Friday evening last week saw me slipping into my red velvet Sacha Drake dress patterned with roses and my brocaded Red or Dead stilettos, to attend an alumni function for the London Consortium at Tate Modern. I don’t get out much these days and the dress, which my sister gave me, was too beautiful to leave in the cupboard, so I wore it despite my qualms of being overdressed. The shoes were precarious to say the least, but I negotiated the stairs on the bus and the cracks in the Millennium Bridge with delicacy, then took the lift in Tate Modern to the East Room. I love this room – it’s the one in the top left corner of the building as you look at it from the bridge. The walls are all glass and as the sun went down on the longest day of the year, the sky burned with pink and deepened to a royal purple, setting off St Paul’s and the silhouetted London skyline, criss-crossed by cranes.
The food was surprisingly good and the chardonnay from Malborough in New Zealand, and I love Malborough whites. I caught up with people I hadn’t seen for a long time, resisted half my cheesecake because I am weaning myself off dairy products, and smiled at the waiter as he brought me a cup of peppermint tea. He took this as licence to stare at my cleavage which, admittedly, was on display.
We were ushered out at eleven and I walked out to the courtyard with M and Wtk. They were going a little fast however, as both of them were wearing sensible shoes, and I, in a struggle to keep up that was somewhat hampered by the chardonnay, somehow tripped and landed hard on my knees and elbows from a height that was 7cm higher than it needed to be. A kind man stopped to see if I needed help but M and Wtk ushered him on. The pain went away fairly quickly but when I lifted the hem of my dress I was horrified to find that I had gouged a large hole in my knee. It looked messy, and it was bleeding fast.
Never have I been so angry with myself, not least because it was my own fault for wearing stupid shoes, and because I wouldn’t be able to wear short skirts for the rest of summer. ‘What am I gonna do?’ I wailed. ‘I’ve got to go to Ascot tomorrow.’ ‘Uhm, wear tights,’ M said quickly. They led me to a bench, offered tissues and told me to catch a cab home. I insisted that it wasn’t that bad and I could catch the bus, having had much more serious wounds – the worst being when my piano teacher’s son ran into my calf with his bicycle and split the flesh open. That was nasty. However, I could see that the cuts would start bleeding again as soon as I moved, and this was problematic, I conceded to the cab and, swearing at myself, followed them to the taxi rank. ‘Well, it could have been worse,’ M consoled me. ‘It could have happened on your date.’ She had a point.
Fortunately, the dress I had chosen for Ascot covered my knee, and I stuck several bandaids over the hole and got through the day alright.
Have I learnt my lesson? Of course not. In a spot of retail therapy I went to Dune and purchased a pair of absurdly high courts in delicious chocolate and cream, with a black patent rim and a sweet bow. It matters not that they are difficult to walk it – what are shoes for, after all?