Just when you think life might be letting you turn into a lady, you find yourself on your hands and knees, scrubbing. It’s things like getting carpet burn from your own misdemeanours that let you know you’ve still got a long way to go.
The stain wasn’t that bad, really. It was only a light daubing of dark blue nail varnish that I’d managed to smear on the plush hotel carpet, not a whole retch-inducing “You’ll never sojourn in this luxury chain again, young lady” amount. So that’s something at least.
It wasn’t so much the act of general spillage that made me feel like a lummox cast out of a Swiss finishing school for squirting ketchup on a Rembrandt. No – I can shake off an act of clumsiness like a Las Vegas stripper can shake off a nipple tassle. It’s in my blood. I once dropped a suitcase on a French boy’s head and acted coolly as though I’d merely scuffed a croissant. (He on the other hand was worryingly dazed. I hope it’s not caused any lasting damage. I didn’t keep in touch – he wasn’t my type, and I suspected he was milking it a bit. Crumbs, I hope he’s still alive. It was a big case now I come to think of it. I always overpack.)
Anyway. It wasn’t the fact I’d smeared Angsty Midnight polish everywhere and was likely to get myself a sizeable fine from the posh country hotel. No. It wasn’t even the covert dash downstairs to the swanky spa, fluttering my eyelids at some bemused beauticians (who stared balefully at my lashes like they could definitely be lengthened to this season’s camelesque), confessed I’d had an awful style mishap (intimating fingers not furnishings) and was in dire need of some nail varnish remover. Even that, though fraught with clammy fear they might plonk me down for an actual manicure, a procedure I’m unversed in, went ok.
Then once I’d scrubbed the guilty marks from the virgin carpet I still felt relatively fine.
But I did feel like a disgusting little grub when I went out for a (very ladylike, though not bonneted) stroll of the grounds, pausing to graze a mound of forget-me-nots with my wistful fingers, to sniff the lustrous boughs of wild garlic sprawling over the path, and came back to discover I had trodden in unidentifiable faeces. That’s when I got really cross with myself. “FOR FUCK’S SAKE, SADIE! CAN’T YOU JUST BE LIKE JULIE ANDREWS FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE?” (Julie Andrews having been my yardstick of grace since she got a standing lamp out of a medium tote bag without breaking a sweat.)
My one saving grace was that it was the kind of poo that stuck to the shoe. That firm sort of stool that feels guilty you trod in it and clings resolutely to the sole, refusing to do further damage. I imagine it to be the dropping of a gentleman beaver, rather than a minxy fox. A reserved Colonel of a poo. The kind of poo that would wear a cravat. You know the kind of poo.
Anyway, I tended to the poo before I went down to the introduction to the arty types I was attending a weekend of seminars with. I was annoyed that I had already had both cosmetic and faecal dramas so soon after check-in. I then ruined my plans of becoming demure and classy by drinking Boddingtons at dinner and laughing too loudly at things no one else laughed at. Loud clumsy idiot girl.
But then I went upstairs to my starched white bed sheets, peeled off my jeans (tight from ale and three courses), and read a message from my boyfriend saying he missed me and that bed was empty without me.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make you feel like a lady.