Past Papers: washed out

In summer 2007, I was living in Sheffield in a house that backed onto the River Don. When the flood came, I was on my own with my children (then five and one) – and, it turned out, not very much idea of how to cope with a natural disaster. This is my account of the flood as I blogged it a few days later. Tonight, I’m going to see The Caravan, a piece of theatre about the floods and their aftermath, so it seemed like a good time to dust off this post and relive my horrors. (The Chris who appears at the end is currently fighting cinema rather than the elements.)

Edit 11 August 2009: my review of The Caravan is now up here.

flooded by Wednesday(Photo by minkymonkeymoo, used under Creative Commons license.)

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Paperhouse goes to see: Vivienne Westwood at Sheffield Galleries

I remember hearing a radio interview with Vivienne Westwood (Desert Island Discs, probably) when I was in my early teens, in which she told the story of how she used to wear a pencil-skirt and high-heeled shoes to school. And this struck me as a wonderful thing. If you’d asked me at the time to explain why this was so impressive, I would have been lost – I don’t think the idea that I would want other people to find me attractive or sexy had really formed in my mind yet, although it certainly had its unacknowledged part in my psyche. Something about the soft-spoken intent to provoke and the unselfconscious love of dressing up won me to Westwood forever.

And then there were the clothes. Mini-crinis, bustles, corsets, tottering wedges, tweeds and tartans. I watched their passage through the fashion pages with breathless lust: strange and gorgeous costumes for a world of untouchable theatre and glamour. I wanted – still want – to live in that world. And for a giddy hour in the Sheffield Millenium Gallery, I got to do so.

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