Cannabilism in mismatching shoes

24 February

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been out in odd shoes before. In my defence, it was dark, both shoes were black and the heels were more or less the same height. It could happen to anyone, surely?

In any case, I honestly don’t think anyone noticed. I may have lost my balance a couple of times due to the slight disparity in heel height, but then that’s not unusual. Especially after a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio.

But I was alarmed to find that I was wearing odd boots this morning. Doubly odd – not only were they different colours (brown and black) but they were both right-footed. Fortunately, I realised before I actually left the house, although only because my left foot (in its right boot) was pinching so horribly I had to go upstairs to change because I thought maybe I’d left a sock in there from a previous wearing (which has also been known to happen).

It’s all very depressing. Is this what happens when one’s dinghy of life starts drifting into middle-aged currents and losing its way? Does one start calling oneself ‘one’, wearing ill-fitting and mismatching footwear, and using inappropriately nautical metaphors?

Perhaps I should just stay at home in future, in my slippers. Or attach strings between each pair of shoes, like my mother used to do with my mittens when I was little.

But then I might get tangled up and fall over the strings, or even continue to wear mismatching footwear, leaving the redundant shoes to trail behind like tin cans on a wedding car.

Yes, I think slippers are definitely the way to go. Slippers and never leaving the house again.

29 February

Lucy is thinking of getting a new car now that she’s passed her test. This evening, she and Mr Young are busy looking at a Citroen website.

As an interested parent, albeit one who knows nothing about cars apart from the fact that some are red and some are black, I feel I should take an interest, so I do my best to join in and look over their shoulders as they discuss engine sizes and fuel consumption.

“The Slough?” I say in surprise. “Really? What an odd name for a car. I would have thought they’d go for something more glamorous.”

“What are you talking about?” says Lucy. Mr Young stares at me over the top of his glasses.

I point at the name across the top of the web page.

“There,” I say. “Citroen Slough.”

They look at each other pityingly.

“It’s not a name,” says Mr Young. “That’s the town where the Citroen retailer is.”

“Well, obviously, I knew that. I’m not daft,” I say. “I was only joking.”

But we all know I wasn’t.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m starring in my own rather poorly-written sit-com.

1 March

Book Club again. I’ve tried to think of an excuse for not having read 1984 (dog ate it, house blew up, my eyes fell out), but nothing sounds believable.

So my plan is to still go along – to be sociable – but to remain very, very quiet. Maybe nod knowledgeably every now and then if I really have to.

My luck is in, as there is an invitingly large round fluffy armchair tucked away in the corner of the room. It’s an unobtrusive spot, with a handy table nearby for a bowl of peanuts and my glass of wine. I make a beeline for this, along with Mrs L, and we squeeze onto it together.

My best laid plan, though, turns out to be good for neither mice nor man – let alone woman who is hoping to remain discreet – because this is no ordinary piece of furniture. It’s more conversation piece than chair – a swivelling love seat on what turns out to be a hyper-sensitive pivot.

Nevertheless, I decide to stick to my original plan of keeping very, very quiet.

It’s clearly not going to work, though; Mrs L, my love-seat companion, is a very enthusiastic member of our book club. She – unlike me – has actually read George Orwell’s novel, has a great deal to say about it, and insists in saying it all in a very animated way, with many excited hand gestures.

This means that with each vigorous left-hand flourish, we rotate slightly to the left, only to spin back to the right whenever she decides to emphasise an on-the-other-hand point. During one particularly emotional outburst, she is so energetic that I spill red wine down my shirt.

So my strategy of remaining unnoticed fails miserably.

Now, if only I’d planned to be a slowly rotating, mutely unsociable person in the corner of the room with a red wine stain and lots of peanut crumbs down my front, I’d have been a huge success.

There’s nothing else for it. I’ll just have to read the book next time.

3 March

My brother-in-law Joe’s 50th birthday party tonight; it’s black tie. This morning I come into the bedroom to find Mr Young half-dressed, with a bowtie fastened around his thigh. I wonder if I ought to announce my presence with a discreet ahem – goodness only knows what other unconventional practices might be about to take place – but he’s heard me come in.

“That’s perfect, isn’t it?” he says, indicating the perky little black bow decorating his leg.

I assume he’s referring to the bowtie rather than his thigh, and acknowledge that it is indeed a flawless knot.

“Why is it so easy to tie a perfect bow around your leg, and impossible to do the same thing around your neck when you’re looking in a mirror?” he says.

I haven’t a clue, and tell him so. Although I feel like pointing out that if that’s the worst of his problems before going away for the night to a black tie dinner dance, he should count himself lucky.

He should try being in my (hopefully matching) shoes.

I’ve got to sort out a dress, tights, bag, jewellery, hair, makeup – and that’s before we even get to the hotel.

Once we’re there, I have to get cross with myself because I’ve forgotten to pack my straighteners, repaint my nails because my varnish has chipped, redo my eye makeup because I’ve stuck my mascara brush in my eye, wonder why my dress is too tight, change my tights because I’ve laddered the first pair, do my nails for the third time because I’ve chipped the varnish changing my tights and make sure I haven’t got lipstick on my teeth.

But I don’t mention any of this.

I just say, “Mmmmm.” But in a martyred sort of way.

The party is a triumph; acres of men in dinner jackets and glamorous women in shiny dresses and glittery jewellery. Mr Young’s bowtie is so straight I wonder if he’s packed his spirit level. (I wouldn’t put it past him. He’s one of those if-a-thing’s-worth-doing-it’s-worth-doing-well type people. I’m one of those give-it-a-go-close-my-eyes-and-keep-my-fingers-crossed type people. Opposites attract. Tellingly, Mr Young isn’t particularly keen on hyphens either, whereas I’m one of those lovers-of-hyphens type people. Quod est demonstratum. Or quod-est-demonstratum.)

Joe, the life and soul of any party with a capital L and a capital S, does an impromptu dance routine after dinner. A funky Fred Astaire, he shimmies and spins and snaps his fingers across the room before being joined by a posse of friends in dinner jackets who also shimmy and snap their fingers behind him with impressive timing.

I’m very taken with it and make a mental note to choreograph Mr Young in a similar routine.

And yes, why not….maybe even with a bowtie fastened around his thigh. If any man could carry this look off, it’s Mr Young.

13 March

Back to see Paul again today so that I can experience ten minutes of a glossy swinging hairstyle. Coincidentally, this is exactly the amount of time it takes me to leave his salon, walk home and arrive in front of our hall mirror.

I can never work out how he manages to achieve all the gloss and swing. Even though I try and do exactly the same thing, I always fail.

I just end up with hair that doesn’t so much swing as haul itself about, like a sulky teenager.

But never mind all that. Today’s conversation is far too exciting for me to even notice what’s happening to my hair; Pippa, battling with the inch of grey roots around my hairline, is going off-piste with conversational topics and asks how we would least like to die.

Paul says he wouldn’t much like to be burned alive.

Personally, I say, I wouldn’t fancy being suffocated by frogs.

Pippa takes a deep breath and says she’d hate to be kidnapped by maniacally laughing hillbillies who would then keep her prisoner and mate with her to produce mutant children after which they’d eat her alive, slicing hunks of flesh from her stomach and eating one finger at a time.

My frog suffocation pales into insignificance, and I can tell that Paul’s also wishing he’d thought of something more dramatic than mere incineration.

But before I can revamp my amphibian death (I’m thinking simultaneous earthquake/meteorite explosion), Pippa’s already moved onto the next topic while Paul takes over to cut my hair.

“So, if you were in a plane crash, would you rather eat one of the wild dogs running around, or the dead person in the seat next to you?” she says.

I’d probably eat a dog, I say.

“No,” she tells me, “you wouldn’t, because you’d have made friends with the dog, and the person would be dead so you wouldn’t care about him.”

“OK, I’d eat the fish in the sea,” I say.

“No, because you wouldn’t be near the sea,” she says.

“Well, I’d just become a vegetarian and eat berries and grass,” I say.

“No, because its snowy, and anyway, you’ve broken your leg chasing after the dogs,” she says.

“Well, in that case,” I say, “I suppose I’ll have to eat the person.”

My lack of moral fibre is disappointing; just a few minutes in the hairdressers and I’m converted to cannibalism.

What’s more, Paul has achieved the glossy swinging thing without me taking special note.

So not only am I lacking in principles, I am also a woman who can’t even wear matching footwear let alone create her own glossy swinging hairstyle.

Serves me right, really. Honestly what sort of woman goes around eating people when there are perfectly good in-flight meals available?