So, the royal baby was born yesterday, which isn’t that interesting, except if you are me, who loves a baby, especially an elusive girl baby, and if you live close enough to the hospital when she was born to run up there and wave if you felt so inclined (I didn’t) and close enough to the palace to hear the helicopters taking an aerial view of the ride home. It is a funny moment when you watch it on telly but can also pop outside to watch them go by. And OH how my gynaecological-specific insides cringed and cramped in sympathy when I saw her make that little exit from the Lindo wing doors to the crowds and unforgiving world media cameras just ten hours after giving birth. She must have been bleeding and hurt and torn and swollen and bruised and in some sort of sensory shock, but had to get her hair done and look nice and stand up. STAND UP. After a baby, I only like to stand up if I have to. Maybe to stagger to the loo, trying not to get blood all over my feet, steeling myself for the inevitable wee-burning-raw-flesh situation. Right, sisters?
Here are some photos of me, the first two a week after the baby was born, but still in hospital and without much sleep, owing to the baby being sick and jaundiced and us both having to sleep in a room with five other women and newborns with that bloody blue light going all night. The second, maybe a few hours after birth, showing some skin which may well burn your irises out with the horror and the shame of being part of my boob-skin. Shield your eyes if you think you might be forever defiled by the looking.
There are other photos of me, post-baby, but they almost always show an actual, certifiable nipple. Which is just too much for me to reasonably expect the readership to cope with on a Sunday afternoon, so you just have to imagine. Always though, the photos show me looking post-accident – hair unkempt, face enormous, bits of dried blood and sweat hanging around, dilated pupils from the shock, body massive and drained, like a punching bag that has had the stuffing punched out of it, beaten into some sort of submission.
So props to you, Kate, you poor, lovely lady who is kind of a prize heifer, to be wheeled out and put on show. Some dreadful old lady commentator yesterday on the TV said, just as Kate exited the Lindo doors in her shift dress and with her hair all flowy and makeup done, that she was looking just like an ordinary mum, specifically referring to the swollen belly Kate had clearly not strapped down with a corset. Lady from the telly – normal mothers who just had a baby are actually in their pyjamas, weeping a bit, eating toast and jam with huge stomachs full of displaced organs and blood.
Anyway. I bought enormous white plastic jelly shoes last week, because Simone Rocha seems to be endorsing plastic shoes and getting away with it, and Phoebe Philo has made white shoes ok, and because I needed something to wear that covered up my old man toenails but still let the air in. And because they looked so cool in American Apparel, all lined up on the wall in all the colours, all pastelly, glittery, clunky, and slick.
Of course, the sales woman was one of those awesome teutonic tall tattooed ice-queens who was wearing massive platforms at the end of her long legs, and she had a hipster plaid shirt buttoned up to the neck and she was young and cool and I asked her if the plastic shoes were too awful and she said they were cool. Reader, I believed her. And I got swept up in the romantic version of myself as some sort of Fashion Leader At The School Gates, and I tried them on and admired my relative suddenly tiny ankles against the vast plastic molded shoe of my surprising fashion dreams. It was all suddenly so clear to me – I could be VERY STYLISH FOR JUST £25 AND I COULD COVER MY HORNED TOES AND KEEP THE OVERSIZED CHILD’S SANDALS CLEAN WITH BABYWIPES! Amazing.
And so up at the till, still so swept away by my new vision of myself as maharajah of footwear fashion, I asked the teutonic ice maiden if all the cool girls wear theirs with socks, and she said of course, and she showed me the rail of red ankle socks. It was all too much. I exist on a fairly relaxed Spectrum Of Stupid, but the socks were way off my scale. Instead I bought a £6 tiny tub of Smith’s Rosebud Lip Salve because once I read that you could only get it in the US, and that it was the drugstore essential if you were some sort of channel-hopping cool person with a propensity for dry lips. And so I have worn them everywhere since, and have been amazed at the blisters, but also equally amazed at the way they wipe down, just as I had hoped they would, like some sort of latex sex suit for my calloused feet.
Seriously, it’s all fun and games with a plastic shoe, even though the school run turns the underfoot into a slimy sweaty wet room and then the road dust gets in and makes everything wetly black.
Though I don’t think everyone approves. Vicki, my elegant friend with a proper job, chose not to mention them at all, as I sashayed into the school hall for assembly, clomping and sliding and blindingly white, which I took as a gently crushing sign that she had nothing nice to say, and so said nothing at all. There were other women at the school gates who told me that they had some too, though theirs were flat and they wore them in the water, which could only really mean one thing, right? CROCS. Which wasn’t quite the look I was going for.
The sad thing is that the older I get, the more limited my choices are. I can’t dress like a mental, or even an art student, because I am too old and the joke doesn’t work like it used to. Alongside the little colonies of soft long grey hairs that form by my temples like a cartoon grandpa’s would, in a village-style cluster, like hair-Vikings, ready to take over my former blonde Wessex-head, or the ravines around the eyes and the cracked-earth dry hands, getting older also means that being appropriate starts to matter. Which is really boring.
And now I want a new baby girl. Luckily, I have an app that will show me how to do it.