Golly gumdrops, I don’t know where to start.
Thanks to an eagle-eyed BrocanteHome reader I gave my visiting Mum and Dad short shrift last night, shuffling them out of the house without so much as a cup of tea, so eager I was to be sitting in the company of The Time Warp Wives on Channel Four.
But oh my, oh my, oh my.
Now the problem is this: since that production company came and filmed me in all my "baby is just out of hospital and my relationship is falling apart" mad (and oh sooo much fatter) housewifely glory, it is very difficult for me to watch programmes of this ilk without knowing for certain that the willing victims who are it’s subject matter will have been manipulated to within one inch of their lives: that they will have filmed breakfast just after they have faked dinner, that the "natural" conversation you hear is forced for the camera and that when it appears to be night-time it is nine o’clock in the morning and there is some poor oink standing on a ladder holding a blackout curtain to the window because the producer wants to shimmy her way back to London in time for supper.
And so dear readers, I swallowed a hefty dose of salt on the time warp wives behalf and sat down to watch them go through their daily motions dressed to the nines in vintage costume.
My word what eye candy! An entire house lined with the austerity of the thirties. Deep red pouts. Husbands with quiffs (and nothing to say for themselves!), microwaves hidden behind utility cabinet doors, nipped in waists, and pastel coloured kitchens.
There were two "fifties" housewives, one of whom had a singing career to promote that was severely compromising her efforts to be the little woman of the house, a thirties lady, homely and honest, and a lovely young girl who had embraced 1940’s style in an effort to deal with her sadness about her parents divorce.
Twas a joy.Or at least it would have been if there wasn’t the over-riding unsettling sense of grown women "playing house". Here were four women so thoroughly obsessed by their chosen vintage era (the thirties, forties and fifties respectively) that they saw fit to eschew almost every aspect of modern society. And each to their own is what I say. But these women aren’t dolls, they are people, real human beings living outside mainstream society, and life within the dolls houses of their own making were restrictive, occasionally sad and in one particular case, somewhat smug.
Three of the four women showcased had chosen not to have children because they would not fit in with their lifestyle. One in a cringe making moment she surely regrets, admitted that if she found herself pregnant she would have to "get rid of it".
Good old vintage values eh? And therein lies the rub: it is all well and scrumptiously good to decorate your house and lips in the stuff of your chosen era and it is absolutely admirable to look back on the way society used to be and find so many aspects of life today coming out wanting in comparison, but it isn’t possible (and is a tad ridiculous) to imagine that it is possible to pretend that life outside your oh so delicious little front doors exists. To convince yourself that playing the good housewife stitches a marriage together. To think that modern day values haven’t seeped their way into your conscience. And that more than that, that by not embracing the more wonderful aspects of today you do yourself a disservice the housewives you are emulating would have embraced wholeheartedly.
Life isn’t a game. None of us are Doris Day. Hell, even Doris Day wasn’t Doris Day. So we would do well to remember that what we saw last night was the Photoshop version of four women’s lives. Not necessarily the truth.