Wednesday, 27 May 2015

What to Expect When You're Pre-Formal-ing

So your daughter’s year group have chosen your home to host their pre-formal. It’s your first. Sure you’ve read the articles in the middle-class rags about formals. You’re informed. You know. About the depilatory work. The spray tans. The teeth whitening. You’ve ordered the dress, the shoes, the wrap oh and the jewellery. You’ve booked nails and brows. And of course, professional hair and makeup on the day…

But you still don’t know how many are coming. You’ve asked. And asked.

You’ve received an information sheet from the school. Of your RESPONSIBILITIES. An A4 sheet, typeface Ariel, font size about 6. A black page of warnings. You take note to supervise and serve food. You’ve taken care of ‘licensing arrangements’.  Transport on to the main event is sorted.

After a day of pushing back the furniture and anointing your house and verandah with mood lighting. 

Your evening may go something like this.

*Some guests may arrive 40 minutes ahead of time when unbeknownst to you your daughter has changed the start time due to her hair and makeup running over. Do not fret they will be of great assistance in the kitchen preparing the finger food you still have not finished preparing because you had to get ready yourself so you didn’t get mistaken for the hired help. Plus naturally your kids instructed you to dress like a MILF.

*A woman you have never met before, although you have just complimented her daughter on her pretty dress, may say something like, ‘Have you got plenty of food there’s going to be a lot of them? Around 40.’ This advice may be given while you are staggering with a lumberjack sized cheese board out to the food table. Most likely the cautionary advice giver forgot to bring a plate.

*Lighting a couple of scented candles will help mask the Alison Holst’s sausage roll odour.

*A father might say, ‘I’ve brought wine for my daughters.’ To which you can only reply, ‘the glasses are on the table.’ And point. ‘There are soft drinks too.’ You know the rules. It’s illegal to serve alcohol to minors in your own home. The home now bursting with 40 minors and their parents, and siblings.

*Be prepared for wardrobe malfunctions. And try not be caught saying helpful things like, ‘I could sew him in.’ When you’re running around the house trying to find that easy to access ex dry cleaning safety pin you stashed in an overflowing bowl of bits about a year and a half ago; for the distressed youth who’s experiencing Asos zipper failure.

*Your house may become jammed with round about 100 people at peak party point. Do your best to keep mingling and more importantly keep ‘supervising’.

*Young belles may flock to your kitchen sink to moisten fake tattoos onto their bronzed limbs. Keep a pile of clean cotton cloths nearby. And the bench pristine so’s they don’t get beetroot dip smears on their frocks.

*As the night draws on you will notice some young attendees tying-one-on as we used to say in the old days. At that point, you’ll encourage them to drink the untouched expensive Italian fantas, while regretting not serving the 60 frozen spring rolls you shied away from blasting in the oven after reading – for best results DEEP FRY. Boys don’t do baba ghanoush.

*The music may get way past ten and you might want to dance in your living room to your daughter’s most excellent playlist but control yourself and stick to taking out of focus snaps. Better still, employ a savvy teenager to record your offspring and friends looking so fine. So sophisticated. So carefree. You can never have too many photos.

*Word may get out that YOUR pre-formal is going-off and more youth will gather. Try and feel confident they’re in control. Soon they’ll be shaking the hands of the deputy, the assistant and the principal. They can be refused entry. Breathalyzed. Mmmmm.

*The 44 seater bus taking your temporary charges to the formal formal may be late. Revellers will spill onto the lawn and the inside temperature of your house may drop to around 5 degrees. Some will hug you as they depart and say,‘thank you! That was the best pre-formal ever!’ Others will already be on the bus singing along.

*Parents will help stack hire glasses as the now closed house heats and you set the table for the dinner you’d planned. The ham is only mildly warm. But somehow you fluked caramalizing the pomegranate molasses glaze. Phew. Thank heavens friends brought salads and you own 20+ plates. You’ll sit quietly and talk of your children. How they’ve grown. How beautiful and handsome they looked. What a night they’ll be having. You’ll dine and drink lightly. Thankful to share this time with the friends you don’t always txt to acknowledge and thank for hosting your children. I suspect you’ll feel thankful you live in a small and great community. It takes a village to raise a child

*Moreover you’ll be darn over the moon your job is done. Two hours max of full on madness. Kaboom. You can relax and put the dips back in the fridge. Other lucky parents have opted for the graveyard shift. Because somewhere along the line in the history of formals the ‘after party’ became a requirement. A four hour rave from 12am - 4 to complete what’s become a crazy 12 hour party marathon.

*Lastly, you may have chunky ham sandwich school lunches for a week. Your house will be littered with the florist boxes and pearl pins that held the corsages and matching buttonholes. The welcoming trail of tea light candles will still be outside your front door a month later. And if you’re lucky there’ll be a bottle of Jacob’s Creek Moscato Sparkling 8.4% left behind that you can bring out next year when you do it all again.
Brilliant blog posts on

Monday, 25 May 2015

Green Birds in Snow

As you know, I'm a self confessed native bird fanatic. Today's 20 cms of snow brought yellow eye, Bellbirds and Tuis out in force to feast on our orchids uneaten apples. The apples are actually delicious, tangy cox's orange and sweet braeburn, if slightly blemished. But just try getting your kids to eat a pomme these days without out a shellac polish and an inedible sticker. The H and I can't get through the whole crop. Alone. Nevertheless, it's a delightful chirpy cinema watching some of our nations feathered treasures delicately dining out on them.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Kinky Boots

To wear or not to wear. This seasons so called ‘fetish’ boots. Is it just down to pins? Calf girth? Or is there an age bracket?

I’ve had this dilemma before with midriffs. In the end I did buy myself a full, mint green mid length skirt. Its nipped waist went well with the boxy cropped black short sleeved top I wore with it, surprisingly turning heads in my small town, as I walked to buy a girlfriend turning 50 lunch. My two exposed ribs felt shy. Suddenly. I went to tug my top down. But I held my composure. Thought Wonderwoman in her spangley togs and crazy hairdo. Carried it off as best I could. Harnessing whatever defiant kick arse girl power I still possess. Part of me oddly flattered. I suppose.

I’m just not ready to cut my hair into a neat lady crew cut and wear slacks and orthotic friendly shoes. Yet it can be hard wearing so called sexy feminine styles with a defiant air. When age starts creeping in.

From behind I could pass as young. Artic blonde. Petite. But turn around I’m definitely middle aged. Even though I hear they’re altering the age bracket for MA to start at 60 now that we’re all living longer. I’m getting on. Thank you.

I can cope with being called a MILF but I try to avoid self-slut-shaming. Mutton dressed as lamb.No. I’m more a scaredy wolf in sheep’s clothing me. It seems the line is very fine and often a little wonky. That of femme fatale. At the end of the day, whatever style and grace you possess is really all in your head. 

Currently, we have marketers telling us that this seasons thigh hugging over the knee boots are “for the confident woman who can skilfully blend style and grace, and whose charismatic allure is captivating but never conventional” (Angelo Ruggeri).  While on the other had warning us, “The power of the fetish boots wield is frankly, intimidating. They have the ability to stop conversation and make grown men gape.” (Divya Bala).


There I was in the Windsor Smith store in Perth with the H trying to find some brogues wide enough for his Maori feet which could double as paddles, whence upon I spied off yonder in the back corner of the store some soft soft leather black pointy toed stiletto babies and a woman of similar age coveting them also.

‘How do you wear them and not look like a prostitute?’ I asked my fellow female shopper.

‘You’ve got to leave a patch of bare leg.’

Bugger I thought my thighs are not plump but the dermis covering them is more akin to beige crepe from my viewpoint. Above.

‘No leggings either otherwise you look squat,’ she continued.

I’d get frostbite where I live with bare legs bits mid-winter. Contrasting wool tights perhaps.

She was chewing gum. Hard out. I wondered if she’d had a couple of Duromine for breakfast.

‘You wear them with a tiny skirt,’ she alluded. ‘Or a jumper dress,’ she added, asking the shop assistant for her size.

I felt encouraged. The power of two. I held up a pair. The H looked on approvingly. What man wouldn’t? They fitted like a glove. At only $249.50. What was I to do? But own them.

Back at the hotel I immediately googled – what to wear with thigh high boots and not look like a hooker. Gazillions of pages popped up. I wasn’t alone. Everyone over 40 obviously wants to know. Those underage babes can go do what they want. Show flesh. Wear micro minis. Knitted wool rompers even. Go.

The oversized jumper dress ranked highly. And contrasting skinny jeans (I don’t think so). Then blow me down I discovered I could walk my new black shoesies right into the boardroom if I wanted. Hidden discreetly under a demure length dress. Or with an over the knee pencil skirt with side split.

“I prefer the thigh-high to be worn with no visible skin… with a hemline that covers the top of the boot,” said the creative director of Jimmy Choo. Aren’t they the Narnia of the sexy shoe kingdom?  I was starting to get mixed messages. Wear the boot. But tame it. Why? Is the whole idea to not be afraid-of-the-boot. To feel confident you haven’t just thrown your doe-ray-me out the window on a silly seasonal whim. Get a bit of mileage. Have fun. Feel uber confident. I mean you’re not exactly purchasing them to pretend you’re Joan of Arc and run like a mighty gladiator about the place. The heels are 9cm for heaven’s sake. Plus your knees are encased. Firmly in pummelled cow.

Why suddenly pretend they aren’t really there at all. “A great boot covers but evokes intrigue. It’s a powerful and modern statement for women.” (Tamara Mellon). An odd sort of feminist mandate. That’s like burn your bra because you’ll feel a whole lot more comfortable doing the vacuuming without one. Not.

Nevertheless, my booties are in their box.

Meanwhile, I’m currently getting my vintage brown suede pinafore dry cleaned. I’ve eyed up my teenage daughter’s baggy black and grey jumpers.  I’ve even pulled out another vintage wool dress in a dull dark sage which covers my knees and exposes only my lower arms. I’m ready to thigh high. I know how The H will react.

But at least my new boots and I will walk out of the house.

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