I am the woman I always wanted to be.
Monday, 2 May 2011
I am the woman I always wanted to be.
Sunday, 27 February 2011
If only people could just see it for what it is. A fairy tale, a silly nonsense which has little relevance to real life but which, if we are lucky, we can dip into occasionally and have fun with.
Monday, 25 October 2010
Saturday, 16 October 2010
“Gill, can I ask you a personal question?”
“Of course” I replied a little nervously.
“What about babies?” he said looking worried as if he was frightened for me.
My response? A raised eyebrow and look of utter confusion.
There are two answers to that question if you are single and in your 30’s, one is, “I don’t want kids.” the other is, “I hope I will have kids one day”. Neither ever seems quite satisfactory.
It’s not like I have this perfect man who is waiting for me to be ready to start a family and I’m just ‘choosing’ not to be with him for the sake of my career. Though the amount of times I get asked that question (or similar questions such as “Don’t you want to get married?”) you’d think that that was the case.
Is it really still considered that at my age, if I want a baby I should just take what I can get and marry the first man who’s willing?
I’m not making a conscious choice not to ever have babies and I’m aware of the fact that time is ticking, but short of marrying a man I’m not in love with or running screaming to the sperm bank (before which I would probably have to rob an actual bank) what on earth choice do I have?
Then there is the sympathetic cock of the head accompanied by “awww, you’ll find someone honey” (usually in a baby voice) *puke*. Talk about patronizing!
What about the fact that I am a well rounded confident and self sufficient human being who feels perfectly complete just as she is. What about a “well done for not choosing the wrong guy” or “congratulations on avoiding a divorce.”?
It’s not as if I haven’t tried, I go on dates, I’ve done the internet thing and I’ve had a great time, I’ve had long term relationships and short term relationships and I’ve worked at them. and (with an inevitable couple of exceptions) we are all still friends. It just hasn’t worked out.
What if I don’t find ‘him’, what if I am all there is in my future? Is that so terrible? Is that a reason to feel sorry for me? I don’t feel sorry, I feel fabulous!
And why shouldn’t I?
I have a career that I love, amazing friends who I adore and a tight family unit. I feel secure and loved and lucky every day. What more could anyone ask for?
A while ago I read a wonderful piece of research by an American genealogist which suggested that our genetics could pre-dispose our relationship patterns. She claimed to have found a gene that could be linked to commitment phobia. She went on to explain that in ancient caveman tribes not everyone would have paired up. There would have been monogamous couples who bought up Children in a family unit and there would have been others who may have remained single to play other roles in the community.
Instead of spending time raising infants the singles could be, for example, inventing things and perfecting skills for the good of the tribe.
The research suggests that with out the dictations of our modern society there might be many more bachelors and bachelorettes knocking around happily leading perfectly fulfilled lives without a spouse or children.
Maybe that is my destiny, maybe not, but I’m happy to go with the flow on this one. I won’t have a baby because society suggests that I must to fulfill my role as a woman.
Earlier this year Venue magazine published a piece in their Valentines issue profiling happy successful South West singles...I was one of them...The head line was: “Sartorially Sassy Gill Cockwell - Single Fashion designer from Bristol.”
A local radio station saw the article and asked to interview me live on air. During the interview they suggested that I could not be truly happy on my own and that I must feel a little sad about not having a partner to spend Valentines day with. I argued that whilst I love being part of a couple and I am in no way dismissing the benefits of being in a loving relationship I also genuinely relish my time being single, I don’t feel that I’m missing out and there are many wonderful benefits to being on your own too.
You have to agree that it is perfectly possible to be happy without a significant other in your life, the alternative is utterly destructive.
My lifestyle suits me. I’m more productive, more flexible and more available to my friends and my work, I find it bizarre to have to justify being happy without a boyfriend.
It should come as no surprise to those who know me when I write that there are many crystals in my life... crystal encrusted ball gowns, crystal encrusted jewelry a drag queen named Crystal...and, (before I accidentally smashed them) I did own a couple of crystal champagne flutes once...But. I don’t own (or have access to) a crystal ball. Therefore, I am afraid I am unable to tell you weather or not I will ever marry or have children.
But. I can tell you this: I am, genuinely happy, just as I am.
Friday, 9 July 2010
Once upon a time, (after a break up) I cut off all my hair.
I have always had very long, thick, wavy hair and everyone told me I was mad to do it, but I needed a change and I was determined to have one.
I had visions of a cute, elfin cut like Winona Ryder or Audrey Hepburn. Modern, sophisticated. A new grown up sensible me.
Jason (bosom buddy and hairdresser of 15 years) had to smoke a whole packet of cigarettes (don't do it kids!) and have a stiff drink before he could pluck up the courage to chop off my locks...He desperately tried to talk me out of it, he was convinced I'd hate it and blame him forever, he knew it wouldn’t suit me.
It didn’t suit me at all of course, (Jason was absolutely right about that,) But I never regretted it for a second, it was really very liberating and it did actually change my life.
I found that I didn't get nearly as much attention as I did when I had long hair.
I didn’t look sexy any more. I still felt sexy but I didn’t look sexy.
At the time part of me was relieved to be invisible for a while. I was wounded and I needed a little time to heal but it also gave me space to develop my personality without having to live up to an image.
It felt natural to tone down the glamour too, Jase and our mate Marc, (genius with a hairpin, responsible for the best vintage up dos this side of 1946 and can do all the actions to ‘the court of King Caracticus’ even after 9 tequilas) call it my 'hippy' phase, (usually accompanied by a disapproving curl of the lip.)
I found that socially, I had much more meaningful interaction with men and women. Perhaps I was more approachable when I was not so overtly 'sexy', less threatening maybe…Perhaps I was more timid too, less overpoweringly confident (overpowering confidence; so often a mask for deep insecurity)…perhaps people, (men in particular) were simply less eager to impress and more relaxed, perhaps, in turn, that made me less cautious, more trusting. What ever it was, it was refreshing to be seen differently and I saw others differently too.
I felt, in a way, like I was exposed, vulnerable, all I had to offer was me and my personality, the sequin encrusted minx I occasionally hid behind when I was socially uncomfortable or needed a superficial ego boost had left me all alone, I missed her a bit sometimes but mostly I was glad to be rid of the provocative tart, she generally only attracted wallys anyway!
I remember having this conversation with Jase a few years ago and he told me that when he changed his hair colour he felt people reacted differently towards him, "I swear people actually talk slower when I’m blonde!" he said, flabbergasted.
You can make such a big statement with the way you dress and present yourself. It can be awesomely powerful but sometimes equally as frustrating when people can’t see past it.
People make snap judgments about our personalities based on our outward appearance and that, right or wrong, is a fact.
But, perhaps next time you have a bad hair cut, an acne breakout, put on a few pounds or don't feel as physically attractive as usual for whatever reason... you could use the time to be who you really are beneath the surface and work on detaching your self confidence from the way you look and attaching it to the way you really are.
Having a really bad haircut changed my life for the better,I got to know myself on a deeper level, I left a superficial bit of myself, (which I used to believe I couldn’t function without,) behind me for good. I relaxed a little bit more in to my own skin and I accepted who I was without the glamorous exterior... Which happens to be a nice, shy girl who consistently procrastinates, has an unshakable guilt complex, magpie tendencies, a fondness for musical theatre and a real love for the smell of library books and honeysuckle.
Sunday, 28 March 2010
We took the subway and on our way there a young man of about 19 entered our train carriage with a box of kit kats, he addressed the packed carriage and gave a confidently executed and engaging speech about being a young entrepreneur trying to fund his college education by selling sweets to commuters.
I remember thinking what a good story it would make if he ever made it big and wrote his autobiography. He was a charming boy, if I'd had any change in my pocket I would have bought a kit kat from him.
The exhibition was inspired, it was absolutely full of iconic photographs. My favourite was this image by Andy Earl for the cover of an album by Bow Wow Wow.
Beautifully costumed by Vivienne Westwood it is a recreation of Edouard Manet’s famous painting Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass).
The picture caused quite a stir at the time because Anabella Lwin, (the naked lead singer,) was underage and did not have her mothers permission to pose nude.
I loved the vibrant colours and the modernity of this version of such a classic image.
By the time we left the museum it was blowing a gale out side, it was snowing heavily and it was freezing cold. We battled against the wind as we walked towards the high street in search of somewhere warm to stop and have a bite to eat.
I had on my red leopard print ballet pumps which I had believed to be the sensible choice being that they were flat and I'd expected to be on my feet all day.
My shoes were soaked through and my feet were numb with cold...(proving to me, as if proof were needed, that flat shoes are never a sensible choice for a fasionista.)
We reached a road which must have had a blocked drain or something because there was a river of freezing water to cross! Davy gallantly scooped me up in his arms and carried me across the road to a welcoming, warm, dry pizzeria. We ate slices of homemade pizza and drank diet coke as we watched the snow fall.
We'd lost track of time waiting for the weather to improve and suddenly I realised how late it was.
There was no question of me going out in Manhattan on a Saturday night wearing a denim mini and flat shoes with wet hair so we made our way back West so that I could change in to some sequins and killer heels and put on some lipstick.
We had arranged to meet my friend Tim in the bar at his hotel and I realised now that we were going to be very late.
Tim is a very talented, very handsome graphic designer who I'd met at the wedding of a client and all round lovely girl, who's bridal gown I had made.
We had become facebook friends and through the boastings of our status updates had realised that we were going to be in the big apple at the same time, so, we arranged to meet up.
Tim was in New York with his mother to celebrate her birthday.
Tim's mother (who I have never had the pleasure of meeting) is by all accounts a bit of a fox and unsurprisingly had secured a date with a pleasant gentleman from Kentucky that evening which left Tim free to enjoy a cocktail or two with us.
I got ready as quickly as I could, but to be fair, you can't hurry heated rollers can you? They take as long as they take.
We got to the hotel an hour late.
"I'm so sorry" I said dramatically as I flounced in to the bar, and I meant it, but I mean, there had been a blizzard to contend with! and we'd been in Brooklyn of all places!
My excuses fell on deaf ears as Tim berated me for leaving him on his own for an hour and greeted Davy warmly, the boys shared a joke about my hopelessness before ordering 'one for the road'.
Our pretty barmaid eyed Tim wistfully while we drank up and my guilt eased slightly as I realised he'd probably been well looked after in our absence.
We finished our drinks quickly and hailed a cab on 5th to take us East.
Now... I am in the very fortunate position of having a very beautiful and very talented freelance seamstress in my employment who happens to have a very handsome and very talented brother who is in the employment of Hendricks Gin, as the national rep for the company his knowledge of the best bars in any city is second to none...
I was marginally apprehensive but very excited none the less about introducing my friends to one such bar.
We exited the taxi at the correct address and waited outside briefly for George and Stefania to arrive.
We were all gathered in the door way of a dodgy looking hot dog shop, all neon signs and $1 dogs.
Everyone was looking to me for an explanation but I knew it would make sense in the end.
I motioned for everyone to follow as I walked into the hot-dog shop, people in coats were queueing to buy fast food, paint was pealing off the walls, there was a strong smell of frankfurters and onions, in short, there wasn't the slightest hint of glamour anywhere to be seen. It has to be said, I felt quite out of place.
I looked around nervously... eventually I spied a battered old phone booth in the corner, relief washed over me and I confidently strolled over fluffing up my hair and entered the booth.
I picked up the phone.
'Welcome to Please don't tell, can I help you?' said the professional female voice on the other end of the line.
"I have a party of 5 please." I answered hesitantly.
Just then a secret door in the back of the phone booth opened to reveal a quilted leather clad haven decked with crystal chandeliers on the other side, the beautiful hostess looked us up and down and ushered us inside. You are very welcome, she said but we may need your table by 1am.
Translation: if we decide you are not fabulous enough for us we reserve the right to kick you out in 30 minuets time.
We were shown to a comfortable booth with red leather seats and subtle lighting. and given elegant cocktail menus to peruse.
George shook my hand enthusiastically and quipped " bloody hell Gill, it's like you have the key to this city or something! I can't believe they let us in here."
"You can get in anywhere as long as you're consistently over dressed and subtly over confident" I answered with a wink.
We enjoyed a wonderfully decadent evening of bespoke cocktails and table service in beautiful surroundings and were grateful to note that we didn't get kicked out at 1am, in fact we stayed until after 3.
Obviously we were, just, fabulous enough.
On the way home we stopped for a late night bite at and a nightcap and Tim got chatted up by the waitress. Again.
We said our goodbyes to George and Stefania then and that's when I first felt a little sad, we'd been having so much fun I'd almost forgotten that I'd be leaving the next day.
Tim, Davy and I shared a cab back up town and I stole a little kiss from Tim as he got out of the car, "see you back in Bristol kid" he said with a parting wink.
Davy slept the rest of the way back West and I watched him fondly as I reflected on the weeks events.
That I was in love with Manhattan there was no doubt, but being with her this past week had rekindled a love that I'd thought had been lost.
I thought about the offers of employment I'd had and I thought about Gilly Woo.
I'd stuck up for her and been angry when Mark* had slagged her off and suggested she was inadequate, I'd felt disappointed and uninspired at the thought of designing under another name...under someone elses name.
I'd felt uneasy about the prospect or compromising her artistic integrity and potentially, her reputation, for commercial success.
I didn't want to loose her... suddenly I felt short of breath at the thought of loosing Gilly Woo.
No matter what I'd gone through, the long hours the financial struggle, the constant pressure, never switching off, never being able to do enough, all the sacrifices I'd made...I'd made for the love of it, for the love of Gilly Woo.
I couldn't feel that way working for a business like Marks where money in the till was more important than happy customers, or Carries where I'd be designing dresses I didn't care about for women I'd never meet.
This is what I was meant for, Gilly Woo and I belonged together. Manhattan was a glamorous and exciting mistress no doubt, but no one does glamour like Gilly Woo!
I slept a little uneasy that night, my head full of thoughts and ideas and apprehensions.
Davy was flying from JFK and I was flying from Newark so after breakfast we said goodbye and I wished him a safe journey and told him not to be late (cos he's always missing flights,) and then I walked back to the hostel feeling a little melancholy if truth be known.
Once there I collected my bags and checked out.
I received a text message from Mark while I was waiting for my cab to the airport.
'Meet me for lunch?' it said,.
I replied that I was leaving today and had a flight to catch so I would be unable to.
'Stay longer...If you need money just say how much.' came the reply.
To say I was tempted, is probably understating it, but I had a business to get home to and a reignited flame of passion to fan.
Maybe one day, with hard work and dedication, we could return to Manhattan together, Woo and I, and the three of us could make a go of it....Stranger things have happened.....Well spoken James Bond baddies in coffee shops, Talking walruses, Hawks living in penthouses....
If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere....It's up to you....Well, actually, it's up to me...
(or maybe...it's just the beginning ;-)
Friday, 26 March 2010
It was Frank Sinatra that woke me up, 'heaven, I'm in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can barely speak...' my mobile phone ring tone sang, 'I seem to find the happiness I seek, when we're out together dancing cheek to cheek'....I answered a little dazed...
It was Davy..."oh my God! are you actually here?"
I ran down stairs and there he was, waiting in reception like it was the most normal thing in the world.
"I can't believe we're in New York!" I squealed hugging him tightly.
"You were asleep weren't you?" Davy asked with a knowing Irish grin.
"I had a late night" I shrugged trying to look innocent.
"Why doesn't that supprise me? trust you to find a party on a Wednesday night...lets go for a pint and you can tell me all about it"
We dumped his bag in my room and headed out on to West 94th Street in search of local hospitality.
We found an Irish bar not far from where we were staying and settled there for the duration, we had intended to have a quick pint and go exploring but it was only Thursday. We had big weekend plans and besides, there were some incredibly drunk locals who were entertaining us no end.
A pretty American girl, immaculate in a glamorous cocktail dress was screeching at her boyfriend whilst stumbling around delirious with the heel of her shoe in her hand,"oh myee Gaad! my heel snapped off honey, I've broken my gaad damn shoe!"
Her beau looked bored and continued to watch the football game glassy eyed with his head propped up on one hand while he vaugely waved the other in her direction, motioning for her to sit down.
Meanwhile a fat guy in shorts and a baseball cap (it was December!) tried quietly and tentatively to chat her up whilst keeping one eye on her boyfriend the other, nervously watching the door.
It was like being in an episode of some far fetched sit com! New York so often makes me feel like I'm in the middle of a film set.
Davy and I observed and giggled and chatted and then it was after 1am and we realised we hadn't eaten.
We asked the landlord where we could get food from at this time of night and after the obligatory, I'm Irish, you're Irish, where do you come from chat with Davy, he produced a Mexican menu from under the bar, we ordered, and ten minutes later a courier arrived with nachos and quesidia in little foil parcels :-)
The morning After the Night Before...
I was excited about taking Davy to my local diner for breakfast, I knew he'd love it as much as I did. No one does breakfast like New Yorkers.
On previous visits I'd sat at the counter and chatted to the waiters but this time we chose a booth, we ordered blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon, home fries, coffee and fresh orange juice, and perused the New York Times. What better start to a perfect New York day?
The weather was mild for the time of year and we decided to go for a walk in central park.
there was magic in the air again that bright December morning, and we came across, quite by accident, a bronze statue of Alice in wonderland sat upon a mushroom.
It was really was quite delightful and instantly my favourite line from the book sprang to mind.... "the time has come the walrus said to talk of many things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings"...I know it's supposed to be surreal but when I first read it, I simply thought, 'what wonderful conversational topics that Walrus suggests,' I had new red patent leather shoes with ankle straps and bows on the front, I'd just discovered that sealing wax was different from candle wax during a project on Victorians at school, and our neighbours were growing cabbages and marrows in their garden, I think I was 7 or 8 at the time.
A little later we stopped to admire an apartment block with a penthouse roof top garden.
"Next time I come here I'll be staying in your penthouse Gill, cos you'll have one one day" Dave quipped with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.
Just then we noticed a majestic bird of prey with a huge wing span glide right off the top of that penthouse and into a tree in the Park, we observed it for a while awe stuck before we noticed a couple of twitchers with enormous telescopes right behind us.
"we've been here everyday this week hoping for a glimpse of him and you guys just happen to be walking by when he arrives, must be your lucky day" one of the bird watchers remarked.
It turned out that the bird we had been so fortunate to observe was 'Pale Male' a daring red tailed hawk who has managed against the odds to thrive in New York City and has become somewhat of a local celebrity by all accounts.
Complete with his very own swanky penthouse nest over looking central park and paparazzi photographers camped out in the bushes with telescopic lenses waiting for a glimpse of him, he seemed to me, every bit the handsome wild thing you would expect to solicit such a glamorous lifestyle :-)
We left the park refreshed and wandered aimlessly around Tribecca for a while, window shopping and stopping for coffee and cake in a little gallery cafe where we admired tiny sheep sculptures and photographs of India.
Davy had a friend, George, who he'd met when he was travelling, George lived in Manhattan with his Italian wife Stefania.
They had kindly invited us over for dinner that evening and I was excited about meeting them.
We took the subway the rest of the way to the lower East side.
Dave and I tried in vain to pick up a nice bottle of wine for dinner in a local shop but everything was either German or in a carton so we opted for some bottles of beer instead, it was George's birthday and it had occurred to us a little too late to pick up a gift for him, choice at the 7-11 was limited but we opted for a bouquet of bright blue flowers, "blue for a boy!" I exclaimed excitedly when I noticed the bouquet.
We found their apartment easily as Davy had been there before, it was one of the cleverest, quaintest spaces I have ever been in.
Their entire apartment was smaller than my average sized bedroom at home and there were two people living in it!
There was a cabin bed with a desk underneath it and various musical instruments hung from cleverly constructed hooks and pulley systems on the ceiling.
When we arrived Stefania put the flowers in water and George assembled a low table from different bits of wood which he produced from various nooks and crannies around the room, he then arranged cushions about the table to create a lovely dinning space.
It was quite wonderful and certainly innovative. George is a furniture designer and he had made excellent use of the tiny space with very clever storage and shelving.
Stefania was in the kitchen (which was in the bedroom...) she is a chef and dinner smelled fabulous!
The reason they live in the smallest apartment I have ever seen?
Simple. It's rent controlled and it's in Manhattan.
George has lived there for years and If they moved now they couldn't afford to live on the island so they sacrifice space for the love of Manhattan. I would do the same in a heart beat. (Only I'd have to rent a storage unit in Brooklyn for my shoes;-)
We were treated to a wonderful pasta dinner followed by apple and Cinnamon doughnuts and herb tea. It was delicious and I felt blessed to have spent my evening with three such lovely people.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that the blue flowers Davy and I had bought for George were now quite white and the water they were in had turned electric blue! We all laughed and laughed and then we arranged to meet for drinks the following evening.
I had a hot tip on a swanky cocktail bar not far from George and Stefania's apartment and there was a good chance that they might not have been there before.
To Be Continued...