Monday, 28 November 2016

The story of buying my wedding dress | The Small Desk

We joined the queue at 10.50am. The Needle and Thread sample sale was due to start at 11am. I had convinced my Mum to go a little bit earlier as I thought there might be a queue, but nothing could have prepared me for the length of the queue. We walked up to the door of the sale room and before me I saw a thick crowd of women all waiting. I said to one of them, 'Are you queuing for Needle and Thread?', hoping she would say no, but knowing there was only one answer, 'Yes', she said. I looked at the queue thinking it was pretty bad but then I turned the corner. The line stretched all the way down a side street. I looked at my Mum and we both gasped in horror. 'How long have these women been here?' we asked each other.

The air was cold but we hesitantly joined the queue. At 11am the queue started to move slowly, but it wasn't until 11.50am when our toes were numb and our bones frozen to their core that we were finally allowed inside. I was checking on my Mum continually to see if she wanted to give up, but she held strong and we entered the sale room... to another queue...

'Have you coats ready for the cloakroom', the security guard barked, 'but I'm cold', I said. Rules are rules I was told. You had to pay a pound entry each and then you were allowed to enter the chaos. Women were skittishly darting around the room trying to find a dress they liked. Some were hoarding dresses on a rail for others they had helped seek the perfect dress for. There were queues for communal dressing rooms that blended into one. Others gave up on the queues entirely and stripped down to their underwear behind a rail, and some just in the middle of the room. Dignity had escaped some and they had turned into animals fighting for the best bargain of the day.

Prices were at rock bottom, clothes more than 50% off their recommended price. It was no wonder these women were going crazy; here was a chance to buy something otherwise out of their reach. Some were there looking for a bargain for the Christmas party and others, like me, had come to find their wedding dress.

Often a wedding dress can cost in the thousands but I was determined to find something I loved in budget. I've done that for a lot of items I own in life; I buy beautiful designer furniture from outlet stores, scour the internet for discount codes and have signed up to banks purely for free money or vouchers.

Ever since I got engaged I knew my dream dress would be a Needle and Thread dress. They were out of my price range at around £600 to £950. But then one day I found this sample sale and everything changed.

We had been there for just over an hour and then I saw a girl trying on the dress I wanted. Then and there in that moment I knew that was the dress I wanted. I just stared at her, and said to my Mum, 'that's it'. Out of nowhere she put one of the sizes of the dress back on the rail. I saw her put it back, I stared at it in disbelief. I didn't know if she really had meant to put it back, but then my Mum said 'get it!', and it was like in slow motion I took the dress off the rail, looked at it with wonder and amazement that it was my size.

'How am I going to try it on?', I asked my Mum. 'Well, you might just have to take your top off', she replied. I thought for one moment and then looked at the male security guards around and thought, 'no, I don't, I'm not doing that for a dress'. I tried my wedding dress on over my T-shirt and jeans. Yes, that's right, no ifs, no buts, I put it over my entire outfit. Even over the top of jeans and a T-shirt it looked stunning and I felt incredible in it. 'That's it, that's the one', my Mum said, and that was that, it was decided.

Even though I had budgeted it for it, at the last moment before we got to the check out my Mum said 'I'm paying for this', I was so surprised and tried to argue against it but she insisted and it was a beautiful gesture. My Mum bought my wedding dress for £150 (down from £650) in a sample sale in Mayfair. In amongst the chaos, madness and down right rudeness of a lot of the women there, we managed to maintain our dignity (just) and succeeded in winning at the art of the sample sale.


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Five reasons I gave up reading Bill Bryson | The Small Desk

I like to do book reviews of all the books I've read. You can read them all here. I was determined to read Bill Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling, as it had such good reviews and was a Sunday Times bestseller. Plus it is littered with interesting bits of British history that I thought would be interesting. I enjoyed his book on Australia but did find his moaning a bit irritating at times, despite this I never thought I would actually stop reading The Road to Little Dribbling because I found it too offensive and rude! I got to page 231 out of 474 and gave up. I wasn't enjoying it, and if I'm not enjoying a book I find it very hard to motivate myself to read it, which eventually means I just give up reading completely! I find it much easier to decide to stop reading a book and move on. I'm such a slow reader anyway (as I explained before) that I need to read books I love.

I didn't want to put all that 231 pages to waste, and I thought it would be a good idea to explain to you all why I gave up reading this book and why I won't be reading any more Bill Bryson.

1. Bad jokes
The book is full of bad jokes, or little incidents that have happened to him he thinks are funny, but are really not, sorry to sound so harsh! For example:
p.19 – he goes to a hairdressers and thinks they say his hair will be cut by 'a vet', when the hairdresser is actually called 'Yvette'.

p.102 – he meets two women on a walk back from a memorial - the women ask if he's come from the memorial and in the book he says '"No, I was having a dump in the bushes", I wanted to say'.

2. Everyone is an idiot
He complains about restaurant and shop staff a lot. As an ex-employee of two shops where I know customers can make your life hell it only made me sympathise with the shop staff! For example:
p.39 – he says to McDonald's staff 'I can't believe you are all this stupid', when they make a mistake with his order that he himself has admitted to stumbling over.

p.83 – 'Well, you're still an idiot' he says to a staff member at H&M after he (Bryson) mistakes it for an M&S and asks where the food hall is.

3. Too dry about being a grandfather
I don't like how unemotional he is about becoming a grandfather, and doesn't see that his role is to support his daughters emotionally, for example:
p.78 – talking about both his daughters due to give birth at the same time he is instructed to be near London hospitals - he write 'I was under strict instructions to be nearby in order to - well, I don't know what. Boil water perhaps. Stand around in a willing but useless manner.'

4. He always calls his wife 'my wife'
Why not call her by her name?! The way he talks about his wife really irritates me, he speaks about her as though she is a constant nag, or even worse, like she is his mother!

5. Rude about women
Only 100 or so pages in and he's already being rude about women. For example:
p.111 – 'Why Thomas Holloway and his wife Jane decided to sink much of their wealth into a college for women isn't known, any more than it is known why they decided to fund a companion building'.

p.115 – He sticks up for a woman in a bookshop who gets shouted at by a man with a mental disability, who he calls a 'madman', which I do not think is ok either, but after he sticks up for this woman she smiles at him (probably just politely), but he takes this as her adoring him and then says '...who knows where this encounter might have led? Unfortunately she was only about four feet tall and nearly spherical, so I simply shook her hand and wished her good day'.

I could go on, but I'd rather not waste my time any further! Have you read this book? What did you think?

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