Friday, 27 May 2011

Second Skin.

To be honest, when Hubby emailed me and told me that I was to be his Plus One in an invitation that addressed us as ‘distinguished guests’, I rather hoped that perhaps some minor royalty might be involved and, hence the need for a new titfer.
Nothing mad, I continued to ponder. No Princess Beatrice configuration, just a large, sweeping brim. I made a mental list of what I might wear and realised, that, if I were to wear the navy ensemble, then I’d need to buy some stomach flattening knickers. Perusing the lingerie department in M&S, I was baffled by the endless interpretations of knicker available to a woman with a stomach which has accommodated four, rather large babies and a lifetime of good food and excellent wines.
“Excuse me”, I asked an assistant, “I’m looking for some deceiving undergarments”. The girl, who couldn’t possibly have been older than 16, looked at me with pity. She was stick thin and as needy of hold-me-in pants as I am of a belly-button piercing. I held my gaze and reluctantly she led me in the direction of some rather, alarmingly large, pants.
“These are our magic knickers range”, she said.
“Magic eh? Does my bum transform into Pippa Middleton’s the minute they are pulled up then?”
“They are not really magic”, she said, poker-faced.
“I see”, I replied, fondling the heavy-duty material. These things squeeze your innards from your navel to your thighs, much like a tube of toothpaste, “A guy could die trying to get into those”, I laughed conspiratorially.
It was obvious that the idea of me having a sex life and the subsequent image of a frisky man actually attempting to get into the aforementioned drawers was very disturbing and the girl gave a discreet little shudder.
“How much are they?” I asked, looking for the label.
“Twenty-nine pounds fifty”, she replied. I reeled.
“Bloody hell! Gastric surgery doesn’t come in at much more”, I exclaimed, “Can you suggest something else?” Before the poor girl could actually utter, ‘gastric surgery wouldn’t be such a bad idea’, her supervisor appeared on the scene. More mature and rather more, how shall I put it? Shapely.
“Can I be of assistance?” she asked.
“Yes, I hope so”, I said, “I have to attend an official function with my husband, and the dress I am thinking of wearing is rather unforgiving, therefore I need some underwear that will give the illusion that under all this,” and I waved in the direction of my tummy, “I have the body of a svelte teenager”. The lady in question held on to the stainless steel display racks and racked with laughter. It wasn’t that bloody funny.
“The thing, thirty pounds is a lot to spend on a pair of pants that (and at this point I crossed my fingers) I doubt I shall ever wear again”. The lady wiped tears from her eyes, and led me down the escalator to the hosiery department.
“I have just the thing for you”, she said, “Ultimate Magic, 10 Denier Secret Support Waist Shaper Tights. And only eight pounds”. Golly. Eight quid for tights. Still, a darned sight cheaper than the knickers.
“Thank-you for all your help”.
“My pleasure, but be careful and remember…” at this point I thought she was going to finish her sentence by saying, ‘and remember to be home by midnight otherwise the magic tights will suddenly give up the will to live and your tummy will once more resort to being a pumpkin’. As it was she only advised me to remove all my rings before I put them on.
Having pushed the boat out on expensive hosiery, I dropped the hat idea. Instead I bought lunch. Well, to be fair, Uncle Dave bought lunch. I found him on the ground floor, also buying pants. It’s not an issue for men. By a certain age they know how much support they want ‘down there’ and just buy in bulk thereafter. Uncle Dave was no exception. Bundling several pairs of large, black y-fronts in an M&S bag, he was delighted to see me.
“Alice! I’ve got the day off. Let’s do lunch”. It is common knowledge that when he puts his mind to it, Uncle Dave, gastronomically speaking, goes for it. Cue two hours later and I had to be virtually shoe-horned behind my steering wheel, so full was my tummy. When I got home, it was all I could do to crawl upstairs, down half a bottle of milk of magnesium and have a very dyspeptic lie down. Hubby rang at 5pm, promptly.
“Get your glad rags on Alice, I’ll be there to pick you up in ten minutes.” I could have cried. My tummy was still as swollen as a Highland haggis and now I somehow had to persuade it into a very, very, very tight pair of tights without laddering them.
Our destination was a Mayor making ceremony, so going hatless was a good decision as the only ones worn were of the tricorn variety and accessorised by a plume of feathers and a mace bearer. I found it hard to concentrate on proceedings. My inner machinations were under great duress and I was terrified of passing wind every time we got up and down to pay respects to the past mayor and then the new incumbent. Were my tights to give up on me now then I had appalling images of me as some human balloon whose knot has been released; and I could see myself flying around the room getting smaller and smaller whilst simultaneously making very rude noises.
I thank God that the new mayor was a magnificent speaker and by the end of his speech I had almost forgotten that Vesuvius was grumbling dangerously under my dress. It was only at the reception afterwards when Hubby handed me a platter of pasty, scones and saffron bun that I baulked and ran for my life.

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