Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On.

The dream...
These are the shoes I bought for my dream life, the one where I’m far more glamorous, far more successful … and don’t actually have to fret about walking further than from car to bar. I haven’t worn them – unless you count trotting round the house a few times for the sheer joy of wearing such pretty and impractical footwear. However much I might secretly dream of topping the Sunday Times best seller list, I’m fully aware that every time I step in the shower and wash in water that’s cleaner and more abundant than many people’s drinking water, I’m already living someone else’s dream.

I’ve been knocked out by the worst cold I’ve had in ages and it’s forced me to sit passively watching the world go by. Christmas always worries me anyway; too many memories of trying to make it special on a very limited budget when my daughters were growing up, but more than ever it seems that so many seasonal messages are all about buying that festive feeling. All that debt for the fragrance, the clothes, the car, the food, the little bits of coloured plastic that promise to change your family’s life only for the magic and sparkle to disappear with the discarded wrapping. I’m not suggesting we wear hair shirts on Christmas Day - I enjoy a treat as much as the next person - but I do think this is the time of year when the pressure to make dreams come true makes it easy to lose sight of reality and of what’s really important.

Another fantasy that’s dismayed me this week (don’t worry, my cold seems to be going so expect normal service to be resumed) is the hype around the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. The cover photo of a young woman weighed down by outsized gold wings, her bottom barely covered, might have cheered up some readers of this week’s Telegraph magazine, but it makes me want to weep. When far too many women are shackled by their own societies, how is trussing up a model and sending her down a catwalk buckling under the weight of a 40lb frame a good thing? Really, is this what women’s liberation amounted to?

And I suppose you could say, that as a novelist I’m guilty of peddling dreams too, because, yes, I do have to promote my books from time to time. However, I’m not promising to make my readers lives better, but only to tell them a story with a happy ending about female protagonists who discover that joy comes from within and that self-belief takes you higher than an 8 ft pair of gold wings.


... and the reality.



Comments

Mandy K James said…
A great post - I totally agree with every word. xx
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you, dear heart! xx
Annabel Mallia said…
Everybody wants to escape from their humdrum or problematic life sometimes; that's why we read novels. We want to be reassured that, after the struggles, we will be rewarded with the happy-ever-after scenario. The material stuff doesn't matter so much at Christmas. We make or bake each other's presents: that's why I'm baking Easter biscuits at Christmas. That's what she wants! As you say, we're already so blessed; we don't need more! Just love and happy endings.
Chris Stovell said…
I like to read in bed before I go to sleep for that reason, Annabel. If I've got something on my mind, it just helps me to switch off with a good book before settling down (I tend to avoid anything gruesome!). I do like your Easter biscuits story too - and the thought that you're giving your time and love along with that gift. That's what's important. x
Jan Brigden said…
Love your posts, Chris. Straight from the heart as always. Xxx
Clare Chase said…
Great post, Chris – I have a hat I bought for my fantasy life, which is similarly not likely to wear out through overuse... I’m glad your cold is finally loosening its grip!
Sally Townsend said…
Absolutely agree with your sentiments ! Hope the cold gets better soon, keep wearing those heels...
Kathryn Freeman said…
Ah - a post to make you smile and think. I too have a pair of shoes like yours (only mine are less glamorous and red). Perhaps we should wear them to the next RNA gathering (for a few seconds before we take them off because we can only stagger in them!) xx
Chris Stovell said…
Many thanks, Jan - all best to you. xx

Oh I would love to see your fantasy hat, Clare - I do hope you your novel brings plenty of occasions for celebrations when you can wear it. (And thank you!).

I'll have to, Sally, or I'll completely forget how to walk in them! Thank you.

I love red shoes, Kate, so yep, bring 'em on - we can wear our shoes and Clare can wear her hat! xx
Flowerpot said…
I so agree Chris and love the idea of baking at Christmas!
I think Chris we all have a pair of those shoes or that dress for the more glamorous part of our lives that we've yet to live.

I think your sentiments on the Victoria's Secret show is spot on. We do tend to become very materialistic around the holidays. It's all about spending money and not remembering why we celebrate. We really do need to appreciate what we have. Competing with others and trying to fit into a mold that we're told we should ascribe to is tough.

I think it's wonderful you've raised two lovely daughters with the resources you had. You did the best for them and they benefited from that. After all, love is the best gift of all and it's both free and priceless.
Sheryl Browne said…
Great post, Chris. As a single mum struggling on that wee budget myself in years past, I couldn't agree more. I do tend to count my blessings now when I curl up in front of the fire on Christmas day, glad that I have my wings, in the form of freedom to do so. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels inclined to have a rant when perfectly sensible women seem to want to clip theirs. Madness. Hope your cold is all gone soon! :) xx
Chris Stovell said…
I love the idea of baking at Christmas, Sue.. but I don't always get round to it! Still, we'll be cracking open some of the hedgerow fizz and elderflower champagne made earlier in the year.

Chanpreet, I was feeling quite guilty about the shoes I've never worn but people's comments here have made me realise that there's a few of us hoping for a bit of glamour from time to time. You are so right about love; it is free and priceless - and it doesn't run out. All best to you and yours.

Hello Sheryl, lovely to see you here! Thank you for your comments and good wishes. cx
Frances said…
Chris, once again what you've written has touched all sorts of common grounds with the rest of us. Thank you for starting the conversation.

Your glam slippers are lovely. Do give them a time out every so often just for the fun of the elevation. Truly, you could wear them with jeans to give an edge to both. (I've got several pairs of glam heels in my closet that I last wore sometime in the last century. I just like to take a look at them every so often. My feet thank me for just looking.)

Dreams are good. I think that there's a difference between dreams and delusion.

I view commercialized, transactionalized Christmas season from the sidelines. I much prefer to make most of my gifts and enjoy seeing friends, eating way too much sweet, rich items, and perhaps having a glass too much of something intoxicating. And enjoying beautiful decorations and the scent of greenery, and doing some baking of my own.

Some of the music is good to hear, too.

xo
Chris Stovell said…
And thank you, Frances, once again for running with the ball. It made me laugh to think of your feet thanking you for just admiring your glam heels! Unfortunately, I don't have your clever craft skills - I think my friends would have to wait many years if I started to make them gifts and even then my knitted pieces would never be as lovely or as intricate as yours. I'll join you instead eating too many sweet things and will be sure to raise a glass to you on Christmas Day. Cx

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