E Jane Dickson: 'My nine-year-old style adviser urges me towards a sparkly look'

Share

I am fascinated by the woman sitting next to me on the top deck of the No 31.

I am fascinated by the woman sitting next to me on the top deck of the No 31. I'd guess her to be in her eighties, but she fairly skips to claim the front seat, scanning the mean streets of Camden as if they were the New Jerusalem. We get off at the same stop and, having negotiated the swaying, lurching staircase as if it were the best fun in the world, my fellow traveller starts to heave a suitcase from the bus's luggage bay.

"Thank you, dear," she beams once the suitcase, which is roughly the size of a family fridge - and just about as manoeuvrable - is deposited on the pavement. "Which way to the Citadel?"

For a moment I think she must be psychic, a Bunyanesque busybody tuning in to my Jerusalem musings, but I remember that there is in fact a shiny, new Salvation Army HQ two bus stops further along Chalk Farm Road. I haul the case, while Lilian (we are now on first-name terms) trips along beside me, fresh as the flowers in May. "So, Jane," she asks brightly, as we wait at the traffic lights. "Are you saved?"

"Mmmhh," I reply, non-committally. Usually in this situation, I just say "yes", finding it much the quickest exit line, but I can't fib in the face of such sunny candour. On the other hand, I don't particularly want to share my views on the smugness of the "born again" tendency. "I knew it!" says Lilian, clapping gloved hands in triumph "You have that look about you!"

I do my best to look pleased, and we part company in a shower of blessings.

Evangelical Casual, however, is not a look I aspire to and I wonder if maybe Clara is right about my needing a sharper image.

At the weekend, while shopping in M&S, my nine-year-old style adviser urges me towards a sparkly, Ruritanian look, all ruffles and mirrored fabrics, which I commute to a plain white peasanty top. A lady who looks like Lilian's worldly twin - drop-dead chic in cigarette pants, pea-coat and beret, but with the same vital spark - compliments me on my choice. "Thanks," I tell her. "Though I think it's probably 20 years too young for me."

"Nonsense," she says. "I'm 90 and I wear what I want. They all do, you know, on the Continent."

"I am inspired by my two third-age encounters, the certain joy of one, the defiant style of the other. The world, suddenly, is full of marvellous old women, though I suspect, even as I plan my own marvellous old age, that my new role models probably started being marvellous some time before their 43rd birthday. Still, if I start practising now...

"That's what I want to be like when I'm old," I tell Clara, as we say goodbye to the jaunty nonagenarian.

"Well, you're not coming to school for me in a beret," says my judicious daughter. Clearly, rehearsal time is running out.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pricing Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: low pay, E and non-E online, and the pointlessness of chess

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: There's a crackle in the Brum air

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style