Sartorial slip-ups on the school run

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I feel a bit like William Hague this week. Not that I've been wearing baseball caps or spending too much time with sheep, it's just that I can do nothing right in the sartorial sphere as far as my own party faithful, the children, are concerned.

I had experimented with fashionable eccentricity, only to have my tearful eight-year-old daughter beg her nanny to take her to school instead. "But mummy looks like someone from a magazine," soothed Kelly tactfully (yes, that one called Mutton Dressed as Lamb, you could see her thinking), to no avail. "I just want you to look ordinary," she stormed, walking 50 yards behind me all the way. But it was her parting shot that really hurt. "You look like the sort of mummy who doesn't look after her children properly," she sobbed.

Hmm, time to hit Marks & Spencer, I thought ... only to have my 10-year- old turn on me on the way home from school. Why did I have to wear such "posh" clothes when I came to fetch him? "People will think you are rich and snooty. Why can't you just wear a jumper?" he pleaded. A jumper! Me in a jumper? (What a funny word.) Not that I don't wear jumpers sometimes - usually for warmth, though, rather than as a badge of my socio-economic status.

You may surmise from this that I was wearing a power suit and the full Nicola Horlick complement of make-up. But you would be wrong. A smidgen of brown lipstick and a Marks & Spencer pinstripe jacket, admittedly with very little underneath, was my only crime.

This went deeper than fashion, however, I realised later when he asked whether I had been at Greenham Common in a "What did you do in the war, dad?" sort of way. I wish I could have said, "Yes, I was there, son, with my wire cutters and camouflage trousers," but the truth is that I was working at Cosmopolitan magazine at the time, ringing up celebrities and asking them what they had in their make-up bags.

I can sympathise with his disappointment. I was obliged to invent an active war life for my father after it became clear that he had spent most of it in a pub in Cornwall ("important radar work"). You know that film, The Great Escape - that was my dad on the motorbike ...

Anyway, doesn't history catch up quickly. My son had learnt about Greenham Common at school. A woman had been trawled in to talk to them about her experiences, a real live Greenham Common woman, wearing - you guessed it - a jumper.

My self-esteem plummeted to a new low on reading about the psychology of car colours. Apparently it says more about me than the clothes I wear (tell that to the children) or the house I live in. Already struggling under a burden of social guilt for driving a gas-guzzling MPV, I'm now told that owners of blue cars are "boring".

I suppose it's no excuse that blue was the only colour they had in the garage. If I wasn't such a boring person I would have held out for silver, even it had meant waiting for three months.

You will understand, then, that any comments I make on the Myra Hindley portrait come from the position of a blue car driver. I shan't be going to the exhibition; though I'm not sure how much of a point I shall be making as I didn't go to the Monet exhibition, or the Cezanne exhibition either, for that matter. In fact, I'm a bit of a philistine blue car driver, all in all. But I'm making an extra-special effort not to go to Sensation, simply because I can't bear the idea of being driven by hype. Hype and Charles Saatchi both drive black cars, wouldn't you say?

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