On Friday evening, E and I settled ourselves in front of the fire with sighs of contentment to watch Trinny and Susannah's Downunder Makeover Mission.
I've never had a high opinion of Australians' sense of style. Sure, there's your usual run of celebs and fashionistas, some of whom get it right some of the times, but on the whole it's a style-free zone over there. And, like S and T, I've noticed two main groups of women (oh, let's not even speak the men): the younger ones, who are got up like streetwalkers, and the older, who dress like the living dead.
S and T strode about the street of Brisbane, pouncing on women from both groups and dragging them away for makeovers. Most seemed pleased, some even shed tears of gratitude. Gazing thoughtfully at one 50 year-old, Trinny suggested with rare tact that there was probably going to come a time when the way this woman was turned out would be inappropriate to her age. I could hear a million viewers shouting, you think?
Where I parted company with S and T was in the end result. Most of the women did look better, but that was largely due to their snappy new hair dos and some decently applied makeup. S and T had put even the short plump women into leggings, which cut their victims off at the ankles and made them look shorter and plumper still. And too many had far too much going on, in the form of big necklaces, scarves and belts and god knows what else.
Still, the women all loved it, more tears were shed, including, I imagine, those of the producers'. When will T and S get onto Aussie men, that's what I want to know?
I was whizzing down the road at noon in the direction of a latte when I saw the back view of a slim red-headed young man gloriously dressed in pink and purple. In fact, it would have been impossible to miss him.
My first response was a grin, because the combination was so fearless and happy. And deliberate. My second response was to duck into the carpark at the bottom of the hill and fumble for my phone.
I bought said phone before going to Canada. The one I discarded was virtually antique, even though it still worked like a charm. but, so the 2Degrees website had informed me, I needed another kind to be able to call in Canada. I also wanted a camera. For just such occasions as now, when I didn't have my real camera with me.
I wish I hadn't been wearing trackpants preparatory to working in the garden, because I felt foolish explaining to the nice young man that I wrote a style blog. He was too polite to comment. The purple jeans were tight on his narrow legs, and the pink was supplied by a fully tailored, candy-striped sports jacket. He happily agreed to let me take his photo, seemed flattered, even.
So why isn't there a photo here?
Because I couldn't find how to work the damn camera on the damned new phone, that's why. Neither could the nice young man. I knew if we stood there fiddling for long enough, we'd work it out, but how long can you keep a perfect stranger hanging about on the street for your own ends?
I thought there was a good chance he might pass the cafe in 10 minutes or so, so once installed in the window seat there, I had another fiddle with the phone. Still no go.
I asked my neighbour, a man in cycling lycra, if he could help. He'd owned a phone like this, he said, and yes, he could.
I glued my eyes to the pavement and waited. Sadly, I never saw the pink and purple young man again. Some opportunities are just plain lost.
But in spite of not having a picture, I'm grateful to have seen and spoken to him. It was exhilarating - like spotting a rare bird.
Travel often means a neglected blog. But travel to style-free zones is certain death to a style blog. Not only does one rapidly stop looking at how other people look, this blogger happily stopped caring how she looked herself. The footwear makes the point. A lot of the time I got about in just a smile and a sunhat.
Minaki, Ontario, Canada
But there's not caring, then there's caring a lot and looking even worse than those who don't care. The following delights were spotted in Deadwood, South Dakota, USA. To avoid embarrassment, they were photographed at retail outlets, but plenty such items were sited on and around live bodies in this and other Black Hills towns.
Pants and tee-shirt
And finally, celebratory fingernails the day after July 4, Wall, South Dakota, USA.
I'm a writer. Sometimes I write fiction and sometimes I'd rather do something else, like earn money, travel or dance tango. Whatever I do, I never stop looking. So this blog is about looking to write, writing to see, and seeing to think. I was once the kind of feminist who believed it was wrong to delight in such things. Now I'm the kind of feminist who doesn't believe that at all. I will never, as Linda Grant puts it, go beige into that good night.