There’s been a pretty mixed reaction this week to Lila Morris winning a free makeover in a phone-in competition on Biddermouth FM, not least from the prize winner herself. You see Lila had set her sights on coming third and walking off with a fluorescent green colander and a set of Italian designed kitchen utensils to match. So in some ways you can understand her disappointment.
Reactions hereabouts have ranged from a non-committal grunt from my neighbour Beattie, through a sniffy ‘about time’ from Rita Randall and finally to a surprised ‘who’d have thought Ho Chi Min was a real person’ from Vera Preston.
‘I was tempted to say that myself,’ she added, ‘ but I’d swear I had one once off Gloria Chang’s take-away van and it came with rice and free prawn crackers. I mean you never think of people being named after things on menus do you?’
‘What about Peach Melba,’ asked Beattie?
Vera said that was exactly her point.
‘She wasn’t called that at all was she? Even I know her name was Nelly and she had really deep voice.’
‘That was Clara Butt,’ said Beattie but I could see that even with her self-professed encyclopaedic knowledge of the opera she’d have her work cut out pitting her wits against a woman who thought Nigel Kennedy had named the ‘Four Seasons’ after a pizza.
Luckily Bernie Heffernan from the Silver Lantern Café filled in the silence with a warning that Lila needed to be careful. The same thing had happened to a cousin of hers from Donegal, she confided. She’d won a make-over in a magazine and her eyebrows never had never been the same again.
‘Every morning after that she had go to work on her face with a pencil so she did. Which wasn’t easy what with her being left handed and all that. Mind you neither was rolling pastry.’
Vera said that being left handed wasn’t an affliction but Bernie suggested she should try telling that to a woman who’d lost her right arm fishing lint out of a loom.
All of which left a big enough gap in the conversation for Lila to casually mention that instead of just popping down to our local department store for a lick of blusher as we’d all thought, she was actually going to be on local TV and broadcast live from the cosmetics department of Stirrup & Morleys.
Well that was news indeed. You see none of us had ever been on the television apart from Beattie and that was only a short segment on the local news showing her being forcibly moved off-camera after she’d managed to turn an on-the-spot interview about traffic congestion into a five minute monologue about the perils of nurses wearing their uniforms on public transport.
‘I’m going to be on ‘Live This Morning’ with Sheena Henson,’ Lila announced.
Was that the same Sheena that usually did the ten o’clock slot about pets with skin diseases Vera wanted to know? Because if it was Lila needed to make sure she was wearing gloves.
‘Last week she was examining a goat with cystitis.’
‘Anyway,’ said Lila choosing to ignore her advice, somewhat at her own peril I thought, ‘Sheena won’t actually be doing the make-over. It’s going to be done by one of their top beauty consultants. And they’ve asked me to look out some pictures of what I’d like to look like. So what do you think of these?
Beattie winced and said she didn’t really see Lila as Grace Kelly which was harsh but true whilst Rita Randall certainly didn’t see her as Ava Gardner.
‘After all,’ she added, ’she had style. And even Vera hasn’t got the mouth for Joan Crawford.’
Or the shoulders thankfully,’ replied Vera who distracted by a tramp urinating outside the café window had allowed Rita’s comment to fall uncontested somewhere between the sugar bowl and the salt and pepper.
Which was all well and good but with the Great Day rapidly approaching and Lila still dithering between Elizabeth Taylor in ‘Butterfield 8’ and the vain hope that she would metamorphose into Meryl Streep if she concentrated hard enough it was down to Vera to come up with the great idea that perhaps Lila should just settle for being herself.
‘After all,’ she said, ‘you used to be quite pretty. I mean you did win that Sandie Shaw look-alike contest at school.’
Lila reminded her that was Hilary Mason.
‘The trouble is,’ she confided, ‘I’m just no good with make-up.’
Rita Randall said that was no problem. As long as they were using Jeanette from Claudinelle because she was the one that always did her face when they had a special offer on. Which I have to say caused raised eyebrows all round because the kindest thing anybody could ever say about Rita’s make-up was that it was colourful.
‘But,’ she added, ‘make sure you put your foot down if they offer you that Linda from Bella Visage. The last time she did my mascara she had all bits of pasty between her teeth and stank of piccalilli.’
Well you could tell all this indecision was taking its toll on Lila because one day she appeared in the High Street having spent a whole evening studying Dusty Springfield only to be handed a leaflet advertising a refuge for battered wives.
So you can imagine our surprise when we all switched on at ten o’clock to see Linda from Bella Visage doing her level best to turn Eileen Kitchener into Sophia Loren, and failing dismally.
As Eileen said on camera she was as surprised as the next person that anybody would want to swap this once-in-life time opportunity for a set of kitchen utensils. I just hope Miss Loren was too busy eating her cannelloni to be watching the telly. I mean if she thought for a moment she looked like a dinner lady from Gladstone Terrace she’d never step one foot outside again would she?
To view my books ‘Bell, Book & Handbag’ and ‘Tourist Trouble & other short stories’, ‘A Festive Falling Out’ and ‘Turkey And All The Trimmings’ all featuring Maureen, Beattie and their friends from Biddermouth on Sea please click HERE
All Things Biddermouth stories ©Ian Ashley 2017