The Anonymous Widower

Every Picture Tells a Story

I mentioned in the post on house-husbands that I have various skills and strangely one of them is dressmaking. Or it used to be, as I haven’t made anything in years.

But look at this picture of Celia, who in this blog I usually refer to as C, taken at a New Year’s Party in Venice probably in 2002 or 2003.

C at New Year in Venice

It looks like a strapless evening dress or a full skirt with a strapless top.  It is neither.

The skirt was luxurious and there was an equally luxurious top to go with it. But when C bought the skirt from Beatrice von Tresckow, the top in her size was sold out, so they said they’d make one for her. Something went wrong and it didn’t fit.

So there we were in a five star hotel in Venice, an hour before the dinner and one of us had nothing to wear! And it wasn’t one of those parties, where she could have gone topless.  I hasten to add that she never did outside of the confines of our bedroom.

Depending on where I tell this story, there are various versions. In some she’s in tears and in others she wants to go home, but the truth is probably that although she was upset, she trusted me to have an idea that would work. Her versions of the story used to have a lot of emotional actions, as aren’t most barristers frustrated actors?

She thought I was joking when I asked her for some safety pins. I found two in the dinner suit I was wearing and one in a good pair of trousers.  All had been used to attach dry cleaning tickets and after that day, she never ever removed one. But she still referred to it as one of my lazy habits.

I then told her to remove the strapless bra she was wearing and replace it with a basque I knew she’d brought with her to wear under another dress, that was a bit tight and needed a bit of an extra squeeze to get into. She’d also brought it because it was New Year and she knew the extra layer added warmth. She also took the opportunity to change from tights to some stockings as a reward to me, which she said she’d remove, if I couldn’t make her respectable.

I then took the shawl that she had brought to wear with the top and skirt and wound it round her securing it with the safety pins.  The hotel was warm, so the lack of a shawl wasn’t a problem.

The result is shown in the picture, which was actually taken after the dancing.  So it held together without any problems.

I hasten to add, that wrapping the shawl round wasn’t my original idea, but was borrowed from a very old 1950s, TV Series, called Dick and the Duchess. In one episode, Hazel Court, who played the Duchess, got into a scrape as she often did, lost her clothes and ends up in a boiler suit. She then takes a taxi to her couturier, who was played by a very camp, Michael Medwin. To preserve her decency, he wraps her in expensive silk, tucks it all in and sends her home. He orders the boiler suit to be burnt.  I never saw the errant top again.

If there is a moral to this story it is to never travel without safety pins! And steal ideas from out of context and old television shows.

July 3, 2011 - Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | ,


  1. Hilarious! Good for you! That puts you one-up on Howard Hughes whose design (cantilever bra) was rejected by Jane Russell.

    Comment by SpencerH | July 5, 2011 | Reply

  2. […] cancer, as she felt a proper fitting basque, gave her more support after the operation. In one instance, having a basque in her holiday suitcase, actually saved the day at a New Year’s Eve ball in […]

    Pingback by In Search of Small Waists « The Anonymous Widower | June 19, 2012 | Reply

  3. […] I wore a new shirt and the result seemed acceptable.  Well to me at least.  Note the safety pin in the trousers. I never remove them after clothes have done a trip to the dry cleaners, as you never know when you might need them, as I did in this post! […]

    Pingback by Dressing For Dinner « The Anonymous Widower | March 29, 2013 | Reply

  4. […] was the best I’ve eaten. In some ways that is an unfair comparison, as in Cornwall I was with C. And then for many years before I was diagnosed as a coeliac, I never ate battered fish. Something […]

    Pingback by Gluten-Free Wednesday « The Anonymous Widower | December 31, 2014 | Reply

  5. […] and I had some good New Years and some bad ones. I always remember this good one for selfish reasons, but the Millennium was great in Deya. In fact some of the other good ones were […]

    Pingback by Reflections On Surviving Another Year « The Anonymous Widower | December 31, 2014 | Reply

  6. Heartwarming! As Heinlein said “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
    He’d have added ‘adjust a dress without proper tools or time’ no doubt, or something more concise. Perhaps he would have admired your way of encouraging your wife into stockings!

    Comment by John A | July 27, 2020 | Reply

  7. I wonder, if I can still change a proper nappy (diaper)?

    Comment by AnonW | July 27, 2020 | Reply

  8. Perhaps you were a boy scout in your youth!

    Comment by Sonja Ciezak | May 3, 2021 | Reply

    • I was! But my parents were always reusing things creatively.

      I remember my mother nce made me a pair trousers, by taking one of my father’s cast offs and making them into a pair for me.

      She also taught me to make clothes, sew and knit.

      Comment by AnonW | May 3, 2021 | Reply

  9. […] Hazel Court – Another actress prominent in the during my formative years. One of her characters even suggested a solution to a problem I had! Click here! […]

    Pingback by Was 1926 A Good Vintage? « The Anonymous Widower | June 13, 2021 | Reply

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