Her & 'The Change' In Me

One show-One woman- Four voices of the Menopause

Memorable outfits, we’ve all had them right? You know that ensemble you never quite got right. Well it turns out, looking back and a quick chat with my little sister, I had quite a few. The reason why I am thinking about it now, is because I never had to worry about my body temperature. It never came into the wardrobe conversation. I just went out, found the nearest bargain rail and I was sorted. That really isn’t the case now, I look at clothing in a whole new light. It was like a bolt of lightning when I realised hot flushes could be enhanced by what I had on my person. Now I know that sounds dim. It’s a bit like I never had to worry about calorie intake, until I realised there was no one chasing me when I ran for the bus. It was my own backside.

Tom boy days…

The first memorable crazy couture was for many reasons, but mainly because it appeared in the school photo for three years running. I loved this yellow T shirt so much, it appears I didn’t have anything else to wear. How is your luck? For three years I was caught in the school photo with the same yellow T shirt on. It was made of wool and wasps seemed to adore it as much as me. As I am writing, I have just remembered the wasp sting on the end of my finger. I had won a raffle at the school fete in the juniors, it was the first time in my life I had ever won anything. As I received the photo album celebrating the Queen’s jubilee (the first one) I felt something on my nose and flicked it. The wasp retaliated and my finger blew up like a fun sized banana. I received my prize through teary eyes as the Queen looked up at me, never did put a photo in it.

A few years later I discovered nylon polo necks and trainer bras. How on earth I ever thought this would be a good partnership, I don’t know. We were having a family day to my aunts who lived at the time on the other side of London. I felt the business with my silky nylon brown polo on, over the top of it, I wore a cream cable cardigan Val Doonican would have been proud of.

Giving it large in my Val Doonican.

Once at my aunts house, it was the normal awkwardness that happens when you haven’t seen your cousins for a long time. At fourteen, I was positioned in the middle of the family tree. I felt like I was one of the older ones, trying to act cool in front of the male members of the family. Whilst my little sister looked onwards tutting. The adults were busy chatting, my mum sipped at her sherry that I knew would last her all night. The teenagers, well I didn’t want to be called a kid were told to go in the back room. I thought about my next move very carefully, as I knew it would get attention. I really was out to impress. I took off the Val Doonican and my little sister stared in disbelief. I had decided earlier that morning, the tight brown polo was lacking in something. It occurred to me that my trainer bra needed to be filled. So, I got as many socks as I could to fill the limpid sacks of cloth. My sister had genuinely believed that my breasts had exploded, well for about ten seconds. She then went and got my mum. Whilst my cousin said, “do you want to come down the pub’. It wasn’t long before I looked up and saw my mum appear in the doorway with two little red dots on her cheeks and they weren’t from the sherry. I got the look to leave the room. Once outside she told me to remove my newly formed physique, as I placed my dads socks in her hands I knew I wouldn’t be able to go down the pub.

These dress senseless experiences didn’t stop there. In my later teen years two dresses stick in my mind. The first was a pink fluffy number, with a wrap around belt I picked up down Romford market. I hit the local night club later that evening, and danced as long as the heat trapped in the dress would let me. I looked like I had wrapped a fire blanket from the local pub around me. You know, how teenage girls are given fake babies to take home for the weekend. They cry for food and produce toiletry movements, in order to give the young person an idea what is like to have a baby. I think the next class after, should be wearing fire blankets to give them a slight indication to how a hot flush feels.

The second dress was purchased again in Romford. It cost £5.00 and I bought it from Miss Selfridges. It was one of those button down shirt dress numbers, black with silver lines running through it and somewhat transparent. Can you imagine my delight, when I found a navy blue slip for £2.00 in Marks and Spencers to go under it. The only thing was, when I got home I discovered the slip was extra long. This did not deter me. I pulled it up over my chest, threw my bargain dress on and was ready to go for a night of boogey at Southend. Fast forward to 2am, I am outside a burger van in the rain singing….. ‘I’m singing in the rain’

Whilst my friends got a dirty burger. I felt as thou my arms were getting tighter, this did not stop me giving my rendition of Gene Kelly to onlookers. It was only when the burger van man shouted, ‘You’re dress is shrinking love.’ I looked down all the buttons had stretched, my dress was rapidly lifting above my slip. I had turned into the hulk. By the time I got back to our hired bus the dress had shrunk so much it looked like a bag of crisps I grilled once to make a badge. (Yes I did that too, but I didn’t have it on that night) As I sat on that bus shivering and sobering up, I was eternally grateful for my extra long slip.

In more recent times, namely menopausal. We had gone to Brighton to watch a Mickey Flanagan gig. I bought a last minute purchase in the lanes, it was a bit of bling and for a change I felt, dare I say, funky. It was great to be out. I wore my gold number with pride (It was around Christmas time) It occurred to me as I sat amongst the other eager punters for some comedy, I felt that whatever material was lining my new addition it had turned into cling film. This resulted in a hot sweat that made me identify with a roast in the bag chicken.

Since that experience I have been very careful of what I purchase to wear. Because the reality of life now, is that I can no longer wear synthetic materials and I normally have to swerve the bargain rail. I also have to adopt various techniques in order to deal with the rapid temperature change my body accelerates at. Believe it or not I didn’t do this straight away, it took a few hot sweats to accept these new patterns of behaviour.

  • Layer clothing – I now realise why cardigans exist
  • Wear natural materials
  • Get rid of the plastic accessories and replace them with a refillable water bottle
  • Always make sure you have a hair band and a little fan. Even if not very effective, psychologically it makes me feel better.
  • Not so much a clothing tip but a handy one, run cold water on your wrists always makes me feel cooler.

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