I feel as though I’ve had an interesting week. It probably isnt amazing in the grand scheme of things. I haven’t really travelled anywhere out of the norm, or started a new job or met an alien (I would really like to meet an alien), but it’s been quite thought provoking for me personally. While the events may seem completely random, please bear with me. There is a method behind the madness (if you pick up on it before I get to the end, I’ll be super impressed!).
I’ll work backwards, because lets face it, life is too short to be predictable or normal.
It happened on a Saturday. I had a busy morning and beautiful lunch after work, then made my way into London to meet some friends. A few coffees later, I headed towards Kings Cross to drop off some garments to a stylist.
As most people probably do when waiting for a tube, I politely smiled at an elderly Asian gentleman getting off the District line at Mile End. He smiled back and asked me how I was doing. I replied in the usual polite manner, and proceeded to check the board for the next H&C line arrival, as the man walked towards exit. Completely normal right? Wrong.
Five minutes later, as another district line train pulled away from the station, I turn around to see the same man walking back towards me. I was expecting a polite conversation about the tube, the weather, a few questions about my heritage and maybe at a push, the Pakistan/India discussion. I was not expecting this.
“Are you free next weekend, I would like to spend some time in your company?”
“I’m actually working next weekend” I replied politely (it was the truth, I was working the weekend & yes, I probably could have come up with a better response.).
“Oh. Well anytime. Whenever you’re free – I would really enjoy your company whenever you have the time”
Now I was feeling slightly uncomfortable with this whole exchange, and felt the need to nip this in the bud.
“I’m sorry, I really don’t think that’s a good idea” seemed to do the trick. Or so I thought, until the next question came, “So are you still in school?” which, I’m sure you’ll agree, put an entirely different spin on the whole conversation.
Thankfully, my train turned up a few seconds later.
A few days later, I was sat in a coffee shop in town. Between working and sipping my coffee, I often sit and people watch while I get my thoughts in gear. This day was no different. I noticed a few people in the coffee shop, smiled if we caught each other’s eye and continued with my work. Totally chilled out and normal.
Imagine my surprise (& slight horror) then, when an elderly gentleman (who couldn’t be younger than 60) and was sat a few tables away; walked up to me, smiled and said, “I’m heading to the cafe around the corner. Would you like to join me?”
Hopefully you can understand why I categorized this under “The Bad”.
I had been in contact with a celebrity stylist about dropping off some garments for a photoshoot with a recognised name. Aside from the fact that I love to see how stylists interpret my designs, I was excited about this shoot because the recognised name was a person I remembered seeing on TV last year. I appreciated their quirky style and would have been honoured if one of my pieces was used in the shoot.
Now I feel the need to point out that I have never insisted on having people run around after me. I always try to help people out when I can, I’m more likely to go the extra mile to make life easier for others. I will continue to be like this. It’s my nature and It makes me happy. Usually, most people are willing give a little of the same in return, and that little of the same, in my mind, makes it all worthwhile.
After a series of texts and calls trying to figure out and sync our whereabouts, the stylist and I agreed on meeting at Kings Cross. I assumed, I would get to the station, give the stylist a call and they would make an effort to at least meet me at the station. No such luck.
Upon arriving, I was informed that dinner was still in progress; I’d need to drop off the garments to a bar/restaurant apparently only 5 mins walk from the station. At this point, I was not a happy bunny, but I figured, seeing as I was there already; another five minutes wouldn’t kill me. Cue pulling out google maps, bringing up the post code and finding out it was actually a ten minute walk. As I tried to get my bearings around the station, my phone battery died.
I took this as a sign. It was not meant to be. I turned, and made my way back to the tube; I managed to get my phone to last long enough to give the stylist a call and explain that I wouldn’t be dropping of the garments and proceeded to head home. Also realising during this time, that I was actually about to leave my collection in the hands of stylist who was in the middle of a night out…. Yes I know. Idiot.
Now comes the ugly.
The aforementioned stylist already had some of my garments; essentially my pride and joy, my favourite pieces from the whole collection. I dropped these off on the 17th Jan; for a photoshoot on the Sunday after. I had been in touch to pick up these garments earlier; & after a few cancelled meetings, no replies to texts etc. I was getting pretty antsy.
The aftermath of the shambles of a meeting at Kings Cross was the same. I tried to call and arrange a meeting to pick them up and got no response – when I finally did manage to get through, I was informed that they had been passed to another stylist who would pass them back to me. I was not happy, but kept calm and was incredibly polite. I cant say the same for the stylist.
Upon finding the number for the second stylist, I’ve spent the last 3 days trying to arrange a meeting. In short, I’ve basically had the attitude of I’ll be anywhere at anytime, just give me a time and date. Finally, 4 weeks after the orginal photoshoot, I’ve managed to get my garments back. Unfolded, wrinkled and shoved into a shoulder bag – completely respectful right(!).
And now, for what I call the “The Good”
After a morning at work sometime last week, I got talking to the lovely Galina Imrie (with whom I’ve been working with for years). She was telling me about her trip to San Diego and being asked out to dinner by a “charming” elderly gentleman. Cue my story about my similar experiences as described above.
She then said something interesting. Referring to the current issues in the news and all the sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviours cases going on, she mentioned that maybe it was something about age that made the elderly revert back to the childhood attitudes of not realising when an action or comment is inappropriate. I agreed to an extent, but pointed out that people involved in these cases weren’t old when they committed the alleged offences: they were probably middle aged at best. I countered with the fact that I felt it may have been something to do with the attitudes towards women and sexual offences not being taken as seriously back then. We discussed this for a few minutes, before we bid our farewells and I headed home.
After whole fiasco with the stylist, and the unfortunate luck of having to deal with rude and inconsiderate people, I got thinking.
It seems to me that the underlying reason behind these inappropriate actions wasn’t an issue of not being aware of the limits of appropriate behaviour; of having the wrong attitude towards women or not enough support for victims. It’s more a problem with attitude. An assumption that, just because you feel you are famous/well-known, know someone famous or have had an experience of being in the presence of someone well known, you become unaccountable for your actions/comments and automatically have the right to do and say whatever you want. Eveeryone else just needs to deal with it.
It’s an attitude that I never actually believed still existed in this day and age. I’d like to think I have been brought up well. I (usually) am a pretty balanced person, I can take the bad stuff on the chin and appreciate the good stuff in a thankful way.
I have an amazing family (who admittedly can be a little crazy at times), but have always taught me to think of others before myself, to be empathetic, to be helpful, caring, positive and above all, polite. I don’t need to resort to being rude to get my point across or feel the need to abuse my position in any situation.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some beautiful people; from brilliant and inspiring employers to amazingly quirky (& polite!) stylists who have recognised the fact that my collection is my blood, sweat and tears, have respected this, looked after and returned them to me without any drama. All of this has helped me grow.
And so, the good part of this post is to thank all those people who have made it a pleasure for me to work with them. To reinforce that a positive attitude and good manners will actually do more for me and others in the long term. To remind me that everything will happen for a reason; even though the reason may be hard to understand right now, it will make sense at some point. To listen to my gut more. To tell me that sometimes I might get upset or annoyed about losing something I think I want/need, but I just need to let go.
But I think the most important thing is this – all I actually need is to smile through the good, the bad and the ugly; however hard that may seem.
P.S. The image is from a great photoshoot with one of the loveliest and most beautiful stylists I’ve ever met, for a magazine submission. It’s from a couple of years ago, but makes me smile every time I see it. Thank you to the following for the amazing image! Photographer: Charlotte Bibby, model: Drew Ballou Phelps @ D1, Styling: Jamie Wilson, Makeup: Rebecca Rojas, Hair: Andree Marie. With thanks to the Paradise Pub London, Chiffon Shirt & Trousers: Frezia Alnisa Zaraat