Not quite sure what I was asked more often this week – was it nippy when I modelled naked, am I now a die-for-my-team Arsenal fan, or what are the other things on my list of “60 things to do before I’m 60”?
Firstly, I’d like thank everyone who wished me a happy birthday on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. It’s been an absolutely incredible week, and I’m truly grateful for the many, many messages, cards, gifts, flowers and – of course – chocolates. I’ve certainly felt the love – thank you!
(Quick note – this is not a typical social media blog – and I know I’m overdue giving you up-to-date LinkedIn and social media strategy tips. I promise that blog is coming… This is purely a shameless, self-indulgent birthday blog!!)
Birthday week has been so much fun, and I’ve enjoyed every minute spent with my fabulous family and wonderful friends. How did I celebrate…? By doing something incredibly unexpected!
Let’s start at the beginning.
On Tuesday, Grayson Perry was as fantastic as always. His show at the London Palladium focussed on identity and we (the packed audience) took part in various polls and word clouds by tapping our phones and laughing. If you don’t know Grayson (actually Sir Grayson now), he’s a transvestite ceramist based in Shoreditch who can often be seen cycling around town in a beautiful (or gawdy) dress. He’s the most down to earth, funny, super-intelligent artist – a rightful national treasure (as he laughingly describes himself).
Before the show we had dinner in the Clachan Pub in Kingly Street, which had been my go-to haunt for a couple of years in the 80s, both when I sold balloons and jokes in Hamleys and then when I selected jewellery and knickers for Principles. Every night in the Clachan! It was riotous back then, the best fun, and a place where we squashed in with cocktails and danced in the upstairs disco to the Eurythmics and Terence Trent Derby. On Tuesday, we sat in the pub’s dining room, formerly the aforementioned disco, but this time we ate a delicious dinner with scrummy desserts and reminisced about forty year old friendships that have deepened over the decades.
Wednesday, my actual birthday, was mostly spent with my lovely family and one of my closest friends – more food – followed by the activity most people are asking about. I’ll come back to that….
Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate
Thursday in Marylebone was full of treats! A visit to my favourite bookshop (Daunts) and favourite chocolate shop (Pierre Marcolini) was followed by lunch at the Ivy. (My second trip to an Ivy in four days – Sunday was also a lovely lunch, this time in Cambridge, where the beautiful city never fails to delight.) Marylebone also offered hot chocolate, chocolate and walnut cream cake, winning a couple of backgammon games, more chocolates – all great fun. Someone knows me well. I came home early though, for a family quiz night – which we did not win, but hey ho, cookie crumbling and all that.
Whoever sniggered when I said that Gill and I were seeing Cliff Richard on Friday please note that we had the last laugh, as he was a magnificent performer – especially considering he’s 83!! Dancing, sparkling, making jokes (sort of). The concert followed more delicious food: a wonderful dinner in a bistro/pub in Hammersmith and, prior to that, lunch in the British Library (where I highly recommend the Fantasy exhibition).
Getting my kit on
And on to Saturday…. A-R-S-E-N-A-L !! I’d never ever been to a football match, unless you can count my kids playing on a Sunday morning, spending more time picking daisies than scoring goals!
My list of “60 things to do before I’m 60” included attending a match – any team, anywhere in London, ideally a premiership team. I have friends with season tickets to Arsenal, West Ham and Spurs, but it was an Arsenal fan who immediately offered to take me. And I loved the whole experience!
So this was the second item ticked off my ’60 before 60′ list.
And yes, the most asked questions have been about the first.
Getting my kit off
I still can’t quite believe I actually did it. It’s the furthest I’ve ever strayed from my comfort zone by a country mile!!
So to answer the most FAQs: Yes, I was completely naked; no I didn’t pose with strategically placed feathers, scarves or hands; yes, my art group is both men and women; yes, I was a bit nervous and not sure until the last second whether I would actually go through with it; yes, I laughed; no I wasn’t cold; yes I felt empowered; yes, I was proud of myself; and yes, it was a brilliant boost to my self-esteem.
I’ve been going to the Life Drawing group for about six months – it’s run by my friend and colleague Martyn Royce in Epping. A dozen or so lovely people spend a couple of hours drawing a model each week; I find it relaxing, almost therapeutic, and highly enjoyable.
When I told Martyn about my list, he suggested modelling for the group and I immediately said “No way!!!” But on my birthday – along with the ‘launch’ of my list of activities, I suddenly changed my mind. So I arrived at our art studio armed with a huge, very gorgeous shawl that I’d been given during a trip to Scotland a couple of years ago.
To everyone’s surprise (shock!!) I stood at the front of the room with the shawl wrapped tightly around me, giggled a bit, then dramatically let it fall to the floor.
The drawings I have been given by the artists are wonderful and some friends have seen them all. I’m happy to share just this one beautiful and less revealing sketch by the hugely talented @misslottiekaye. (Obviously there’s no way I’m sharing full frontal nudity on any social media…)
I’m not really calling it a bucket list. It’s just 60 things to do before I’m 60 that I’ve never done before. And there are a couple of years to go – it’s not right around the corner, in case you were wondering.
Loads of people have asked what else is on the list. Well, I haven’t got the full 60 things as I’ve only thought of 24 so far, so I welcome suggestions!!! If you can think of anything fun, exciting or challenging that I’ve never done before, I’ll think about adding it on.
My list currently includes flying a plane (definitely not jumping out of one), going on a lovely balloon ride, tea at the Ritz, an archaeological dig, tour of Pompeii and getting a tattoo. (A tiny one somewhere inconspicuous.) I’d also like to go on safari and visit the far east – so if anyone fancies taking me on either of those holidays that will be very merrily received…
Birthday week isn’t over just yet – I enjoyed a lovely trip to the Design Museum today to see the exhibition: REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion. It wasn’t on my list as I’ve been to the museum before, but I got a glimpse on a computer screen of how I’d look with blue hair, and that’s now a serious consideration!
The exhibition included designers that I’ve blogged about in the past for clients, and some that I think I’ve seen in years gone by at London fashion shows. Quirky, outrageous and fantastical designs – if you like fashion you should go!!
And luckily for me the week will continue to be celebratory… Ronnie Scott’s followed by dinner at the Groucho Club on Saturday may well be eclipsed by Mamma Mia at the O2 on Sunday! #feelinglucky #feelingloved
Thank you again to everyone who has helped to make this time amazing and especially to the people I shared my week with – love you all! X
(More pics on insta: @weekendwitchsocialmedia)