Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A break from our scheduled programming

A bit of an odd one today. If you want the usual type of ranting, I ranted about children's tv over on the 4mations blog yesterday.


I haven't kept many of mum's clothes. She was shorter than me - 5 foot to my 5'4" and wore more colour than I would ever dare to. The Space Cadette took a couple of cashmere jumpers because she's always cold and lives in a freegan squat, and because my moths have eaten enough to last a lifetime. There were a couple of amazing things that both the Space Cadette and I have worn occasionally, but frankly don't have the guts to carry off - a Biba black crocheted dress that is entirely see through, an acid floral babydoll nightie, or possibly dress, trimmed in black lace. Clothes for adventures; wildly daring clothes for a Catholic girl from Coatbridge in the 1960s. I love imagining how fiercely determined she must have had to be to carry them off. I do know that her first husband was initially drawn to her for her red shoes (it should perhaps be no surprise to learn that he was in fact gay).



She wore scarves, too, and I just can't master the scarf. I slept with a Jaeger dark red spotted silk one of hers under my pillow for about a year after she died for the smell, initially, and then the sensual memory of how it felt round her neck when she would sneak away from whatever meeting had brought her to London to come and meet me in the RIBA café, or in Russell Square and we would hug and I could feel the silk against her skin and the smell of Chanel 19. I've lost a couple of others, and it makes me sad - there was a crêpe Liberty one with muted coloured starburst shapes that I loved.



But what I do have, and love, is this:





It doesn't look much, and it's almost certainly old than I am. It has a white sibling I love too with a slightly spikier patterned neckline, and they are both made of the most ancient, worn Swiss cotton. I love the way the stitching at the seams and the trim have faded here, giving them a slightly blueish tint. I love the two colours of grey that make up the flowers.


It's one of those things that cheers me up whenever I put it on, even though I can't really wear it with much. But it's good under a very deeply draped top if you don't want to startle the tram driver, or under a wrap dress. And despite the fact that I don't like, or wear vest tops as a rule, being over 16 and having, you know, a sturdy matron shelf (thanks India), I love it on its own.






My lens is filthy, apologies. I think the weepette must have been licking it. Also, I had to sit in the bathroom sink to take these pictures, because I haven't yet discovered the button that transforms the master bedroom into a giant mirrored den of sin (I'm sure it's there though).



I think I'm still hoping that part of her bravery and conviction will rub off through the action of some kind of clothing voodoo. It hasn't worked so far. But I do like to think of her and how much more daring and life embracing she was than me. She dealt with both her parents dying in her early twenties, moved to Ghent without realising it was Dutch speaking (only able to say 'banana' and 'liver pâté'), got caffeine poisoning, stalked a concert pianist, married a gay man, lived with my father and his Smiths Crisps van full of chickens (and on one memorable occasion had to carry a large live rabbit he had gifted her back on the bus to Coatbridge), got so drunk when she got her PhD we had to carry her back to the house, stole chips off visiting professors' plates, had constantly laddered tights, marched, protested and danced on tables. This time I'm going to give you her obituary, because she was fucking ace.

Huh. This was supposed to be about the vest.

34 comments:

deililly said...

To me, she sounds like you.

Layla said...

She sounds wonderful. Just read the obituary (and the one in the Independent) - what an interesting woman, and what a truly worthwhile career. And how awful that she died so young. You must miss her horribly.

Was most impressed that her PhD thesis actual had a beneficial effect on policy for families with disabled children - how many PhD theses are of any use to the world whatever?

On sartorial matters I am, as you know, something of an afficionado of skimpy litte vest tops myself, and I think it's lovely.

But why, in the photo of you wearing it, do you appear to be wearing a rubber gas mask with it??

GingerB said...

I was also concerned about the mask. I wondered if you were going to upgrade the post it note beard you made for the village fete.

Your mother sounds lovely - a joyful person whowanted things to matter.

Layla said...

Having been reading this week's blog posts backwards, I have only just read your previous post, which leads me to believe that the holiday house you are renting belongs to 'swingers' who swap partners at parties via the mixing up and redistribution of furry key-rings (see my comment on yesterday's blog post).

I'm now wondering if this throws some light on your curious outfit choice of skimpy little vest top accessorised with a black rubber gas mask - could it be that you are ignoring my admonitions against the Bacchanalian practices of the Normandy locals, and are trying on your party outfit for this evening's revels? I believe that gas-masks are highly prized in some David Lynch-style orgies... Am also now wondering what the CFO will be wearing...

All I can say is if you are planning to do anything particularly gymnastic, best not to fill up too much on Camembert and galettes beforehand.

Oh, and please post photos...

everybodysaysdont said...

Wow, your mum was fucking Ace!

I know where you are coming from...my mother died 11 years ago and she was from the fucking ace school too. She cared for my brother who was VERY disabled and would have thanked your Mum for her hard work!!!

Dee GF said...

Oh my. Anyone who has lost someone close to them and slept with an article of their clothing for some time will be deeply moved. I was. What an amazing lady and lucky you that she was your Mother. Somehow, I suspect this was never really about 'the top'.

Now I have guilt that I wrote to Bonne Maman about one of your preferred desserts....woe....

Red Shoes said...

I love when you write about your mother. It helps me to believe that perhaps not all mothers are terrible and some are deeply wonderful, capable of instilling tremendous love and tenderness upon their children. Capable, also, of receiving it. It's something I need to hear, something worth knowing even if I didn't experience it myself.

Your mother sounds to have been a completely amazing woman. I'm so very sorry that you lost her too soon, but I'm so very glad that you had her to begin with.

The tank top is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

reading this has made me call my mum, we are going for what she termed 'a glass of crisp white' after work today...all thanks to your
very lovely and inspiring blog post.

Iheartfashion said...

Your mom sounds completely amazing; what an inspiring life. My dad died around the same time, at age 55, and I miss him all the time. He was a professor, too, who had a positive influence on so many lives. Makes me feel quite inadequate...

Margaret said...

She was fucking ace and so are you!

What an amazing, inspirational mother, and yes, what joy among the pain. Don't forget you are that mother too.

Because of your post, I will go to bed remembering mine, as I haven't for these many years.

Please never give up writing.

@eloh said...

I can only echo "Red Shoes", you are lucky to have good memories.

Your mom sounds like she was a blast.

pinklea said...

Your mother sounds like she was an energetic, amazing, fun woman who actually made a difference in the lives of more people than you will ever know. How wonderful and lucky that she was your mother! I'm so sorry that you lost her far too soon. But remember that as her daughter, you are very much like her. Though it may not always be apparent to you, your family, friends and even those of us in the blogosphere can see it quite clearly!

mountainear said...

What a privilege Emma, to have a mother like that. I guess we all love our mums but sometimes they have that extra 'oomph' - like having a go at making the world a better place rather than just making cup cakes.

Mwa said...

Sounds like a great woman. With a nice vest.

westendmum said...

How dare you make me cry.

Your mum sounds amazing, thank you for sharing the obit.

I think you probably look like Emma in that vest top Jaywalker, and very beautiful she is too.

I slept in one of my mum's petticoats for ages.

westendmum said...

Sorry it's me again.
Can I just say, reading these comments, you made at least two say fucking (so far), one contact their mother and at least one cry. I'd wear that rubber mask more often if I were you.

Pochyemu said...

I agree with Pinklea. Your mother was intelligent, talented, and friends, family and peers admired her and no doubt looked up to her. In this way you really are her daughter because you inspire so many of us. We love you Jaiwalquer!

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Sally was feisty and forthright, enthusiastic, affectionate, talkative and wickedly funny, with a mischievous smile and an endearing manner. She was sociable and loved parties; She cared about ordinary, unsung people. More than this, Sally treated everyone with care and connected with so many people. She was extraordinarily generous with her time and money.

What an obit, Emma, something to really live up to - As you do every day, my darling, donning her mantel and her lovely silky top...

She gave you a legacy to be you. And that is enough...

Mr Farty said...

What a beautiful post *sniff*. Your mum sounds like a wonderful woman.

I didn't know Nikon did gas masks.

bevchen said...

I don't have anything to add - everyone else has already put it so well - so I'll just repeat. Your mum sounds amazing. I'm so sorry you lost her way too soon.

Also, I adore the vest top.

Completely Alienne said...

YOu mother sounds absolutely lovely. You are lucky to have had her.

Angela said...

I think you're so amazing.
That's all I want to say.

Artichoke Queen said...

You are extraordinarily lucky to have had such a special mom. And she was extraordinarily lucky to have had you.

Laura Jane said...

That was one hell of an obituary. I feel I know her, and you, better for having read it.

She reminds me very much of my best friend, who has similar interests.

ANd I see many many things about you too.

Fucking death. It just sucks. Who would ever willingly be ready to let go of someone so ace. Keep wearing her top sweetheart. It looks lovely on you, and I just know that she would be delighted that it gave you such comfort.

(sadly slinks away, thinking of Mumless friends)

JPM said...

ah. Nice. I had been wondering who she was ever since your wrote that she had a Wikipedia article. What a great human. You have much to be proud of in who she was, and no doubt you miss her for what she was to you. Top rocks. There is no better cotton like decades old cotton.

Liberty London Girl said...

Thank you sweetpea for sharing that. You know, you are one of the bravest people I've met.

On another note,

a) we do not have matronly shelves, we have deliciously ample bosoms, and b) these were the ASK.com searches on the bottom of your RSS feed:

Related Searches on Ask.com: Space Cadette, Russell Square, bathroom sink

LLGxx

secret agent woman said...

Here via authorblog. What a wonderful set of ,e,ories about your mother. She sounds liek a remarkable person.

But I have to say, you hardly look sturdy or matronly in that photo.

Alix said...

Oh, what a wonderful tribute to the love you have for your mother. So beautifully written.

In my family, the closeness is mostly between siblings and not shared with parents, even though both are alive and still in good health in their 80's. Unfortunately, they were never interested much in us (or each other), so deep rich abiding emotional fondness and attachments were never cultivated. I envy people who cherish their parents or the memories of their parents as you do. And I wonder how my life might have been different if I'd grown up with parents who'd loved me as yours did you.

Congratulations on being selected POTD. The honor is well deserved.

willow said...

Beautiful post. Congrats on being David's POTD!

Cheffie-Mom said...

What a beautiful tribute. Congrats on the Post of the Day Award!

lakeviewer said...

I've come in from Authorblog to congratulate you. This is one of the most honest tribute I've ever read. Your mom would be proud of what you wrote.

Brian Miller said...

a very moving tribute to your mother. congrats on the POTD.

Ladybird said...

Your mother sounds like a wonderful woman and such a shame she died so young. I have no doubt though that she was incredibly proud of you for many reasons including getting a first from Oxford.
I wear Chanel No. 19, there are few of us left.
Still reading through and enjoying.........

Ladybird said...

Your mother sounds like a wonderful woman and such a shame she died so young. I have no doubt though that she was incredibly proud of you for many reasons including getting a first from Oxford.
I wear Chanel No. 19, there are few of us left.
Still reading through and enjoying.........