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In Good Company: Liberation? - A Few Hints

…I gaze lecherously at the vac, my wet lips pouting sulkily and break into the sexiest song I know all the words to. Usually its Marlene Dietrich’s ‘Lili Marlene.’ Then I do my sultry hip roll down the hall (just missing the dog), my big toe poking seductively through the hole in my slipper, trying to fight my way through the writhing mass of admirers who are dying of unrequited passion by the kitchen door…

Enid Blackburn samples ‘loose’ living.

For more of Enid’s hilarious musings please click on In Good Company in the menu on this page.

Margaret Thatcher once revealed an endearingly feminine trait in her make-up. She confessed she was not pleased with the way she looks on TV, especially her hair. In fact she had decided to change her image and go in for the unkempt look.

By a strange coincidence I am just emerging from this and may be able to offer a few hints. Actually I am aiming for the liberated look, but unfortunately I finished up with a weary, bedraggled appearance that could definitely be described as unkempt.

I tend to fluctuate from one image to another, depending on what book I am reading, the serial I am currently viewing or which daughter goes shopping with me.

But I achieved my unkempt look by discarding all visible means of support. As our teenage daughter, still under the influence of her Margaret Morrison diploma, is fond of saying, muscles were made before Lycra. Accustomed as I am to my vacillating personality I didn’t burn my bra, just left it in the airing cupboard for a day, but I couldn’t quite shake off the feeling that I ought to get dressed.

There are certain rules necessary during this liberation movement, I discovered. You have to breathe in more often than you breathe out, don’t laugh too heartily and never run. Most important, if there is an East wind about, do keep you arms folded.

The success of this ‘loose’ living depends on how much you have been holding back and for how long. In my case I think the liberated layers had been imprisoned for too long, freedom was just one big let down! When I gave myself a truthful scrutiny in the bathroom mirror I could see I had left it too late to be a ‘drop out.’ Teenagers have the right idea though, they don’t hamper their figures with unnatural girdles, they use muscle elasticity instead.

Old habits die hard. My mother still believes it is immoral not to wear a vest. When I scan the brief undies, which nearly cover my children I can see we’ve come a long way from the brown interlock hold-alls which used to cover my suspenders. They also had another use at our house for when my sister and I used to play at ‘Ladies’ we wore them draped on our heads with a hat on top. They were a boon when you were dying for long curls like Rita Hayworth instead of the short back and sides we were forced to endure.

Now I am all set for a touch of elegance blatantly displaying my grey streaks and cunningly disguising my unredeeming features. Unfortunately the private vision we have of ourselves does not always coincide with the public picture we present.

Margaret Thatcher worries about cartoonist impressions of herself, but my family’s opinion of my appearance leaves a lot to be desired. It varies according to how long they have known me. Graduating from ‘nice and fat’ to indecipherable mutterings which sound suspiciously like ‘useless’ and ‘pathetic.’

I do not agree with the yearnings of poet Robbie Burns to see ourselves as others see us, I prefer to keep my illusions. The sight of one of our daughter’s first boy friend shattered one or two.

Judging from her exciting description Robert Redford had better watch out. The elaborate preparations that preceded their meetings, the hair-washing and trouser pressing had us all on tenterhooks to meet him, but she was reluctant to bring him home. I managed to get a glimpse of him, by peeping around Silvio’s corner once as she went to meet him. Surely this Airforce greatcoat resting cosily on the off-grey plimsolls, a cigarette poking carelessly through the dense brown curtains was not Robert Redford’s rival. What a shock! Only the super rich can really afford to be scruffy. Look at the Beatles, fame and wealth transformed them from four smart lads into four bearded pump wearers.

Jean Marsh, the upstairs maid of TV fame, left all her inhibitions and part of her underwear at home when she went to America and discovered she is not such an old-fashioned girl underneath after all.

But my life seems to be a continuous metamorphosis. I am like a chameleon and change my image to suit the surroundings. At school inter-views I am covered in my parental concern image, at parties I’m nonchalantly carefree, pretending the gas bill is paid and forgetting the telephone row.

When I’m alone I concentrate on my night-club image. I practise my cabaret act. Yes one day I intend to take the world by storm (even if I haven’t been asked to swell the chapel choir). I gaze lecherously at the vac, my wet lips pouting sulkily and break into the sexiest song I know all the words to. Usually its Marlene Dietrich’s ‘Lili Marlene.’ Then I do my sultry hip roll down the hall (just missing the dog), my big toe poking seductively through the hole in my slipper, trying to fight my way through the writhing mass of admirers who are dying of unrequited passion by the kitchen door.

Or sometimes I serenade the dog with my heartbreaking and tragic rendition of ‘Oh my beloved father.’ This is so realistic, I am nearly in tears myself and even the dog started to tremble.

I have learned from experience to keep away from windows during these ‘rehearsals.’ Once I had been practising my provocative Shirley Bassey expression in front of the mirror by the kitchen window when I noticed our new neighbour’s face peering through the ivy that covers our adjoining fence. Seeing as she had previously witnessed my vigorous version of the ‘Dying Swan’ starring my Margot Fonteyn-image through the front room window, I felt I ought to give her a rest for a while.

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