I'm sorry to be sending a letter by the post rather than by email, but I hope you'll find it interesting and want to add it to your site when you get time to copy it up, scan it or whatever (I'm not very computer literate!)
I've been unable to access the site for a while, for various reasons, but I did enjoy reading the fascinating letters from Pauline, recounting her new methods of mackintosh self-discipline. I very much hope that she'll write again to tell us all more. Perhaps my letter will prompt her to do so. Abigail's school uniform stories were interesting too.
As you know from my previous letters, I associate the mackintosh scene particularly with discipline and punishment, and so I was amazed to see how closely Pauline's routines match my own. My basic everyday workwear is a dark blue Burberry-style trench, fully buttoned and belted at all times. Footwear is flat lace-up black shoes, but these are replaced by black Wellingtons if there is any mention in the morning's weather forecast of rain in my area, whether or not it's raining when I leave the house ... I also carry a black PVC rainhat, which must be worn if rain does indeed occur.
Then there are my Punishment Days, which occur at least one Saturday each month. Although it's thirty-odd years since I left school, I'm lucky to have retained a slim figure, and think I've retained my looks reasonably well. I have a glossy red PVC mack, short (above the knee), single-breasted with a tie belt and large lapels, epaulettes and cuff straps. It's an old fashion item, and certainly gets one noticed. This is worn with a short skirt (shorter than the hem of the mack), fishnets, and. . . shiny black Argyll Wellingtons, chosen for their clumpiness and definite non-fashion status, so as to really clash with the mack. I apply rather more make-up than usual; the intended effect is to be on the borderline between fashionable and tarty, or (I hesitate to say it!) almost mutton dressed as lamb.
Once in my punishment clothes, I take the Tube into the West End to go clothes shopping. I go to quality boutiques as well as larger and cheaper stores (eg TopShop) catering for the slightly younger end of the market. Wherever I choose, the pattern is the same: I try on at least three itews of rainwear, as available, in each store. This requires me to remove my own mack in front of other shoppers, and to parade the shop's macks in front of the store mirrors, for all to see. In addition, I have to take clothes into the changing rooms in each store. I make myself choose things that are just on the edge of suitability for my age and looks - a pleated tartan micro-mini, for example. Best of all are stores with communal changing rooms, so that I have to take off my clothes, but keep on my Wellingtons, in front of other, mostly younger women. And of course, on the way in and out I have to exchange looks and remarks to the attendants. Sometimes I buy things, but most often I don't because that means that I have to have a conversation with the attendants, explaining why I'm not purchasing. It's quite common, of course, for them to be stifling grins and giggles at my bizarre appearance, but that's the point: this is the best and most effective way I have found to relive my discipline at the hands of the School Prefects all those years ago.
I'm so sorry it took me so long to put up your very interesting letter - equipment probs/general uselessness. I suppose as a penalty I ought to wear my wellies next time I go down town ...
Ben supports me by pointing here
Actually, I'm afraid that would make me cut a super-fashionable figure today - wellies (if I read the fashion pages correctly) being all the rage.
This means that you may have to consider a different punishment uniform yourself - and maybe your whole disciplinary strategy! It is I think really difficult to look oddly dressed in the high street today - you are right, you have to think of things like wellies to raise any eyebrows at all, and now they are out! You might have to consider a fifties-style school gaberdine? With a mackintosh lining I think to make wearing it really uncomfortable.
SHOP | CLUB FOYER | CHILLOUT ROOM | ASK LORRAINE