The special CiB meme ‘Xmas in books, accompanied by carefully chosen pictures’ is back!
Every December on the blog I feature Xmas scenes and Xmas books – I never seem to run out, but am still open to ideas and suggestions.
If you use Pinterest you can see some of the beautiful seasonal pictures on this page, and you can find (endless!) more Xmas books via the labels at the bottom of the page
Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbepublished 2019
[Lizzie works in a dental practice, and is hearing about a social event]
‘It’s the [dentists’] Annual Winter Dinner Dance’, said JP.
‘It’s always on the second Monday of December,’ said Tammy.
‘It’s officially the most Christmassy night of the year, bar Christmas Eve, and we get the Tuesday off!’
‘OK,’ I said, quite excited at the thought of attending a dinner dance, dressing up, maybe dancing with a lovely dentist… ‘Is it a dressy occasion?’
‘Very,’ said Tammy.
‘I should say so,’ agreed JP…
[Lizzie goes shopping]
[Boutique-owner April] pulled out a wraparound dress called the Ossie...
At home I got the Ossie out of the bag and regretted it immediately. April had warned me that this might happen – ‘Buying an expensive dress can feel like getting pregnant,’ she’d said. ‘You thought it was what you wanted but in the cold light of day, it’s truly terrifying’.
I did realize, though, in the freedom of my own flat, that wraparound dresses only look nice when you’re standing still, inside, and looking at yourself face on. In the real world, the dress opens and your leg slides out as you walk and therefore you have to lean slightly forward holding the flap closed with a finger and thumb around mid-thigh.
My mother said ‘holding a dress closed’ was itself a ‘look’ and came from the 1960s when suddenly people were wearing sexy dresses in non-sexy places and had to hold them shut.
comments: The clothes in Nina Stibbe’s books are always marvellous, and give me many happy hours searching for images – see some of the earlier posts for splendid fashion pics, and for an explanation of why I think she is a great writer. This book, too, is entertaining and hilarious, but also real and thought-provoking.
Her descriptions of the late 70s and early 80s are spot on: I think a combination of a great memory and good research. It’s an era I remember well, and I am always criticizing writers for getting details wrong, or the money wrong, but Stibbe is unimpeachable.
There was a certain look that I liked, which fitted with the attractive but not-too-keen [look recommended by a friend]; this was the busy city woman, dashing around in coloured trousers and chunky but short sweaters (mustard, burgundy and dark green) and leather boots, carrying things, lots of things, bags and picture frames, and almost dropping them but laughing as if slightly shocked and so forth, and wearing hats, floppy hats, caps, trilbies etc.Well yes that is how people wanted to look – see the adverts for Charlie perfume of the time, and fashion mag pictures like these. Her friend warns, by the way: ‘Hats are good but not a trilby or other women will hate you’.
‘Holding it closed’ – 25 years ago a young woman called Cathy visited me on a sunny spring afternoon: she was a nanny and had brought her two young charges with her. When she arrived said ‘that was mortifying – I bought a new wrap skirt for summer yesterday, and the wind was blowing so hard the skirt was up around my waist, and I was holding the children’s hands so couldn’t hold it down, it was awful!’ Oh we can take care of the journey home, I said, and went off to find some safety pins. She stood up and I helpfully started pinning the skirt closed. Suddenly there was some harrumphing and coughing from Cathy as I worked my way down her leg. ‘Well I don’t want it TOO closed up’ she said, ‘we want to flash a bit of leg as we go along’. So I had to take out some of the safety pins…
I wrote about this book earlier in the year, and in that post you can find Lizzie’s mother’s very sweet way of reassuring her that the dress is fine.
However…you are already presuming correctly that the evening is not going to go at all well (and you won’t predict just how badly wrong). For that reason I have given Lizzie a lovely Versace 1980s dress, top picture – much nicer, I imagine, than the Ossie, I wanted her to have something good. The other evening dress is from a fashion mag of the time: you could make it yourself and wear it as either a skirt of a dress. Yes really.
Tammy the dental receptionist is going to wear a fake Halston jumpsuit – here is the real thing.