Pretty (and safe) in pink.

It says a lot about life at the moment that I’m aware of exactly how long it is until my next holiday – our 5th trip to Chateau Duffy. It’s 2 months and ten days, which is a long time, especially when I think of the deadlines that have to be passed in order to get there.

However, it’s never too soon to plan and this morning’s sermon from the vicar got me thinking about something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. He used a hard-hat as a visual aid, which reminded me that I’ve been meaning to buy my own for ages, but hadn’t quite got round to it before last year’s trip.

When one is working with a tumble-down house, one does not want bits of it tumbling down upon an unprotected head, so hard-hats are essential Chateau Duffy work gear. We have many (though never quite enough) and I get particularly particular about which ones I want to wear – usually because once you’ve got one that you’ve fitted to your head (and hairstyle of the day) it’s annoying to lose it to someone else. So, what I need is my own, personalised in some way to make it clear that it’s mine – I’m thinking stickers, or a particular colour, or both…

Girls in pink hatsPretty in pink, Chateau Duffy 2011.

On our very first foray into French house building, we had temporary possession of a bright pink hard-hat that became very popular amongst certain circles. Pink may be a bit of a gender stereotyped colour, but I figure that if you’re already breaking stereotypes by building scaffolding, scaling the scaffolding and pointing walls, you’re probably ok. Thus, this evening I’ve done a brief search of such hats and have found the following attractive item:


Available from here for quite a reasonable price.

I’m genuinely intending to purchase this item – I figure that a baby pink number should be fairly safe from several members of the team. But in my searching I also discovered two things that intrigued me:

1. You can also buy novelty pink hard-hats and hi-ves jackets for hen nights. I honestly didn’t know this was a thing. I’ve been to plenty of hen days/nights/weekends with pink sashes; fairy wings; and general humiliation – but never builder themed. Weird.

2. There is a whole range of pink-themed safety equipment out there. On the page for the above hard-hat, there were a series of links to other pink objects including (but not exclusive to): hi-vis vests; safety shoes & boots; safety gloves; ear plugs; and rose-tinted safety specs. We’ve joked in the past about ‘Chateau Duffy style’ but I think if a few of the women turned up in an entirely pink ensemble, we’d get laughed off the site!

The world is a strange place sometimes. Still, I’ll place an order for a hard-hat and source some normal, dull as dishwater gloves from elsewhere. And then I can proceed to decorate them as I see fit ready for April. Who says safe needs to be boring?

Beachwear is not appropriate

Lately, I’ve been thinking rather more than usual about what I should wear and when. It’s partly because, with the arrival of a new job and a new life as a student, I’m meeting a lot of new people; and partly because I have a new status as ‘ordinand’ or church leader, which means I have to think a little bit more carefully about how I’m perceived.

I think I’ve always liked a bit of structure to my apparel. Growing up, there was school uniform and then there was non-uniform – the boundaries between the two were pretty clear. (And I was the kind of geek who never customised their uniform with anything more daring than a Prefect badge…) Over the last few years I’d developed a pretty good working wardrobe, with ‘presentation’ dresses (for important occasions), regular working dresses, skirts and the odd indulgence in a denim Friday. All of a sudden, that structure’s gone…

In America, the pressure of first day of school outfits is well documented – with this Hairpin article from a week or so ago showing that even with the passing of the years, people can remember how they tried to make a good impression upon their peers. It’s a good job that I had a uniform at school, because quite frankly, there’s no way I could have stood the pressure! But last week, I had my own first day of school and the pressure was on. What does one wear to their first day at vicar school? [One can safely assume that a dog collar would be too much, as would a nun’s habit…]

The welcome day was easily sorted – it was a Saturday and I had a social engagement to head to after the day ended, thus the outfit needed to be both respectable and socialising friendly. The induction day was trickier – a smaller group of people and, if other people’s memories work the way mine does, a potential to remembered in the first outfit I was seen in for eternity. [The second week of class is going to be interesting as presumably everyone will have changed their clothes and I will no longer be able to connect a yellow t-shirt with a church plant in Kentish Town. Curse my visual memory…] Jeans were the logical answer, but I don’t really like wearing them much; the denim shorts/tights combo would probably be a tad risque; a dress, though comfortable, might look a little over the top – what’s a girl to do? Ultimately, jeans won, I fitted in and looked perfectly normal. They will be fooled for now…

A more complicated question was what to wear while being introduced to my new church community. Last year, I discovered an interesting difference in church styles – I say ‘interesting’, it’s merely the effect of having worshipped in an uber trendy church for nearly 7 years. I’ve been conditioned into dressing for church, it being a good (and usually safe) place to try out new outfits and get affirmed. It’s also nice to have a place that you know you can dress up for, because dressing up’s fun and sometimes life doesn’t provide enough opportunities for it. What I realised last year is that not all churches are St Mary’s, in fact, only St Mary’s is St Mary’s. In most churches, young adults wear jeans and hoodies. All of a sudden, I’m ‘most churches’.

S’ok though, I no longer need to seek clothes boundaries for work – I’ve been given a sheet with them on. At my second staff meeting, we were issued with a church dress code. [There are so many new staff/interns that our office manager decided we needed a policy – fair enough – and so she took one from another big church whose initials may include B, T & H as a template.] I read through the document confident that I hadn’t fallen foul of it that morning, then reached its third paragraph and sniggered. The sniggers soon became near infectious laughter as the curate and worship leader reached the same point and joined in with my giggles…

“In other words, beach wear is not allowed – strappy tops, vest tops, shorts, crop tops, and flip-flops, bikinis, burkinis etc.”

Yes, that word before ‘etc’ is ‘burkini’. I am banned from wearing a burkini to work, gutted. Turns out our American colleague hadn’t understood the word and assumed it was slang for Birkenstocks [we’ll leave aside why anyone would want to ban Birkenstocks from a church – half the congregation would have to leave]. She was floored when we explained it was an islamic swimming costume. It also makes me wonder two things:
(i) Had anyone ever tried to go to work at our sister church in a burkini, thus meaning that they felt the need to specifically mention them?
(ii) Did anyone ever go in wearing a bikini? Surely even the most empty-headed church worker would realise that such clothing is unacceptable in any workplace other than (potentially) a surf club?

Perfect office wear…

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll figure it all out in due course. Who knows, maybe I’ll delight in the ability to hide in hoodies for a few years before the horrors of clerical clothing manifest themselves?

The ultimate in nerd fashion

I’d usually reserve this for a Friday, but honestly, it made me laugh out loud and as I’ve had a truly awful, frustrating and generally dispiriting day, that is definitely a good thing.

Nerdy fashion is always generally amusing – like these ridiculous t-shirts I shared last year – but this ought to win some kind of award, both for its amazing nerdiness and the fact that its genius lies in its design.

When I saw mention of a ‘Vulcan Hoodie’ on Twitter, I suspected it would be amusing. Then I saw the image emblazoned across the hoodie, and I was confused:

Then I saw the hoodie in situ and almost choked on the banana I was eating at the time:

That, my friends, is true fashion genius…

In love, or in lust…

Every so often I catch a glimpse of the object of my affection in the flesh. Sometimes it appears in magazines, on TV or online, but it’s the ‘real life’ moments that mean the most and leave me breathless.

I can still remember the first time I caught sight of you. Instantly I knew that you were the one – you stood out like a beacon amongst a myriad of lesser creations. When I pointed you out to my friends they too agreed that you were something special, something that made you worth the costs involved in having you in my life. But someone else took you home that night, yet again I’m not that girl…

Perhaps this is not love, simply lust. Perhaps I don’t need you in my life the way I think I do. Perhaps somewhere there is another one, a better one, one that fulfils my needs in ways I cannot currently imagine. For now I shall watch from afar with envy, but one day – one day soon – I shall move on.

Don’t tell me that similar, less costly objects exist, for they are simply inferior and not worth the expense. If I cannot have the original, I will have nothing and simply mourn the gap that it leaves in my life.

The Alexa Mulberry, officially the first designer handbag I’ve lusted after. I didn’t even dare look at it in the shop, because I knew that once I’d seen it in the flesh, desire would overcome me. I didn’t really expect to come across one socially (I don’t know the kind of people who’d spend £700 on a handbag).

But some weeks ago I spotted it amongst a pile of bags at church. Instantly I recognised it for what it was and wondered who might own it. My initial suspicion was correct – only one woman would be lucky enough to have one, and probably hadn’t had to pay full price for it either. Now I see this bag most weeks in the pub, casually dumped on a table, overspilling with typical female junk. It’s beautiful and exactly what I need to my replace my terminally ill cross-body bag. However, I can’t have it. I know that I can’t have it and must accept that and move on with my life. 

Life can be so hard when we can’t have what we want.

Form: Body & Paper

Though there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, I actually quite enjoy filling in forms. Not sure if it’s because I get to talk about myself (I have a blog, I clearly have a narcissistic bent) or because I rather like processes – but sit me down with a form and I’ll happily fill it in. [The big exception to this rule being a very long form asking very difficult questions which took me all of 6 months to complete!]

I find that sometimes the new year, or fresh starts in general, puts me in a mood to do slightly atypical things…like thinking about becoming a redhead (I go through this phase sporadically but have never actually done it), or getting contact lenses, or changing my entire wardrobe, or finally learning to wear heels…anyway, you get the picture.

This is probably why I find myself in front of my laptop, staring at an application form for a certain TV show. No, not Big Brother or Britain’s Got Talent – but Gok Wan’s baby [am trying to decide whether to write it as an acronym to avoid unwise googling…] HTLGN. Not that I’ll ever get round to sending it off, and really, do I want to appear on TV naked? (It would probably be highly unwise for any future career plans!) 

But, the concept is amazing and the questions on the form are actually quite useful in evaluating your attitude towards your body shape. There are probably few women who would turn down the opportunity to go shopping with Gok – in fact, I bet most would love a gay best friend who could fulfil that role in their life. Who wouldn’t want the chance to change their image, explore new looks in total safety, discover what actually suits them and learn rules about dressing that will stay with them for life?

Maybe a TV show’s not the way to go…? [I can almost hear the cries of “y’think??!” coming back at me!]
Perhaps I need to employ a personal stylist for a day or two? Or perhaps, I could get this all out of my system by having another drastic hair re-styling?

Anyone fancy becoming my own, personal Gok?
Anyone else fancy downloading the application form?
Anyone wondering where the Liz of 2009 has gone and who this alien is in her place?