Monday, January 7, 2008

blue velvet

In a particularly curmudgeonly fashion, I was refusing all entreaties to usher in the new year with any kind of enthusiasm.

No, I say, it is my new resolution:

Life is too short to waste on things I don’t want to do, and people I don’t want to do them with.
I refuse to go to the harbour, or to parties I hate. I wont I wont I wont.

It is my friend, the Little Hen, wittering away at me with her almost-erased Devonshire accent, who draws me out, and gently convinces me to come to a party. At the very last minute she phones and says:

Make sure you wear something glamorous . A dress like Marilyn Monroe would be just the thing.

Yeah, right.

As it happens, in my cupboard is my favourite dress of all dresses, The Midnight Blue.

This dress is the one of which I dreamed as a child. It is the dress one might imagine oneself dancing in the light of the full moon, or singing to the sea and the stars. It is the loveliest soft velvet, in midnight blue. Indigo, so dark as to be almost black, its sheen lighting up with blue light. It falls to the ground, it hugs the body, and is slit a little way up one side. A dress I would have drawn all along the margins of my schoolbooks.

I take it out and hug it. It strikes me that this dress, this dress of my dreams arrived in my grasp too late: it is a dress one should wear at 18, or twenty-four. But by the time I could afford a dress like this, I was beyond those ages. I just remember seeing it and wanting it so much, and then wishing…well. Wishing many things.

I wore it once.

Indigo Sea, detail.

I look down at myself and wonder if I will even fit into this hugging blue velvet dress, stinky and salty old fish I am. My hair is tousled, unbrushed and messy from the salt. I slip the dress over my head, the heavy softness blocks the light for a moment, as I wriggle in. The soft velvet flashes.




I run my hands all over it, every bit. I am wearing this dress for all those times I should have been bedecked in velvet and was not.
For all the things I should have done, and couldn't.

The feel of it , and me in it, is a gift.
A sensation of wonder.
How on earth can I still manage to get into this?
I grab a hair-clip and bundle my hair into it.

I am going to welcome 2008. I am wearing blue velvet which goes all the way to the ground and hugs me tight, so tight I am part of the night sky.

I step out into the suburban street. The night is warm. My son chatters at my elbow, looking me up and down, frowning.

Everyone, when I arrive, looks at me in astonishment:
you look beautiful beautiful beautiful
the dress works its magic on them all them all them all.

I hug myself, entranced, here it is 2008, and I have squeezed myself into a piece of the night sky and pranced around in it, so far along the road which is my life, way past the post that said that no compliment ought come my way again, magic indeed.

The distant fireworks light up the quiet streets, silently, they flare and glitter.
Time and place converge, there is silver and blue. The year becomes another.
I am everywhere in the world at once.

Clad thus, I shall dance through 2008, holding my head high, dreaming my dreams, crying my tears, doing all the things I need to do, holding on to the thought of indigo velvet, as tightly as I can.

Happy New Year.


muse said...

Great Post! A celebration of the finest things! Happy Blue Year!

meggie said...

Fifi, you are so beautueous!

I wish I could paint you!
Your beauty is just so.... wonderful.
remember Joni Mitchell, "I am a lonely painter,
I live in a box of paints,
I'm frightened by the devil,
And I'm drawn to those that aint afraid...

jellyhead said...

You still got it, girl!

But you know, even when you are *properly* old, and you can no longer do justice to the blue dress, you will still be, as always, the lovely fifi.

Molly said...

Three cheers for the little hen! and Happy New Year!

Luhlahh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luhlahh said...

I love all the layering of different images here, the self-portrait, your artwork, a close up on the fabric, and the word picture of you wearing the night sky. Beautiful!
Lou X

meli said...


What a magical start to the year. I was a taxi driver for my brother, and then played boggle with my toothache-smitten boyfriend. I finally managed to drag him against his will to the emergency dentist on new years day. I guess that's as good a start to the year as any...

I'm back in Leeds now. It feels rather odd.

Isabelle said...

"Stink and salty old fish" - what nonsense! You're a vision!

riseoutofme said...

You are one beautiful sea creature ...

Dance your heart into the clouds!

genevieve said...

Oh beautiful! The post, and the dressed writer!
Thank you :-) and a very happy new year, Fifi.

Suse said...

You look like a midnight mermaid.

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a kings cross muse said...

thank god for the midnight blue ....

lovely words and intentions for the year ahead .... may they be so

travistee said...

One of my favorite posts...EVER.
I think many women can relate to the ideas you submit.
Would it surprise you, Australian twin, to know that I too have a blue velvet dress?
Mine is sleeveless, and has a high neck, though it hits the ground as well.

Pod said...

may it be a blooming good year full of blossoming and ripening and opening and shining and deepening and things so happy you feel a little sad with the intensity of it. a giggly tear here and there.
did you get hold of 'lighthousekeeping'?

Arcturus said...

Is that you in the last picture? You are quite pretty indeed, Ms. Indigo Velvet!

fifi said...

thank you for all your nice comments. I really don't know what I was thinking, putting that photo there, but what the heck.

You are all TOOOOO kind.
But I love it, yes I doooooo.