Wednesday 18 May 2011

'Brooching' the subject

A Sunday or two ago, I was out for brunch mulling over a hilarious extra magazine that came with the FT Weekend: How to spend it. There were pages and pages dedicated to the very finer things in life. I saw beautiful orange dresses for £5000; incredible, unusable vases for a mere £1000, but the page that really got my attention was the one on precious stones and brooches.

I stared at the pictures: butterflies and flowers made up of tiny diamonds, rubies and emeralds, held together by fine strands of metal, shaped perfectly. If I wanted one of those brooches, I could expect to pay £3000. My shock was not that the people who should read How to spend it have so much pocket change for brooches, it was that brooches were featured in the first place.

Brooches. Who wears them?

I even had to look up how to spell the word to write this blog.

A couple of days after the shocking brooch-in-magazine-episode, I was walking to work after my early morning swim. Tea in hand, I got off the train at Hammersmith and whiled my way round the church to the river and our offices. At one straight section of road, a woman was walking towards me and the previous weekend's shock returned: she was wearing a brooch.

I couldn't, in a sense, believe my luck. I had spent twenty years without thinking, seeing, contemplating the use of brooches and here was a lady (let's say around my mum's age), at 8 o'clock in the morning, dolled up and brooched up. It was a lizard, her brooch, and going on Sunday's experience, I'd say it didn't cost around £3000. Still, it sparkled; it looked like a gleaming lizard on her lapel. It was serious brooching.

What occurs to people to wear brooches: trees and petals and animals? Exactly how does it compliment an outfit? I imagine if you're going to a fancy dress party as the ninja rat teacher from the Ninja Turtles, you might want to give them a shout. Of perhaps if you were at the launch for a new Iguana beer. But just generally? I don't get it.

So, now I am on the look out for brooches. I need to find more of them. I need to find a person to whom I can 'brooch' the subject:

"Why do you have an amethyst fish on your jacket?"

Sunday 8 May 2011

The Noble Fish

I am 7 days in on my swimathon (26 miles in 26 days) and by the end of today, I shall have swam 10 miles. I used to run 10 miles in a week, so swimming them does make me think this challenge is getting more and more impressive the further I go into it.

It started well on a Bank Holiday Monday. I nearly had the pool to myself and between the first two miles (I wanted to get ahead early) I could enjoy the massaging bubbles of the jacuzzi. My body is now at the point where it needs slightly more than bubbles, but I am happy to have that and the sauna to use after pounding the... no Laura, you can't pound the pool, like you pound the streets. What would it be? Glide the pool? Front crawl the pool? Hmmm, they don't quite sound as cool or as difficult, do they?

I then decided it was time to get some early swims in. Thank goodness it's May and not November. At 6am, it's light, quiet and, more importantly, hasn't been cold this week. Flip flops on, a brisk walk to the pool, and I am slipping into the water (alone, it's just for me!) at 6.30 once they've turned on the lights.

I did that three days this week: showered and taken a take-away cuppa on the tube, arriving at the office with almost dry hair and a hunger for breakfast. All before 8.30.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't have to be," one of the sports centre workers said to me as I finished another mile on Wednesday morning. We laughed about it, but then I told her about, when you start so early and get to the office having done some exercise, having (oh, all right then) glided that pool for a mile, you feel like you've already achieved something before being paid to. While everyone else has been dumbing themselves with Daybreak and scoffing rice krispies and they arrive with their heads still fuzzy from the start of a new day, you are there; awake, refreshed, energetic and noble.

"Noble?" she asked. She thought about it. "Yeah, I like it. It is quite noble." And she went off to nobly use the treadmill.

So, now I am the noble fish; still lonely in my endeavours, but getting stronger with each stroke and every length closer to my goal.

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