These days I don the posh frocks far more frequently than I ever did in my previous career.
I’m not glam. I still prefer football to charity balls. But if you’re going to stick PR in your job title you can hardly drop the ‘public’ part.
Private Relations Consultant would just sound weird – although I’d probably get more calls.
I lack social confidence but once I’ve got to know you after, say, 20 years, I’m usually at ease.
And it’s hard to look good in a cocktail frock or with bingo wings flapping from a ball gown when you’re fat. And I am. Ipso facto fatto.
Men have it easy. Put the heftiest bloke in a tux and he looks good. Skinny ones look Brat Pack-ish, tubby ones Brat Peckish, gorgeous ones Brad Pittish.
A cummerbund covers self indulgence. I’d have to have Cumberbatch on my arm to get any attention.
I’ve stacked on weight since I left The Gazette a year ago.
The Little Black Dress of my 30s is now the Morbidly Obese Black Dress of my late 50s.
At a charity ball last Saturday I looked like I’d dressed for a funeral at sea – as part of a Demis Roussos tribute band singing Forever and Ever from the cruise ship’s cabaret lounge.
My list of 30 things to do in 30 minutes (my new half-hour lunch break) now includes a brisk walk to Lytham Windmill or Lowther Gardens.
But with Booths wine and McDonalds burgers equidistant the other direction – will I be able to resist?
I’m trying to slim down, smarten up. The rite of passage beige and purple velour have been booted out but when did I start buying black jackets – with sequins?
My favourite after dark jacket looks like something from The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s phase and I still love it… but the more formal jacket I wore last weekend redefined cruisewear and weighed enough to double as an anchor.
It’s years since Ann Harvey had a branch in Blackpool and I must have bought it there because it bears the tell tale mark of the ‘secret sale room’ above, into which size 14-plus cognoscenti were ushered with Savile Row-like ceremony.
The giveaway is the shadow on the garment caused by the sun shining on the clothes rack directly beneath the window facing the Grand Theatre. The room was opposite the Grand’s PR office and I worried each time I nipped into the changing room – en route from the Town Hall – that the PR would grass me up to Newsdesk.
I’m still a serial sale-aholic. I even have shoes with holes in the heels from when they were strung up on display at Bobby Balls, Blackburn. Until I checked my Simply Be – or in my case Simply Obese – statement I had no memory of buying a frock with tassels in the sale. I used to love tassels on my Native American dolly – and years later on the Funny Girls. But the only time I’ve worn them was on the film set of Valentino. I was a flapper. At least I think that’s what they said.
I rather liked last Saturday’s frock with tassels until I went to the loo. They get everywhere. I left four of the most errant offenders behind. Heaven knows what the next woman thought when she looked in the loo bowl – and found some sequins there, too.
Spending a penny apart, the penny dropped that I actually like moving in such circles – the charity ball, that is, not the loo bowl. I had fun fund-raising, had a ball in fact. I was one of 308 people there, raising £13,500 for charity. I only sneaked off at midnight because the pumpkins were parked outside and my tassels fell and pooled at my feet when I danced.
I even got to meet prince charming, hold his hand, kiss him and tell him he looked stunned, sorry stunning. He did the same with me. Under duress. We were under orders from a party game organiser with a VERY LOUD VOICE .
I’m not sure what Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, made of the moment but I enjoyed it. Even if I did kiss and tell.
Time to be involved and inspired
Blackpool means business.
We’ve got the prestigious Red Rose Awards coming up at the Winter Gardens on March 12 and the Be Inspired Business Awards at Blackpool Tower on September 11.
Both are a little too heady for me as a newcomer to business (1,100 attended the BIBAs last year) but I’m dipping my toes in the networking pool on February 25, attending the new Blackpool Business Expo at Ribby Hall, Wrea Green.
I also hope to revisit International Women’s Day at the Winter Gardens on March 8, thanks to Fylde Coast Be Involved and UR Potential.
I was surprised to read a snide aside – online by the usual anon – about Blackpool business awards and thought: instead of taking pot shots why not take part and do your bit to build a better Blackpool?
So I cheered on reading a comment from Kevin Roberts, Lancashire-born global executive chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi, now life patron of the BIBAs and helping develop the allied academy.
He says the BIBAs are the “best thing that has happened to Lancashire business, to entrepreneurs and to local enterprise both big and small.”
In spite of fronting a global brand in his own right, Roberts is far from blasé about Blackpool either.
Last year he presented the awards in The Tower Circus and said: “Appearing in what was, when I was a kid, the biggest gladiatorial amphitheatre I had ever seen, was a kid’s dream come true.”
Blackpool can still make dreams come true. But you’ve got to believe. Or, better still, be inspired.