I don't get presents very often. I can’t tell if that’s because I have bad friends or I am a bad friend.
You can imagine my delight when my friend, who would soon be abandoning me to pursue a dazzling new career as a fishmonger in Peterborough, handed me an early birthday present.
The gift was delicately wrapped in a couple of sheets of The Daily Star and held together by electrical tape.
The words ‘TO SHEZZA’ were lovingly scribed across one corner of the package, alongside a crude drawing of what looked like a small chubby person in heels drinking a can.
Upon feeling the gift (and after I’d washed a lot of marker pen and newsprint off my hands), I ripped it open, frantically.
I was convinced it was one of the new Elmo toys I’d been eyeing up the week before, ‘cry and adopt cats with me Elmo’ – the new range for single women.
“IT’S! IT’S A...cardigan.” I tried to smile through the welling tears.
“It’s that wool and taffeta cardigan you liked in M&S!” she beamed.
“Well, I said it was nice but weren’t we shopping for your nan that day?” I replied.
I looked at her cherubic little chops and witnessed a wave of sadness creep over her.
“I love it!” I lied through a fake smile. “It’s… vintagey.”
I intended to use the old gal blanket/cardy as bedding for my pets until she made me promise to wear it when she came back to visit me in October.
I sat and looked at it after she’d left. ‘Dry clean only’, its label read. Any item instructing its owner to dry clean it should really just read: ‘Will not get washed. Ever.’
I don’t really go in for all that dry cleaning rubbish. There’s nowt ya can’t get out with a big bit a soap and some hot water.
Plus I can’t deal with the added stress of moving the clothes from those hideous metal hangers onto plastic ones.
Upon examination of my wardrobe I was quite perturbed to discover that I actually own quite a lot of items that are ‘dry clean only’. I never usually read the tags to be fair.
They all just say ‘stick in at 40 degrees’ or ‘ask mam’ as far as I’m concerned. It does explain why I have a few dresses hanging up that would be far too small for a four-year-old.
Probably because I spent a good few hours bad-mouthing my fashion-ignorant mate, the universe intervened and my washing machine went kaput.
Unfortunately this resulted in me carting a few black bin bags full of clobber to the dry cleaners, along with a few pairs of my ‘comfy’ kegs that you could have stretched out and used as a massive wind sock.
This all happened on a Friday, I might add, so I had a good few days to ‘improvise’ with regards to my outfits.
Unfortunately the only things I had readily available were the grandma cardy and a lot of ‘going out’ gear. Everyone I met kept asking me if I had an interview or a date lined up…or if I was over 50.
This was a week after my dry-cleaning and laundry were ready, mind you.
I just smiled in the affirmative, embarrassed to say I was too embarrassed to go and claim the humongous underwear.
I suppose I’ll have to go today. I have an actual date with a guy, who I told I was 28…and who is allergic to woollens.