This article is all about my 71 year old mother Annie. She is, by far, the most generous person you could ever wish to meet in your lifetime, well with her clothes anyway, this is her story….
This shopping HOBBY started about 20 years ago when she was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to visit Texas (my father is an avid Country and Western fan). She took with her every conceivable piece of clothing you could possibly imagine, she even resorted in filling up my fathers suitcase with her clothes, because if she wanted to, and had the space, she could not have got a racing snake in her suitcase if she tried, it was full to bursting! So all in all she had got roughly about 40 kg of clothes and shoes for a 3 week holiday.
Upon arrival at their Hotel in Houston, my father suggested they go and have a look around the shops, and as this was the first time either of them had been to America they did not have a clue what to expect…..they very quickly found out and my mothers HOBBY was born!
They had a fabulous holiday, my mother shopping every day in shear awe at what was on offer and at such reasonable prices, and my father visiting all the country music outlets. She had a very big decision to make when it came to packing her case for their journey home, with baggage allowance limited to just 30 kg each, she was in a dilemma to say the least. The only compromise was to leave half her clothes and shoes behind at the hotel, of course these were the clothes she bought with her all the way from England, and in their place pack her new American clothes and shoes she had so much pleasure buying. Of course, she was absolutely devastated at having to leave all her clothes in Texas; after all she had had them for decades, so it was difficult to leave them. I often wonder what the hotel thought about this, perhaps it was something that happened often who knows.
Back safe on British soil and in the comfort of their own home, she became discontent with her wardrobe facility in their bedroom, surprise, surprise! As all the children were now grown up and flown the nest, it was a great opportunity for my father to knock two bedrooms into one large room, thereby giving extra room for him to construct larger wardrobes for mummy dearest to fill, and fill she did.
She strutted around the village with her tail feathers fully extended for all to see. She was so proud of her new trendy clothes she had so much pleasure in buying on her trip to Texas. Annie delighted in all the lovely compliments she was given by young and old, she had suddenly become interested in Annie. She had not had a very easy life, she had 5 children by the time she reached the age of 25, this was no mean task to say the least. Her confidence and self-esteem was always put on the backburner because her kids just had to come first and Annie second, it was just her way. Maybe she had deprived herself all those years of being herself that she actually forgot she was Annie, she just thought of herself as a wife and mother with no rights of her own, perhaps that’s why she gained so much confidence in herself; almost overnight, she had suddenly become an expert in a field she really knew nothing about, but liked the person she had become because of her love for clothes, her newfound Hobby.
Before embarking on her holiday to Texas Annie had no Hobbies, she simply did not have the time to spend titivating herself, her words not mine. For me and my siblings this newfound mum of ours was a little worrying, she was dressing up every day in her refinery, even wearing makeup….a rarity in those days, and meeting friends for lunch, so you can say she became a Lady who Lunches in a very short space of time, but she did look good, really good, and she knew it, and she made sure everybody else knew she looked good.
It goes without saying the main topic of the ladies conversations at these lunches were Annie’s clothes! On the days she was not lunching with her new friends she was scouring all the local villages for little boutiques that could supply her with the unique clothing she had become accustomed to buying. Of course none of them came up to scratch, there simply was no comparison with her Texas boutiques, and she took delight in telling the shop owners too. On the odd occasions we would be dragged to these shops, kicking and screaming may I add, to be introduced to the proprietors, followed by a spate of gentle abuse from Annie advising the proprietor of how they had no idea than the man in the moon in buying techniques, and that they should take some lessons from the Americans! Oh Lord, please let a big hole open up from nowhere and let me disappear, I was never that lucky. Of course her generosity was faultless, we always came away from one of her hobby haunts sporting some new grossly overpriced piece of clothing, these generous gifts gave her so much pleasure, almost as much pleasure as if she was buying it for herself. It doesn’t stop the guilt though, I would love to partake in her Hobby, suffice to say my bank balance would not survive one day shopping with her let alone everyday.
She outgrew her wardrobes as time went by, the buying of clothes did not slow up she continued EVERY DAY to shop. When is this ever going to stop we thought. My father never questions her about her Hobby because it makes him happy that she has finally got the time, money and inspiration to go out every day and shop purely for her, and that is exactly what she did, believe me, every day.
She has now taken over fully the third bedroom in their house with wall to wall wardrobe space, well that was only a matter of time I suppose. These wardrobes are full of items of clothing, still unworn with price tags still intact. One of the main things I have forgotten to mention is Annie never buys anything that she would term as cheap; her motto is You Get What You Pay For. We all know she is right, but none of us can afford to go out to these little Boutiques she frequents every day and pay £100 for a tee shirt, we just cannot justify it, at the end of the day we had a very good teacher, I think she forgets that now. On saying that, I suppose if I had a particular Hobby which I enjoyed and got as much pleasure out of as she does, and given her age, I suppose I could justify spending the obscene amounts of money that she spends every day, because when all is said and done, it is her only Hobby and it makes her so happy, my dad is not complaining because he knows she comes home every day with a story to tell and an armful of fancy shopping bags…….If she is happy, he is happy, it makes for an easy life. Bless her heart…This article is written for my beautiful mum who I love with all my heart. I am very proud of her; she is an inspiration to us all, including the proprietors of her chosen Hobby Boutiques. This is not the end of Annie’s story, it is just the beginning …………….watch this space.
Perhaps this is an IllNESS, we as a family, like to think of it as her Hobby………Unless you know different!