I am spending Christmas and my birthday in the heart of North Yorkshire, 10 miles from a shop and an hour's drive from fashionable Harrogate. There's nothing more relaxing than reading the latest copy of Vogue, and then tossing it in the recycling bin because you are going to be wearing a comfy "pod" wardrobe day in and day out and don't require a corset dress by an unpronounceable English designer that costs £799, or a shredded pair of leggings worn with chaps.
My festive costume consists of slippers (indoors), Wellingtons (outdoors), woolly socks, fleecy sweatpants and cashmere sweater, all topped off with another fleece for visits to my favourite shop in the whole world, Todd's Hardware of Summer Bridge in Nidderdale. I would gladly swap an hour sampling the delights on offer in Todd's with a morning perusing the garment rails in Harvey Nicks.
It is impossible to leave without spending £50 - buying yet another new mop, a coal scuttle, a firescreen, a couple of steel hooks, some light bulbs and a ball of string to add to the ball of string I bought on my last visit. All much more rewarding than yet another "bubble" skirt or a feathered evening dress.
Having opted to celebrate in rural isolation, I am spared the expense of party frocks and statement dressing. I don't have to beg the hairdresser for a slot or find the time for a manicure. Unlike many women in the public eye, I have absolutely no need to pick up the phone and demand the services of a top stylist in order to select me a designer outfit photogenic enough to make a mention in the celebrity rags.
Let's be honest, stylists have been responsible for some real fashion disasters in 2006, and perhaps many well-known women would do better to take a leaf out of my book and adopt the pod look a little more often. And it's worth remembering that stylists didn't really exist before Princess Diana: English women just had great taste and quirky eccentricity.
Stylists exploit the rich and famous who crave their every outing being snapped for posterity. Let's have a jolly good laugh at those fashion frumps who have more money than sense. In pole position Victoria Beckham, wearing a flying saucer on her head and a dress that pushed her tits up like a couple of half-set blancmanges (a blatant attempt to hog the limelight) at the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. If this is high fashion, then I'm a spaghetti letter.
In second position we have Madge in that chinchilla coat. A PR disaster of epic proportions. The woman employs an army of stylists and PR people to ensure that she is fully abreast of any new trend, and yet she failed to spot one thing. Fur can be very ageing and by spending £35,000 on a Fendi coat made from chinchillas, all she did was end up looking like a slightly shrewish New York matron. Well done!
In third position, you've got to hand it to Heather Mills McCartney for turning tight jeans and over-the-knee boots into a fashion no-no. The woman may be a millionairess, but she's got the fashion savvy of a swimming pool attendant, proving that style is something you are born with and you just can't buy.
Her most loathsome outfit was a political statement designed deliberately to upset her daughter-in-law: a pair of Stella McCartney over-the-knee boots worn with offensively tight jeans just to let the world know how much weight she's dropping as her bitter divorce battle takes a heavy emotional toll.
Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller: young and fashionable or a couple of stick insects who manage to make every outfit they put on look as dreary as hell? Do they ever wear anything that someone hasn't picked out for them?
Keira's one-shoulder red dress at the Academy Awards made her look like a cast-off from Dynasty. Sienna's gold sequin mini frock is now available in every supermarket for about £30, ensuring that thousands of women in Britain will be partying this week looking like turkeys about to enter the oven in aluminium foil. With her endless huge handbags, Sienna, seems like a pleasant young woman with no individuality whatsoever. Keira, a pair of great eyebrows, and that's about it.
Finally, Camilla. Isn't it about time she gave that feather on her head a rest? And who can forget the horrible wedges worn on her trip to the Middle East? With an army of consultants to advise her, it's about time Camilla stopped trying so hard and reverted to her comfy look of yesteryear. Unfortunately she remains a style-free zone. I have to remind myself that we're approximately the same age - and I dress a whole lot better without Prince Charles picking up the tab, thanks.
Stylists are overpaid and not very good at their job, preying on their clients' insecurities, flogging them overpriced designer gear they neither need nor want. All the women I've just mentioned would look a hell of a lot better if they stopped employing the services of these dubiously qualified people.
As for me, I shall be sliding off the slippers and slipping on the biker boots for my birthday knees-up in the village hall. No red carpet, no dress code and no chance of paparazzi. Let's hope 2007 will be the year when more women decide that they have the guts to dress just the way they want, and sod what everyone else dictates.
Hazy days: I'm perfectly at home with a little winter fog
There's a lot to be said in praise of fog. It shuts down airports, makes travel impossible, gives cities a wonderfully romantic air and renders the most mundane landscape mysterious and magical. Driving through the Vale of York with ice-laden trees on both sides of straight, narrow tracks and a huge red sun hanging in the sky in the late afternoon, was unforgettable. I feel sorry for all those travellers who have been trapped at Heathrow, but isn't there something to learn from the events of the past few days? Christmas is best near to home, not in a hot climate. Repeats of 'Porridge' on the telly, carols on the radio, a final emergency purchase of extra 'luxury' mince pies from M & S. Beats queuing in a marquee outside a terminal at Heathrow any day.
Bargain bait: Green Christmas after a brush with the sales
Of course, we all know that to be environmentally aware this Christmas we shouldn't be wasting paper sending cards, we should be sourcing all our presents from countries where workers are paid properly, and we must have the CV of our turkey or goose on a label around its neck, certifying that it led a happy and fulfilled life. All my vegetables are organic and my Christmas tree lights only illuminated when absolutely necessary. Sadly, however, I cannot resist the lure of the pre-Christmas sale, even if it was to buy a toilet brush holder with 20 per cent off at Habitat. I plan to cut down my unnecessary consumer extravagance in 2007, but that's several days away yet.Reuse content