"You may not be beautiful, clever or rich but you can change your life using the lost art of charm". So says a delicious re-edition of the 1938 classic "The Magic Key To Charm" and so being neither clever, nor beautiful and very definitely not rich I devoured this lovely book in one sitting and resolved to re-invent myself as the last word in elegance…
Cue raucous laughter.
See the truth is it is so very very difficult to charms one’s way through life when quite frankly you have got bigger fish to fry than making yourself desirable to those daft enough to imagine you are a really rather spellbinding combination of Jam and Jerusalem and Sex In The City, when you are more Hilda Ogden than you will ever be Carrie Bradshaw.
But still these men persist in trusting everything I say. In truly believing I am capable of sexual acrobatics over home cooked Cordon Bleu. Seeing the pinny and stiletto combination and reading the promise of apple pies and suspenders. God love them and their simple hopes and dreams. God love me for entertaining them.
So Friday night I invited another likely specimen over for dinner. I’ve known him a while and he’s terribly nice. The kind of decent nice I usually run a mile from. The kind of decent nice that makes me feel so nervous I run to the toilet five hundred times before he rings the bell. Mum would approve nice. You are definitely growing on me nice.
I invited him. Texted him the menu before he arrived. Got my son bathed, pyjamed and bedded in good time. Polished the cracked lino, lit a billion candles and prepared the food so thoroughly nothing, not-a -thing could go wrong. And then ten minutes before he was due to ring the bell I sat down to glue on my nails, catch my breath and you know, wallow in my nerves. Now some days I manage the whole nail glueing thing with aplomb. Some days I could be manicurist to the stars so professional am I with a pink file and a false fingertip. And then there are the days when I’m all fingers and thumbs. When said date is irrationally early and is knocking on my door when my left hand is all french pearly lovely and my right hand is gnarled and chewed and dog-eared ugly.
I saw him pass my window out of the corner of my eye, felt the kind of horror I usually reserve for festive bees and started shooting nail glue towards my fingertips in a kami-kaze fashion and jabbing fake nails onto tiny mountains of glue and hoping for the best.
Rat-a-tat. Ignore it and hopefully he won’t go away. Adhere nail to glue to nail. Rat-a-tat. Rat-a-TAT. Dear lord can’t the impatient sod see I’m having a crisis? Debate valium. Scratch nose and move towards the front door. Scratch nose? Now theres a bad move.
He is at the front door. I am standing behind the two doors worth of glass watching him shuffle impatiently. I have a nail glued to my nose and there is nail glue cracking on my lips. I have a man standing on my doorstep and I am the proud possesser of gluey lips and a plastic growth sprouting from my left nostril. Start to feel light headed from the fumes. Yank nail off my nose. Open door and smile bewitchingly.
Ding dong he says, like a slightly pervy, bald version of Austin Powers.
I dodge his kiss. Scared of getting glued to him for life and having to explain myself in the casualty department, and walk to the kitchen in an efficient manner, scrubbing at my lips and peeling stiff layers of skin from my nose, knocking back a quick glass of wine and shouting small talk into the living room and finally wandering in, oh so blase, high on glue and happy as larri-etta.
And so began the evening from hell. Not his fault, he’s lovely and took my sheer lunacy in his stride- grinning a lot and patting my shoulder in a patronising fashion when after serving him limp asparagus, burnt basil bread and something so black I can’t even describe it but made him eat it regardless, I, in a final act of Yes I’m clearly off my head but cute enough to get away with it, refused to risk baking the pudding and tried instead to dazzle him with my merry wit.
After all who needs elegance when theres a fingernail glued to your nose? I am the epitome of vintage charm.