Thursday, May 18, 2006

Contains girl stuff. Tomorrow: tampons!

I have no money. This is not shocking, nor is it a new situation. I struggle to remember a time when I could (truthfully and not as part of some elaborate fantasy game involving faux fur, costume jewellery, too-big high heeled shoes and perhaps an over-application of bright red lipstick) say that I have a lot of money.

I just don't earn very much.

As this is just the common state of affairs it doesn't usually bother me too much. I pay my rent and utilities. I accept that my lipstick costs £2 from some cheap pharmacy, I get most of my accessories from charity shops and nearly all my clothes are coming apart in some way. My favourite dress, for example, cost me £4 from Oxfam. As I say, I accept this. It doesn't really bother me too much. I would like to be able to afford to go out all the time and have expensive dinners and daintily sip Champagne from a silver, diamond-encrusted hat, but I can't.

However. There are some moments when I just think, oh, fucksticks. This poverty lark is rubbish. Breadlines, it turns out, are not all they're cracked up to be.

Yesterday this came in the form of a dress. My day had been unusually stressful and on my way home I wandered into a shop in Old Street station that always has nice pretty clothes to look at. Sometimes I like to try some of the nice pretty things on, and sometimes I just feel the lovely material between my grubby urchin fingers and dream. Perhaps I am taking this 'poverty-stricken' routine a bit far, but my point is I was not in there to buy, just to look.

I have been thinking for the last couple of weeks that what I would really like for my summer wardrobe (I don't have a summer wardrobe. I just wear the same clothes as I do in winter, but just less of them) is a shirt dress. Button down, with a tie around the hips, simple and black. I like wearing skirts and dresses and I have been conjuring up an image of a daytime, mid-thigh length, short-sleeved beauty. I had come to the conclusion that the best I could do was go charity shop shopping and buy a large man's shirt and alter it. By which I mean get Bec to alter it, as I am much more of the staple-it-and-go mentality than the painstaking-needlework one.

However. In this tiny shop in a grubby tube station just inside the congestion zone, there it was. Black. Simple. Button down. A tie around the hips. Mid-thigh length.


Not a lot of money, particularly for something I have spent hours, nay, days dreaming about and lusting after, like a middle aged woman working in close proximity to John Prescott.

I tried it on. I went into the only free changing room, despite it being the one with the swingy door that won't stay shut, and constantly swings in on you while you're hopping around trying to get out of your jeans unless you use your elbow to keep it shut.

Oh, the dress. It was so nice.

It was so friendly and happy to see me, as I was it. "Look!" It seemed to chirp, helpfully. "Wouldn't I be practical? Useful for day and evening times alike? With heels or flats? I would be your friend! What japes we would have! I think I love you."

Reader, I loved it too. I did. It was perfect.

As I got onto the tube five minutes later I thought sadly of my dress, hanging in the shop, staring forlornly out at my retreating form. It didn't understand. It felt rejected, and I don't blame it. The chemistry between us was undeniable.

However, as I sit here in my ripped jeans and faded top, I find myself not really minding. Being poor is a part of my life, part of the way I choose to live at the moment. If I worked in a bank or some big company that paid me loads of money to schmooze and stuff, I wouldn't feel I was doing what I wanted to be doing. I also suspect that I'd be really crap at it.

I'm going to go to West Hampstead on Saturday, because there are really nice charity shops there, and see what I can get, allowing myself a budget of twenty quid.

I have also decided that when I get my website all sorted I will allow myself a treat. It's taking a lot of work, a lot of negociating with people and asking favours, the sort of PR shit that I hate. I have a sort of a mantra that helps me and stops the feelings of impatience and frustration bubbling beyond control. I say to myself "tenacity and timing", because I firmly believe that, whilst things take hard work and perseverance, they should not be rushed or compromised on too much, not if they're ever going to be worth anything.

Anyway, my treat that I have promised myself is another tattoo. On my left wrist, of a tiny star in black. People have expressed concern for the location, but it just makes me want to do it more, because I have been thinking about it for about a year now. I love the idea of it, and have spent days with a star drawn on my wrist in black biro, because I am mainly very cool. Don't go to sleep with black biro on your wrist, though, because I heard from someone who is definitely not me at all that you can perhaps wake up with it all over your face.

So, what I'm trying to say is that sometimes I can't afford to buy things that make me feel like a princess, but that I don't really mind. My life is alright as it is, where it is going, and I wouldn't change it for all the gorgeous, daytime-or-nightime, perfection-with-buttons dresses in the world.


Blogger Pub said...

re last paragraph - good on you! Don't hear that too often these days from many people. Keep it that way

As for the biro hand/face problem, I have a 'friend' who can confirm it is definitely a bad thing when the checkout girl at M&S asks why you've got 'pay car tax' printed backwards across your cheek

2:46 pm

Blogger Dancinfairy said...

Wow, you have willpower of steel. The dress would ahve whispered sweet nothings in my ear and I would have gone without food or something for a week just to have it. I have no willpower you see.

Little tip - for people who are poor there is a shop called Peacocks (they must have one somewhere in London) I got a dress the same style as that (although a pale yellow/green/blue flowery number) for £16.

Oh and I think they might have them in George (Asda). Oh and Primark too.

Now you know my cheap ass shopping haunts. Oh, the shame.

3:27 pm

Blogger Léonie said...

Pub - Wow, we both seem to have silly 'friends'. I hope their silliness won't rub off on us.
(Pun intended and a source of disproportionate amounts of pride)

DF - Never seen a Peacocks in London but I will keep an eye out. Cheap shopping should not be a source of shame, but of pride. Embrace the Primark.

4:53 pm

Anonymous E. said...

Are you familiar with La Redoute? After much toiling google research, I have located the UK URL... should do it. they have fun, inexpensive thing.. though this season's shirt dress is lacking.

Good luck! I, too, desire a shirt dress, but have yet to find a suitable one.

5:29 pm

Anonymous e. said...

Thank you for visiting me! :) Please come back after the weekend when the site will be more fully assembled. I hope

I am totally ready for my cyber drinks... and some real ones to brace myself for potential mouse carnage at the apt.

6:13 pm

Blogger Miss Devylish said...

How much is that dress in American my dear? I'm just curious..

6:33 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like peacocks too, they sometimes have nice house stuff as well, and really good photoframes. they do have them in london (i know theres one in peckham, i think woolwich and possibly surrey quays) but theres probably some closer to you. i think asda sells good clothes too but annoyingly often only have like size 8 or 22 in stock, theres no inbetween.

ive done the biro face thing far too often,and once had a henna tattoo on my wrist(stars too actually) and woke up with that on my face as well, yay...luckily it wore off quickly

7:45 pm

Anonymous Chris said...

"I don't have a summer wardrobe, I just wear fewer clothes" - love it.
You're right, money isn't pointless but it makes people pointless.

All the most creative people who have ever lived were poverty-striken (though no doubt you will think of exceptions).

Poor in pocket, rich in reason.

Chris x

8:43 pm

Blogger lady miss marquise said...

Oh babe, I loved the urchin comment. This is me, in a black suit straight out of an interview. Looking like I can afford it, but in truth my boots need to be rehealed. I have a hole in my favourite dress and the last skirt I bought was $4 from the Salvation Army. I am skint, beyond skint. I don't have a job, and that makes me so sad. But you're right, what we do have is so much more than that gorgeous pair of shoes. x x

Although that doesn't stop me wanting that gorgeous pair of shoes. Or thinking my life would be better with those shoes... oh pants. You're right.

1:26 am

Blogger Cecilia said...

Just wanted to do a late comment about your second last post about the merits of Guy Pearce versus Paul Mercurio (Strictly Ballroom Guy). Since Strictly Ballroom was made, Paul Mercurio looks very, very different. He's a judge on the Australian Dancing with the Stars and he now looks so un-sexy that I am ashamed of my pre-teen self who used to think he was sexy and long to be Fran! Guy Pearce, however, still looks pretty darn good!

3:40 am

Blogger Léonie said...

E - Ooh that looks lovely. I have heard of La Redoute, and I just had a look at the website and it looks cool, thanks.
Here you go, have a cyber-margarita on me.

Miss D - Twenty eight quid is fifty two of your finest US dollars. I did that maths in my head. Except I didn't, I used the internet.

Monkey - Hmmm, I'm going to have a look out for these Peacock places. I have never bought anything at Asda, simply because I never really looked. I do find that in supermarkets the size tens go really quickly, which is annoying. I don't fancy squeezing into an eight or flapping about in a twenty-two.

Chris - Do you really think I'm rich in reason? Especially when I'm drunk, right? Also, thank you for subtly correcting me on my less/fewer distinction.

Lady M - I know what you mean about feeling like nice things might just make life a little easier. I have to write whole blog posts to convince myself otherwise.

Cecilia - Oh, well, Guy it is then. I fancied him in full make up and women's clothing. His sheer sexiness just shines right through.

NumbHyp - I love that film. It's totally crazy. So good.

10:52 am

Blogger StillWater said...

Wow, thats interesting that a woman consumes over 4 to 9 lbs of lipstick in her lifetime! Here is the link that I found that shows all of the research:

1:11 am


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