The Covid Diaries 5

I Have Nothing To Wear

Featured on Sunday Miscellany on 5th April. A link will be available shortly.

I have, over the years, spent many hours of my life standing in front of my wardrobe, in my dressing gown, moaning, most usually to my husband, that I have nothing to wear.  This usually occurs when we are going out.  Not to somewhere fancy mind you, because then I definitely wouldn’t have something to wear and that fact would be of no surprise to anyone. And so, I’d have planned accordingly and bought something.

But no, this moaning is reserved for when we’re just going out maybe to the pub or for a meal with friends. In desperation I stare into the abyss that is my wardrobe and loudly lament.  My husband always looks from me to the wardrobe full of clothes with a huge thought bubble emanating from his head which clearly reads, “are you mad, woman?”. 

But having been married to me forever, he rarely articulates this thought, even though I’m sure he knows that I can see it.  And so, he will mutter something fairly innocuous that he thinks won’t make me explode.

Well, a few weeks into this new pandemic world, I can categorically say that I now truly HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR.  And this time, I’m not going anywhere.  But I don’t have a wardrobe for this new life.  How could I?  This new life came out of nowhere.

We weren’t given time to adequately prepare. All right, we knew the virus was coming, but nowhere did I see or hear a mention of the general public needing special clothes in order to cope with our enforced springtime hibernation.  No.  No warning. At all. None.

And yes, I know a wardrobe malfunction is emphatically not a real problem in the greater scheme of things. But giving our attention to the small practicalities of life is how many of us are getting through this strange time.  

And on that, let me be clear about two things.  Firstly, I am not what my dear mother would call ‘a fashion plate’.  No, I am a middle-aged woman – well, if I live to be 110, that makes me middle aged.  And like most middle-aged women, actually no, like most women I suspect, I like to be well turned out – but comfortable.  And just now I can’t find where that comfort is.

Ok, so I know I could stay in my PJs all day. But that’s not very hygienic is it, especially now?  Also, I am not a slob.  So, PJs are not the answer. We may not be going out much but we have to venture out for a walk every day, and even under the latest restrictions, occasionally to the shop or chemist too.   Leggings and a sweatshirt are appropriate for the walking.  But seriously, how many people over 25 do you know who look good in lycra, even when coupled with a huge sweatshirt?  I don’t feel at my best in public with all my bumps and lumps on show when I am not obviously engaged in an activity aimed at reducing those lumpy bits.  Jeans are my usual casual attire but you can’t lounge on the sofa in jeans.  And yes….. of course my jeans are stretchy but they still aren’t that comfortable when one is reclined horizontally. 

What we need, and need urgently, is a range of good quality but very cheap lounge wear that, to use fashion parlance, “could take us from sofa, to home office to the supermarket and back, allowing us to feel comfortable and at our best in a relaxed, informal way.”  And just at this realisation set in, what happened?  The non essential shops had to close, including the very places where we might actually have had some hope of finding such garments, at a price we could afford.  So, it looks like for the coming weeks, or even months I am reduced to changing my clothes twice or even three times a day, as I attempt not to completely let myself go.

But I worry that I am already on that slippery slope.  My poor nails are wearing shellac that is a month old and starting to crack and chip. I’m no fashionista, but I have always been allergic to the sight of chipped nail varnish. 

And don’t get me started on my hair.  Without the miraculous ministrations of my local hair salon, the grey is appearing at an alarming rate.  Hairdressers have instructed us not to even consider doing a desperation ‘box colour’ ourselves, as the damage we inflict on our barnets may take years to sort out.  Use one of those root sprays they advise.  Grand idea except they are now as rare as flour and liquid soap in the supermarkets.

So, I am well on my way to full on bag lady in my lycra leggings, chipped nails and greying hair.  If you see me on my daily regulation excursion close to my house, feel free to ignore me, although I am fairly confident that looking how I do at present, it’s highly unlikely you’ll recognise me.

STUNNING SPRINGSTEEN.

I am no expert but there are a couple of things I believe about music.  Firstly is that nothing is quite as evocative… aromas come close.. but music can bring you, body and soul to another place in a very complete way.  Secondly I believe that our musical tastes are formed when we are teenagers.. and the music you love then, as a young adult will remain forever the music that moves you, that touches your very core like no other ever will.  Sure as you get older you may develop an appreciation for classical or some other genre… but the music that you listened to in your formative years will forever be a part of you.

Arriving into the RDS last Wednesday I recognised myself in other middle aged women who dressed in the timeless uniform of jeans and tee shirts, their saggy middle bits and life worn faces seeming to lift as they prepared to be transported backwards in time.  As I munched on a spring roll I tried to ignore the damp patch on my shoulders where my rain jacket failed in its waterproofing.  I was slightly soggy but delighted to be inhaling the excitement and anticipation that was palpable.

On the pitch we stood making some small talk with those around us, afraid to drink our water as neither of us wanted to have to use the facilities.  It rained some more and once again like good teenagers we did our best to ignore the discomfort of water dripping down our necks.

Slowly the sky started to brighten.  A patch of blue appeared.  A watery sun was doing its best in the western sky and we divested ourselves of our jackets and tied them around what once was a waist.  The lights on the stage were being tested.

Moments later, without fanfare or fireworks, Springsteen appeared and that gravelly voice, so deeply familiar was filling the arena, accompanied only by his guitar and harmonica.  So it began – almost three and a half hours of a non stop, solid rock music masterpiece, enhanced by flashes of folk and gospel.   Overhead the clouds continued to melt and the sky became almost translucent.  A silent aircraft tore a vapour trail eastwards and seagulls seemed to wheel on the notes bouncing in the warm air.

The Springsteen themes of the working man, hard times and the struggle of life seemed particularly poignant at times as the night carried his music high into the sky in Dublin 4.  Spingsteen as preacher encouraged us all to recall those we missed and who were no longer with us.  An almost transcendent moment for me as I stood in the fading light on what would have been my brothers 48th birthday had he not chosen to leave it some 16 years ago.

There is an authenticity about Springsteen’s music which is only matched by his pure unadulterated joy in performing.  His smile filled the RDS time and time again on the big screen and more than once I found myself grinning back at him.. forgetting that I was not alone in the arena.

As the light seeped away we danced and sang the oldies, Born in the USA, Glory Days, Born to Run and of course The River.  I was 20 again…  and it was magic.

As I shuffled off the pitch at 11pm, my aching back and sore feet complained that 5 hours of standing was something I probably should have gone into training for.  But boy was it worth it.  And somewhere above the music I am sure my brother did too!

WITH THANKS TO IRENE WINTERS FOR THE TICKETS!!!

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