Friday, 19 June 2009

I love Lulu's

Lulu’s in Salisbury is Libby heaven, and packed full of pink. A pink chandelier hangs from the ceiling and a flamingo stands proudly on the wall behind the till. Blush pink Nougat bath products line a dressing table that I can’t help imagining in my own bedroom. When I went into the shop today I had to stop myself from jumping up and down with excitement. “Oooh”s and “Look at that”s escaped from me as I walked around the shop. I was shopping with my french friend and she loved the shop and the pretty Englishness of pink Cath Kidston roses.

We left with smiles, pink bags, and minds full of rose-hued loveliness.


Monday, 15 June 2009

Sunblush pink

Forget burnt orange or citrus yellow; for me pink is the colour of summer. Dreamy evenings that smell of flowers and Coco Mademoiselle, pink picnic rugs and cupcakes for friends' birthdays and my pink plimsolls that I can't help but lace with ribbon. Both pink and summer conjure happy images, which is why I love them both.


A pink day in London

I love London. Living in the countryside I have become sick of cows and fields. I want street lights, hot tarmac, huge shop windows, the crush of people. When I go to London for the day, it is a struggle to come back home.

I now see pink everywhere I go, and yesterday (luckily) was no exception. First stop was the Fashion and Textiles Museum, with its hot pink and tangerine painted facade. ‘Undercover - the evolution of underwear’ was the exhibition (running until the 27th of September), and it did not disappoint. A collection of corsets, frothy lace, ribbon and utter girliness, the exhibition followed the fascinating history of what women wear underneath their clothes. My favourite was this corset with its explosion of pink feathers; although perhaps it doesn’t quite fit as ‘under’wear. Stopped for a pink smoothie in the sunshine at the super cool cafĂ© at the side of the museum.

On my way back to the underground a flash of neon pink caught my eye and I couldn’t help but take a look in the Pierre Garroudi Gallery (arch 6 crucifix lane). In the corner of the gallery, among cushions, paintings and clocks were rails of bright pink dresses, tutus and giant pink net pom-poms that made my mouth water. I love stumbling across new places and pinkness, and this is definitely one I will go back to.


Thursday, 4 June 2009

A not so ordinary Wednesday

On Wednesday the 28th of April, rather than munching sleepily on my cornflakes and then setting off to school I headed for the train station. My destination wasn’t a classroom, but London and Portcullis House, where I was to meet David Cameron and the shadow cabinet who wanted to congratulate me on the launch of my book.

So not the average Wednesday; at least not for me anyway.

The extraordinary day began at the train station. We must have looked quite a sight, me, my mum, her friend and my step dad decked out in pink as we juggled overnight bags, a picnic for the train and a huge bag containing a pink teapot cake. Said cake was made for us by a lady who runs a wedding cake and catering company called The Utterly Sexy Cafe. A carrot cake in the shape of an ornate teapot balanced precariously but fabulously atop pink icing. If any cake could embody utter sexiness, this cake was it.

The journey took 2 hours, several glasses of pink champagne and plenty of time to become extremely nervous about meeting the shadow cabinet, possible future prime minister and being filmed by a BBC film crew. In an attempt to calm myself, I asked what was the worst that could happen. I could trip, accidentally knocking into David Cameron sending him flying head first into the teapot cake, whilst simultaneously grabbing onto something to support myself - that something being the cameraman, both man and camera clattering to the floor in a pile of broken lens and sprained ankle. Perhaps I should have gone to school instead.

When we arrived in London we went to the hotel where we would be staying and left our bags in the rooms. I changed into my outfit; a bright pink shift dress emblazoned with union jacks that my friend Harriet had made for me. Despite only having had two evenings to make it (I was so nervous and excited about the actual day that the stomach churning ‘what do I wear’ moment came rather at the last minute) the dress was perfect and she had even managed to stitch a gold ‘HRH’ label onto the hem (Harriet Rose Handbags, although Her Royal Highness does rather suit her too). Cardigan, corsage, and the plastic Vivienne Westwood shoes that are pictured in the book and I had no excuses. I was ready to go.

At Portcullis house we passed through security (“Stand on these footprints please Miss”, flash of camera, my rising fear as the teapot cake was pushed through the scanning machine, my mum snapping at the security guard that it was very important the cake was kept upright, him looking at us like we were crazy) and waited on the other side for David Cameron’s aides and the BBC film crew.

The film crew arrived first, camera and sound men smiling as the suited reporter approached and bombarded me with questions. Eventually several women arrived who were to take us to the shadow cabinet’s office and organise the proceedings. Up the stairs, and more questions. We were taken to a modern room that held a big round table where we laid down the cake and the knife we had been given (trying to take a cake knife through security might not have been a good idea). As the film crew set up and David Cameron’s women dashed about whilst we awaited his arrival I felt as though all eyes were on me. It was as though they were waiting for me to do something incredible, perhaps break into song. But all I could do was be me, and wait.

Suddenly the door opened and the members of the shadow cabinet filed in. I was met by handshakes and smiles before they sat down. Again, a quiet and eyes on me. The cameraman told me to move to the left, to turn this way whilst the shadow cabinet and David Cameron’s women watched on. I was suddenly struck with the feeling that no one in the room had any sympathy with the fact I was only 16. I was on my own. Although frightening, I think it was an incredibly useful experience. I may be young but that is no excuse; I have to be as confident and competent as any adult if I want to succeed. I can’t get by on sympathy.

I handed around copies of the book and started explaining what it was all about. As they flicked through they asked me questions. Whilst answering I was struck, not for the first time, by the surreal situation. All these people were here to talk to me, not someone famous or extraordinary, but me. I felt flattered and incredibly lucky, but must admit found being the centre of attention a bit awkward and embarrassing. I am proud of my book, and felt proud as they flicked through their copies, but it is one thing to have attention paid to the book and another to have all eyes looking at me.

When the door opened I didn’t realise at first what was happening. It was only when I caught the glaring eye of one of the female entourage that I shot up from my seat and met David Cameron with a handshake. For all the flapping and worried frowns of the women organising the event, he was incredibly relaxed. We sat down, and the camera started rolling.

As he asked me questions, looked through the book and congratulated me (he said his daughter would love it) I tried to ignore the camera, and hid my nerves with a smile. It is amazing what a smile can do. I had no idea what to say, but somehow with a huge beam on my face I managed to trick myself into relaxing and the words sort of fell out. At the end of the meeting the BBC reporter asked us each a few questions, and I had to look directly at the camera and respond. I had no idea how I would react being filmed; I had an awful premonition of my words freezing up and sitting there like a mute before bursting into tears. I cannot remember what I said, I cannot even really remember the questions. It was like I was suspended above my body, watching as all these people in this room stared at me and waited for me to come up with a fabulous answer. No pressure then.

When it came to it, I actually I found the pressure surprisingly exciting. Underneath my smile I felt like either crying or being sick, but my heart was racing all the same and my mouth seemed to take over.

At the end of the interview I presented David Cameron with a pink union jack tie that my friend Harriet had made (much to the ruffling of feathers and anxious clucking of the entourage) and posed for some photographs. Despite being the person I had been most nervous to meet, David Cameron was actually the only one who made me feel relaxed.

When he and the rest of the shadow cabinet had left I headed straight for my mum who had been watching on anxiously. “You were brilliant,” she said, and gave me a huge hug. I was shaking.

“We have got to leave this room NOW,” barked one of David Cameron’s women.

But after that ordeal nothing was going to stop me from hugging my mum.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how bad I might have looked and how high pitched my voice might have sounded) the footage never made it to the t.v, but it was a day I will never forget. And I think I certainly learnt a lot more from the experience than if I had have stayed in the classroom like any other Wednesday.