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Travesty - Dressing Up

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Travesty - Dressing Up
I’m sure I chose ‘Shelf’ for last week’s blog, which makes me feel really bad about not making a contribution. I had some notes in my head and even the beginnings of a poem until it all went pear-shaped or migraine-shaped. Well, not exactly a migraine but whatever it is affects my vision, my concentration and makes me feel worn out. It doesn’t happen often, thank goodness. Anyway, if ‘Shelf’ should come up again in the future, I’m halfway there.
 Thinking about ‘Travesty’ took me back to some dark days, long ago times before I was able to take control of my own life.
My mother had beautiful clothes. She was always perfectly dressed for whatever she was doing. Even the casual trousers and tops she wore for general housework and jobs around our pub were smart. She had fabulous cocktail dresses, suits and blouses that she wore in the evenings when she accompanied my father in the bar. They were always off to dinner dances so she had a selection of evening gowns, usually from an exclusive dress shop. She died young. I remember my nan and Auntie Kathy, our housekeeper, sorting out her clothes. They gave me some jumpers and blouses that I wanted. Some evening gowns remained in my mother’s large wardrobe, whether forgotten or on purpose, I don’t know.
My father remarried. Our family was never the same again.
They were going out to a ‘black tie’ function. Dad looked handsome in his best suit, bow-tie and highly polished shoes. I was horrified to see his partner giving me a twirl, winking and smiling widely, wearing one of my mother’s evening gowns and asking me if I liked it on her. I expect the hard slam of my bedroom door gave her the answer she was goading for. Dad didn’t realise it was my mother’s gown and was unfazed. I was livid, it was a travesty. She was an attractive woman and had lovely clothes and things of her own. There was no need to do this. I grew used to and hardened myself to her hurtful ways.
One of my favorite books and films is Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’. Perhaps I should announce Spoiler Alert here, just in case. There is going to be the Annual Costume Ball at Manderley and as the second Mrs de Winter is pondering over what to wear, housekeeper Mrs Danvers manipulates her into wearing a dress as illustrated in a painting of an ancestor of her husband’s. What Mrs Danvers doesn’t tell her is that Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife, wore the exact same costume for the last ball. She tricks her on purpose, knowing that Maxim will be angry and embarrassed at the travesty. Indeed he was, as a loud gasp of all the guests draws his attention. Seething, he orders his wife to go and get changed immediately. (If you haven’t read the book, I strongly recommend it. The Laurence Olivier & Joan Fontaine version is the best film.) The photograph is Joan Fontaine as the second Mrs de Winter.   My poem,    
Pale Blue Brocade   Pale blue brocade, nipped in at the waist, Gentle swish as the hem swept the floor. Satin ribbon crossed her back and laced The bodice, just skin-tight but no more. Over her shoulders, organza swirls And around her neck some plastic pearls.    She knew it was wrong to wear that dress, Obvious mockery in her eyes. Her feigned innocence did not impress Me. A travesty, undisguised, Without Mrs Danvers’ poisonous touch. This was sev’ral steps too far, too much.   PMW 2019   Thanks for reading, Pam x      
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