Carry On London

The very first dress in the very first shop. Surely this was a Guinness Book of Bridal Records moment! But not if you’re working with the Grand High Priestess of Shopping, my trusty sister Rhiannon. Would you expect anything less from the organisational mastermind behind the Plastic Bag Luggage System and the Maximum Efficiency Grocery Run?

She’d spent the last two Sundays trawling Oxford Street on what she called The Pre-Shop. She knew that my usual technique — stomping reluctantly into a store, glancing round once, and if nothing comes dancing off the rack singing PICK ME within thirty seconds I’ll just say, “Nothing to see here,” then break for lunch — would be particularly unsuitable for finding a wedding dress on a murderously crowded London Saturday. The girl thinks of everything.

She’d sussed out the perfect frock in a big department store, but tracked it down in a small boutique in the suburbs. We arrived just as it opened so there were no crowds for me to freak out about. No hovering salesladies or queues for dressing rooms or abandoned husbands cluttering up the aisles. She simply strolled in, plucked a dress from a rack and declared, “Here it is!”

Twenty minutes later we were back out on the street with my wedding dress.

I ran up the block bellowing, “WOOHOO!”. Rhi grinned modestly like the cat who’d swallowed a thousand canaries. She had delivered the project ahead of schedule and within budget.

Two hours later I also had shoes and jewellery.

All we needed then were the Squishy Undies.

There’s two types of women in this world. There’s chicks who can toss any scrap of fabric over their head and waltz out onto the street without the need for serious hydraulics under the surface. Then there are those who require smoothing and shaping and lifting and flattening.

Rhi walked into the Shapewear section of Marks and Spencer Lingerie department and says, “Looks like we have choice of Light Control or Firm Control.”

“Are they the only levels? What if your flesh is Out of Control? We need like, HEY You’re Not Going Anywhere Little Lady Control-Freak Control.”

I picked up the dubiously named Variable Modulus Body, a garment so hideous and smothering that it made Bridget Jones’ mumsy knickers look like the tiniest whisper of a thong.

I didn’t really look at it closely before putting it on, I assumed you just stepped into it like a swimsuit. But things got dicey around mid-thigh when I couldn’t pull the bra bit up any higher. My knees were fused together by the crippling power of lycra. All I could do was sort of helplessly slide to the floor.

I poked my head beneath the curtain and bleated, “Rhiannon. Please. Help!”

It was such a pretty picture. I was bent over, hands braced against the wall, Rhiannon positioned behind me trying to haul the fabric over my hips, me wheezing away, “It won’t FIT! It’s just too TIGHT!” and Rhiannon huffing and puffing, “Just stay STILL!”

Finally it was on. All was well.

I tried it on with the wedding frock, everything looked under control.

Now all I had to do was get the damn thing off.

“Okay, I’m going to turn around while you undress,” said Rhi.

“Don’t worry, I won’t look.”

“Good, good.”

Five minutes pass.

“Ummm, Rhiannon I think I might need you to turn around.”

“Jesus christ!” My arms were over my head, pinned to my ears by the evil forces of lycra. My fingers were turning purple from lack of circulation. One underwire was still holding a boob while the other provided firm support for my chin.

It took ten minutes of grunting and groaning to remove it, and only afterwards did I discovered that the crotch has little snaps on it that you’re supposed to undo first, then put the garment on over your head! Instead of trying to wrestle it over your prime-for-childbearing hips!

Aside from that, it was a great weekend.

Tonight we said our goodbyes as I headed for Heathrow. The two of us suddenly started bawling like babies, really sobbing. We said it was because weddings bring out the emotions. But it’s possible she was crying from the sheer trauma of seeing me tangled up in a lycra bodysuit. And perhaps I was crying coz instead of Wedding Night Action™, I will be too busy having the damn thing surgically removed.

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

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29 thoughts on “Carry On London

  1. Oh Blimey – soooo glad you got the frock but oh you made me laugh again. You do it everytime – crack me up, that is.

  2. LMAO! I could imagine you trying to get into and out of the body suit. Maybe b/c I did the exact same thing when I was looking for my wedding dress and dresses for the parties in the months before. Half the time I couldn’t figure out if they were supposed to go over my head or hips. I was in the same situation a few times myself with my arms stuck over my head, nearly unable to move. All but one time I was by myself, freaking out and almost crying b/c I thought I would never get out of the dress, corset or whatever I was trying on at the time.

  3. fab post very very funny!

    that Rhi! what would you do without her?!

    Wedding night action? well if you can manage to stay awake after an exhausting day filled with emotions and drinking then you get a big gold star. We had all the best intention but literally got back to the hotel, laid down on the bed and promptly passed out – ahhhh the romance of it all ;o)

  4. Lol, you poor thing! You totally must put a picture of your dress up! Hehe, hopefully you were able to find one non-poo-colored?

  5. Oh, Shauna, you have just seriously improved my day. Again.

    Rhi to the rescue! That body thing sounds EVIL, although I’m sure you’ll have got the hang of whipping it off gracefully by the time it matters. I have had just such contortionist-like experiences when trying on sports bras (alone, mercifully) and I always wonder what all the fuss was about after I’ve actually bought the thing.

    But you have your dress! SO exciting. Wonder if I could get my sister to do a pre-shop? She’s just as organised as Rhi – but maybe not as patient…

  6. Bless her!

    I had a similar whale-boned contraption purchased from a questionable factory outlet between LA and Vegas , and as soon as I unhooked the bugger in a parting of the ribcages befitting a program like CSI, JUST to go to the loo, I couldn’t get it or my wedding dress back on. After all, I had dared to eat! It seems all I needed was some handy crotch snaps, like you, Shaunybaby!

  7. a good effort!

    your posts with rhi remind me so much of the adventures i have with my younger sister!

    (and, er, thanks for the tip on the Squishy Undies, i’m gonna need it for my day…)

  8. I tried to say this yesterday, but the comments weren’t working:-

    Hey excellent work on the frock – that sister of yours is pure gold isn’t she?

    Had to laugh at the Variable Modulus Whatsit. Brings back memories of my very similar industrial-strength-lycra wedding undergarments. Especially trying to peel them off afterwards. Gah! Funny now though 🙂

  9. dear sweet merciful lilies. you had me laughing loud enough to get me in trouble at work shauny. once i made the supervisor read your entry i was forgiven. 🙂

  10. From memory, your skin is awfully sensitive and happy after taking on of the torture devices off – Weeding Night Action ™ may end up being cancelled purely because you can’t stop laughing…

    Excellent entry, and I think Rhi should go in to the wedding planner business.

  11. Oh dear, I’ve finished reading through the archives and then I get to 2005 and my heart is broken – I’ve fallen in love with a taken woman.

    You make sure that Gareth lad knows he’s a lucky boy and he’d better treat you right or a few of your fans are gonna go crazy on his arse.

    I can’t stop laughing at the image of the under-straightjacket…

  12. I’m such a party pooper, and it’s a really funny story, and maybe I’m garmently challenged, but surely in order to get your arms pinned to your ears by the thing, you’d have figured out that it had snaps before, not after you removed it?

    Love ya anyhow though!

  13. Holy Jeebus, woman. I nearly snarfed all over the keyboard.

    Hooray for sisters who plan shopping trips with military precision and know how to keep your puppies under control on the day.

    Although I suggest you and the boy have some practice sessions getting you out of the iron maiden… er, I mean Variable Modulus Body. ;>

  14. Lord have mercy. I’m crying tears of laughter here.

    I second the call for Rhi to charge for her services.. SHOPPING services (you dirty mind so and so’s).

  15. Jebus! you crazy! 🙂

    thanks anonymous for the correction, i get inaccurate when i blog drunk 🙂

  16. hahahaha, control knickers! i remember wearing a pair to my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding a few years ago and thinking that they were going to cut off my circulation during the night. and i seem to recall taking them out of the packet, showing them to my friends and all of us thinking i had accidentally purchased cabbage patch undies, they were so damn tiny! now i’ll be needing them again as i just got engaged on valentine’s day. oh control panties, my saviour. i feel your pain, shauna.

  17. I’m going to get fired for reading your blog at work!! Why did I almost snort water out of my nose while reading this? ‘Cause its damned funny!!!

    You really should be paid to write this!

  18. Ok then Shauna, I NEED TO BORROW YOUR SISTER. The challenge: A June Wedding, and a 7 Months Pregnant Bride Who Hates Shopping And DETESTS Dresses. Any ideas? 😉

  19. Rhi sounds like a gem

    [chuckles] Was intrigued by the term ‘squishy undies’. I’ll try to make it part of my vocab now 🙂 What were they thinking when they named that one you tried? It sounds like a scientific process or a heavenly body.

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