On Wednesday, I took a day off work and drove down to my friend Liz’s house in Cambridge with the intention of spending a day site seeing and shopping in the University City.
On arrival, I quickly got ready, my favourite woolly top from Primark in off white, purple and pink stripes teamed up with a short woollen pencil skirt worn over black opaque tights and my favourite comfortable shoes with a 3” heel from New Look.
Allowing for the cold weather, (first mistake assuming the forecast was going to be right!) I wore my new black ¾ length coat from M&S over the top. My makeup was understated to suit the day and I took advantage of my pierced ears to wear my new large hooped earrings.
Driving into the City, we parked in our usual spot at Pounds Hill and I joined a woman at the pay and display machine. Turning to me she asked me to confirm the instructions i.e. at 20p per 15 minutes “is that £1.60 for the maximum of 2 hours?”
I confirmed that she was indeed correct and ended up exchanging views on the “no change given” issue with these sort of machines. No raised eyebrows – just normal social intercourse.
Walking into town, I noticed that everywhere was very busy. There were large numbers of tourists in addition to families taking in the unseasonably warm temperatures. In the process, Liz showed me around a number of the gardens behind the college facades and we spent sometime watching the activities on the river, politely declining the invitation to go for a punt ride. “Ladies would you be interested in …….” – a nice welcome feeling.
Having walked past a number of the attractions including the grasshopper clock and taken a few touristy pictures, we ended up at the Castle pub and sat down enjoying some refreshments, watching the rest of the world go by. It was fairly quiet in the pub and the lad behind the bar joined us and chatted for a while. Once again total acceptance.
Running out of time on the car park we returned to the car and drove further across town this time parking at the Grafton Centre to indulge in some shopping. Reverse parking my Mondeo into a tight space whilst wearing heels and a tight skirt whilst a number of cars and people were watching – different sort of stress!
Entering into the precinct via Next, I spent 20 minutes trying shoes on, in particular looking for a suitable pair of flats but nothing either fit or caught my attention. Further into the shop, I came across and fell in love with a jacket. Trying it on I felt that longing – but reality stepped in, I just could not justify £75 given our current financial state.
Moving on, Liz spent some time in a new wig shop and entering into the spirit, we spent a long while she tried just about every wig on in the shop. I decided to leave her to it and sat down at the café over the aisle with a pot of tea only from time to time, much to the amusement of the adjacent customers, being beckoned over to comment on the different styles and colours Liz was trying on. Finally she decided and to celebrate the close of the sale, we had a photo taken with the women in the shop, Liz and myself.
As Liz had an appointment at the other side of town, we agreed to split, meeting up later and we went our separate ways with me ending in Debenhams.
In the beauty hall I got talking to a French guy on the Smashbox stand and arranged a makeover on my eyes. He was very good and we got on well as he firstly cleaned off my existing makeup before applying new. Sitting on a high stool at the entrance to Debenham’s being made up by a guy certainly turned a few heads and was most definitely not for any shrinking violets.
I must admit to thoroughly enjoying the experience and to learning a lot including how to deal with my deep set eyes and of course ending up with a new set of eye make up, blusher and bronzer. On finishing the makeover, I had a few photos taken as a momento.
The remainder of my time, I spent looking for that ideal party dress but this time despite trying on a couple of possibles, my limited money remained in my purse.
Before rejoining Liz, I took another break and had a coffee at Costa, sitting watching everyone go by. Throughout my wanderings, it was evident that I had been noticed and just sitting there adjacent to a busy corridor was no exception, however, no adverse comments or reactions were forthcoming and indeed I entered into conversations with a number of fellow customers, one couple in particular with a very young baby.
Re joining Liz, we had a bite to eat at a Chinese Restaurant washed down by a bottle of beer before returning to her house, the intention being for her to sort out a new prospective lodger and then for us to join the Cambridge Gems on the river boat Georgina for an hour cruise. That was the plan, reality was that we ran out of time and sadly missed the opportunity to meet up with the regular girls from Cambridge as it took much longer than we had envisaged.
As it was becoming too late to really do much else, I decided to get changed, foregoing a drink in our regular pub and surprise my wife by getting back early. Make up, removed, clothes changed, I was on the road for 10 and home for 11pm, the end of another ordinary but enjoyable day in Cambridge.
In summary, various people including Liz and Johnny (the French guy in Debenhams) comment that they felt that Cambridge is not as enlightened as my own perceptions indicate. Certainly, other than a few verbal exchanges with drunks late at night, I have never had any feeling of being threatened though a number of encounters result in stares to which I respond by staring back. No one faced with that sort of response has continued to meet my stare nor taken it further. Certainly I have learned over the two years I have been out and about to turn right down my radar and as a consequence very rarely pick up adverse reactions to my presence that my wife or say Liz picks up on. As a consequence, I continue to find myself very comfortable as I carry out my business as Emma and as stated in my previous post, find it almost a non event these days. This frightens me somewhat as I do not want my outings as Emma to be “ordinary” and an everyday event. I love going out as Emma and would hate it if I lost that excitement.
5 years ago