One of the most memorable book titles that I have come across is The Blessings of a Good Thick Skirt by Mary Russell: it is about female explorers and travellers, and I just love the concept of the protective qualities of sensible clothing. So I thought that I would tell you about some very sensible clothing that I acquired over the weekend.
The Head Chef and I had occasion to venture up to the Great Wen to fetch the much-missed Princess Bunchy from Marylebone Station. Taking my cue from that canny shopper, dear Hen at Henhouse Homemade, and being tempted by her pictures of her expedition in that direction, I decided that a little side excursion to Marylebone High Street was in order. The little princess was not due into the station until mid-afternoon, but I persuaded the Head Chef that it was essential to allow plenty of time to get there, in case of traffic jams, parking difficulties, asteroid strikes, etc. But we had a fair wind and so we found ourselves right outside the great Cath’s emporium before lunch: I was eager to enter the shrine right away, but with the Head Chef food must come first, so I had to watch him eat a very large pizza before I was allowed through the shop door. He knew he was in for a long haul if visiting a Cath Kidston store at sale time.
But the sales assistants are charming, and very eager to engage a chap with a knitting bag in conversation (he was holding it for me whilst I rummaged through the shelves, and he only spilled the contents once). And the Head Chef really was very helpful to me: I tried on a checked frock which I had been eyeing in the catalogue, and when I emerged from the changing room he offered the opinion that it resembled ‘one of those things they put you in before you have an operation.’ So that saved me some money. And his benign and hovering presence, so sweetly confident in the thriftiness of his better half, prevented me from buying yet more knitting needles just because I liked the look of the case, or even from buying another knitting bag to go with the one that he was clutching so loyally.
So, dear readers, I bought some very sensible clothing. Two flowery vests, to keep me warm in winter. The savings on the oil bill will be enormous – buying Cath Kidston vests will ensure that once again we don’t have to turn on the heating, however cold it snaps. The more you buy the more you save. And flowery pinnies keep you warm, too, especially when you have more than one of them.
And as the Head Chef chatted away to the lovely assistants I received the ultimate accolade: the Cath Kidston employees complimented me on both of my bags, one of which I made, and one of which I chose: so reinforcing my aura of general skill, thriftiness and perfect taste on the bag front. Here is the one I made earlier.
This bag started its life as a reversible dirndl skirt for Princess Bunchy – and when she grew out of it I turned it into a bag, which is just right for my knitting and other shopping. If anything hangs around my little cottage for too long, I feel the urge to turn it into a bag.
And this beautiful bag, which is the sort of bag that I can only aspire to make, is from the very clever Helen at Angharad Handmade, and it was very much admired by Cath Kidston's employees. I was totally honest when they asked if I had made it myself, but I did bask in a glow of reflected admiration by association.
And, although I say it myself, it is not the first time that one of my bags has been a subject of appreciative comment by one of the great Cath’s acolytes. This was the first bag that I ever broke a needle on, made from left-over Laura Ashley and Cath Kidston fabric, and a record of my changing taste in interior design. Or perhaps not: I seem to have been lodged in a retro, floral ghetto for much of my adult life.
Yet there is one small question which presents itself: do you think this is part of the CK staff manual? Are they trained to spot likely customers with homemade-looking bags, and compliment them to give them a warm glow of brand loyalty? Oh, surely not!
Have you ever had a homemade bag admired in a Cath Kidston shop? Do put me out of my misery and tell me the awful truth!