FIONA LOONEY

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

am only here for the jeans. Half an hour be­fore­hand, I had been in Top­shop, em­bark­ing on what must be one of the most sin­gu­larly de­press­ing ex­pe­di­tions of any woman’s life: buy­ing new jeans. I pre­sume if you are Ge­or­gia Salpa, for ex­am­ple, buy­ing jeans is a stress-free oc­ca­sion bor­der­ing on ac­tual plea­sure, but if, like me, you were born with Brian O’Driscoll’s legs (and I’m talk­ing af­ter he lets him­self go), then strug­gling into pair af­ter pair of denim dis­ap­point­ments is soul-de­stroy­ing. And it doesn’t mat­ter that I’ve lost weight: it is al­most as if God, on a slow day, de­cided that I may be a dress size 10 and a bra cup size A (ac­tu­ally, I sus­pect he snig­gered over that as well), but no mat­ter what I do, I will never, ever have any­thing other than freak­ishly short gams, fat thighs and frankly huge knees.

And there they are, star­ing back at me from ev­ery pair of newly hauled on jeans. Low rise, high rise, mid rise ( jeans are ap­par­ently de­signed by idle property de­vel­op­ers these days) — none of them can do any­thing to dis­guise — or even, God for­bid, flat­ter — those legs. And so, all of a sud­den, right there in the dress­ing room of Top­shop, I make a rash de­ci­sion. For once in my life, I am go­ing to buy an ex­pen­sive pair of jeans.

Now, ob­vi­ously this un­char­ac­ter­is­tic in­tent re­quires some back story. I had been at the lady petrol the pre­vi­ous night, and had met up at a gig with some old friends who kept telling me I looked great. So on the ba­sis that the last of the fuel hadn’t en­tirely left my sys­tem and I be­lieve EV­ERY­THING I am told un­der the in­flu­ence of its lovely fumes, I was sort of feel­ing a bit fab­u­lous. It wasn’t my legs that were dumpy and un­sightly, I told my­self, the fault lay in my jeans (even though they were in sev­eral dif­fer­ent styles and shades). Which is how I came to be in Brown Thomas at lunchtime on a Satur­day, about to turn right at the top of the es­ca­la­tor for a denim bar pre­vi­ously un­trou­bled by my cus­tom.

Only, the dis­em­bod­ied voice I could hear talk­ing about be­ing ‘on trend’ was com­ing from my left. So I fol­lowed it — be­cause that is what you do when you are in BT on a Satur­day lunchtime with lady petrol cours­ing through your

I’m laugh­ing at how they nod ev­ery time the stylist says ‘on trend’ or ‘sig­na­ture mo­tif’, as though these

are real things

veins — and found my­self in the lin­gerie depart­ment (an­other joint nor­mally un­trou­bled by my pa­tron­age), where a fully dressed woman with a mi­cro­phone was say­ing things about ‘price point’ (no, me nei­ther) and point­ing at a model in a swim­suit.

But much more im­por­tantly than that, as I wan­dered, like the Pied Piper’s most will­ing vic­tim, into the in­ner sanctum of lin­gerie and lace, there was a girl there with a tray with glasses of pink prosecco on it. They had me at — oh look, to be hon­est, with­out ei­ther of us know­ing it, they prob­a­bly had me the night be­fore.

So I am stand­ing there, drink­ing prosecco, and in­wardly sneer­ing — I’m sorry, but there’s no other word for it — at the women sit­ting on the fold-out chairs star­ing at younger, thin­ner, taller women wear­ing biki­nis that they hadn’t a chance of ever fit­ting into. And I’m laugh­ing at how they nod ev­ery time the stylist says ‘on trend’ or ‘sig­na­ture mo­tif’, as though those are real things. When one model teeters out — there’s no flip flops on this imag­i­nary hol­i­day — in a bikini with a colourful square of cloth over it, the stylist calls it a kaf­tan and con­fides that the se­cret of this look is that the girl is ‘restau­rant ready’. Ev­ery­one coos at that, and be­hind my snig­ger­ing, I con­grat­u­late my­self be­cause I would never, ever fall for this kind of blather.

Five min­utes later I am at the till, hand­ing over a frankly ex­tor­tion­ate amount of money for the bikini and for the all-im­por­tant kaf­tan. And when I say ex­tor­tion­ate, I can’t ac­tu­ally re­veal how much I spent be­cause I sus­pect it might ac­tu­ally be a mor­tal sin. In the mean­time, I have tried on the en­sem­ble — I’m not that drunk — and judged, in the dress­ing room, that I look just like the model in it. I am that drunk.

Back home, I put on the bikini and the kaf­tan and a pair of tow­er­ing heels, and I gin­gerly make my way down­stairs to ‘model’ my new look for my frankly hor­ri­fied fam­ily. ‘Where do you ac­tu­ally think we’re go­ing this year?’ asks The Teenager, but it re­ally doesn’t mat­ter. Wher­ever we end up, I’ll be restau­rant ready.

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