Alison versus Anthea
So my debut novel The Generation Game is published by Legend Press this summer. (V. excited as it’s been a long road to this point.) The story covers 40 years from 1965 to 2005 and I’ve been hunting for a 70s vintage dress for the book launch. The 7os influence is everywhere at the moment – fashion, music, the price of oil, conflict in the Middle East, high inflation rates. I’m not getting all nostalgic (well, maybe a bit because I have many happy childhood memories from that decade); our family had its fair share of tough times too. Life is full of polarities, extremes, ups and downs, good and bad.
So, the dress. I’ve been searching the charity shops but vintage clothes are hard to come by. The internet has been the way to go. There are some fab websites out there from http://www.littleblackvintagedress.com/ to http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop. But I found what I thought I wanted on ebay. I wanted to look like Anthea Redfern (a Devon girl like me but that’s where the similarity ends). I wanted to look glamourous. I wanted to look sophisticated. But when the black, velvety, flowery, puffy-lacey-sleeved maxi dress arrived, I guessed I’d made a mistake. When I tried it on, it was evident that I was no Anthea. I was more of a Beverly from Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party. Don’t get me wrong, Beverly is an icon, brilliantly brought alive by Alison Steadman in the Play for Today. And so I suppose deep down I knew I could never pull off Beverly. And definitely not Anthea, for that matter.
I searched again. And this time ebay did me proud. I found a dress one of my characters might have worn to a 70s Torquay party. A dress they would feel comfortable in eating cheese and pineapple, David Essex on the record player, a Babycham, a smear of cherry flavoured lipgloss. A dress that might once have hung in my mum’s wardrobe when we lived above a sweet shop in 70s Torquay, when Bruce and Anthea were in love and on our telly every Saturday night. (See, maybe a bit nostalgic).
Now I just have to find some chunky platforms to go with it. I reckon I can find them on the highstreet because, as Fate would have it, they are everywhere this season. Let’s just hope we don’t have to live through the 80s again. Though the spectre of Mrs Thatch seems to be lurking.
Photos to follow. (Unless too embarrassing.)