No-one Told Me Life Was Gonna Be This Way

‘SEVEN!’, ‘Pivot!’ and ‘Janice’. Or perhaps you’re into the more obvious quips like, ‘we were on a break’, ‘how you doin’?‘ and ‘he’s her lobster’?

I settled on these two as my top faves:

Ross: “I went to that tanning place your wife suggested.”

Chandler: “Was that place the sun?”

and…

Joey: “What’s not to like? Custard – good. Jam – good. Meat – good!”

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Twenty-five years. 25! How did that happen?

Twenty-five years since ‘Friends‘ first aired in the UK. Call me pathetic, but I feel quite proud that I was there to enjoy it the first time round.

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And the second time, when repeats aired.

And the third time when I bought the majority of the series on VHS. Re-runs on Sky followed, and I’m now living vicariously through my teen, who is watching it on Netflix.

She cried hysterically for days when it was ‘all over’ and chose to re-watch them all again. (Good girl.) She would come to me and ask:

“Who’s this?” (Chrissy Hinde)

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Just call me Chrissy of the morning…

“Why did the audience cheer? (Billy Crystal (plus Robin Williams)

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“Why did everyone scream?”  (…Oh come on. Do I really need to even make you guess…?)

Talking of Friends, it’s a beautiful irony that the series anniversary coincides with that of meeting some real-life friends. It’s 25 years since I started University.

I’m trying to get this blog live and if I go into my loft and hunt down a pic I will be gone for days. So here’s one just when we just graduated and hit Marbs. Bear in mind this was pre-GHDs and decent self-tan.

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Mabfield Crew Summer of 1996

I’ve blogged about student life in previously, but this is a major anniversary and one that deserves some proper recognition.

I remember it like it was yesterday, and somehow, this weekend, my (exceptionally clever) nephew is off on the M1 towards a life of enriched education. (But first, Freshers’ Week.)

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I can smell the innocence

If I had to write an episode, (life goals right there), it would be called:

‘The One Where the Kids Don’t Know They’re Born’.

Because this generation of Uni kids really have no idea how much better they have it than 25 years ago. I looked through a friend’s list of Uni requirements, just to see how things compared from back when I was a student.

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Duvet – most first year Uni dorms/halls have single beds, but I still say buy a double duvet. Far cosier and more useful/cost effective in the long run when you hit second year and hopefully bag a double bed.

Decor – We had little choice in 1994. Do students still buy the hippie scarf things and pin to their walls alongside rave flyers? All hail Afflecks Palace back in the 90s in Manchester. Now you can decorate your room with the cost-effective help of IkeaPrimark, Homesense and Dunelm, finished off with your Love Island duvet cover from River Island. Hello ‘Casa Amour‘.

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I can still smell it…

Mattress/pillow protectors – you had to try and slide a mattress into what was basically a massive pillowcase. Thankfully now they come like a fitted sheet. I think the best protectors are from Dunelm – and I should know as the Allergy Queen.

Mattress topper – I don’t think they were much of a thing in the 90s, but definitely worth a purchase to plump up a lumpy mattress. Year 2, my housemate had to buy a new mattress after the landlord refused, because the mattress in question was only a year old. However, we knew the boys who rented our house previously and I wouldn’t have slept on that mattress for all the tea in China.

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Don’t let the bed bugs bite?

4-gang Plug adapter. Much like a hotel, the plug points are never where you need them/enough of them. So useful.

Massive sports bag for dirty washing. You know the ones. Usually chequered patterns. These never go out of fashion and are great for shlepping dirty clothes down to the launderette (unless you’re lucky enough to have on-site facilities.) We didn’t have this luxury, so it was down to ‘Mr Bubbles’ launderette on the parade. (Now a property company, fact fans.)

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FYI, this never happened

Kitchen stuff – was and is still my favourite thing to buy. I bought the basic necessities. Breville, saucepan, frying pan, cutlery – but I have little recollection of using much of it as we mostly dined on microwave meals, takeaways from Abduls and Pot Noodle. Much as I envy my nephew with apps such as Five Guys, Deliveroo and Uber Eats, nothing will beat queuing for kebab from Abduls in Fallowfield.

Am I envious of students today? With their smartphones, online food shop, takeaway apps, Netflix, Amazon. Not forgetting ASOS next day delivery. For sure, I’m envious AF of the immediacy of their lives.

However, some things should take time. Like friendships. So to all those embarking on this new chapter of your life, you may think you have your circle of friends all set. Perhaps friends since babies, or throughout school life, but if you’re fortunate enough meet a group of friends at Uni half as special as the ones I met, then you’re in for the best years of your life with memories to treasure for the next 25 years and beyond.

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The Mabfield Girls. Friends. For life xxx

x

PS. I had a re-think, and much as I envy what students today have available to them, I wouldn’t swap my student experience for the world.

PPS. You can keep your Uber eats and your Primark. We had the Haçienda nightclub and that is student goals right there, imo.

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RIP The Haç

 

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes….

I would’ve liked to have called this post ‘Changing Rooms‘, but was worried you’d be hoping for home improvement tips from Handy Andy and Lawrence Lleweyn Bowen.

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Fixing and florals

I’m talking actual changing rooms, in a shop. For the most part, I try to do everything online as I just find it more efficient (and I’m all about efficiency), but from time to time I like to have a ‘shmy‘. Shmy is a wonderful word of yiddish origin (I think), which essentially means ‘to browse, have a looksie, without necessarily having something in mind that you’re looking to buy.’

I’m sure there have been a hundred blog posts about these horrific confined spaces that we voluntarily enter into, but here’s my observational two bobs worth…

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1. The Gathering

Once I’ve lacerated both arms and almost cut off my circulation from holding existing shopping bags, my handbag and potential purchases, I finally make it to the changing room.

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Serious arm damage

I long for the service you get in the States: “Hey, would you like me to go on and start a fitting room for you?” (Yes please, I just may need a reminder of where it is.)

 

2. How Many is Too Many?

Some shops’ changing rooms have a five items or less policy, some take you up to ten. I like the ones where they are completely unmanned and you just stroll right in armed with the entire store’s ‘nueva colección’. Basically stuff you like, stuff you know won’t suit you but someone was wandering around holding it and stuff you want to try because your favourite blogger said it was ‘the’ seasonal piece and it’s sold out everywhere.

The issue with the number tags they allocate against your item is when you start swapping stuff in and out. So, unless Carol Vorderman is manning the changing room, you’re leaving there holding six items, giving back a tag for ten items and there are three excess hangers on the floor, that may or may not have been there previously. (Either way, you’re made to feel like a shoplifter.)

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Scene of the crime

3. Curtain or door?

I must admit I like a door, preferably with a lock. Curtains don’t tend to close all the way and it plays havoc with my OCD, whilst I faff about trying to get it central enough to hide my modesty.

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The one on the right’s killing me

I also like to be positioned near enough to the rail of swap-in potentials. This means you have the ability to do the ‘peek-round-in-your-undies-with-the-curtain-wrapped-round-you’, politely asking staff if they’ll pass you the red top with the frilled sleeves. (And no, you’re not keeping the frayed hem jeans.)

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“Have you got this in a size 10?”

4. Added Extras

A stool, or even better, a chair is a nice touch. A shelf is always useful too. Big fan of the buzzer to alert staff that you need another size or just to ask their opinion without having to do the head poke.

A mirror is a given – preferably a flattering one. And shame on you Selfridges – some of your departments have changing rooms WITHOUT A MIRROR!! I don’t to share a mirror with a Russian model.

Plus, stepping outside is always a risk, especially when you need a particular item in a different size and the person right next to you has the only one left on the shop floor/in the entire country. *prays they abandon it upon exit*

Hooks, double hooks, rails… chuck it all in. The more hanging space the better.

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New Look hook situ, if you’re interested.

5. Order! Order!

The likelihood is, you’re shmying in your active wear and wearing the most unflattering sports bra. (And that’s just the men.) So, if you’ve got a variety of things to try on, strip off and do it properly – the floaty Vitakin dress is never going to look right with gym leggings and a battered pair of Asics poking out the bottom of it.

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Strong look

7. What’s That You Say?

You hear all sorts when you’re in a changing room:

…Crying baby and nappy definitely being changed (yuk) – Primark 

…Click of iPhone camera. Someone definitely taking multiple shots of themselves in different outfits and sending to a friend. I know this for sure as I heard them follow up with a phone call to said friend, demanding an immediate opinion – Topshop

…Teens discussing whether to get the black vest top for £2.99 one or the white one – New Look

…People taking calls and pretending they are at work/just not shopping in general – Zara (for the record I hate their changing rooms – they’re so tiny that your nose is almost against the mirror, so you’ve little choice but to swoosh back the curtain for a proper look in the big mirrors outside.

“I”m busy, Doll. Will call you back in a minute, I just need to finish something.” Me, today, Brent Cross, Fenwick changing room, on phone to husband dearest, taking photos of myself, Whatsapping to stylist friend. Standing, sitting and jumping up and inspecting from every angle. And if I like the item, I will of course take a ‘fresh one’ from the shop floor.

Oh come on, you know you do it too…

Let’s not put a label on it…

Much of my youth was spent getting the 113 or 183 to Harrow Town Centre to hang out with my friends wandering in and out of shops like Dolcis, Tammy Girl and C&A.

I love learning about words and meanings (see previous blog about DHL) and often still call H&M ‘Hennes’ (Hennes & Mauritz). I’d never really thought about what C&A actually stood for. Someone – I think possibly my dad – told me that it was to help you work out which way round to wear your knickers. (Work it out for yourself…)

C&A may have long since closed down, (bar the one in Marbs in ‘La Canada‘) but the whole idea of labels and which way round things go has always stuck with me.

I recently went to fangirl Sali Hughes and Caitlin Moran at Stylist Live! who were talking about the ‘Power of Female Friendship‘. As most female chat tends to wonderfully tangent from its course, they hit upon the subject of which way round to wear your tights.

 

Sometimes, not always, tights have a label in them at the back which usually indicates size and/or denier. It also gives you a pretty clear indication that said label should be bum-side. Then, out of nowhere, you get a pair with no label at all. If the feet aren’t defined in any way, how am I supposed to know where to put my bits? I like direction!

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There’s not even a gusset?

 

It won’t surprise you to know that I can’t wear things inside out and will start again if I miss out a belt loop on my jeans. And if faced with the below dilemma, my eczema flares…

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Pass the Hydrocortisone 1%…

One Friday night – known as ‘CSD’ in my house (Clean Sheet Day), I was just drifting off to sleep when I realised there was something not quite right with the duvet. Head-end, I could feel the duvet label – my new cleaner hadn’t read ‘the manual’ properly…

“Doll, wake up.”

“Why?”

“The duvet is in the wrong way round.”

“What are you on about? It’s fine.”

“No, the label is by my chin. It’s supposed to be at the bottom. On your side. It also means I’ve got the bit where your feet have been.”

“I don’t give a shit.”

*Ignores husband and begins unbuttoning duvet*

 

When I buy a new top, one of the first things I do is perform a ‘shirtcumcision’.  I’m as pedantic as they come about hanging stuff up properly, but actually making use of hanger loops is a step too far, even for me.

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See? Even she can’t be arsed

Don’t get me wrong, I totally see the benefit of those loops in store. Nothing irritates me more when you so much as breathe near a top you’re interested in and the stock pathetically crumples to the floor. In that instance, I’m all for hanger loops to make the top look all lovely and attractive to the customer. Same concept as the wire twisty things that imprison Barbie dolls.

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Hell

These clothing loops also put me in a predicament because I am one of those people that likes to re-hang their stuff up upon leaving a changing room. Trouser legs pulled out the right way, tops not left inside out –  I am a re-hanger. I couldn’t bear to have someone think I was a messy cow at home.

Whilst still on the label thing, it seems an apt time to discuss the ‘Zara’. There are novels shorter than their care labels so unless you want the sensation of a tarantula next to your body each time you wear the item, I’m snipping.

The thing with labels is, I’m a genuine do-gooder if I see someone with their label hanging out of their clothing. Nothing worse than trying to rock your ‘Alaïa‘ when you’ve got your ‘Atmosphere’ label sticking out. (No shame in a bit of Primark.)

Some are beyond redemption. I’m talking about the ones who only manage to pull off the card bit of a label, but happily leave the scratchy, irritating plastic kimble bit behind. WTF?

I’ve come to realise though, that there are room for all sorts. I was with a friend the other day and pointed out that she still had the white pricing label on the bottom of a pair of fabulous shoes and did she want me to remove it for her.  She looked at me like I was a freak. I looked at her like she was a freak. We hugged. We’re fine about it.

All that aside,  just know that I’ll be the one with the white spirit, cleaning every bit of sticky residue off the soles of my own shoe collection.

(Oh, and C&A stands for the founders, ‘Clemens & August’. Not C*nt & Arse.)