Tag: Top Shop

The Dirt

Starting with this one. I love the fact that London is grubby. To me the grubbiness is part of its history and tradition. London has been grubby ever since the Romans named it. It was grubby during the dark ages. It was grubby in medieval times. It was grubby when the Victorians were roaming the streets. And it was grubby during the war. It is grey, dark and drab. But that is what makes it so special. It smells of metal and dust. After a day in London I return home feeling as if I am covered in a layer of grime. Have you ever picked your nose after a day in London? You may not be surprised to find that London turns your snot black.

The People

London is a people magnet. It is full of the weirdest and wonderfulist mix of people from all over the world. They are a huge source of inspiration to me. The city is a complete stew pot of the human race. It is a Boxing Day meal of whatever you can find in the fridge. I love it. I love the clothes the people wear, the books they read, the way they walk, the way they talk. I love everything about them. If I were braver, I’d bring my camera with me and take photos of the people. Shrewsbury isn’t so cosmopolitan. It is a cheese and ham sandwich. So for this reason London fascinates me.

London people

London people

The Smells

Besides the metallic smell mentioned above, London also smells of food, in a similar way to New York. It smells of pubs, smoke, chips, BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, curry, chips and frying.

The Shops

London is dangerous. It is full of shops. Luckily for my bank account, I didn’t pass any bookshops yesterday. Unluckily for my bank account, I did pop into the ginormous Top Shop on Oxford Street.

I remember my first visit - 27 years ago

I remember my first visit – 27 years ago

The Art

London is full of art. It is full of art galleries and museums which display art. Besides the famous and the biggies, it also houses many medium-sized ones, little ones and tiny ones. Yesterday I went to exhibition of digital-inspired art at Somerset House called Big Bang Data. The exhibition was very thought-provoking. At home, I’d have to travel to either Liverpool, Manchester or Birmingham to come across an exhibition of that size and scope. Londoners are so lucky. They don’t have to go far.

Big Bang Data exhibition

Big Bang Data exhibition

The Art Part Two

London is also full of inspiration for art: mostly because of The People (see above) but also the history, the architecture, and also, to some extent, the smells.

The Chaos

If you were to compare London to Tokyo you would be struck by two major differences: Tokyo is clean and Tokyo runs smoothly. London seems to be quite messy and a little chaotic. Crossing the road is quite scary in London. Everyone else seems to know where they are going. I don’t. I feel like the lone lost wonderer when I go to London. I wear my country-bumpkin status on my coat.

In Tokyo people cross the road when the green light is showing, not in London

In Tokyo people cross the road when the green light is showing, not in London

The Tube

I love the tube for many of the reasons above – it is dirty, it is full of people, and it is smelly. The tube really is very grimy. But when I think of the London Underground I think of wooshies of warm air, people who don’t exchange looks, people on phones, people reading, people kissing around a pole and people slumped in seats looking depressed. All good fodder for an artist like me.

The grimy but fascinating London Underground

The grimy but fascinating London Underground

Walking

London, despite having such a good underground network, is all about walking. Travelling by the Tube may seem like a way to get to the place you want to get to quicker but actually it isn’t. It’s a myth. For two reasons. Firstly, the distance you may travel on the Tube around central London isn’t that far and wouldn’t take you that long to walk. There is this illusion that to get from, say Euston to Leicester Square you must catch the Tube. Secondly, catching the Tube entails a huge amount of walking, to the platform, from the platform, between platforms if you have to change. Walking direct from A to B is often much quicker.

Escalators

Nowhere else I’ve ever been to has escalators like London. They are fast and they go on for ages and ages. They could take you up to the top of the Wrekin. If you have a fear of escalators, London is not the city for you. I like to read the posters on the walls as they slowly wizz past me. I also like the fact that the overtaking lane is on the left-hand side whereas on a motorway the overtaking lane is on the right . Why is that?

Escalator up to heaven or down to hell?

Escalator up to heaven or down to hell?

But would I ever want to live there? I’m not sure. I think New York still wins.

Am I too old to dress like a ‘young’ art student?

This is a weird thought I had just now as I pressed ‘add to basket’ on Top Shop online as I found myself accidentally purchasing a nice new pair of patterned flared trousers (in the sale). This thought is related to the one I had a few weeks ago about feeling like a grown up. This one, however, relates exclusively to clothes.

This is me in my green velvet coat and one of my many hats

This is me in my green velvet coat and one of my many hats

When I look back at my 18-year-old self, with a penchant for clothes from Next and River Island, I think my style was more mature then than my years and more mature then than it is now. I’ve changed since then.

I definitely dress ‘younger’ (relative to years) than I did then. I’m quite happy with the style I have developed into. However, I’d be mortified if the people I see on the train or walking around Shrewsbury are thinking ‘Oh my god, she should dress her age and not act like she’s in her twenties again!’ I wonder if I’ve started dressing younger since becoming an art student. I was firmly in the Fat Face and White Stuff camp before I started my art degree. Now I have one foot in Top Shop and another in Severn Hospice / Oxfam / British Heart Foundation. Have I regressed because I’m spending more time with younger people? Is youth rubbing off on me? Am I trying to be younger than I really am? Am I rebelling against the grey hairs and wrinkles?

If I had to describe my style I’d say it was a charity-shop cum arty farty coffee shop Sex and the City eclectic mix. I like clothes more now than I did as an 18 year old. I didn’t have much money then, which hampered me somewhat in developing a personal style. I have more money now and the charity shops are much more accessible and varied in their stock than they were in 1990.

This is a picture of my current favourite trousers.

My best buy of 2015 so far

My best buy of 2015 so far

But at the age of 43 should I perhaps be wearing trousers more like these below? They are elasticated so comfortable around the three-baby belly. They are a nice, sober colour. And they are straight-legged and in them, I’d be more inconspicuous. They look very comfy.

Perhaps I should be wearing these

Perhaps I should be wearing these

I also live in DM boots. I used to think (when I was 18) that anyone over the age of 22 still wearing DMs was deeply disillusioned and stuck in a deep well of nostalgia for their youth. But now I can afford DMs (at 18 I had to save for weeks). Now I am that stuck-in-the-past person (although I don’t feel as if I am stuck in a nostalgic rut). I have purple velvet DMs. I adore them. Should a 43 year old be wearing these (with the patterned trousers above)?

My favourite boots

My favourite boots

Perhaps I should be wearing these nice court shoes?

These look very foot-friendly

These look very foot-friendly

In less than 20 years from now I will be 60. Surely, at that age, I won’t be gallivanting about town in purple DMs and Top Shop trousers? The thought of having to change my clothes sense because I’m granny-age depresses me. I’m sure it will change to some extent (after all, it has changed during the last twenty years) but I hope that it doesn’t veer too closely towards M&S and Edinburgh Woollen Mill. As I expressed in the blog entry about being a grown-up, equally, I would hate to be a subject of ridicule by the youngsters (the 43 year olds) and my contemporaries in their pleated skirts and tan tights.

Ughh

Ughh

Watch this space. Perhaps I’ll update this entry in 2033 and we’ll see what I am wearing then. Ten pence says I won’t yet be in slacks and court shoes.

 

When will I feel like a grown up?

This is a thought I’ve had intermittently since I was a child: when will I feel like a grown up?

At first I assumed, it would happen when I reached 20. However, that didn’t happen. During my 20s, I was sure that it would happen at the next milestone: 30. But as my 30th birthday passed me by, I still felt the same. So I wondered: will 40 bring maturity? Surely it was bound to. Despite giving birth to three children between the ages of 30 and 40, regretfully, it didn’t.

I need a grownup

I need a grownup

Now I am in my 40s (early 40s), I am wondering whether 50 will be the magic age when I feel like a grown up. Surely at 50 I will feel ‘old’? But after the last few decades of waiting and watching the milestones wizz by without a change of inner grownupness, I have my doubts.

When I was at university, I came up with a theory which I enjoyed passing onto others. The theory goes as follows: there are three things a person must have achieved in their life before they can call themselves a true grownup.

These three things are:

  • A mortgage
  • A partner of some description (a long-term partner)
  • A pet and / or child
If someone is willing to lend you the money to buy one of these, you must be a grownup

If someone is willing to lend you the money to buy one of these, you must be a grownup

I had achieved all three by my mid-20s (I had a cat), yet I didn’t feel at all grownup. So my theory had to change.

The new three things became:

  • All of the above
  • Grey hairs
  • A preference for a glass of wine, a video and an early night over bottles of beer and a nightclub
This chap must feel like a grownup, with a head of hair like that

This chap must feel like a grownup, with a head of hair like that

My mid-thirties brought forth all of the above. But, damn it, I didn’t feel mature enough yet. The theory had to change again. So it did.

The new, new three things became:

  • All of the above
  • A preference for Radio 2 over Radio 1
  • A perchance for clothing from Marks and Spencer
Blouses and sensible skirts R Us

Blouses and sensible skirts R Us

My early-forties is here and I think I am on one-and-a-half of the above (I’m not quite into Radio 2 yet, I prefer Radio 4 but I still like Radio 1). So is there hope for my revised theory? Do other people my age have these three elements in their life and feel mature as a result? I have, as of yet, not really felt inclined to buy my clothes in Marks and Spencer (and I can’t see it happening too soon either). Part of me hopes that I never reach that point. I still love Top Shop, I choose Zara over Country Casuals, and H&M is much preferable to Wallis.

Old lady clothes?

Old lady clothes?

I think the issue is that I don’t really ever want to be a grownup. Equally, I don’t want to be the embarrassing Great Aunt who dances in leopard print leggings and a boob tube at her Great Niece’s wedding. I haven’t yet got a Great Niece so I have at least two decades to work on preventing this scenario coming true. I hope that I settle in to a happy medium between the two (leopard print leggings and twin-set). I hope that even in my 90s (if I get that far) I remain, forever, still to some degree that ten-year-old me who enjoyed headstands, jumping in puddles, and Radio 1.

If my legs look like this at 60 I'll be quite happy

If my legs look like this at 60 I’ll be quite happy

I’ll let you know (if blogs exist in the year 2061).

 

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