I caught up with two friends

Not just one, but two. 

Does that make me sound like a proper saddo? The fact that catching up with friends is so rare and special as to be worthy of a blog post?

But here’s the thing: I see friends – sometimes they could probably more realistically be called acquaintances – a lot. But often fleetingly, at the school gates. Or disjointedly, with children running around. Or en masse, at a party, where one to one conversation is tricky, even if my lousy hearing didn’t make conversation of any type difficult.

It’d been a long time since I last saw the friends I caught up with today, which made meeting up with them exciting enough. But added to this was the fact that I saw each of them on their own, one by day and one at night.

So from the Kaffe Fassett exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum while the children were at school and nursery, to drinks at Canary Wharf’s Plateau tonight, with good company, easy conversation and lots of laughs for both, I feel like I’ve had the best of both worlds today.

And on a different, but related note, I am feeling quite self-congratulatory about having resisted the lure of yet another grey sweater. It was Whistles, it was lovely, it was on a good markdown at House of Fraser. And oh, how I love a grey sweater. I’m embarrassed to put how many of them I own in print.

But after the riot of colour to which we were treated at the Kaffe exhibition, honestly, how could I have justified it?

(I have however, bookmarked the sweater on my laptop. Juuuust in case I need something to make me happy tomorrow …)

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I heard this song

My husband was home early today, giving me a chance to slope off to the Kings Road and to the Proud Gallery Chelsea, where there’s a small but perfect exhibition of Ossie Clark photos, timed to coincide with the launch of the Ossie Clark London label last month. Behind-the-scenes pictures of the designer at work and with friends and family, as well as  photos of models wearing his creations, inhabit the top floor, while images capturing the spirit of the Kings Road in the Swinging Sixties and beyond occupy the space downstairs. Were money no object, there were several photos I would have bought on the spot (although not, incidentally, the one I’ve included here)

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The same could be said of many of the covetable things I saw as I walked along the Kings Road back to Sloane Square (it’s nowhere near as vibrant these days as the exhibition photos portray it but ooh la there’s some nice stuff to be had). Luckily I’m in that scrooge-ish frame of mind that sets in at this time of year – too far over all of the winter stuff to be tempted by sales rails; still too chilly to be 100% convinced by Spring offerings.

I’ll never say no to a browse though and the reason, even besides the clothes, is the music: I just love hearing what stores are playing on their systems. One of my absolute favourite songs is inextricably linked, for me, to the first time I heard it: when I went to New Look to hunt down a pair of ankle boots recommended by Lucy from Suburban Style. Tonight, I heard for the first time a song, Suspended from Class, by Scottish band Camera Obscura, which I loved instantly (far more than the clothes in the store in question, which I can never quite understand the fuss over)

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Am I alone in having never heard this song before now? I think it’s set to join several of my playlists.

I looked up

I was in town today and the sun was delicious; when I lifted my face I felt warmth, actual warmth, upon it. Enough to make my spirits sing, even were it not for the fact that it’s our 8th wedding anniversary and I was making my way to the London Transport Museum (the Underground poster exhibition is fantastic, by the way) to meet my daughter and her class on a school trip.

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Walking through Piccadilly Circus this afternoon I stopped, yet again, to beam beatifically at the sky. I’m fond of the bronze horses on the corner of Haymarket; they’re one of the first landmarks that I became familiar with as a mapless (not hapless!) Aussie in London, but today, sucking up the pale rays of an awakening Spring, I saw these three figures above them. Falling, diving, leaping, floating, suspended high above the crowds, who, like me until now, probably don’t even notice them.

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I’ve googled them a bit tonight and they’re by the same artist (Rudy Weller) who did the statue of Helios and the horses beneath – and the two are also linked, as these three glinting figures are Helios’ daughters, known as The Three Graces.

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I’m no artist and I dunno whether these sculptures are, to a more discerning eye, good or tacky or indifferent. But seeing them for the first time – there seems to be something so graceful and free about them! – delighted me, on an already delightful day.

we got some kulcha

Well I did say the other day that I wasn’t overly fond of trips to the park and in any case, it’s too blimmin’ cold to spend any meaningful amount of time in one.

Today, we took our three little ragamuffins to see Bringing Down the Moon at The Albany in Deptford, a Peaceful Lion production. Now, The Albany is pretty much the perfect theatre venue for kids – for the sake of an hour or so long production, you may not want to schlep into town, so its proximity to home is a bonus. As well as that, it’s a great space with good acoustics (we made the mistake of going to see something in a church hall recently .. oh my ears!) and a decent cafe. Suffice to say, we all – even my usually less theatrically enthusiastic husband – really enjoyed it.

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There were vague mutterings of ‘going home’ and ‘playing on the Wii” when it ended but no! Today’s the last Sunday of the month and that means that the Sunday Spot, a family-friendly, artist-led workshop, was in residence at South London Gallery. The activity usually ties in, in some way, with the current exhibition but the workshop leader cheerily informed us that it was ‘a bit heavy’ (certainly looks it) so they’d decided to go with the funner option of headdress-making, dressing up, makeup application, a photo booth and a catwalk. I do love my children having creative fun that I’m not going to have to clear up. We slathered ourselves with makeup – huge blue rings around our eyes, thunderbolts on our cheeks – made cardboard crowns, wristbands, neckpieces and belts and struck ridiculous poses in front of the camera. Okay, so maybe the mere fact of it being in an art gallery doesn’t make it ‘kulcha’. But it was fun, and it wasn’t the park, or the Wii. And it was time, all five of us, together, before school goes back tomorrow.

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I went to the Valentino exhibition again

Not only because the exhibition, which is open until March 3rd at Somerset House, is so worth a second visit.  Yes, the collection is breathtaking – timeless pieces from the Sixties that I’d happily wear today (were my waist waspish and my hips boyish enough)  side by side with frothy confections worn on the red carpet by modern day stars, as well as instantly recognisable gowns like the wedding dress worn by Jacqueline Kennedy and the vintage gown worn by Julia Roberts to the Oscars in 2001.

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I couldn’t help but think of my daughter, whose disgruntlement with the Hollywood costumes exhibition at the V&A that we went to recently stemmed from the fact that she’d been expecting to be able to get dressed up in them all. Surrounded by Valentino, I understand her disappointment.

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But as I say – it wasn’t just the fact of getting see the exhibition again. It was the couple – both probably in their late 50s – I found myself chatting to, as the lady read one of the descriptors and asked no one in particular “Who is Anne Hathaway?”

I glanced at her husband, who clearly had no idea and said, “She’s the one who played the assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. More recently she’s been in Les Miserables.

“Thank you,” smiled the lady. “I knew the name was familiar, just couldn’t place it.”

Turns out it was her birthday last weekend and they’d come up to London to go to lunch at “a special restaurant” during which her husband had repeatedly checked his watch – because, as was later revealed, he’d booked timed tickets to the exhibition to surprise her. She was delighted – who wouldn’t be? – but slightly frustrated by the fact that he was mostly interested in the ‘famous’ gowns, the ones worn by celebrities, whereas she wanted to drink in each and every piece.

I thought he was ace. I mean, a man of that age booking tickets to an exhibition of that sort – and not just saying, “Here you go love, take a friend and ‘ave a nice time,” but actually accompanying his wife and taking an interest in any of the dresses, even if just the well-known ones. And it was so marvellous, it really was, after being surrounded by earnest fashionistas speaking loudly about “the amaaaaazing detail” and “I mean. Just. So. Fabulous” to hear him say, loudly, to his rather resigned-looking wife as they stood before the Julia Roberts dress, “Can’t see Dawn French squeezing into that one, that I can’t!”

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