Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Putting the e into abc

This autumnal drizzle is playing havoc with my attempts to be something even vaguely resembling a Yummy Mummy.  As soon as I leave the house, I can feel the frizz slowly rising, made only worse by the inevitable horror of walking straight into a dewy spiderweb, and the ensuing flapping about and squealing.  Climbing into the car, flustered, frizzing and fielding questions about Spiderman / God / words that rhyme, I sometimes think of my mid-20 something self with a little sigh.

Don't get me wrong, the frizz was always an issue.  But there was a time when starting the day involved matching bags to shoes, having an iPod ready to go, and learning all I needed to know about the world that day from Metro.  I used to work in the colourful world that is Adland.  A place where grown ups might meet in rooms for Blue Sky Thinking (complete with painted blue skies on the ceiling); where grown ups might have their morning toast and tea made for them because they are Creative, and therefore presumably incapable of operating such complicated culinary equipment; where people might indeed spend £500K of their clients' money and then declare "Hmmm, yes, that was a learning experience, and we've all learned that our idea didn't work.  Another biscuit, Barbara?"

It was a place I loved.  Sure, it had its downsides, but there was so much colour, so much drama, so much energy.  When I joined my first agency, I was fresh from University, and new to life in London.  That first year was essentially one enormous frat party.  Somehow ads got made in and around a fairly demanding schedule of fresh bacon rolls at your desk for breakfast, lunch at the local Italian (always rounded off with fiery limoncello), followed by drinks and dancing somewhere till the early hours.  It was one of those golden moments in time where everyone is briefly at the same life stage.  The yes-it's-Tuesday-but-that-table-needs-to-be-danced-on-dammit stage.  When the moment passed, it was as if someone had turned off the music.  Gradually, each of us seemed to get the memo that it was time to move on and push onto the next rung on the career ladder, and that core group of people dispersed within the space of a summer, myself included.  We had to move on, or risk becoming the end-of-series Fonz. And no-one wants to be that guy. 

For me, 'getting the memo', led me down a path where I learned more about the kind of person I was and the kind of agencies I could therefore thrive in,  and ultimately to a point at which I decided that I would like to be an at-home Mum.  The cheesy club dance music might have been switched off, but there is music in my life, for sure.

I clocked up so many experiences in advertising, met so many wonderful and awful people, that it seemed to be only natural that my blog should include that life, which is where the title came from.  You may be glad (or possibly disappointed) to know that the 'e' refers not to class A substances, but to the book of the same title, by Matt Beaumont.  Set in an ad agency rumoured to be my first place of employment, and written entirely as emails between all the characters, it is a great picture of the chaos and arrogance and sheer fun of life in advertising.  I agree "From e to abc: My journey from junkie to mummy" sounds awesome, but I'm afraid it is not to be.  I do promise to give you my best Blue Sky Thinking, though.  And if I leave the kids alone with some crayons, I might even have my own Blue Sky Room to do it in...

Monday, 1 October 2012

Wedding World

This weekend I had a brave new experience.  The National Wedding Show, no less.  I must confess I was slightly disappointed at how orderly and civilised the whole affair was - I was secretly hoping to need elbow pads and a whistle (think Monica wedding dress shopping in Friends).  When I was planning my own wedding, I didn't go to any of these shows, and as I stood at the door at Earls Court, amazed at the sheer scale of it all, I was rather glad to be there simply as Maid of Honour, rather than The Bride, as my sister was.

Of course, we all know that weddings are big business.  From Penis Pinatas to emergency Teeth Whitening, the show had everything a Bride could want (and plenty more besides).  I'd forgotten how much stuff you're supposed to need, and I'd definitely forgotten the timings involved.  Tell a wedding professional that you're getting married in less than 42 years' time and you get the sucking in of air through teeth that any plumber would be proud of.  In the end, I found myself wading in like an old veteran on the wedding circuit, tutting "Come come, Giles, you know full well that 10 months is PLENTY of time in which to print some invitations."

I had the odd pang of "Oh I wish I'd known about this when we were getting married" (most notably when four young men dressed as waiters burst into a surprise a cappella rendition of 'Livin' on a prayer'), and of course plenty of envy watching The Bride trying on lots of gorgeous dresses, but really, on the whole, I was glad that the Wedding stage was behind me and that I was now into the Marriage stage.  Because for all the dreaming, doodling and dieting (who am I kidding, there was very little dieting, I felt it would be an insult to Castiliagno's corsetry not to give her something to work with), I found myself far too nervous to be the radiant bride.  I wept so much coming down the aisle that Mr W thought I'd been struck by some hideous flu bug since the rehearsal the day before.  Sniffling, wobbly, and with a gentle frizz rising in my up-do, I wasn't really an A grade Bride.  But I'd like to think I'm at least a B+ Wife.

That's not just false modesty (although if Mr W has any sense he's either scrolling down to the Comments section to bump up my grade, or ideally reaching for the Interflora number...).  Really it's more a reflection of the sort of journey that I think marriage is.  I think it is possible to be an A grade bride because it's only for one day.  Being a wife (and a husband, of course) is, I think, more of a course-work based approach.

Anyway, as experiences go, the Wedding Show was a fairly magnificent whirl of royal icing, french lace and hairspray.  I tried on tiaras, sampled cakes (purely in the name of duty) and entered more prize draws than you can shake a Swarovski encrusted stick at.  And at the end of it all I came away with three very clear feelings:

1) I am so pleased that my sister is so happy.
2) I am so pleased that I got to marry my best friend.
3) I have GOT to dig out my wedding dress and veil and twirl around in them once the kids are in bed.