It has come to this, I realised earlier this morning, as I stepped out of the shower wondering what to wear. I have come full circle.
Thirty years ago when I got married and had children, I ditched the smart work style clothes and on most mornings I pulled on a pair of jeans and T shirt so that I could do all those things young mothers need to do in a day peopled by persons under three feet tall, without snagging my tights or getting baby sick on a silk blouse.
In those days, my wardrobe was dominated by easy wear/easy wash labels. The odd special occasion dress remained but for the most part, denim was in and diamante was out. I rang the changes from time to time with a denim skirt or even leggings and true, as I was destined to have a large family, a lot of the time was spent in maternity gear. Maternity gear has improved I have noticed, since.
However, the fact remains that if you had popped in for a coffee in those far off days of nappy rash and toddler tantrums, you’d have found me somewhat less well turned out than I have been for the past few years.
As children grew and I returned to the workplace, I re-discovered the ‘working woman’s wardrobe’. That’ll be the one that has those neat little day dresses, those designer suits and matching handbags and high heeled shoes. You note I say ‘high heeled shoes’ with a touch of envy in my voice. It isn’t that I no longer wear high heels, ever of course. I still have some very elegant heels and dainty little evening sandals in my wardrobe. It’s just that things have changed around here of late.
You see, we got a puppy. The puppy was small (see ‘the arrival’ on this blog). Now the puppy is big. But in all those stages of growing, the puppy has had to be house trained and walked and trained some more and our older dog, for whom all of that is a distant memory, has come along for the ride. I also gave up my job to concentrate on my writing. You just don’t need a ‘working woman’s wardrobe’ for walking the dogs or sitting at home writing.
Now, I could wear what I like of course and I am not saying I have totally reverted to those jeans and T shirts that were so ‘workable’ back in the eighties and nineties. I do try and look reasonable when I can. I am just saying that, considering one of the first things I do in the morning is walk the dogs, whatever the weather, my options have become somewhat limited. I have now found myself thinking as I shower and prepare for the day,
“What would go best with Wellies?”
Mind you, not everyone I know dresses for the occasion. I have a friend who regularly walks her dog on the common on her way to work. True, she swaps smart shoes for trainers but she is very brave to walk around with her designer work gear on. I must say, she always looks wonderful. She puts me to shame with my shabby jeans, wellies and ‘dog walking jacket’ stuffed with ‘poo-bags’, and doggy treats.
This lady normally waves to me before ducking behind the nearest tree lest my over exuberant puppy spots her and makes a bee line for her and her tiny dog. Yesterday, behind schedule and attempting to slip onto the common undetected, she made the mistake of panicking when my puppy headed in her direction. As Flossie lolloped towards her, my friend performed the sort of actions that to Flossie mean,
“I’m here, I’m playing, come get me…”
She jumped up and down and spun around squeaking in horror in case Flossie should actually jump. (Flossie was rather muddy). Flossie did not jump of course– I am teaching her not to with varying degrees of success but there was every chance she might, given the antics of my friend. As it was, Flossie just ran around her a couple of times excitedly, until I managed to call her to heel and fasten her lead. No damage done.
Today, I am dressed in the required wellingtons and ‘have-seen-better-days’ jeans. Today I meet the Welsh Lady. The Welsh lady is probably lovely. I say, probably, because on the two occasions I have met her, I have been unable to decide whether she is telling me off or giving helpful advice.
I have barely got onto the common. I still have Flossie secured on her lead. My aim, as I walk through the gap in the hedge that serves as an entrance, is to get a few yards in, check there are no small children or elderly people close by and then release her. Flossie is walking quite nicely by my side when I hear the lilting tones of the Welsh Woman to my left. Turning, I see she is heading for the gap with her pint sized dog. Naturally, I hold onto Flossie, who having seen the dog and heard the woman’s high pitched shrieks, decides it would be fun to ‘go see’. I grip her lead a little more tightly and plant my feet firmly so that I will not be dragged across the scrubland. I have let my older dog, Keano, run ahead. He is mooching around somewhere to my right and I just know that any minute he too will want to ‘go see’ making Flossie’s attempts to follow a real problem.
I start to walk a little way into the field but the Welsh Woman has stopped. She is saying something. I cannot understand at first. Now this is not a repeat of the phone problem, (I heard that – pardon?”) this is a combination of the distance between us and the fact that she is speaking at ninety miles an hour in her soft, sing-song Welsh accent.
“She should be growing out of that by now shouldn’t she? Seven months now isn’t she?”
I am confused. Growing out of what?
“Six months,” I correct, still trying to put some distance between us.
She is obviously going to say more. I get Flossie to ‘sit’ and ‘wait’. The process is tarnished somewhat by the fact that she suddenly tries to wriggle free of her collar because The Welsh Woman’s dog is running up to her. Normally I’d let her off and she could go and play. I haul her back with difficulty.
“You need to put your hand out like this,”
“Yes,” I smile, she is holding her hand face up towards me.
“They stop then apparently. I read it somewhere. You need authorrrrity though.”
(Is she saying I don’t have authority?) I haul Flossie back from the brink a second time and get her to sit again. I am trying to work out how I am meant to run round the front and hold my hand up when I am at the back, hanging on for dear life. I think I have misunderstood. I have a doggy treat in my hand just in case it all becomes too much and I have to resort to bribery. Both dogs know this and Flossie has one eye on it while Keano hovers ever hopeful, by my side.
I really should let Flossie off the lead now, this is ridiculous but I am afraid she will follow the Welsh Woman out of the common or worse, jump at her.
“She jumped at me a couple of months ago, caught my arm look, with her teeth, oh you can’t see anything, but she caught it, didn’t mean to, not saying she meant it but you know, she caught my arm…hold your hand up and she’d not do it anymore, is all I’m saying, I rrrread it see.”
I am seriously at a loss now. I apologise for Flossie’s behaviour of a couple of months ago (aged 4 months) because a smaller Flossie apparently jumped up at this lady and caught her arm with her puppy teeth. I would like to tell her that Flossie is not prone to jumping up at people. I am quite pleased with her progress in this area. However, she is still only six months old so she has a way to go. I want to say that The Welsh Woman’s little dog is extremely annoying. He is creeping closer and daring Flossie to run.
“Did you see the Dog Whisperer? Oh that was a lovely programme. Always lots of good tips on that. Now him,” indicating the little dog who is now within a metre of Flossie, ”he used to bark, bark, bark for no reason. I tried holding my hand up, like this see? Wouldn’t have it at first but he stopped eventually, so it does work. Bark, bark, bark at nothing! Authorrrrity you need with them. Hold your hand up see.”
I smile, through gritted teeth. I have stood here for the best part of ten minutes, she is obviously going nowhere. I unclip Flossie’s lead and, hanging onto her collar with one hand, as pleasantly as I can, say,
“Well, I’d better let her off or she’ll pull me over. Yes, hand up, yes good idea – yes, Cheerio!”
The Welsh Woman is still talking but I think she realises I am going. She waves and says something that I don’t catch so I just smile back and with a flourish, release Flossie and watch her tear off after Keano. The Welsh Woman appears to be going in my direction. I veer off the path and yell,
“This way!” in my high pitched, authoritative voice, pleased that both dogs change direction immediately and come hurtling towards me.
I see the Welsh Woman and her little dog, at varying stages of our walk, out of the corner of my eye, as I emerge from a clump of trees or round a bush. I manage to avoid getting close enough for another ear bashing.
Since I am now trekking through the undergrowth and trees, negotiating the billion rabbit runs and foxes’ dens that litter the common rather than sticking to well worn paths, I am extremely thankful that I am suitably dressed in my shabby jeans and wellingtons. ‘Jimmy Choos’ just would not cut it!
With the dogs now stowed safely in the car, I think I might change into something a little more ‘dressy’ when I get home – we have to keep up appearances after all!
But I am already wondering about tomorrow – what else will look good with wellingtons?