Saturday, 17 December 2011
I Capture the Castle
Have been hither and thither, with last minute deadlines and all the shenanigans of Christmas. One small disappointment -- my Uniqlo order hasn't turned up yet (where are my Heat-Tech tops, not to mention the presents?). But this has been out-weighed by the seasonal blessings: a Christmas carol service at the Parish Church in Hampstead, with a choir to gladden the heart (I was reminded, again, of how inspiring it is to hear children singing Gaudete). And yesterday I made a cranberry and almond cake, which I ate with my friends and family this afternoon (it slipped down nicely with prosecco and freshly squeezed mandarin juice; delicious...).
Anyway, here is this week's Closet Thinker. I took the pictures at Cockermouth Castle at little while ago (a wildly romantic place, in a beautiful little town) -- in search of the spirit of Wordsworth -- though it reminded me most of all of my beloved Dodie Smith novel...
If Sunday is no longer the day of rest, then today is likely to be particularly agitated, for retailers and shoppers alike. This is, traditionally, a weekend when we are expected to rush around, buying Christmas presents in a flurry of seasonal consumerism, but glad tidings are currently thin on the ground. You already know the headlines, and the reality of rising costs and falling income may well feel more personal by now. Not that I’m encouraging undue pessimism, nor recommending pre-rehabilitation Scrooge; simply acknowledging that these are uncertain times, and splashing out on a party dress won’t necessarily solve anyone’s anxiety about how to pay the bills.
What does seem more important is staying warm; obvious, I know, but cold feet induce misery, as do icy hands. Hence my attachment to a cosy pair of FitFlop furry boots; still going strong after enduring several freezing winters, and also good for toning the bottom. (Speaking of which, poor Pippa Middleton, condemned by the press for – allegedly – crimes against fashion on a skating rink. Apparently she shalt not wear a white princess coat. Treason!)
The best winter survival kit will bring good cheer, as well as a level temperature; a formula that requires comforting kit, without making you look like a hibernating arctic beast. In fashion, as in life, it’s all a question of balance: just as high heels don’t work with too much uncovering of flesh elsewhere (the overkill of cleavage, bare thighs and stilettos), so too the bigger the boot, the narrower the leg should be. Hence Kate Moss’s de facto winter uniform of furry footwear plus skinny trousers. I rely on layers of Uniqlo Heat Tech underwear, so fine that they don’t add bulk; then an ancient Holland & Holland green parka on top, which is padded, but miraculously lightweight.
Brown, I think, can be too depressingly muddy a colour for a winter coat, though pink puffas are only good on little girls; better to go for ivory, olive, navy or black. And when all else fails, I return for advice to one of my favourite books, Dodie Smith’s ‘I Capture The Castle’, in particular the scene wherein Rose Mortmain is mistaken for a bear in her great grandmother’s beaver-lined coat. Rose longs for the luxuries of wealth – couture suits, silk stockings, bluebell scent, pale suede gloves -- and becomes engaged to a man who can afford these, then finally realizes her heart lies elsewhere; ‘her trousseau turned into fairy gold’, but true love is revealed to be more heart-warming than expensive new presents.