Dress Memory14

Girl Friday

One of my earliest memories is from kindergarten, dancing around with a scarf like Isadora Duncan. Movement was encouraged. Make any shapes you want with the scarves, the teachers told us. There are no wrong shapes!

My whole life I was told there are no wrong shapes so when I got to my early twenties, after twirling around for years, it came as a shock to realise that some of the shapes could pay rent while others couldn’t. Suddenly, I had to consider the future tactically, like a chess player. I had to think ahead, plan my next move.

I went back to uni and learnt how to be a book editor, how to fight like a knight for words and meaning. I wore this chessboard dress for my final exam, passed, and found myself in my first office job.

Dressing each morning for work was a novelty; it was fun to be playing a part. Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Year. Or Jacqueline Onassis: first lady, book editor.

The elements of style.

Surrounded by books, in Bonnard checks. Eventually I moulded myself straight, into shape. Learnt the correct poses, gradually cast them in bronze, started feeling brassy in pencil skirts and ruffles.

Soon, I was making shapes I never imagined I could make. Bought a car. Worried about the price of petrol. Worried about the price of everything. The more money I made the more things there were to pay for.

Stockings run as you climb the ladder, the telephone cord coils like a snake around your finger as you sit on hold to the gas company. Your mind wanders; you wonder where the last four years went. Then suddenly you wonder where the last twenty minutes went. Your lunch break is over but you’re still hanging on the telephone, hand to chin frozen: a thinker, a statue, stone.

If you stay too long in the same place you get covered in bird droppings. Movement should be encouraged.

Girl Friday: one comment

  1. Nicolette Says:

    still my favourite! especially movement should be encouraged!

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Girl Friday
Image by Lee Sandwith © 2011