I retrieved my steed and headed into town, I really wasn't looking forward to this! The posh frock shop, otherwise known as Eloise Couture is one of those places with the mannequins in the window wearing long dresses with prices that have too many noughts behind the numbers – and Mum was sending me here.
“Erm hello?” I nervously glanced around the store, at the racks of fancy and expensive women's wear, why the hell am I here?
“Yes?” a dismembered voice replied from somewhere towards the rear of the showroom.
I shuffled a little further in, “erm, I think you're expecting me?”
There was a brief moment of silence and I felt as though I was being watched.
“You must be the Bond girl.”
“Um guilty as charged.” I nervously agreed.
The owner of the voice sailed into view, almost literally, she wasn't a small woman by any counting but she was dressed sharp as a pin with her hair in a severe arrangement perched on top like a meringue.
“Hmm, your mother tells me you are going to the Coburg wedding next week, bit late notice.”
“I um only found out I was invited on Monday.”
“Well, I'm sure we can sort you out with something, I take it that is the suit your mother was talking about.”
“Speak up girl.”
“Sorry, yes it's the suit.”
“Well let's get you started with that, you brought shoes?”
“Only these.” I indicated my well worn Sketchers.
“Tut, that'll never do. Right into the changing room and put the suit on, the colour looks good for you at least, what size shoe are you?”
“Thirty four ish.” I admitted.
“Well I guess they're in proportion, shake a leg, we haven't got all day!”
Geez, she's a bit of a sergeant major! Well there would be no gain in prevaricating so I was soon doing as I was bid. As you might recall I have borrowed stuff from Mum before – and considering I'm her son, it fit reasonably well. The suit however was a different matter, it is very fitted and I um, well I'm not quite the same shape as Mum, the jacket hung a little loose as did the waist of the skirt although it was quite snug across the bum.
The curtain swished open.
“Not the right colour but put these on, what's the name girl?”
“Er Gaby, um Gabrielle?”
“Nice name, suits you, Gerta.”
I'm guessing that meant she was called Gerta not that it was some strange greeting.
“Once you're ready come out and I'll get Dotty to see what needs doing, have you a preference for colour for the evening?”
“I guess not, which side are you going for, bride or groom?”
“Bride I guess.”
“Right, Coburg, that shouldn't be too difficult, the Habsburgs might be a bit heavy for a little thing like you.”
What the heck is she on about now? There was something niggling at the back of my head about those names, Dad had mentioned them last night too – nah I can't think what it is. The shoes Gerta had left me were not exactly what I'd choose myself being white satin courts with a huge heel! She cannot be serious, she'd left some tan hold-ups too so I followed my instructions and slipped the vertiginous heels onto my feet.
Let's get this straight, I have worn heels before but these were in a different league! I teetered to my feet; it felt like I was balanced on my toes, which wouldn't be too far from the truth. Still I carefully made my way outside to find a young woman who I'm guessing was Dotty impatiently waiting for me.
“Ah, there you are, let's see you, stand straight please, feet together.”
I shuffled to comply.
“Do I really need such high heels?” I whined slightly.
“Don't be so silly girl!” she dismissed that question without further mention.
She flitted about me, inserting pins, folding up the skirts hem and so on.
“Hmm, I think that will do, Gerta!”
My other oppressor reappeared.
“Hmm,” she stalked around me, “yes, I think she'll do at that. Hair up or down?”
“Up I think, will give you more height, if you'd do the necessary Dot I'll find a hat.”
Hat? What am I getting into here? Dotty pulled my hair free of its rubber and with a couple of quick twists was pinning my mop to the top of my head. Gerta reappeared with a box which apparently contained my new head gear.
“A big hat will hide you too much; yes a fascinator will be better.” She nodded to herself as she perched the millinery on my bonce.
“There, what do you think?”
She stood to one side to reveal a mirror with the reflection of a slightly unsteady looking but more mature version of me staring back.
“Isn't this a bit overboard just for a wedding?”
“Just a wedding she says!” The look of horror at my statement was shared by both women. “You are going to the wedding of the year, Crown Prince Wilhelm and Princess Marguerite Frederick Saxe Coburg, that's the only reason I agreed to this.”
Hang on a cotton picking moment, did she just say what I thought she did? Wasn't that who Pia was bleating about this morning in her Stern? So this is like a Royal wedding? Just wait until I get hold of that Max von bloody Strechau!
“You must have known girl, it's been in all the papers and you've been invited.”
“I thought it was just my friend's cousin tying the knot.”
“Girls these days!” Dotty exclaimed.
“Indeed,” Gerta sighed, “Dotty, help her take the suit off then send her out, leave the shoes and stockings on.”
Twenty minutes later and Dotty was sealing me into the second option for the ‘Royal' reception, a strapless number in a pale lemon with somewhat full skirts that even with the stilts on my feet brushed the shops carpeting.
“Hmm, what do you think Dot?”
“Better than the other, it displays her décolletage very nicely,” she pulled the material tighter at my waist, “maybe like so?”
“Oh yes,” Gerta enthused, “the colour suits and fits with the theme and a bit less there will make our own little prinzesin stand out from the crowd.”
“Do I get a say?”
“No!” they replied in unison.
“Is it worth trying the other?” Dotty enquired of her colleague.
“I don't think so, the darker shade will make her look sallow, no I think we go with this.”
I was prodded and measured and poked for a further half hour before the soufflé of a dress was removed and I got to sit down, albeit in my undies.
“Now then, the shoes fit okay?”
“I guess, couldn't I have some with a bit less heel?”
“Don't be daft girl; you are going to be seen not to enjoy yourself.”
I only wanted to get off school!
“A closed toe sandal for the service and I suppose we could go with a court for the reception, a sandal would be better.”
“I'll take the court.” I quickly put in dragging my own clothes back on as quickly as possible.
“Okay then, fitting at ten sharp on Saturday.”
“Yes, on the button if you please.”
“Well um, I'll see you then, er thanks and thank Dotty for me too.”
“I'll pass that on.”
To say I was out of there like a shot would be lying, I was quicker. I checked the time on the church clock, six o'clock! I've been in there the best part of two hours! I pushed the stand out of the way and started for home, all sorts of stuff going through my head.
“Why didn't you tell me it was a flippin' royal wedding?” I almost screamed down the phone at Max a couple of hours later.
“You'd better not tell anyone about this!”
“I thought girls were dead into this stuff?”
“That's what you think! I've just spent two hours, two hours being poked about by two harridans so I can go to this bloody wedding.”
“Ah so you've been to see Gerta and Dot.”
“How'd you know about them?”
“I've had to go with Gran a few times.”
“I'll get you back for this!”
“Anyhow, tante Mat said there'll be someone on hand to help with hair and makeup and Gran's gonna lend you some sparklys.”
“I'm not without you know.” I grumped.
“Well she thought it'd be nice if you wore some family pieces.”
“Hmm, as long as they match my outfits.” I offered.
“Well you've already gone on at length about what you'll be wearing so I can tell her.”
“Nothing too garish.”
“It won't be.”
“So who else is going to this wedding?”
“There'll be a lot from Willie's side and there's quite a few of us Coburgs, I guess a few politicos and business types and no doubt the other families will be represented, Hannover and so on.”
“I'm really out of my depth here.”
“Hey you think its any better for me?”
“You know at least some of these people, the only ones I know are you, your Dad and Gran, I only know what your cousin looks like from a picture in Stern for heavens sake!”
“Bit of a fox our Marg eh.”
“You're not taking this seriously!”
“I am, I am, honest. Look, I get to see some of my extended family maybe once a year, others I wouldn't know from Adam. I mean its not like we are really part of the jet set brigade, we're related yeah but we're not rich and we don't rub our connections in others faces.”
“I didn't say you did.”
“I asked you to go because I could do with a friendly face next week.”
“Well I guess I can be that, just remember that I'm merely a poor carpenter's daughter.”
“You could never be ‘merely' anything Gaby Bond!”
to be continued....
Maddy Bell 27.04.11 © 2011