Looking at a photograph, part of the coverage of the recent death of the Baroness  Thatcher showing the lady seated at her dressing-table, I reflected that I had never used one.   My own mother, as I recall, though attentive to her make-up and appearance, never sat down at one either.   In fact I have no recollection of my mother putting on make-up at all so presumably she did so in some private place.

My only criticism of the photograph of Margaret Thatcher is that it is a portrait of the lady in full public attire, where normally such an illustration would be in an intimate and delightful dishabille – a private moment which, though obviously contrived, pretends to be stolen.

I often regard with mild envy other women’s charming tables at which presumably they sit, with little drawers and shelves for their make-up, boxes for their jewellery, bottles of perfumes, glass dishes, flowers, all the delights of feminine frippery.    One imagines the lady of the house, attired perhaps in a silk and lace peignoir spending a leisurely private half hour getting ready for whatever her day promises.   (I can hear hollow laughter, but we can dream surely?)

Yet I know, even if I got one, I won’t sit at it.

When I was very young, I worked for a man in charge of a factory employing about 500 people.   I would lay out my clothes, jewellery, shoes etc the night before, and I could exit from bed to car in about 10 minutes.   The boss found it most productive if we could have an hour or so together sorting out his day before anyone else arrived.    I’d always been a morning person so it wasn’t hard for me to accommodate him in this way, and it had the added advantage that since I started work an hour or more ahead of the official time, going off to the hairdressers or for a long lunch was never a problem.    When occasionally I encountered the resentment of other women over this, I would wonder irritably where they were when the boss and I would slip into the empty car park in the grey light of dawn (in our separate cars.)    We’d have our session, both of us glaring so hard if anyone interrupted that people only did so in dire emergency.    Then he would put on his hard hat and  protective coat and retreat into the plant, and he’d say to me, ‘You go and put  your face on now.’    I’d take my  bag of tricks to the empty ladies’ loo (and get decidedly disgruntled if anyone came in before I was finished).    There I’d stand over  a sink and use the mirror above.   I suppose I developed  the habit of standing…

Now a desk, a proper desk, with a notice board and shelves above, and drawers and a waste paper bucket, that is for my exclusive use – well, now you’re talking.  I’ve always had one of those, and I can’t imagine being without it.


About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.


  1. Evelyn says:

    Like you, I used to put my face on at work, but usually because I was late rather than early! These days, however, I have actually complained when hotels don’t have a seat in front of the mirror. A result of age, of course. Not only can’t I stand for too long, but the old face takes a lot longer to get ready.

    PS I know the ‘sedated’ in your first sentence has to be a typo, but my gosh, it’s a Freudian one!

  2. adhocannie says:

    Goodness! I can’t imagine (a how I came to type sedated in the first place, and (b) why I didn’t notice it in checking it. It was absolutely unintentional, and in fact I was congratulating myself on being able to write of Mrs Thatcher without any critical overtones for once! Freudian as you suggest. Japanese traditional hotels offer you a dressingtable complete with mirror – but to use it you are obliged to kneel on the floor.

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