Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Dressed for Success

It's raining, the sky looks like a blackboard which has been wiped clean with the palm of my hand. The sea looks like the water paintbrushes have been soaking in. The boys are fine; swimming, climbing at the park and walking a lot seems to have sharpened their appetite, and three healthy meals a day are being wolfed down with gusto. We've been swimming, we have wi-fi, I have access to blogger and I can't seem to stay away.

An elderly lady completed at least 15 lengths of the pool at an impressive pace, she got washed and dressed the same time as us.
Showering naked, she drew a lot of stares from young boys. Crepe paper skin, tiny frame - maybe size zero. Lots of care was taken with drying, a very well rehearsed, methodical routine was observed. Talc was gently sprinkled onto her tiny hand before being sort of 'thrown' onto her armpits. The scent of parma violets and lavender filled my nostrils for a moment. Moisturiser next, slowly but purposefully she covered her arms and legs in a fine film of cream, changing the brand for her feet, a peppermint aroma was evident, I almost tasted it.

Clothes - lacy, mint green underwear, a silk petticoat with cream lace trim and a beautifully cut fitted dress;  her  light, belted mac was the exact length of the dress, followed by co-ordinating peep-toe kitten heel shoes.

I expected to see a Mason Pearson brush emerge next, but no; a simple black comb did wonders for her  matte silver hair. A slick of peach lipstick and a spritz of Charlie bodyspray, she was ready. Everything was neatly returned to her FILA rucksack, I felt a pang of disappointment - surely she has a pretty bag at home which would do the job.

We left the changing room at the same time, my hair dripping onto my t-shirt, chipped toe-nail varnish pepping out from Regatta flip-flops (my mum's, slightly too small).  Our eyes meet, she smiles and says "what a lovely skirt dear"  I reply, "oh, thanks - it was from a charity shop, only £1.75!".

I do myself no favours...


  1. Beautifully observed. That elderly lady could have been my 90 year old Mum who still does ten lengths twice a week. She’s not a prude but I think she would draw the line at showering in front of young boys. Learning to accept a compliment gracefully is an art that few of us can master, and who can resist having a little brag about a bargain. I do the same, and even say “Yes I made it myself” which is becoming marginally more acceptable these days. Once one never admitted to homemade garments; now we positively crow about it in age of recycling. You probably sent that little old lady on her way full of admiration for your thrift.

  2. A lovely story, I read it with real enjoyment!

  3. Not too worry, you have another 40 years to become a stylish elderly lady with no qualms about nudity! And you'll know to carry a better bag x

  4. I adore elderly ladies like that, it makes me happy to embrace old age knowing it's still possible to be elegant and graceful without fear of becoming invisible.
    It is hard to accept a compliment, a simple "Thank You" feels like over-confidence.
    I usually gabble somthing about it being second-hand, not because I'm overly proud of my thriftiness more that I'm trying to inititate a conversation.
    Continue having a good holiday, shame about the weather. It's set to break here tomorrow, just in time for us to arrive at our festival and set up camp, no doubt. x

  5. She sounds like the elderly woman I would like to be :)

  6. That elderly lady sounds right up my street! I'm talcum powder's biggest fan under 30 as well. But Charlie bodyspray? Are you serious! That is delightful! :)

  7. when i'm on the bus in london it is sometimes possible to distinguish the perfumed ladies from the ones who are freshly soaped ... who are frequently, of course, still damp

  8. i hope to maintain that attitude and elegance when i am older. i am often so inspired by women like that...

  9. I always get the naked oldie next to me when i go to the swimming pool, and they tend to be the ones who always strike up a conversation with me while they are towelling their neithers.

    Im the same too with giving away my thrifty clothes costs :o) Scarlett x

  10. A lovely story with great observation. I only hope that one day I can have the time to swim multiple lengths and then dry, dress and make myself up in a methodical way, rather than escaping the baths in a sodden, messy state.

  11. "It's raining, the sky looks like a blackboard which has been wiped clean with the palm of my hand. The sea looks like the water paintbrushes have been soaking in"

    I liked that a great deal! I can only echo what others have said, that you make some superb observations. You have an excellent way with words, Madam!

  12. Just read this Lucy and totally was there with you. Great, fab writing.

    K xx


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