Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snow, black lipstick, student protests

Black Lipstick Challenge: day 2

Ended up with mild panda eyes (maybe a baby panda?) after a major rush this morning, but I think they went with the black lipstick quite well.

In the lecture room, post-shorthand 
I also didn't have time to dry my hair, and grabbed clothes without really considering their suitability, warmth- or outfit-wise. Of course, this would happen on the first Snow Day this winter. Woking was under a light dusting when I left, by the time I got off the train there was at least an inch, enough to make that satisfying scrunching sound when you walk through it. That is about the only good thing I have to say about the snow, however. I was fairly well-coated by the time I arrived at the station this morning, having been walking into a light but determined blizzard. It was cold. My knees, in particular, suffered. Thankfully, London (at least the parts I was in) declined to let it settle, so there was a thin slush on the pavements, nothing more. As a Commuter, I have to worry about these things. 

On the lighter side, today was very good fun. In the morning, I pressganged Fireman (this one is pretty easy to work out) into coming out to do the first Style Off with me, as he was the only member of our sports desk then present and I didn't fancy a morning of fiddling around on Quark (I never do, but it seemed particularly cruel straight after a Mundane Monday). We went to Debenhams, and picked outfits for each other. Fireman is not a decisive person when it comes to choosing women's clothes (although I think I'd be a bit worried if he was very good at it), but we got there in the end. This is what he picked for me:

Picture courtesy of the changing room lady with the ginormous nails. Pose courtesy of Girl Elbow and my shoes being attached by elastic.
 I actually really liked the boots he chose (sadly you can't really see them here), and I never would have noticed them myself, so well done Fireman! He also had to ask two shop assistants to find the jumper, examined and dismissed about every pair of shoes in stock, and remembered to match the bag to the shoes, so I think it was a good effort, all round. I'm pretty sure I would never have thought to wear this outfit, but the jumper was really soft, the jeans would have been nice if they had fit (jeans never fit me, though, so this is not Fireman's fault), and I rather like the cream colour. It's quite... luxe. I'm pretty sure I've never been luxe before.

I tried to sweep round the menswear section (in the basement, as usual) and find him an outfit in record time (I never realised you could be competitive about shopping), but it's actually a difficult exercise. In the end I think I copped out a little bit, and he ended up in an outfit quire a lot like his usual clothes (except the hat. I have since had to agree that he does not do hats), but oh well. I liked it.

I think it's safe to post a picture of Fireman without his permission, as  he would never normally be wearing this hat.

I quite like the outdoors-y look, especially in winter, and the purples and navys looked pretty together, although you can't really tell from this picture. 

I noticed that there is a massive difference between the service and facilities in menswear and womenswear (although maybe it's just Debenhams) - in menswear, the staff are significantly more chilled-out, the dressing rooms were locked up and had to be opened for us, and looked a bit like a large cupboard, and there's a cafe in the middle of everything. The dressing rooms in womenswear were run like a very efficient prison (the woman actually said 'Just wait a moment while I exit this lady', meaning let her out of the cordon they'd set up), with electronic room numbers, buzzers and Rules (such as No Shoes In The Dressing Room, and No Men Anywhere Nearby, hence the attendant having to take the picture herself). The concession staff also turned out to be rather territorial. There's probably a feature in this somewhere. 

We were just on our way back to the underground (in good time for shorthand, too), when we saw three big police vans go past full of coppers, sirens blaring. Then we heard the drums. We turned a corner to see a protest underway. Apparently today the protesters had the very sensible idea of declining to be kettled by running around a lot. This lot had made it to the Hallowed Shopping District, apparently from Parliament square. I'm pretty sure I saw someone throw a tea urn at the police, but Fireman thinks it was a drum. It was definitely steaming, though.

We managed to get very close (pretty much into the protest, at times), and took lots of pictures like good journalists. 

Police kettling shoppers and students alike
Slightly different police, just before it started snowing again.
Proportionate response: hit them with a bus!
The front line
I was so caught up in taking pictures that I didn't notice the police line closing in. Thankfully Fireman was paying attention and whisked us back to the ranks of curious bystanders just in time. Although I'm sure being kettled is all the rage, and a good experience to have (or to have had, rather), I would quite like to actually be demonstrating first. 

I don't think we saw any violence, just a few scuffles here and there The most alarming thing to happen was a gang of Youths standing by watching picking up an abandoned length of wood and poking each other in the head with it, for no apparent reason. 

The whole experience is relevant to Black Lipstick Week because it made me cheat a little bit. Standing on the pavement watching hundreds of student types being hemmed in by police, I suddenly felt a bit uneasy about wearing unorthodox makeup. I was ever so slightly worried that if I was herded in with the protesters, my face would fit too well, and I wouldn't be able to get out. I quickly scrubbed my mouth clean with a tissue, and suddenly felt much safer, much more able to assume the unthreatening middle-class persona that makes life so much smoother, and that this experiment is distancing me from. Strange, isn't it? 

(I should add that I probably would want to be out there showing solidarity and what have you, if I didn't have the pursuit of a career to be getting on with (one middle aged woman standing near us in the crowd muttered 'Don't they have anything better to do?', but as she was laden with designer shopping bags, I'm going to discount her view entirely) and that none of the police spoke to or in any way interacted with me, so I was probably just being paranoid. I do think it was all about comfort zones, though - they're much easier to step out of when you feel in control.) 

We were back for shorthand a bit late. We did lots of dictations and a mock exam. I passed the mock at 60 with only one mistake. Very pleased. Pleased, that is, until we tried another dictation at the same speed which I missed out a huge chunk of the middle of. I really hope we get a nice dictation on Friday! The subject matter can make a huge difference. Star (our lovely shorthand tutor, if you remember - might need to come up with a better name for him) stayed late to do another couple of dictations for us die-hards. My brain is now wrung out. 

To aid general mental recovery, Lady Zorro and I nipped into the Crown Tavern for a drink. (I think she knows my weakness - I am very unlikely to turn down a drink if it's going to help  me avoid travelling in rush-hour.) We sat at a table reserved for 'Lumos' at 7, which turned out not to be a Harry Potter Fan Society, as we'd hoped, but an Eastern European family with no sense of humour. 

When I returned to Woking, I found winter:

This was relatively light, but snow, like a protest, always seems to thin out when you decide to take a picture.
On the plus side, the house was warm and brightly lit, and W. had a pasta bake in the oven. I could get used to this!

That was very long. I hope you're not as exhausted from reading it as I am from typing it! Bedtime. More adventures tomorrow, hopefully!

No comments:

Post a Comment