A young widowed father opening up about living with loss
London Fashion Week kicked off today. If you’re ever in the capital when it’s on you really know about it because you can hear the constant clattering of stilettos, because you can’t get a cab and because everyone in the city is at least 100 per cent better dressed than usual. When Desreen was alive I always knew when London Fashion Week had come around because, for just a few days, my life completely changed. I’d find myself accompanying her to fashion shows by designers I knew nothing about and at parties playing it completely uncool around the vaguest of celebrities. One year, after three consecutive drunken nights out, which built towards one almighty hangover, I remember telling Desreen that I wouldn’t go out again if the Queen herself called us to invite us for Sunday lunch at Buckingham Palace. An hour later her boss called and invited us to Claridge’s for dinner instead. ‘Oh, go on then’, I said with little hesitation.
Now that was a night out. As ever, Desreen managed to talk us into a party that we weren’t invited to in her very own unique way: an awe-inspiring combination of guest list skills, which started with childish charm and playing dumb before moving onto absolute self confidence and unbudging insistence. I never saw anyone turn her away from any door anywhere in the world. This particular night it was worth every second of the cringing embarrassment that I suffered in her hands – her powers of persuasion bagged us a table just a few feet away from Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, who was serenading her posse whilst straddling a baby grand piano. This would have been a story I’d have told all of my colleagues at work the next day had I made it in. But champagne, Sundays and 4 a.m. finishes have a tendency to make Monday mornings somewhat unmanageable.
I guess for many people the back to school week signals the end of summer but for me, for the last eight years, it’s always been London Fashion Week that has reminded me that the season’s about to change. So when I switched on the news this evening and saw a representative from the British Fashion Council discussing the benefits of this week’s events to the UK economy, I knew that a difficult time was afoot. London’s fashion scene was about to make me feel weak.
I’ve had a feeling for some time that as autumn/winter apparel hit the high street I’d be hit by crashing lows. Desreen was killed in November last year when the cold and dark was broken only by central heating and a few hours of greylight. And now, as I sit in a chilly house with the rain lashing down against the windows, the idea of this time coming back round is playing heavy on my mind.
I’m doing my best to avoid the slump: I’ve quit drinking, I’m eating a clean diet and I’ve signed up for a half marathon to help fill the bleak mornings and dark nights with training . But however positively I may try live my life I still need to face my wife’s birthday in three weeks, my son’s first without his mum in five and the anniversary of her death in eight. I’m dreading the emotional impact of this winter so much but I guess all I can do is follow in my wife’s fashion-forward footsteps. And like Desreen watching the catwalk at a London Fashion Week show in September, I for one am going to be looking forward to spring/summer 2014.