Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The consequences of weather. Having babies. And the symbolism of berets.

Weather does strange things to people.

Last weekend’s sunshine brought out strappy tops - understandable, I suppose, as you get so few occasions when you can flaunt your shoulders in the NW of England - and men in shorts. It also brought out all the big-boy’s toys, the sporty convertibles driven almost always by increasingly ageing males. The garden section of the pub next door did a roaring trade and by the end of the day a large number of people had very pink shoulders!

Then the sunny weather came to an abrupt end and the cloud returned!

Yesterday’s rain led to even heavier than expected traffic in central Manchester at the end of the day. I was offered a lift from Ardwick, where we have our Italian class, to Piccadilly station, a trip which usually takes less that five minutes. We crawled along through extremely slow-moving traffic, slowed even further by traffic turning right across our lane to get onto the slip road for the Mancunian way, which we could see crossing the road a short distance ahead of us, crammed with standing traffic. It took us a good twenty minutes to reach Piccadilly.

It might have been quicker to walk but we would have got very wet!

Various friends were moaning on social media about their buses being stuck in traffic and their homeward journey being seriously delayed. No event seemed to be going on, so I am assuming it was simply a consequence of the foul weather.

I need to amend some of my comments about how good it is that the NHS provides such excellent maternity service at the hospital where the new princeling was born on Monday. Apparently a one-night stay and delivery package in the Lindo wing costs £7,500! And that’s excluding consultants’ fees! How the other half live!

Other people do use the services of the hospital, not just members of the royal family. Some newspapers ran photos of couple leaving the hospital and being greeted by crowds of well-wishers, which must have been a bit of a surprise.

It must be a bit hard to have your own special day and special delivery overshadowed by the arrival of a tiny celebrity. I remember a friend of mine, almost forty years ago now, feeling rather miffed that she and other “ordinary” women having babies received rather cursory attention during their delivery because the maternity ward was all agog with the arrival of little Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby!

Jess Cartner-Morley, a fashion-writer in the Guardian whose comments on clothes and styles can be amusing, was writing today about Meghan Markle’s hair. It seems that Meghan is an ordinary working girl who twists her hair up into a messy bun, just like any of us might do. This is seen a sign of her independent spirit, along with her unwillingness to conform to wearing flesh coloured tights or stockings but going bare-legged instead. The flesh-coloured tights things is something expected of royal or royal-connected women! How hard to be such a woman and to have to stick to all these rules and regulations. Ms Carter-Morley reckons that Ms Markle is wearing slightly longer skirts and more muted colours since she became officially a royal-connected woman!

Be that as it may, what really struck me in Jess Carter-Morley’s article was a thing about berets. Unknown to me, and perhaps to many other beret wearers, Meghan Markle wore a white beret to some photo opportunity in March. This was taken as a tribute to Princess Diana, who must also at some time have worn a white beret, something else which escaped my notice. There was then a little in parenthesis in the article: “(the same milliner, Stephen Jones, designed both womens’ berets)”. Gosh! That must have been hard work for the milliner! How much design effort is needed to make a beret, a sort of felt circle? It probably is no longer the case but when I was a schoolgirl every girls’ school uniform included a beret in the school colour. Ours was bottle green. I have a collection of berets in a range of colours. I bet if you put them all together they did not collectively cost as much as one milliner-designed white beret worn by a royal-connected woman.

The other surprising thing I found out about beret is that they are a feminist symbol, “berets being a standout accessory of the latest collection from the house of Dior, whose designer Maria Grazia Chiuri has put feminism at the centre of its world”. (That quote, by the way, came from another in parenthesis from the fashion article.)

I wonder if all the Basque beret-wearing men, and a fair number of older gents in Galicia for that matter, are aware that they are sporting feminist symbols.

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