Mirror Mirror on the Wall; In The Powder Room...

>> Monday, 30 May 2011

So, I've been thinking about the In The Powder Room's CyberMummy 11 competition. You know, the one where a lucky person can win a ticket to this year's CyberMummy and two nights in the Hoxton Hotel, courtesy of ITPR. You don't know? May I politely suggest you get your butt over there toute d'suite and check it out? Anyway, I would like to give it a shot. In brief, to qualify for entry you need to write a post about who you would like to meet In The Hoxton Powder Room. I can do that, I thought. I can write a post like that.

But who would I like to meet? That, my friends, is the question, and one which - since it requires concentration and a longer attention span than the 2 minutes I have in between being asked to fix the lego airplane that has just broken / find the bakugan that has just drifted under the sofa / help with the Dutch homework that I have no idea how to translate - is slightly removed from my current style of blogging, which could best be described as 'stream of consciousness'. Experienced bloggers will also know this school of writing as 'just throwing any interesting thoughts you have down on paper / your laptop as quickly as you can because you know from bitter experience that they are going to disappear faster than a snowball in hell when the kids start bleating for dinner'. But I digress.

Who, oh who would I like to meet?

I sit and think about it. A few minutes pass. A bit of coughing. The odd itch. I scratch my leg and realise there is a blob of something that looks suspiciously like ketchup on the hem of my jeans. I check my watch and realise I still have to hang up the laundry before I do the school run...



A big, black, gaping hole of nothingness...

OK, let's try a visualisation technique.

(Cue spooky 'Tales of the Unexpected'-type music and blurry 70's type pixelated picture, slowly resolving into a curtain-draped powder room...)

I'm reclining gracefully on a bow-backed chaise-longue, waiting my turn for the loo when behind me the door hinges squeak ever so slightly and a cold breeze announces someone else has arrived.

I look in the mirror to check who it is. Is it a famous celebrity, a well-known actress, or a luminary from history?


It's a young girl, around 15 years old, painfully shy with shoulders hunched and wearing what she obviously thinks is the world's worst outfit. Well, I have to be honest, it's not great; it's a dark grey skirt and top combo with puffy sleeves, shot through with tiny strips of tinsel in blue, red and silver, accessorised with a hang-dog expression, sparkly gold eyeshadow, slightly dandruffy brown hair, and patches of eczema around her mouth and on her inner arms and wrists.

Holy shit.

It's me. Aged 15 and at a Christmas Party for young wannabe county-types in Cheltenham Town Hall sometime in the 1980's.

She would dearly love to be anywhere other than here, this girl, and god do I remember how that feels. The sense of being on the outside looking in, the awkwardness that adolescence brings (multiplied to a power of ten by that bloody eczema), the longing to be just like Rachel C from Form 5D with her flicky fringe, suede-blue eyes, delicate ankles, and a hip-flask of disgusting-tasting gin in her handbag. And the knowledge that it was Rachel C who would 'get off' with Peter F at the end of evening, not her.

She walks up to the mirror, this younger me, looks at her reflection, and sighs heavily. Hopeless, it's hopeless, her expression says, as she checks in her pockets to see if she has 2p (remember when a phone call only cost 2p?) to call home to ask if she can be picked up early.

What would I like to tell her? My mind races. Should I tell her that everything is going to be alright? That before she knows it 2 long years of hiding her mouth behind her hand when in the presence of a remotely attractive boy will be over when the eczema starts to abate? Should I tell her that whilst her forthcoming exams aren't going to turn out great, they'll be good enough? Perhaps I should mention that her family will, before long, move to another town where she'll discover that being the new girl, whilst it has it's drawbacks, also brings a wealth of opportunity and that she will not just take on the challenge of reinventing herself but will (pardon my french) make it her bitch?

Perhaps I should mention that the experiences she's going through now will make her a strong, independent, feisty woman who (after a couple of false starts, obviously, but she's only human), will have a life with few regrets and a lot of achievements to be proud of. And that she will be happy, in a good, sustainable, way, and will try to spread that around as much as possible. That her life will have more ups than downs and that when she does have the downs, she will - mostly - maintain her sense of perspective and hold onto the adage 'this too shall pass'.

All of this rushes through my mind as I stand up, straighten my skirt, and walk over to the mirror besides her. And then I tell her something really important. Something I wish someone had told me all those years ago, and which will probably make more of a difference to her than any of the other things I was thinking of before.

"Straighten your shoulders, lift your chin, and stick out your chest,sweetheart. You've got a great figure and you're going to have (I'm told on the best authority) lovely boobs - don't be embarrassed and spend your life hunched over trying to hide them."

She gawps at me in amazement. Who do I think I am, she's wondering. Who is this crazy old (well, didn't 44 seem old to you when you were 15?) woman in the wedge heels in need of a hair cut, without even a lick of sparkly lipstick and offering unsolicited advice? I hold her gaze in the mirror for a moment and wipe a smudge of eyeliner from where it's settled in the crease under my lashes.

"Be proud of who and what you are. All of what you are. I promise you; you won't regret it."

As she drops her 2p into the sink in shock and scrabbles around to find it, I pick up my handbag and when she glances up again, I've gone. Only the faint strains of the theme music for 'Tales of the Unexpected' hint that anything untoward has even happened...

Bloody hell - where did that come from? I was convinced I was going to write about Boudicca and her envy of the Romans' way with plumbing and sewerage systems...

And for those of you looking for a trip down Memory Lane this evening, here's a reminder of those famous 'Tales of the Unexpected' opening and closing credits, complete with the Anglia knight on horseback. Sigh. I AM that old...


Pig in the Kitchen 31 May 2011 at 13:48  

Love it Potty. Bloody hell, it nearly made me cry! Can I send my teenage self over to teh Hoxton as well so that you can give her a good talking to?

nappy valley girl 31 May 2011 at 16:41  

Great post, PM - and it definitely deserves to win a night in the Hoxton hotel! Will be sorry to miss you again at CM - one day I'll make it there, although by that point I'll probably be ancient and all the bloggers will be my kids' age.

Iota 31 May 2011 at 19:04  

Loved this. I used to love that music too (in the days when you had to be happy to listen to it once, on tv, rather than being able to listen to it several times, over and over, on youtube).

Potty Mummy 31 May 2011 at 19:34  

Pig, I bet your teenaged self would have wiped the floor with mine. (Before going off and leaving Rachel c for dust as she got off with Peter F instead...)

NVG, we'll see - have you read Iota's submission yet?

Iota, thanks. And yes, it's odd to think that once upon we actually waited week on week for shows rather than greedily watching the whole box set in one go...

Muddling Along 4 June 2011 at 21:25  

Um I'm going to be skiving off the technical sessions and hosting tea for the cool kids... actually this is a pathetic attempt to try and find people to talk to me. That and am trying to order a HUGE badge so people know I'm me

Please say hello!

World Of Warcraft Gold 8 December 2011 at 05:42  

I employed to adore that audio as well (in the times whenever you experienced to get pleased to listen to it once, on tv
When you have nothing to do or unhappy? What should you do to spend the free time? How about the game? like to get wow gold buy in WOW, and how to have thewow gold buyingwith less money, is there anyway to get the for us? We need to think about this.

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