An avid people watcher (and I mean, really avid – I do it while we’re walking around the supermarket, it drives The Boy mad), I love making up stories about people I see going about their day-to-day lives. They’re probably doing something pretty mundane (especially if they’re in the supermarket), but in my head, they’re doing all sorts of mega-exciting stuff.
The couple walking past the window of the coffee shop, deep in conversation? They’re obviously on their way to buy a computer, and bickering over which brand is best. The woman, walking to her car with a bag full of grocery shopping? She’s clearly off on a madcap adventure around the country, with Dr Pepper and carrots to sustain her on her trip.
Given that I’ve loved stories and storytelling ever since I was little, it’s perhaps no surprise that I love vintage things – clothes, accessories, homeware – whatever it is, I’m interested. Nothing pleases me more than getting my hands on something that’s new to me but steeped in history. Sometimes, when The Boy is out and I should be getting on with things (housework, booking our honeymoon, seeing friends), I’ll quite often sit and wonder about who my things belonged to before they belonged to me. Did my white wicker bag go on a holiday adventure, or was it used for a special night out?
Where were my white gloves worn? Surely they’ve been used for some sort of glamorous evening function with Champagne and flirting?
And what about my charity shop bargain dress with the roses? I think it’s from the 1950s, and it must have been on some lovely day trips (in absolutely none of my imaginings are these things put in the wardrobe and never used, because that, quite frankly, would be rubbish).
Of course, there are many other reasons I love vintage – the style, the glamour, the elegance, and so on – but stories are by far the most appealing thing for me. Wearing vintage clothes reminds me of my grandparents and the stories they used to tell me about their younger lives (oh how I wish, wish, wish I’d paid more attention when they told me).
There’s the story about when my nan and grandad first met – he was a friend of her brother’s, saw her at a dance and – bam – that was it. On their first date, he took the bus to meet her and when the bus arrived at her stop, she gave him a little wave, before sitting next to him and telling him she’d been certain he wasn’t going to show up.
My nan was a wonderful storyteller – I only recently discovered Enid Blyton wrote just five Amelia Jane stories (for those of you not in the know, Amelia Jane was a very, very naughty doll), as my nan must have told me and my sister hundreds of them. She must have made them up on the spot when we begged for ‘Just one more’ before we went to sleep.
My grandad also told a great story, and didn’t let the truth get in the way of it either. One of my favourite tales of his only came to light after he died – for 28 years, I thought I had a double-barrelled surname, but it turns out that’s not actually the case. He told me stories of visiting his family in Liverpool and getting caught in the Liverpool Blitz, going out to nightclubs in the 1960s and seeing a whole host of stars performing, and far too many others to recount here.
I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my gran as I was growing up. As well as introducing me to My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music, forever sparking my interest in musicals, Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn, she seemed to have all the time in the world to sit and talk to me and my sister. We learned about the one and only time the air raid siren went off in our local town during World War II; she was at work and had to hide under a table.
Meanwhile, Uncle Ron (her husband. my ‘stepgrandad’ if you will) told us a similar story about when he was cycling home from work – he was a baker, a reserved occupation – and a bomber flew over, jettisoning its bombs as it went. He dived into a ditch and was none the worse for his experience.
Then there was the time the hairdresser came over to set Gran’s hair, and I asked her what was going on as she sat chatting to me with her curlers in, so she informed me it was a wash and set, and something that ladies did, with her and the hairdresser filling me in on the details of curling, pinning and setting. Of course, had I known that 20 years down the line, I’d be doing it myself every weekend, I’d have taken notes.
I often wonder what she’d think to my style nowadays – most likely not very much, as I’d forever be borrowing her soft furnishings and curling rods.
I was an avid reader as a child, and Gran used to have a whole upstairs room for her books (looking back on it now, it was only a couple of bookshelves, but to me it was a library), and she used to encourage me to read and borrow her books. As a result, I developed a rather unhealthy attachment to Elizabeth Elgin novels and, consequently, the West Riding of Yorkshire, both of which continue to this day, as The Boy learned when we passed through on the way to Scotland a few months ago.
It also led to my rather healthier attachment to stories. Coming from a long line of storytellers from both sides of the family, it was perhaps inevitable that I’d love them, and I feel so lucky that it’s led me to where I am today – a vintage styled, history loving girl who’s embraced my own brand of weirdness!