Thursday, 1 July 2010
I have started to pack for the move up north, pushing aside the small matter of not having a house to move to or job to go to.
I am no stranger to the packing process, having moved at least 17 times in my adult life. One move involved driving a van for 600 miles, another saw me pushing a shopping trolley containing all my worldly goods - and a cat - around a corner. But they all have one thing in common: ruthless packing. Separating the essentials from what is, essentially, tat.
My wardrobe resembles the final hour of a jumble sale, so it is my first area of focus. I make three piles: bin, charity shop, keep (it is the sort of thing skinny presenters for Channel 4 makeover shows would advise).
A large percentage of Southern Man’s pants and mildly amusing, yet hole-ridden, slogan T-shirts make it to the bin pile. He might notice they are missing in 4-5 months and complain. I am willing to take that chance.
I part company with a 'Pink Ladies' polyester jacket, glitter legwarmers, ancient dresses and boob tubes from my thinner days. I have somehow amassed six scarves, which seems a bit excessive for someone who only has one neck. Four go.
I normally give my clothes to the Cancer Research shop, and then walk by it for the next week in the hope that one of my donations has made it on to the shop window mannequin. They never do.
But I buy most clothes from a different charity shop, where money goes towards, rather vaguely, ‘helping the local community’ (not quite as appealing as the big C). I’ve found designer clothes there for a snip - I continue to squeeze into some Nicole Farhi trousers that I bought for £3, despite having to undo the top button when I sit down. I’m in there quite a lot, and told the assistant, a slightly loopy woman in her 70s, about my mission to find a job up north.
‘Oh you know what you need to do?’ she confided loudly, so I could hear her over the badly tuned-in Capital FM, ‘Paint your face black or become one of those lesbians.’
I shuffled uncomfortably in the busy shop and tried to distance myself from her statement by looking at a pink plastic necklace.
‘It’s true. It’s the only way to get a job,' she said, 'And I don’t care who hears me say it!’
I have not seen her for a while. She appears to have been replaced by a quiet Polish woman, who isn't black or gay.