I don’t have a shopping problem

We had a little party on November 5th, which is something we do every year, because across the road from us our garden committee holds a fireworks display on Bonfire Night which is open to the public. It brings through about 2000 people in the gates, and the adults pay £10 and the kids a fiver to watch the fireworks and the bonfire. There is also a beer tent, sausage sizzle, mud, lost kids, drama, ouchy bits of firework debris which may or may not singe your arm a little depending on where you stand, and quite often some rain.

We invite a few people around from after school to our place, mostly neighbours and friends, and I bake brownie, cook sausages for the kids, and something for the adults. This year I marinated and then slow-roasted lamb, because Ottolenghi told me how to, and I would follow him and his cookery jiggery pokery wizardry to the ends of the earth, and then topped it off with Jamie Oliver’s massive sausage roll. And while the sausage roll looked like a Halloween-relic giant severed arm, it was ridiculously delicious and it taught me that all a crowd really needs is a hot bit of pastry ‘n’ meat.   All those years of searching wildly through cookbooks to hit upon the Holy Grail of crowd-feeding, where the thing had to be impressive, delicious, and capable of feeding an unknown quantity of people; the wilderness years, where I experimented with chorizo and chickpea stew, and roasted beef and ham and bread rolls and big plates of salad. And it was only ever about a big fat meaty cigar and tomato sauce -what a lesson to learn when you are middle-aged.

Anyway, there was also masses of cheese and chips and crudités and beetroot dip and the weirdest uncooked snickerdoodle biscuit cake thing from the Smitten Kitchen book which was gross and it spread all over the plate in the overheated room and the children uniformly avoided it and a huge lasagne which someone bought along and from which we ate all over the following weekend. And lots of excellent NZ sauvignon blanc from Majestic and more Lindauer Rose than even I could drink.

Some of our guests bought tickets and left the party to go and watch the fireworks, while some stayed in the flat doing dishes and reassuring nervous babies (that’d been me, then) and others watched the display from the top of our stairs with an assortment of other neighbours and randoms who didn’t fancy paying for tickets when you could just look up, for free. Some of the kids from our party sat on the roof of our landrover and watched, in a pre-teen king-of-the-world-type display of nighttime bravado.

All good fun. And then we get an email a few days later from the committee, saying quite politely that they knew many of the residents had hosted parties that night, and not everyone had purchased tickets, and so, it would be MOST APPRECIATED if those households gave the committee a donation. Suggested amount: £10 per adult and £5 per kid, depending on how many people were at your respective flats that night. Which would have meant that we were being asked to pay the committee about £250. I totally choked on my leftover sausage roll and got a bit outraged.

I wanted to write back and say that that would be fine, but I would also like the committee to go some way to pitching in for the costs of the party we had. Suggested amount: £10 per adult and £5 per kid. But I am wimpy and scared of confrontation, so I just dreamt up further fabulous arguments in my head for a few days. I am amazing in my internal imaginary fights with other people.

Then I forgot all about it because it is sample sale season. I have attended so many of the sample sales over the past few weeks, and I have a haul so fabulous that I can’t really sleep well at night for the fevered mental styling that goes on.

A List Of The Sample Sale Things That I Now Own Currently Hanging In My Wardrobe Which Befits Someone Who Has Somewhere Really Great To Go To On A Regular Basis:

1.Balenciaga heels, mid-height, white but cut through with a black leather frill which sits over my massive hobbit-feet and tricks the eye into thinking they are normal sized and elegant.

2. A Christopher Kane black jacket with a python-print silk frilled trim. It is a bit Chanel-like.

3. A Mary Katrantzou silk blue and yellow printed tunic with a little collar and a chinoiserie print.

4. A Mary Katrantzou silk black and white boxy top with a diffused cityscape print. Slightly tight on the upper arms, good with jeans.

5. Erdem red flowered printed trousers, just like my old Erdem blue printed trousers.

6. Erdem white sleeveless embroidered crossover complicated silk top with tiny non-sensical words around the hem and a black trim, just like my old Erdem white sleeveless silk complicated top.

7. A Mulberry granny blouse in a bone colour which I thought was silk but is viscose. Also a little tight on those pesky upper arms.

But There’s An Even Better Thing:

All this though, the great giant haul of ridiculous going-out clothes, pales into comparison when I reveal what I found at the charity shop on Sunday.  Walking past the Octavia Trust op-shop I saw a CHANEL JACKET ON A MANNEQUIN AND IT WAS £65 AND IT FITS AND IT IS REAL! I know, because I spent a lot of time googling youtube tutorials on authentication. It has the tiny chain sewn around the bottom hem and silk pleated lining and apparently it is from the Spring 2000 Cruise collection, according to my expert label-decipering skillz. That’s a bone fide hashtaglifegoal RIGHT THERE!

It is a little bit ugly. It is a bit Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Or English gent at the beach in the 30’s. Striped like a canvas parasol in shades of blue, mint and bone. The youtube tutorials assure me that vintage Chanel jackets are *effortless* to style and they look great with denim, but I am not entirely convinced. But CHANEL! Chain trim! Little buttons with interlinked ‘c’s! I’ll wear it anyway! It’s a bluddy sartorial dream come true, fellas.

Photo Essay Time Because I Am Worn Out By The Excitement (And Styling Concerns) Of The Chanel Jacket:

Casper has been marking his own spelling tests. He is very enthusiastic and optimistic. Also deluded:



Here is Casper and Noah on mid-term break, with Sue who is expertly pointing out London landmarks from the Sky Garden. What a funny little place that was, with its airport security and million-pound hot chocolates and security guards who were upset that the children were playing on the soft upholstered fake logs instead of just sitting on them:


Casper in Cliveden last weekend, running fast to avoid the slippery mud:


More National Trust gorgeousness – a rare moment when the boys are tribe-like in a good way:


The pet cemetery in Hyde Park, filled with Victorian monkeys and beloved dogs called ‘Scum’. I bet you didn’t know there even was one:


And the best, saved til last. This is Mark and Otis bonding over their love of Sam Smith:



It’s hours later, and I’ve been asked for a photo of the Chanel glory. Here it is – this is for you, Jo. Enjoy my Coco hair:








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6 Responses to I don’t have a shopping problem

  1. jacks says:

    I cant believe they would make ya’ll pay for the fireworks! you totally should’ve sent them back your response. Hilarious.

  2. Janet says:

    Okay, I am a bit embarrassed because I normally just read your blog anonymously, but I am seized by the need to say I reckon that jacket is gorgeous, very cool and not ugly at all – what an amazing find!!

    • theharridan says:

      I know – such a lucky find! Thanks for commenting, I LOVE comments because it makes me feel like I am not just shouting into a dank cave of loneliness and self delusion. Someone else can hear my foolish talk and it is very reassuring. Thank you and welcome in to my very small commenters’ fold xx

  3. Do says:

    I love to read your stuff. Your life is a million miles away from mine, and I reckon you are having more fun. I should have had five boys instead of just one!
    Tell them all things visible in the sky are free…

  4. theharridan says:

    Thank you – it is good to hear someone thinks it is not just all madness and shouting and drama – it could actually be a little bit of fun. And it is! You made me smile x

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