Last night I went to a birthday party. Much planning of what to wear was involved, not because it was a fancy dress do per se (although the invite did say "feathers and pearls") but because the hostess and the majority of the guests were French, and therefore innately stylish.
Rebecca and I debated long and hard over what to wear, deciding not to do the whole flapper thing which the invitation suggested as neither of us is overly fond of dressing up. Instead we trawled the local mall for feathers and pearls. Thank the retail gods for H&M, suppliers of cheap tat to the masses, we both managed to acquire enough "pearls" and feathery head pieces to fulfill the dress code. We were also lucky that the timing of Julie's birthday fell in the Karneval period, meaning that the shops were full of dressing up items including feather boas in every colour of the rainbow - I chose a black one with tiger stripes while Rebecca was a little more restrained with white and silver lurex, I'm not sure who made the best choice, mine was rather tarty whilst Rebecca's was more Barbie - neither a particularly sophisticated look!
We needn't have worried. Of the 20 or so women at the party (it was ladies only - apart from Matts who was on hand to act as wine waiter & child wrangler) there were maybe only four who were completely flappered, one lady had teamed black leather trousers with what looked like a black feathery top (great look, shame about the scary German glasses) then there was a turquoise sequined dress with black feathery shrug, there were boas in every colour you can name, all shedding over the parquet floor, everyone had made an effort.
It was a fun evening, the champagne flowed (as one would expect at a French birthday party) the food was homemade and delicious (as one would expect at a French birthday party) and the conversation was entertaining. I've no idea who was who, after the fifth person was introduced I gave up trying to remember whether Eloise was wearing the black cocktail dress with the pink feather trim or Anouk the leather trousers/feathered top combo...all I could be certain of was that none of them spoke English as a first language! As the only two English people we stuck together (safety in numbers) but did however manage to have various conversations with a French woman who's recently back from living in New York and is keen to keep her children's English language skills up, a German woman who's not long moved back to Essen from Hungary, a French teacher who has lived so long in Germany that she seemed more German than French (and she is French, because we asked which part of France she was from - a slightly more polite way of asking the question "are you French?") and a lovely German lady who was something to do with the French Kindergarten (I think) but who spoke even less French than I do, although her English was good - not that we chatted in English.
And the most popular question we got asked last night? "How long are you here for?" Our replies of "Forever" were greeted with outright surprise. It's a question I'm used to hearing and always the questioner is shocked to hear that a foreigner should want to up sticks and live in their country - I end up doing a selling job on their homeland, extolling the virtues of the great bread shops & eis cafés before moving onto the quality of life and speed limitless Autobahns - then and only then can I bitch about the crap TV and rubbish schooling system!
All in all it was a great night out, although today I'm left with very sore toes (from wearing stupidly high heels for too many hours) and a threatening headache from the naughty bubbles in the champagne, maybe some red wine a little later will sort that problem out (the head not the toes.)