Thursday, 28 July 2011


Hubby looked most disapproving as I got ready to go out for a night on the town with a bunch of twenty-somethings.
“You are not going dressed like that are you?”, he asked. I looked down at my dress.
“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing? I look alright”.
“Hmm. Mutton and lamb spring to mind”. I was most affronted. There was a bit of cleavage on display and a little flash of leg, but nothing outrageous.
I ran upstairs for some sartorial advice. My eldest daughter, having now finished her exams, is oft to be found in bed, where she is languishing as her brain is bored. In fairness to her, she is not idling the day away in that torpid sleep that only teenagers and hibernating wildlife assume nor is she flicking through the inane pages of celebrity magazines; instead she whiles away the hours watching documentary after documentary. I knocked and walked into her room; she pushed a button to pause her computer. I raised my eyebrows.
“World War Two. The Complete History”.
“I thought you watched that yesterday?”
“No, that was Mysteries of the Amazon. You look nice”.
“Do I?”, I asked, scrutinising my appearance in her full length mirror, “That’s what I came to ask you. Dad thinks I look like mutton dressed as lamb”.
“He’s a bright one to talk; he took the dog for a walk earlier wearing a Paul Weller t-shirt and a pair of red Converse. I nearly died”.
“So, you won’t die if I go out dressed like this?”
“No, but you may need to change your knickers, you have a serious case of VPL.” I turned around and looked at my bottom in the mirror.
Bugger. That’s the problem with tight pants, they may hold you in, but other parts of your flesh have a disconcerting habit of seeping out elsewhere. My daughter handed me a scissors.
“Make a snip in the leg elastic”, she advised.
“Bloody hell ma, what’s up?” asked my son, walking in. I must have looked rather odd hunched over with my dress gathered up, wielding a large, craft scissors and attacking my knickers with it.
I let go of my dress.
“Oh, hello. I’m getting ready for a night on the tiles. How do I look?”
“Better now I can’t see your knickers.”
“You are not embarrassed by me then?”
“Ma, I am often embarrassed by you, but rarely by what you wear”. I gave him a playful clip around the ear.
“Well, I’m off then. See you guys later”.
Forty minutes later and I was in a beer garden on the Barbican. It was rather nippy and I was glad I had my pashmina. My friends however, being decades younger than me and thus more inclined to wear less apart from skimpy numbers in thin, silky fabrics, shivered. Maternally, I offered my pashmina. They looked aghast. You’d have thought I’d offered them to cover up with an Orlon cardigan. What is with young people and their abject horror of being warm and dry? You see hordes of them walk to school in torrential rain, either utterly coatless, their hair and school sweatshirts clinging to them, or, more queerly, a raincoat draped over their arms. I shrugged my shoulder and took a sip of wine.
If my attire aged me, then my choice of drink made me look positively prehistoric. The culture of sweet, lurid drinks has, mercifully, passed me by and apart from a few ill-advised sweet Martini’s when a teenager and the odd G&T at a cocktail party, then wine has been my usual tipple for nay on thirty years.
“What on earth is that?” I asked, somewhat taken aback by the neon blue liquid in my friend’s bottle.
“This Alice”, she explained as though I were her elderly, confused patient, “Is called a WKD”.
“Is it blue curacao?”
“Isn’t that some sort of parrot?” asked another friend, sipping some equally vivid alco-pop. The girls and I had a few more drinks and then, rather unwisely, started a drinking game. A sort of post-modernist twist on Truth or Dare. The nature of the game was in revealing secrets and, had you a shared experience in the activities disclosed you were to take a swig. Having led a sheltered life, I can report that I only watched, eyes ever widening in amazement at their exposés.
Being on the Barbican, I was quite comfortable with our choice of venue and, even though I was in the company of beautiful young things, there were at least, a handful of other middle-aged codgers milling about. All that was to change. Whereas by now Hubby and I would be yawning, looking at our watches and fretting about what ferry to catch; for this lot, the night was yet young and the earlier drinking was only a precursor of what was to come. Before I knew what was happening, I was bundled into a taxi where it deposited us outside some bar in the student quarter of Plymouth. There were kids here younger than my son. There was no-where to sit, the music was indescribable and the wine non-existent. Besides, why would young people buy a £5 glass of Pinot, when they can buy jager-bombs for two quid a shot? For those unfamiliar with a jager-bomb – it is glass of Red Bull with a shot glass of Jagermeister wallowing at the bottom. Its effects are no doubt as explosive as its name implies.
I didn’t quite know what do to with myself and found myself ultimately hanging onto the girls’ handbags as they got their groove on. I felt like hat-stand. An antique one at that. To add to the ignominy of the situation, the Smiles on the Tiles photographer of the local paper turned up and, whilst the girls beamed their bright smiles at him, he asked them “Do you want your mother in the shot?” I caught the next ferry home.

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