Edinburgh Fringe 2017: Over the Garden Fence Review

Seamless. The word that sums up Haylo Theatre’s ‘Over the Garden Fence’ in one.

Take all your perceptions of Dementia – ‘the disease that makes you go barmy, loopy and eccentric’ – and swipe them under the carpet. Actually no, screw that. Pick them up and lob them out the window as far as you can possibly throw them. That’s exactly what Haylo Theatre did.

A story about memories, family and friendships, the play is nothing short of a beautiful masterpiece. Stunningly written, flawlessly performed and without a shadow of a doubt the highlight of my Edinburgh Fringe experience.

Putting a spin on things, the incredibly talented duo told the journey of Dementia as though it was a library. Likening our minds to a fragile library where all of our memories, beliefs and emotions are stored as books. Some yellow, some missing pages and some slightly tattered, but all in a place where only we know where we put them.

 

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Set up in a tiny studio, just off Infirmary Street, the performance was an incredibly intimate experience. Only arms length away from the performers and with nothing but a small coffee table and a couple of make-shift garden fences, it felt as though I was part of the performance and the play was about my life. And how true that was.

Striking a chord with every emotion, the performance pulled on each and every heart string and stirred feelings I didn’t even know I had. From tears of laughter at Hayley’s remarkable ability to nail every single punchline – the dog and the diet was my favourite one – but don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you. To then a stream, in fact scrap that a flood, of tears of happiness as many of my own personal memories were uprooted.

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After losing my Grandad Jim, the ‘Big Fella’ as we always used to call him, a couple of years ago to the disease, Dementia is a subject which lies extremely close to my heart. The nattering neighbours, the hopeless social workers and the fungal toe infection, they were all things my family had experienced all too often.

Not quite knowing what to expect, I wasn’t sure whether ‘Dementia’ and everything that came with it was something I’d rather forget – as ironic as that sounds. How wrong I was. In fact, it completely changed how I felt.

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Written with so much thought, many of the lines stayed with me long after the show, with one in particular.

The opening line, ‘What if the things we remember are more real than the things we see’, so perfectly told by ‘Annabelle’ played by the talented Hayley Riley has stayed with me long after Saturday’s performance.

Watching the show, my Grandad’s cheeky smile, his gentlemen ways and his belly-laughing stories felt more real than ever. The moment Louise Evans, who simultaneously played Grandma and Grandad, re-enacted the first time they met sent shivers down my spine and filled me with tears for the rest of the performance. Her ability to swap and change from one character to another was not only commendable but utterly faultless.

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Throughout the performance, I felt as as though my own Grandad was standing right in front telling me the stories all over again. But, this time even more crisp and certainly even more funnier. The story in the play of burnt turkey at Christmas reminded me of my favourite story; the donkey and the newsagent. The time my Grandad ‘borrowed’ a donkey from the field and placed it inside the corner shop to distract the newsagent, while he leant over the counter to swipe a packet of cigarettes. He always liked to miss out the bits that happened after that.

That story always reminded me that he never forgot. He just always picked his ‘favourite book off the shelf’ every time I went to see him. He didn’t waste his time trying to prove to me he could ‘remember the Prime Minister’s address’ as the play perfectly put. Instead, he spent every single time telling me I’d put on weight and that my face had ‘filled out a lot more since last time’ (that’s made me chuckle). I loved his honesty, however brutal it may have sounded at the time.

Weirdly or weirdly not, the play gave me closure. It made me realise something I guess I couldn’t understand at the time as he was slowly affected by the ‘disease’. It’s not a disease and it’s not something we should be scared of. Yes, sometimes he forgot the time and he forgot that he had already eaten his bread and butter pudding and couldn’t have another one (all tactics to get a second helping if you ask me). But as the play beautifully showed, these memories are irrelevant, he had much more funnier memories that took up more space.

Overall, the play which was executed so well didn’t leave a dry eye in the house – and rightly so. Ending with a standing ovation, the play was an incredible experience and a credit to Hayley and Louise who absolutely outdone themselves.

 

Photo Credits: @emilyalicephotography

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2017 – Seven ways to a happier self in 2017

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                                                                             – CK illustration

Scrolling through Facebook – like I do every morning – I stumbled across an article which really hit the nail on the head. It put things into perspective… something I’m shit at. It was basically a kick up the arse to say slow down and take a breather – you’re only 22. I’m guilty for going a hundred miles an hour and never making time to stop and take it all in. I can never sit still and hope things fall into place. I guess what I’m trying to say is I never trust fate. To me, fate is only something you can make. But, I suppose that’s not always right. I’m so scared about the future and then I realise what’s the point – life isn’t meant to be meticulously planned out from start to finish. I suppose there wouldn’t be any fun be without spontaneity. So, before I go off on a massive tangent and bore you all to death, here’s a few of the things/mini goals I hope to achieve by the end of 2017.

  1. Blog more

Blogging is one of life’s little outlets. It’s where I feel I can write about absolutely anything. The triumphs, the shit situations and everything in between. But, I feel I’ve neglected it lately. They say a problem shared is always a problem halved – so I guess it has health benefits too.  I’m determined to talk about things a lot more and give my input on the little (or big) things that crop up in life. I’m not talking political bullshit, we hear enough of that as it is. So, be prepared to see a lot more of me.

2. ‘Try’ to be a bit more organised

In with the new and out with the old, I decided to welcome in 2017 with a well-needed clear out. If you know me well, you know how much I love to hoard. So, as I’m starting a new job on Monday, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to bin all the baggage and get everything organised. For the first time in my life, my shoes and wardrobe are freakishly organised. But it’s still early days so we’ll see how long that lasts for. It’s weird how much better it makes you feel.

3. Don’t be a cookie cutter

While reading through a recent Vogue edition, Alex Shulman used a phrase which has stuck with me ever since. Funnily enough, it has nothing to do with food. She talked about how important it is to be inspired rather than to be a copy. No-one wants to get lost in the crowd and nobody wants to follow other people’s dreams – I certainly don’t. I feel as though it is very easy for our generation to be pressured into becoming cookie cutters. There is this constant pressure to follow the old-fashioned way and be in a relationship, have a steady career and be a homeowner by a certain age. That’s definitely not me. I’m completely content with being single – I’m still figuring out what I want myself, I can’t be doing it for someone else aswell at the minute. I’m far from ready to settle down. The sheer thought of settling down scares me because I feel like I have so much to do and get out of my system first. As for a career, I don’t think I’ll ever know until the dream hits me in the face.

4. Stop putting so much pressure on myself

I’m my own worst enemy. I criticise everything I do and always try to do better. It’s a very annoying trait to have. During the mega clear-out, I came across an old school report – it was so weird. My tutor wrote “Be happy, keep working hard (but don’t be too hard on yourself)”. Some things never change. I’m determined to let things pan out for themselves instead of forcing them. Jobs, friendships and paths.

5. Stop panicking and enjoy my 20s

I’ve learnt the worst thing to do is let time slip through your fingers. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Spending three years away for Uni proved that. Before you say it, no I’m not talking about Carpe Diem – that phrase literally makes my skin crawl. I’m just going to enjoy the fuck ups and appreciate the surprises. My hair might be turning grey ( I know, shit ain’t it) but I’m not ready to take on the role of a fully fledged, responsible adult just yet. There’s plenty of time for that later.

6. Travel more

Whether it be  hundreds of miles across the globe to Asia, weekend trips to Europe, or even a quick trip up to Manchester – I want to travel much more. I have no ties and I know I need to use it to my advantage. After learning so much about myself in America, I want to learn even more. I can do it, I just need to confidence to tell myself I can do it.

7. Be happy by learning not to give a fuck

Simple as that. Do what makes me happy. Stop trying to make other people happy.

I hope 2017 is a fabulous year for everyone.

The Mad Grad

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2016 – The Rollercoaster Year

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Sat with a half eaten box of Celebrations to my left (leaving behind Mars and MilkyWay, of course) and a sharing bag of ‘Cool Original’ Doritos to my right, I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on the past year. Everyone take a deep breath.

2016, what a year it’s been. We’ve lost our some of the world’s greatest legends; Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Victoria Wood, and as sadly revealed on Christmas Day, George Michael. Just when we thought it could get any worse, Trump managed to worm his way into The White House and Britain chose Brexit. Gordon Bennett, let’s hope next year perks up a bit. Big news aside, I have had my fair share of ups and downs this year. In fact, it’s been an absolute rollercoaster year. Think Alton Tower’s Oblivion. You think everything is going fine and then all of a sudden.. BAM… a drop appears out of nowhere.

So, here’s a few of the highlights and low-lights of 2016.

Swings and Roundabouts.

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I landed myself the job I’d been waiting a long time for. I’d found a team of people I loved working with (Even you Carps) and was finally doing something I loved, writing. But, eight months and three consecutive front pages down the line, things took a nasty turn. News broke. Yet, this time it was a story I hoped I would never have to write about. Dreaded redundancy. Absolute devastation. After the odd tear (Ok slight exaggeration), I brushed myself off and tried to see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to grab with both hands. Despite a few wrong turns, I received a number of job offers – it was a nice feeling. After following my heart instead of my head, I decided to snap up the job I knew I’d love going to every single day. In fact, I actually CAN’T WAIT to start. I have a good feeling about it. I have the feeling I’m doing something right – and that rarely happens. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is opportunities crop up for a reason

Hamburg

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Visiting the most beautiful city in the world is definitely a highlight of the year. Every single city should take a leaf out of Hamburg’s book. It receives top marks in every single area. I have never been so in love with a city in all my life; its culture, fashion and stunning buildings. I’d nearly go as far as saying it’s the prettiest city I’ve laid my eyes on – and I’ve seen a fair few. You’ll never step foot in a British-spin-off-german-market ever again i once you’ve experienced the real thing – believe me. You all know I’m a bit of a fashion freak (Ok, a slight understatement), so seeing stumbling across Neuer Wall was an absolute dream come true. Miles of designer shops, stunning shoes and beautiful bags – Gahhhhhh. There’s something a bit ‘jaffa-cake-like’ about Hamburg. Hang on, let me explain. It’s the place you could never get bored of and you always want to go back for more.

Dot2Dot festival

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Bloody hell what an event that was. Me and cider fell out after that night. But Dot2Dot festival is by far one the best music festivals I have ever been to – and it was only 12 quid. We all know I know a bargain when I see one. Drinking tinnies while stumbling across Manchester’s beautiful streets and watching unsigned bands in grungy underground venues – there’s very little not to love.

Bonobo Live.

Seeing Bonobo live in Shoreditch is definitely also a highlight of the year. The warehouse venue, the atmosphere and the company – everything about it was on the money. Stealing the spotlight with a lengthy set, the electronic DJ was everything I imagined (.. and more). Listening to Cirrus on Spotify is pretty special, but believe me hearing it ‘live’ was on a completely different level. Seeing him again is definitely on my tick list… but perhaps I’ll reconsider my shoe choice next time.

Anyways, here’s to 2017 – the year I hope will be full of good health and happiness.

The Mad Grad 

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Closing doors on The Clothes Show Live

After 27 years of glitz and glamour, Birmingham has finally drawn the curtains on the ever-successful Clothes Show Live and passed the baton over to Liverpool to host ‘The British Style Collective’ in 2017. Determined to finish in style, all who had a part to play pulled out all the stops to ensure this year’s show went down in fashion history – and it certainly did. I went along to the show to see what all the fuss is about and even managed to grab a quick snap with Made in Chelsea’s star and heir to McVities, Jamie Laing.

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After outgrowing London’s Olympia in the late 80s, organisers of the long-standing fashion show decided to pack up and move into a much bigger home, Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC). Since then, the show has grown from strength to strength – spreading itself over the arena’s biggest halls – and continued to welcome some of the biggest names in the fashion industry. But, the fashion show has been much more than just the clothes and rented stalls, it has been the place where the likes of Vernon Kay, Holly Willoughby and Cat Deeley started their careers after being scouted out by modelling agency, Select Model Management. Desperate to tread in the footsteps of the rich and famous, hundreds of girls have flocked to the show over the years hoping to picked up.

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Technically creative staging, X factor star performances and insider tips from This Morning’s fashion guru, Mark Heyes were among this year’s highlights. Laura Whitmore, who was dressed in this season’s floral print two-piece, presented the live fashion show with help from a long-list of celebrities including reality TV star, Joey Essex. Remarkable catwalks, imaginative staging and faultless choreography, the final fashion show was definitely one not be missed. Despite 2016’s doom and gloom, AW/16 has been a season of vibrant colours and texture with puffer jackets, iridescent two piece suits and lace bodices stealing this year’s runway.

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But it’s not all over for the four day fashion event yet. In fact, it’s only the beginning. Moving just a hundreds miles up the motorway, next year’s show will dispersing itself  across a number of venues in Liverpool – including The Baltic Triangle, Liverpool Cathedral and St George’s Hall. Expected to be bigger and better than ever before, the show will be re-branded ‘The British Style Collective’ and promises to provide the ultimate shopping experience.

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November fashion

My favourite time of the year; dark colours, layers and dark tone lipsticks. The month when it is socially acceptable to wear black – Gah, I’ve waited so long. Saying that, I’ve just purchased a sexy ass sky blue leather jacket from Zara – 20 quid in the sale. Winner. A month jammed-packed with stuff going on. Hello, when did I become such a social butterfly. So it’s been the perfect excuse to spend the well-earned pennies – lol. Bonobo in London. Catfish in Manchester. Courteeners in Liverpool. Xmas markets in Hamburg – I know don’t hate me too much. So here’s a few of my fav outfits from this month.

This is England ’86

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Top; Fred Perry (£49.99)  Jeans; Zara (£25.99) Shoes; Doc Martens (£82) Lipstick; Sleek ‘Vamp’ (£8)

The days when The Stone Roses’ Sally Cinnamon was the greatest love story, when the budget-skinhead-cut was in and trusty Doc Martens were the ultimate go to. But the best thing – it was the don’t-give-a-flying-fuck-era. Man I wish I grew up in that era. Like every other man, I proper love This is England. The clothes. The Culture. The music. Gah, Toots and The Matyals ’54 -46 Was My Number – What a jam. Anyways before I get too carried away and start harping on about my crush on Woody (Joe Gilden for all the film virgins) I’ll get back to the outfit. In case you haven’t guessed I love patterns. I love black. I fackin’ love Dr Martens. Oh and I’m all about matching my shoes with my lip colour – I know well edgy right!?

Wide-Fit

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Trousers; Zara (£19.99) Top; Primark (£6) Shoes; Doc Martens (£82) Lipstick; Sleek ‘Vamp’ (£8)

Wide leg trousers – gahhhh, slap my ass and call me Sally. I have enough wide leg trousers to last a lifetime. Ok, slight over exaggeration, but you get my drift. They’re so comfy – like hello let’s do some yoga. But the real reason I wear them? Count yourself lucky, I’m letting you in on a secret here. I wear them cos they make me feel like Kim K. Ok, Kim K may be a bit extreme – but they give me some sort of booty. I need all the help I can get with my little pancake ass. Hell0 mum, you blessed two of your daughters with a peachy bum – did you forget about the other two? Well, at least Zara understands my daily struggles – thanks hun. I just ‘happened’ to have my docs on when I tried these heavenly trousers on – and I don’t think I could have chosen a better shoe if I tried. I like to play around with patterns and textures and dressed it with a velvet/cord top which I think works really well. Ok, and we can’t forget the dark lipstick – It’s Sleek ‘Vamp’ for anyone wondering.

A-line.

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Skirt; Primark (£12) Top; Primark (£6) Shoes; New Look (£22.99) Lipstick; Sleek ‘Vamp’ (£8)

Do I leave the secret to last or let you know now? OK, I give it – I’ll do it now. Primark. The skirt is Primark. Yes I was as shocked as you are. When I saw it in the distance in Oxford Street’s Primark – I ran. Yes I ran to grab it. I was scared someone was going to get there first and steal the last size – this was one of those gems. I fell in love as soon as I touched it. I wanted to cradle it forever and never let it go. But this wasn’t the best discovery. Oh no, prepare yourself for this one. I got the matching jacket. I had a Clueless fan girl moment. I felt like all my dreams had come true – I could finally have a sexy co-ord like Cher. All I need now is to get my hands on her tartan one – it’s to DIE for. Remember when I said I chose Primark over Topshop any day? – Yeah well they had the EXACT same skirt in Topshop – just add a few more quid onto it.

Until next time.

The Mad Grad 

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Catfish and The Bottlemen – Victoria Warehouse.

Freshly washed hair, well-kept Doc Martens and a brand new A-line skirt, it is safe to say I had NOT dressed for the occasion – but bloody hell it has been a long time since my last gig. After a year of god damn awful pop music – If I here even an utter of Drake’s One Dance again, I can not be held responsible for my actions – I was looking forward to listening to some decent music with a cold cider in hand. And Catfish and The Bottlemen were exactly what the doctor ordered. The northern heart-throbs always remind me of my carefree uni days when my best friend would always have the vinyl blaring from her room – God what I would do to go back to those days. Right, before I get too nostalgic. Here’s what Catfish and The Bottlemen had to say.

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Sticky floor, ten-year-old confetti stained ceiling and a thrown together stage – I knew it was going to be a good night. Gracing the stage with the banging opener, ‘Homesick‘, the crowd went from a civilised bunch of people apologising for the odd push to absolute chaos in a couple of seconds. People catapulting themselves headfirst onto complete strangers, lads grabbing on to the sweaty jackets of randomers to keep themselves upright and fan girls throwing themselves on shoulders to get a quick glimpse of Van – gah what a man. With my shoes well and truly christened, I was more than in the mood for the moshpits which were expected to follow. Banger after banger, the boys did far from disappoint.

With a fair mix of tunes off their old album, Balcony, and their newest treasure, The Ride, the crowd were truly spoilt. Having not listened to the new album as much as I had hoped before the gig – a few songs were a nice surprise. ‘Anything‘ is going to be a grower for sure. You know you’ve done well when you’ve got a catchy tune – you know the foot tapper type of tune. But when you’ve got genuis lyrics to go with it, you know you’ve nailed it. And that’s what Catfish have done on every single album. Fair play lads.

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Biggest tune of the night was of course ‘Kathleen‘. I don’t think my feet stayed on the ground at all for the whole of that. But what I do remember is choking on a the wispy curls of the girl in front of my during my heartfelt rendition of the song – it was rather inconvenient. Hairballs aside, it was nice to be surrounded by a cracking crowd who were there to waste every single ounce of oxygen belting out the tunes – rather than perfecting the best shot for a snapchat story. There is nothing worse. If I wanted to watch the band through a tiny screen I’d be sat at home on YouTube, tar.

Despite a wicked show, the lads lacked a little something – a few words perhaps. I’m not asking for a sit down chin wag about Brexit or the presidential debate. But a few words would have been nice. I think Van said about four words in total. It just seemed as though the gig was over in a flash and that was it. ‘Tyrants‘, no encore and home.

All in all, they were well worth the wait and I can not wait to see what they come up with next.

Peace out.

The Mad Grad 

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The fours for thought.

When it comes to fashion, there’s four gals who’ve got my back. For the I-refuse-to-wear-real-clothes Sundays, the shit-i’ve-got-an-hour-to-get-ready Saturdays and the I-refuse-to-get-up-earlier weekdays. These girls have got it sorted.

Megan Ellaby

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She’s a northern lass. She’s quirky. She has the best hair. So, I guess she’s an all round winner. She’s not afraid to experiment – but then again only she would be able to pull off sparkly shiver ankle boots with star print jeans. I’d just look like a massive dickhead. Everything just seems to work for her – jammy so and so. The moment I discovered her – when she went under the name asos_meg – my then waitrose wages started to dwindle. If she had it, I wanted it. Albeit she was a good 5″ taller than me, had sky scraper legs and locks to die for – I was convinced I could make whatever she wore work. Lol, wrong every time. She’s a grounded kinda gal. Prada sunglasses? Sure. But, I doubt she’s a stranger to Primark. Esp Manchester Primark. Like Alexa Chung, she likes to give two fingers up to everything which tries to get in her way. And she gave me a kick up the back-side to start blogging, play around with wacky pants and to pursue a career in something I love. Oh and we’re both a sucker for an artisan latte and a wardrobe full of Zara garms.

Alexa Chung

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Ok every girl has wanted to be Alexa Chung some time or another – don’t try to deny it. First off, she made up half of the sexiest celeb couple – gah, I need to find a boy who sends me love letters like Alex Turner. Although a boy at school used to do that and it was weird. I decided I wasn’t one for love poems after that. She’s been the face of the dreamiest magazine in the world, … actually planet, no scrap that… the universe – Vogue. I dream every day about working in their office. Ok, there might be a handful of people that think she’s a dickhead – but she means well. Gals, be grateful she is a feminist. I remember being asked the make or break question in an interview earlier this year, who is your biggest icon? The girl to my left said some woman president another said some random french author from about a million years ago. I must’ve looked like a right twat when I said Alexa Chung. Safe to say, I never got the job. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that – and I stand by my decision. She stands for a lot more than just fashion. She’s got a bit of fire – something I like to think I have every now and then.

Jenna Rink – 13 Going on 30 (aka Jennifer Garner)

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She perfected the god awful ‘spikey’ buns of the 90s (complete with the silver spiral twist clips) and bright blue eye-shadow. Out of all the films I’ve managed to watch right until the end – which has been few and far between – Jennifer Rink is the gal I can most relate to. Like me, She’s always dreamt of working for a fashion magazine. She had an obsession with dancing around her room to Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. Ok we didn’t exactly have the same music taste. And she owed one of those hideous-off-the-shoulder-gem-encrusted-blue-top accessorised with two whole rolls of toilet paper. The one thing I haven’t done yet is wear my silky nightdress to work.. but I guess there is still time.

Felicity Jones

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Absolute hair goals – THE sweeping bangs girl. *quick fan girl moment* And boy does she knows how to don the peter pan collar. Ok she donned it went peter pan collars were in fashion. As much as I’m all for wacky patterns and quirky pants – she screams simple. But she makes simple so sophisticated. High neck jumpers and a polite-past-the-knee-skirt… Miss Jones nails it. Fav pic of all time has to be from her shoot with Vogue in 2014 – proper sixties. Baby blue coat with a dusty pink collar finished off with a Mary Quant-esk skirt. The outfit which dreams are made of. Icing on the cake? She’s a born and bred brummie – so there’s hope for us all. No matter how slow and stupid we sound.

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