen to settle our differences alone.

After a lifetime of prodding, poking and shoving, this night time reveller definitely wasn’t waking up. Grabbing his stiletto, I pulled. His head slid down the door and curled onto the floor, and across the cobbles we went, an image of sweet and sour, his blonde wig trailing behind him, my pastel chiffon dress getting more creased by the second.

Just as we reached the square of concrete that I had appointed his home for the next few hours, his faux lash adorned eyelids flapped open and his eyeballs danced full circle before focusing on my face.

“Are we in heaven?”

To this day I cannot decide if he was referring to the pearly gates or the nightclub a few doors down.

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A Piercing Sight.

Confessions6

By now it had become apparent that many of the bizarre wanderers of Soho were prowling for some sort of thrill. From what I could gather, it was not in their actions that they gained rapture, but in the reaction of those they would play to, which more often than not, was me.

This couldn’t have been demonstrated more so than in my next tale…

It was a glorious sunny day in London, which is such a rarity that I longed to be doing anything other than being slumped inside waiting for customers. Through the sun drenched doorway another eccentric ‘Soho-ian’ graced me with his presence.

Looking like a throw back from the eighties, with a Pat Sharpe mullet and dazzling MC Hammer trousers, he drifted in, instantly looking at odds with this girly dreamland.

To my already pricked ears he told the tale of a looming Rocky Horror Picture Show party; that he was in possession of the obligatory stockings and suspender belt, but that he needed something extra special to ice the cake of his guise.

I pondered on the matter for a second or two, hoping he would realise that our image was the polar opposite to the tranny trash fabulousness of Rocky Horror, but he seemed genuinely enthused. It is a pity I was all too unaware of the real reason for this apparent enthusiasm, for after selecting a sheer chiffon blouse, he had a slight surprise up his sleeve…

Disregarding my initial reluctance I agreed to his trying on of the garment. After all, at our current rate of trade I couldn’t expect a visit from a girl who’d be surprised to see this strange looking man dressed in the blouse she’d had her eye on.

After some time I grew anxious, and it was through gritted teeth that I asked him if he was ok; for I did not want this question to prompt his exit from behind the dressing room curtain. Lo and behold, it did. But instead of the eighties darling in floral chiffon I was expecting, I was confronted with a middle aged man, his curly blonde hair in pigtails, his cheeks rouged, his lips painted, his eyes adorned with fake lashes and his lower half absolutely unclad, the see-through blouse grazing the top of his thighs. The blouse was so see through in fact, that my eyes were consequently violated by the detail of a terribly personal piercing. I believe a Prince Albert is its official name.

As he stood, punch proud with his hands on his hips, belly protruded and groin thrust outwards, I knew this was my very own Horror Show performance.

Extremely careful not to bat a single eyelid, I instead shrugged my shoulders, as though this were an every day occurrence and said “Not very Rock Horror though is it? Maybe for something else though?”

With that I shut the curtain over a very disheartened face.

Out of all Proportion.

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The Soho factor seemed to influence many a customer of this decidedly girly boutique. Whether it was the nature of the clothes, or the nature of the area, we seemed to attract a certain amount of unwanted attention of the male variety.

My first insight into this world came courtesy of a man in his fifties, who was looking to buy a gift for his so called girlfriend. I hoped she was more of a trophy sweetheart than his age equivalent, seeing that our clothes would have embarked on their voyage to mutton parading as lamb on any woman a day past twenty five.

As he thumbed our threads, indiscreetly perusing mine at the same time, I asked him what size his girlfriend was.

Nonchalantly he replied, his answer followed by an impolite demand that I try on the get up he had selected. Towards me he thrust the most miniscule skirt we stocked, and a barely there bikini top.

Horrified at the prospect of having to parade around in what barely constituted clothing, giving this tactless visitor grounds to be gawking, I informed him that my size was really rather far removed from that of his girlfriend. He grimaced and urged the clothes into my arms regardless.

“Try.” He commanded, whilst waving towards the fitting room and stunning my painstakingly composed manner with a tiny tap to my derriere.

As a vivid vision of me thwacking him across the cheek invaded my head, I grappled for a moment with what would have been my inherent response had this not been my place of work.

Eyeballing his unaffected stare it was through gritted teeth that I asked him where his girlfriend was. Awkwardly, his gaze averted to his feet, disappointed at my reaction.

“You’re not going to try them.” It was more a realisation than a question as he sheepishly hung his head, sidestepping my gaze.

“No.” I replied. “Definitely not.”

With that he let out a small, high pitched groan and wandered hastily out of the door.

Fortune’s Fool.

Confessions4

After keenly acclimatising with my novel city surrounds, I started to become accustomed to the spiced variety of London’s inhabitants. Among these peculiar, habitually eccentric individuals, were the crystal gazers of Soho…

I often alluded to the fortune tellers’ apparent aptitude in glimpsing the future, by pointing out their inability to gauge my imminent refusal of their services. Surely they could save themselves the trouble before even crossing the threshold of my frosty reception? After several encounters I did advise one particularly persistent woman that she should put her skills to good use and increase her trade by only selecting the people who sought the telling of their fortunes. In response, she glared at me with her Romany eyes and muttered something under her breath. She then brandished her dirt ridden hand over my head and I suspected I had become subject to a deadly curse.

I was somewhat unbothered by the thought of having a curse cast upon me by a woman I deemed ‘un-psychic’, until one day during another unwelcome trip she informed a colleague of mine that her baby was going to die. I took great pleasure in telling the old woman that with no baby to speak of, her information was fatally flawed. Singing her mother tongue obscenities she retreated, and the girl I was working with, not quite triumphant in her fight to conceal her tears, made a dive for the back room.

In sympathy I shouted my opinion of our guest towards the girl, ‘silly old bat’ and ‘institutionalised’ making a definite appearance in my description.

It was then that she confided in me that she was indeed with child, but that she was yet to tell a single soul. This little nugget of information was to spark a spine tingle, in what felt like a slow motion reveal in a Hitchcock film whereby the femme fatale realises her time has come; the moment I considered that my card was well and truly marked.

Regardless of the subsequent eight months that the expectant mother bore with a nervous disposition following said prophecy, both mother and baby have since become and have remained healthy and happy. As for my cursed existence from there on in, it might have plunged and peaked here and there, but it has done so much akin to everyone else’s. Be that as it may, a couple of times a year, when things might be looking particularly troublesome, the clairvoyant’s callous sounds will dart into my head and for just a few seconds, I will be left wondering if my judgment day still looms in the distance…

Bright Lights Brighter Characters.

Confessions3

Once I had traded my cosy countryside existence for a city life in London to attend university, I knew that my encounters would only get all the more peculiar…

It was promptly after my first footsteps into The London College of Fashion that I realised the floorboards of this university were very much their own catwalk and consequently my wardrobe was a very sad sight indeed. A part time job was most definitely required in order to fund this newfound student lifestyle and to at least attempt at keeping up with the fashion forward Joneses.

My first job in the big city saw me looking after a unique boutique just on the outskirts of Soho, a place that is home to many of the more colourful among us.

Much of my time was whiled away perusing the pages of the glossies, gushing over the latest enviable wares from fashion houses such as Chanel and McQueen, which, on my part time wage and a student loan, I could only endeavor to replicate by stretching to the Topshop copycat.

If I was graced with the delight of human interaction it was typically with a pink adorned girly girl, due to the saccharine infused, fairytale nature of the clothing we had on offer. It was for this very reason that anyone with a desire for something other than a glitter, ribbon, or pom pom festooned item of clothing soon stood out, from the moment their scheming hand settled on the door handle.

I was to become privy to all sorts of alien requests, one most notably from a notorious male celebrity who asked me if I could outfit him with a balaclava. It was rather a perplexing question when you took into account our windows decked with butterflies, soft pink chiffons and mannequins with blonde 1930’s curls. Seemingly quite surprised when I informed him that we didn’t sell such an item, he asked if I could recommend a shop that did. Needless to say the only advice I could offer consisted of a visit to the PVC and rubber bondage specialists in the heart of Soho. I wondered if I had smacked the proverbial nail on the head when he sheepishly laughed and retreated from my shop, heading in that very direction.