Harriet Walker: Someone saw a dapper fellow from US Vogue nipping to Greggs to buy a pasty

 

Share

It's that time of year again when I say goodbye to my friends, family, social life and duvet, and join the circus circuit of international fashion for a month.

Don't get me wrong, it's fascinating to see this stuff close-up. I'm very lucky to do it. And it's fun. But it's also far from glamorous. In New York, my hotel bedsheets gave me a rash and I fell into a 3ft-deep puddle. In London, one of my toenails came off. In Milan, my phone stopped working and I spent three hours switching it off and on again.

The fashion industry is decried for being an ivory tower even at the best of times, but it isn't the rampant snobbery and ubiquitous thinness that binds you all together every February and September, as the right-wing, left-wing and centrist media are wont to assume. It's that you've been in each other's pockets for the best part of a month.

You've forgotten how to talk about anything even vaguely current, because you haven't seen any news for three weeks that isn't tinged by whatever country you're in. For a while I was completely unaware of the storms in Britain because US news channels and papers were focused on the snowstorms in New York and a redneck who shot a teenager in a car park for listening to rap music.

So it was quite the shock when, having narrowly escaped JFK between blizzards, my plane was caught up in crazy, rollercoaster banks of wind over Heathrow. Our pilot tried to battle them, only to have to nose the plane vertical once more, 10ft from the ground, and inform us we were diverting to Newcastle.

In that moment of terror, when blankets and Sunday supplements started rolling down the aisle and people began to cry, I had switched my seatback telly off, not wanting to die watching populist tat. The moment after, when we learnt our new destination, was for some people infinitely worse a prospect.

I've always liked Newcastle. It was the bustling metropolis near my nana's house, more cosmopolitan than the city I myself grew up in, and full of smiling, coatless people always ready with a little witty badinage. While I'd much rather have gone home instead, Newcastle didn't fill me with dread.

"It's basically Scotland," I heard one passenger explaining to an American who looked utterly perplexed.

"I've no idea where it is," admitted another. "But nowhere's more than two hours' train ride away from London, is it?"

Although southerners are more usually thought of as worldly and sophisticated, at least northerners know where London is. Reverse the roles and those from the Smoke would have as much luck finding Azerbaijan on a map as they would Accrington.

It wasn't until I got to baggage reclaim and saw Anna Wintour and a Kardashian staring disconsolately at the travelator that I realised how far we were from Kansas. Someone said they'd seen the European editor of US Vogue – a dapper fellow who matches his shirt to his socks and is rarely seen without a cravat or a nosegay – nipping to Greggs to buy a pasty.

I was annoyed, off-chart and tired, but at least I wasn't so entirely defamiliarised as this lot. I wanted to explain Newcastle to them – about its singular local delicacy, the Parmo (a chicken escalope covered in melted cheese, topped with bacon and pepperoni, and served with chips); about the rollercoaster inside the Metro Centre. But I knew I couldn't. For one thing, they wouldn't understand anything past the word "escalope". And for another, unless you've seen these things with your own eyes, anyone talking about them sounds like they're taking the piss.

I ended up making my way to a hotel room in the city, where I enjoyed a solitary egg mayonnaise sandwich brought up by a man whose accent sounded like a cuddle, and contemplated the Corby trouser press.

At four in the morning, I left to take the first train back to London. It was stuffed full of Durham University yahs returning from a night out raving in "the toon". And just as I thought I'd reached my peak of hatred and they began playing some tinny house music out of the speakers on their phones, I realised that at least here were some southerners who had chosen to come to Newcastle, and who had enjoyed it for the lovely city that it was.

I saw Anna Wintour again the next day, on a front row; her sunglassed stare betrayed no whisper of the trauma she'd been through. It was as if it had never happened.

React Now

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

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has painted a scary picture of what life would be like under a Labour government  

You want constitutional change? Fixed-term parliaments have already done the job

Steve Richards
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song  

Ukip Calypso by Mike Read? The horror! The horror!

Patrick Strudwick
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past