Tuesday, August 3, 2010


It must be the continued influence of my resident stripey doll, Tallulah, nine, because I am going stripescrazy.

Truth be told, I would welcome the opportunity the dance (which I cannot speak about or I will get loads of spam) as for 10 years I attended the highly esteemed Mrs Shirley Dibble Ballet School in my home town of Whakatane, NZ. Anyone who knew me as a 10-year-old would remember my heart-breaking solo as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. Rigid and unemotional, yet crying inside. And of course the utter precision of my (dance which can't be mentioned) which for some strange reason I was asked to reprise every year, whatever the theme of our ballet concert. I now suspect I was given solos every year because my mother was the best seamstress and whipped up all the costumes, but my point is the (dance which can't be written) was clearly a crowd pleaser.

Besides striped t-'s galore, I have also striped trousers and dresses. Tonight I'm intent on wearing my blue and white striped jacket from Karen Millen. What I glean from reading fashion magazines lately is you have to avoid lapsing into a theme. Otherwise you can be labelled "costumey",  code for "clueless". If you have a floral frock on, apparently you've got to "toughen it up" with black strappy boots. Khaki has to be streeted down with a studded belt and a seventies chain so it doesn't look like you're going lion hunting. If you wear denim, don't wear two kinds. Except now you can, but it's really hard to pull off, so seriously, don't try this one at home.

All this is kind of a bummer because a theme or the matchy matchy is great when you have no time to get ready.  Or, if like me, you haven't quite got a handle on all this fashpash. To explain my term, in London, ten years ago everyone was going gaga over pashminas, and my friend Rina and I used to just preface everything with "pash", which also means kiss madly in Kiwi.

So my blue and white striped jacket becomes a challenge because now I'm not allowed to look totally as though I'm selling ice lollies in Brighton circa 1930's, auditioning as a beach umbrella or sailing in the South Of France. Oh dear. What about: I've arrived back from Nice and I'm going to a hippy beach in Morocco... is that okay? So on with the blue and white striped jacket goes the blue velvety MIH "Marrakesh" jeans, blue and white Paola Linea shoes, vermilion shiny belt and necklace. And carrying a paua shell (abalone) print purse from NZ.

Whew, by the time we head out, I've been around the world in my closet and am exhausted and in need of a cocktail at Radio, a bar in downtown Oakland, which has a happy hour from 4-8. It's so dark we almost can't see the cage upstairs. Amid the paper lanterns, red Chinese cupboards and black stools, my Preppy jacket makes me look a total drongo (dork). Until I realise... hmmm... this bar has a slight campy South Pacific vibe.  I order a cranberry and vodka something, and hum along to a very la la la sweet song called "Will you be my f***ing boyfriend" which I later find out is   The Bird and the Bee. The girls in this band have got it totally sussed, they get to sing in their underwear and they make the boys in the band play small tambourines in the background.

We meet Anne and Sandy plus hubbies at Lake Chalet on Lake Merritt in Oakland. We had a snotty waitress last time, but thought we'd give it another chance. I was glad we did, because the service was beaming and the restaurant glistened with silver lights, a bustling bar scene and blue views of the sunset water.

The food is upmarket surf and turf and it's really the setting that makes it spesh. My ship has come in, sitting near the dock of the Oakland lake, mixing drinks and metaphors.

I was tempted to sail away on the "Gondola Servicio" where a "conventionally handsome guy" (my kids' expression) in striped Breton shirt, poles you around the lake on a real Gondola.
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