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So, summer is finally here, and one of the biggest problems for us girlies, is finding the right clothes for the right occasion.  The occasion usually, being a walk, or in our case a wheel, along the promenade with an independent air.  Or at least that’s what the song tells us.

Hence, last week, we made one of our family bi-annual trips to the shops – The kind where every member of the household comes along, and each has a different agenda.  One pulls in the direction of the video gaming shop, one wants to go in the direction of the mobile phone shops and me, I just want to window shop in the skinny section of the latest fashions for forty-somethings – wondering – just wondering …

However, thirty minutes into this family ritual, and in my usual efficient manner, I called a Board Meeting over a rather frothy cup of latte.  We needed a plan of action.

The first essential step was to bring Steve kicking and screaming into the summer – after all there is only so long you can tolerate your hubby turning into his father!!  Secondly, we needed some intelligent summer reading.  I did try and persuade both Steve and James to parade a copy of Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes around the swimming pool, but I was met with cries of disbelief.  “What about my street cred” came the answer from one side of the latte cup and “Well, I had rather banked on brushing up on Cheshire and Fifoot’s Law of Contract” came the other response.  But, little do these two know how persuasive I am in the book department!!

Then, we would have the essential sojourn to take a little peek at the latest gear, in any store that passes for a place with a very expensive price tag on each item of clothing — pressing our noses up against the window and ogling at the contents within.

The last port of call would be to indulge me.

And there it was, our shopping planned, and all in the time it took to scoop the last remnants of coffee from the cup.

Off we marched in the direction of the big man shop.  High and Mighty (or was it Short and Portly – I’m really not sure) which offered some rather fetching coloured polo shirts and various other items of summer fashion.  Having handed his credit card to the shop assistant, Steve promptly went into mourning at seeing all his earning power going into something that would eventually find its way into the washing machine.  However, after the mass hysteria of grief that followed his diminished available credit card balance, Steve was cheered by the thought of me buying the pizza.  How true they were when they said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!!

Next, to the Newsagents.  How I chastised the young man on the summer reading stand when he told me he couldn’t even pronounce phocomelia let alone spell it.  So, I sent him off to find me some easy summer reading.  He came back with a Psychology Made Easy magazine.  I decided to rise to the challenge to refresh my psychology knowledge.  Apart from that, why not buck the trends of reading a glossy magazine full of size zeros and opt for the more academic look whilst sipping a Piña colada.

By now James had decided enough was enough and marched off in the direction of the trendiest of trendy shops leaving his mother and father outside.  I gather there are some places that you just don’t go with your off-spring!!  We felt like a pair of ornate stone pillars left sitting there either side of the entrance to this ‘no go’ area.  Eventually, said teenager emerged from this black hole, grinning from ear to ear and clutching two brown paper shopping bags. Their contents — shorts, T-shirts and underwear with lettering on the waist that would allow the most visually challenged person to read, were, I am told, would be an essential part of any self-respecting teenagers’ summer suitcase.

Then, for me … I needed dresses that flopped and flounced around like a TV model trying to sell a rather flaky chocolate bar; unmentionables just like the ones sported by Bridgette Jones, and a new pair of sunglasses to keep the glare of the summer sun off my Psychology book.

With the job done it was off for pizza, and a little liquid refreshment.  But it was then that I began to wonder whether the purchases I’d made were really what I wanted.  Did I really want to look like a TV model … Would those flouncy patterns really suit me … and was I being lulled into a false sense of trying to be something that I’m not.

It was then I decided that the dresses would be returned the next day.  I would revel in the summer dresses that regularly come out my wardrobe and are comfortable and homely.  Yes, I would strike out for the cause for the ordinary woman – whether with or without a full complement of limbs.  Suddenly I knew just what Emily Pankhurst or more latterly the Women Libbers felt like.

I would be proud to parade around the pool in something that looked as if it fitted me, rather than me fitting it.

How I now look forward to the admiring glances of those tanned life guards, as I negotiate that fine line between trying to look cool, and desperately avoiding the consequences of a scientific equation which goes something like, water + electric chair = frizzy hair!!

The answer to preparing for summer is quite easy.  “Don’t worry, be happy.”  Just be yourself and enjoy the summer for what it is.  Remember, that next year, you could be looking at the fifty-something fashions, and then we really will have something to worry about!!

Happy Holidays, whatever it is you are planning to do.