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two hilarious chapters from my new book..

Life Begins At Fifty - The Book
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I was determined NOT to be one of those silly mother of the brides who gets her knickers in a knot about the whole thing.  Noooo, not me!   I’m usually the sort of person who doesn’t have a clue what I’m going to wear on a night out until the actual night.  My friends regularly look at me as if I’m bonkers when they ask what I’m going to wear and I genuinely haven’t got a clue.  And if I’m lucky enough to be invited to a wedding or a posh do, then I wait until nearer the time, buy something in the sale and just sort of put it all together somehow with shoes and a bag I’ve already got.  But when you’re the mother of the blooming bride it all gets incredibly messy.  It’s as if you just put this pressure on yourself to find the perfect outfit…and even when you do, it can all go horribly, horribly wrong.  Story of my life, really.  I mean why did I think this whole scenario would be any different?

Sooo, my sister and I went off to Harrogate and York (very posh!) in March, just to get a feel for what was out there, never thinking that posh frocks and fussy, sateen dresses and jackets have been sitting there since January.  Obviously I’m not ofay with this wedding malarkey.  I thought I’d go shopping in the spring to get in early, to make sure there would still be an outfit in my size… but after a while it dawned on me that they just don’t cater for ‘petite’ women (ie: flat chested).  They obviously think that women of a certain age have double chins, double D’s, three tummies and love handles, which is blooming ridiculous.

We gave up on the formal mother of the bride section as it was obvious that I would have come out looking like Liberace (or maybe Danny La Rue).  I found a multi-coloured dress in the posh frock section (which is obviously against the MOB rules – you never see a multi-coloured dress, they are all gold, silver or pale, pastelly and shimmmmmery) and I really liked it, even though it was miles too big.  I tried it on and held it at the back and tried to imagine what it would look like in a smaller size.  Yes, I loved it!

When I got back home I scoured the internet for the same dress in my size and, having rung mother of the bride shops from Oldham to Leeds in vain, I went online and found it!  In Canada!  It was made by a Canadian designer, so I suppose that made sense, but it seemed incredible that a) it arrived in a week and b) was cheaper than buying it over here.  Amazing!  And obviously I thought it was very exclusive…until my Mum casually remarked a few weeks later that she thought she’d seen my dress in a town nearby.  Que?  Pardon?  Whaaaaat?

Soooo, I had to go and take a peek.  And there they were – three dresses the same as mine, hanging, large as life, on the clothes rail.   I went into a complete tailspin.  Oh for goodness sake!  Now I’d have to start all over again!  Damn, damn, damn!  When I’d calmed down and was somewhat lucid again, I thought, ‘I know, I’ll get a dress made and then I’ll get exactly what I want.’  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Hmmm!  So I found a pattern I liked and took my long-suffering sister to Fenwick’s to help me choose a silk colour and the lady there recommended a tailor, an Asian guy who sounded as if he knew what he was doing.  So good, so far!  Wahoo!

Unfortunately it was downhill all the way after that!  He rang me up to ensure I was a size 8 and when I saw the dress and jacket at the first fitting I thought he must me deaf.  It was huge!  I felt like a silk bag lady, but he assured me that he would take it in here, there and everywhere to make it fit.  Really???  I noticed Joy was unusually quiet.  She must have been thinking the same as me, as in, ‘What the hell?’

I went to ‘pick up the finished product’ on my own the following week.  I tried it on and couldn’t quite believe my eyes.  I looked like a vision in pink…but unfortunately not the vision I was aiming for.   I virtually crackled like a Christmas cracker.  Put it like this, I looked more Barbie than Beyonce.  The magenta silk was still billowing everywhere, which made me look like I was drowning in it. I asked him to take it in, so he did as I asked whilst muttering under his breath, taking large intakes of breath and telling me he had so much work on he hadn’t been sleeping.  I was obviously stressing him out and it was two-way traffic because whatever he did, I just knew this dress/jacket was a disaster with a capital D.   Aaaarrggghhh!  Don’t panic!  Dooooon’t panic!

I left it with him and whilst I was wandering around Newcastle in a bit of a daze, wondering what on earth to do about my predicament, I had a eureka moment.  I still loved my original dress.  Yes, of course I did, I’d never really fallen ‘out of love’ with it.  So that was it!  I was damned well going to wear it.  And if someone else was wearing it too, then so be it.  I really didn’t care.   One of Rachel’s friends had persuaded me not to sell it, thank the Lord, so I set off on a mission to find a jacket to go with it, and suddenly I felt relief wash over me.  I should have just stayed with my original gut instinct.  Silly, stupid tart!

Sitting on the train, on my way home, I got chatting to the guy sitting next to me.

‘Are you going all the way?’ were his first words to me, which I thought a tad forward, until I realised he was going to Kings Cross.

Rachel rang while we were yakking away, so I tried to make light about my latest exploit on the dress front, even though I had pound signs swimming before my eyes.

‘Just sell it, Mum.’

Good idea!  She later said she thought I sounded  ‘giddy’.  Yes, well, that was because my companion only just happened to be an actor in Vera with Brenda Blethyn, didn’t he?  And he was tall, dark, handsome and really good company.   Oh, every cloud really does have a silver lining!






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