Tuesday 6 February 2024

Cardie by Judith Skilleter, prosecco

Hello, my name is Cardie and I am a cardigan. I am not just any old cardigan; I am a cardigan for special occasions, a cardigan to be wrapped in tissue paper in between outings, a cardigan for holidays and evenings out and certainly not for day to day wear. I am made of a white wool, a cashmere blend with sparkly bits running through here and there and neat pearl buttons. Do not dare put me in a washing machine, dry-clean only please. I shudder at the thought of a hot white wash. In short I am swish and gorgeous, even if I say so myself, and I was bought by my owner (you don’t need to know her name, she is just my owner) for special times – of which she has a fair few.

Unfortunately things have not worked out exactly as I planned and hoped.  For example she and I had a month in Australia in their summer and yes she saw the fireworks from Sydney Harbour Bridge on New Year’s Day, and yes she enjoyed swimming off Bondi Beach and yes she enjoyed a wonderful show at the Sydney Opera House.  Then there are the many glasses of wine she enjoyed at the Opera Bar. Did any of this include me? No it didn’t. I was left in her suitcase for the whole month and my only companion was a nylon raincoat in its own little bag. I tell a lie, I was worn once – at Heathrow Airport when we arrived home. What a cheek! What an insult!

Then there was the cruise around the Caribbean. I thought I would have lovely outings at dinner, especially when the owner was invited to the captain’s table. I was so wrong. You see the owner had bought a silk lined tippet for these occasions and it saddened me hugely to see her leaving our cabin dressed to the nines with this interloper around her shoulders. The tippet and I are not and will not ever be on speaking terms. For this trip I was given a coat hanger all to myself in the wardrobe but I can tell you now that there is not much difference between being hung up in a wardrobe and being left in a suitcase.

And this has been the pattern for just about all of our holidays together. I am taken along just in case I am needed but ideally, from my owner’s point of view, I won’t be needed at all. I am in the case, just in case. Bother!

The owner mixes with the rich and famous occasionally and one time she was invited to the Savoy for dinner. Yes, the posh hotel in London and not the café next to the ice-rink. I was dry cleaned especially for this occasion and was so excited in the days leading up to event I could hardly sleep. For the dinner the owner wore a little black dress that showed too much bosom for my liking and black high heels that were too high and quite unsafe for my liking – and she wore me. It felt so good, and I felt so very good as we got out of the taxi and walked into the Savoy. What tales I would tell when I got home – even, if I must, to that bloody tippet.  But what do you know, I was handed in at the cloakroom and spent the evening squashed between a black trench coat and a faux fur jacket that may have had fleas. And then when I was collected the owner carried me over her arm, I have to say with little care and consideration, to our waiting taxi. How infuriating. There was worse to come. The owner, having had too much to drink, was sick on her little black dress somewhere on Tottenham Court Road and she used me, ME, to wipe up her mess. I have never been so humiliated? Am I a cloth for cleaning up messes? Am I to be used as a large handkerchief when the need arises? No I am not!

But to be fair she does take me to parties and wine tastings and outings with her groups of girlie friends. Well she takes me but more often than not I am left in the car for the duration and if I do gain admittance to these swanky dos I usually end up splattered with red wine, usually Argentinian, her current favourite. I have to say though that I meet very interesting garments with stories to tell at the dry cleaner’s following these events.

A pal of the owner once borrowed me. She had an interview and wasn’t sure what to wear with a sleeveless dress.  Well I could have told her that a sleeveless dress is not the ideal outfit for interviews but of course I couldn’t, could I? In the end she did wear the sleeveless dress but paired it with a neat navy jacket. If I say so myself she looked very good and got the job, But I was thrown to the bottom of her wardrobe and there I stayed alongside old shoes and knickers that keep your tummy in until the owner asked for me back. I reckon I was in that miserable, dark and smelly place for three weeks. The owner was not happy with my condition when I returned home and her pal was made to pay the dry cleaning bill.

I am having a rest at the moment. The owner is pregnant. She cannot get her once slender but now podgy arms down my slender sleeves and there is no way my buttons will fasten across her growing tummy. So I have been dry cleaned and am folded up nicely with tissue paper and put away safely. It’s ok but guess who I have to talk to. Yes, that bloody tippet.

About the author 

Judith Skilleter is new to writing fiction after a long career in social work and teaching. Her first children's novel The April Rebellion, has recently been published. Judith is a Geordie, who settled in East Yorkshire forty-five years ago and is married with four grandchildren 

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