If you’re a single woman, you apparently have only two choices. You can either be a cynical, bitter but busy woman who’ll turn down every date just because she can, or you can be the type to curl up watching romantic films while sobbing into a box of chocolates with only a cat for company. Then there’s me, and I don’t fit into either. Well, not all the time anyway…
As January ends, so do the sales. All that remains are assorted oddments that you find yourself asking, “Who on earth is going to buy that?”. The answer to that question is me. If it’s useless, aesthetically unappealing and/or generally grotesque, I’ll buy it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say, and I literally do treasure trash.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always liked the things that others reject. Not so much out of pretentiousness but more out of questionable taste. As a child, when others clung on to cute toys, I carried around a Disney Quasimodo puppet with pride. As an adult, while many aspire to cool interior design, I’m envious of anyone who owns a lamp that is either shaped like a poodle or a nude model with a strategically placed switch. My taste in décor could not be more low brow.
I ‘blame’ most of my unusual likes on my hometown of Brighton and its quirky shopping areas. One of Brighton’s most iconic shops is Snooper’s Paradise – a flea-market that is the stuff of hipsters’ dream. My teenage wardrobe was bought from the emo stall (complete with pink-fur covered changing room) but the other sellers grew my interest in all things kitsch and vintage.
If it wasn’t for Snooper’s Paradise, where else would I have started my love affair with 1970s Christmas wrapping or began imagining where the giant light-up Haribo boy head (albeit for display only) would fit in my room? Of course, I discovered many of my odd finds at car boot sales and charity shops but Brighton made second-hand odds and sods cool.
That’s not to say I’ll only buy used goods when they’re “cool”. Despite my hometown’s thriving pre-loved clothing scene, I’m seldom bothered with vintage fashion. My taste is more shabby than shabby chic. I don’t collect things out of the anti-cool irony – I genuinely like them (for inexplicable reasons).
As I look around my room where I write this, I can see an Orville mask, googly-eyed shells, a Howard the Halifax man money box and a creepy Cinderella with eyes as big as a 70s Blythe doll. All cheap and nasty. All loved by me. One of my favourite pieces of tat is a plastic baby pink elephant cradling a tumbler for toothbrushes. It’s beautiful.
I am aware that my taste is a little odd, hence why I’m writing this blog but it’s always been a part of me that I refuse to refine. Sometimes I wonder if I’m attracted to objects out of a love for the underdog, as if I knew that the Nutty Owl (literally some nuts glued together to vaguely resemble an owl) was destined for the bin if I hadn’t rescued it. I remember buying a handmade felt lion in Oxfam, and having the charity shop volunteer refuse to let me pay when its fur moulted as I placed it by the till. She would rather have disposed of it than had me pay (My generous nature meant I did make a donation anyway). Little did she know, it would later feature on Twitter’s Charity Shop Shit, and remain loved for years.
“@AmyJoSays: Bought this from a charity shop earlier. Let’s not ask why, as I don’t have an answer. pic.twitter.com/Waa7VtHD5h” excellent find!
— CharityShopShit (@CharityShopShit) June 19, 2013
Although I’m sure I’ve saved items from the skip, I know that I can’t be alone in having such bad taste. Why were these items ever made if there was never a market for them originally? It can’t just be the Brighton trendies who are keeping kitsch alive, surely! There are more plastic flamingos in existence than real ones so I know people with my taste are out there – I just don’t know any of them. So lovers of the offbeat, I urge you to come forward and embrace your quirky taste. Just please don’t clear the bargain bins before I’ve had a chance to rummage through!
One of my favourite things about Christmas is the food – the turkey and the trimmings, the cupboard’s worth of condiments and even the Brussel sprouts that get their token annual outing. It’s the unnecessary yet deemed essential excess of food that I love so much about a festive roast. So, will I be preparing this year’s family feast? Oh, god no! If I was in charge, the poultry would either still have a pulse or be as cremated as Mog the Cat’s efforts in the Sainsbury’s adverts. Because of this, I can guarantee that I’ll be bought at least one ultimate beginner’s cookbook but as I pile up the books of basics, I’m worried my well-meaning Mum may be wasting her time. One day I hope to return the favour of many marvellous meals (and not just Christmas ones) cooked for me but looking back at my culinary fails, I don’t think any amount of help guides are going to see me rustling up a roast this Christmas…
Halloween is almost here, and it’s got me thinking about costumes. Fancy dress may be a disguise but is it not also a form of expression? From the scary to the sexy, there’s surely as much reason behind a novelty outfit as a ‘normal’ one, if not more. After all, you only get a few times a year to dress up as someone or something else so you have to make your choice carefully. So this Halloween, do you choose to be Mean Girls’ Cady “so scary” Heron or Karin “A Mouse, Duh” Smith?
I’ve always identified as a Cady, turning up in an elaborate spooky homemade costumes even in a room full of people vaguely resembling animals thanks to eye-liner drawn whiskers and ears glued to a headband. However, readers of my previous posts will know my views are subject to change and I no longer consider the tail-wearing so alien. In the spirit of the spooky season, I wanted to look back at my costume phases throughout the years, and how I’ve dressed up as anything from stationary to celebrities – and why.
Sat in a hotel bar back in August, my Mum caught me smiling into my drink. There’s nothing unusual about me looking lovingly towards a gin and tonic but this time, my smirk was there for a different reason. We had just seen one of our favourite bands, Dawes, play a fantastic gig at Oslo in London and had settled down for a nightcap. I was already reliving the show in my mind and it was written all over my face. “It’s weird to think we wouldn’t be smiling like this if it wasn’t for that man at Hyde Park?”, my Mum chirped in. I hadn’t thought about “that man” in a while but then, when I couldn’t sleep, I thought about how an odd chain of events led me here and it’s been on my mind ever since.
Earlier this month, it was National Underwear Day. I had been meaning to write a blog on underwear ever since I first started this site so it seemed the perfect time to publish one. But, I didn’t end up writing anything. Why? Was it due to a bout of writer’s block, a broken laptop or even inexcusable laziness? Well, it might have been a little bit of laziness but mainly it was embarrassment. When I realised why I felt awkward discussing bras and knickers, I decided I couldn’t put off writing this any longer.
I’ve spent a lot of my life wishing I was older. As soon as I could speak, I became distressed whenever the grown-ups couldn’t understand my gobbledygook. Not long after hitting puberty, I wanted to be thought as a woman, not a girl and I’ve spent years not correcting people who assume I’m older than I actually am. However, now that I’m a bonafide adult (of sorts), I’ve realised how much I love children’s things. Cartoons, fancy dress and blowing bubbles – you name it, if it appeals to ten year olds, I probably love it.
A few weeks ago, a friend came across Kiera Cass’s The Selection novels. “Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals…” he read from the blurb as he scoffed. He then passed them to me, tongue firmly in cheek, and said “There you go, you’re a woman – this is for you”. I told him to get them away from me before I wrote an angry blog. We both laughed but weeks later, I’m still thinking about those books and here I am writing about them. But why do I care about some romance novels I’ve never read? Well, perhaps because our mocking of the genre soon turned to disgust when we realised these weren’t books for women fantasising about competing to be a princess – these were books for children and young adults which told them to compete against other women.
We all know that there’s something very loaded in calling a girl “bossy”. Men are “assertive, strong, confident” when taking control but women doing the same are branded as “nagging, bossy, domineering”. I have long thought that the division here was a clear binary with the supposedly ‘masculine’ qualities being exclusively positive and the ‘feminine’ being wholly negative. However, I’ve recently felt that being called “assertive, strong, confident” can sometimes be a backhanded compliment. It’s perhaps not so much of an issue of gender but maybe more so one of modesty – or Britishness. What is the point of encouraging empowerment if we are going to shun anyone who dares to just be “confident”?