In an ancient paper bag I discovered a project which I had both begun and abandoned when a teenager.
I had bought at a jumble sale a 1950s “New Look” cocktail dress. I had dismantled it, in order to make a skirt?, a waistcoat? I can’t even remember now. And then I had run out of steam.
Why hadn’t I thrown the whole thing out?
Through how many decades, how many house moves should one keep a shredded jumble sale dress?
But as I opened the pack again, I could see why I had held onto it – it was a gorgeous satin brocade of pink cherry blossom and green leaves on an oyster background. The style recalled those long ago glamorous days in Cambridge in The Theory of Everything.
Could it be restored?
Before I wasted my time, I cajoled Carenza into it to see if it would fit. Bristling with pins, she looked like a glamorous hedgehog.
After a long evening of work, the dress was once more fabulous.
“Now all you need is a garden party!”
“My college does have a garden party but it involves a bouncy castle and sumo wrestling.”
o tempora, o mores!
But then she looked through her emails.
“Ah – I’ve been invited to this year’s encaenia - the honorary degrees ceremony and there’s a garden party afterwards.”
It really is The Theory of Everything. The collision in time and space of a young woman, an event, and a dress.