Friday, February 23, 2007

"A" Lister Get's Hollywood Makeover With A Difference.

There's been a hive of activity in the Ministry Of Common Sense, newspaper interviews, photo shoots, TV appearances but that hasn't stopped the Girls donning their do gooder high heels and treking off to another UK town to show the locals looking swanky doesn't have to break the bank.

Combining research for their new book,

"The Desperate Housewive's Guide To The Best Of British Charity Shops, (Eco fashion for the green shopaholic)"

out later this year with their new way to get high, they headed off to Stamford to find out exactly what the historic Lincolnshire town had to offer in the way of budget bazaars.

They found six charity shops in total and although no B-BOCS ere awarded (the sort after accolade that separates the designer shoppers's penny paradise from the rest). Help The Aged did win the prize when it came to merchandising. At first glance even the charity shopping experts could have mistaken this shop for a retail store. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful and clearly take great pride in the work they do. Even though it is on a voluntary basis. The find of the day, a pair of brand new Roberto Vianni boots for £6.00.

The Girls did blow the remainder of their £20.00 budget in Cancer Research on wait for it, six items. Although the store was unable to boast any couture bargains, scoring three out of a possible six for the current stock displayed, the Girls did find several new high street items with tickets still attached and the selection and condition of the shoes available was excellent.

The Girls met Jacqui Burgess, regional manager for the charity and look forward to opening Cancer Research's premier flagship store at 10.00am on 2nd March, 2007, 7 King Street, Saffron Walden, Essex with a camera crew in tow of course. A little bit of free publicity never goes a miss and will hopefully let lots more people into this best kept secret. The Girls heard on the grape vine it's pretty posh so there's a good chance wealthy WAG's philanthropy may be responsible for stocking the shelves. It's certainly a new spin on WAGs boutique. Could be the Girls have an ulterior motive, first dibs on the booty?

The public are invited but they will need to be quick to beat these two eagle eyed experts to the cash register. As it's Oscar week and charity shopper Helen Mirren tipped to scoop the big one, the Girls have a surprise celebrity make over planned so even the nose of the child catcher couldn't compete when it comes to sniffing out D&G from twenty yards. hope to see you there.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Pride Comes Before A Fall.

It's extremely hard not to get excited when you have fought with every ounce of strength you have to make something happen when it finally does.

Imagine the Girls about to sit down to their regular plate of vegetable something and receiving the call saying a national newspaper is about to tell the world they are the newly appointed life coaches on The Trisha Goddard Show. It has only taken goodness knows how many years, emails, letters, press releases and scams of all shapes and sizes in a previous life to get anyone to listen and finally they have cracked the media.

Do they

a. Get drunk, high or both?
b. Drop dead of shock?
c. Carry on munching their healthy, low cost, low calorie lunch?

Recent statistics per Dr. Gillian McKeith declare one billion obese people in the world exceed the 800 million starving and as good portion of them live here in the UK
the Girls opt for c. however shock value aside that is not the only only reason for their new found inner peace and sense of calm.

What they now teach is not new, in fact Common Sense has been spun for centuries by all kinds of people from all walks of life. Zen Buddhism is one of the earlier common sense advocates dating from the sixth century. The word enlightenment is often used with the misconception once you've "got it", like common sense, everything will be fantastic.

"Before enlightenment
chopping wood
carrying water

After enlightenment
chopping wood
carrying water "

but from this basic proverb it's easy to see you don't attain it, it's not a readily available commodity, you just realize it i.e. Eureka, the light bulb goes on. When you do everything changes yet nothing has actually changed at all.

When the newspaper prints the Girls story in the next few days, (I can't say exactly when and's exclusive and top secret) 5 million people will know about their achievements but nothing will change in their lives because they choose not to be affected. While they are grateful for the article it doesn't change who they are as people or what they will do tomorrow. They no longer measure themselves by their achievement. Success or failure by society's limited yard stick no longer makes or breaks the people they have become.

When you are able to disconnect from the idea material wealth, stuff, can make you happy a great pressure is lifted. Materialism is causing so much trouble it has been detailed as a sickness reaching epidemic levels in the western world in the bestselling book Affulenza by John De Graaf. Detaching from money as the all incompassing solution to any problem is even more critical when you are going through personal difficulty. You must disconnect from the stress of the situation and move away from it. Logically if you sit in a cowpat you'll never escape the stench.

Don't be afraid of failure. Anything you want to accomplish takes time. If it were easy there would be no road to happiness and that would be the greatest tragedy of all. No one ever regrets the things they did when their time's up. It is the things they didn't do that causes real regret. So if you can remember the immortal words of another expert in common sense, on the subject of the brave in pursuit of happiness or anyone with a goal, Mahatma Gandi,

"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they oppose you
then they say they were with you all along."

That just about sums up the Girls' relationship with the British press over the last few years. A final word of common sense wisdom from anon,

"Everything comes to he who waits."

and well done Take That, love the message.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Charity Is On The Red Carpet

It is not only celebrities who have been busy over the last few days, the Baftas, then the Grammys, the SAGs and this evening the Brits. The red carpet's all but worn out and not by the Girl's second hand Manolo Blaniks or Loubutins. (the one's with the distinctive red soles.) yet. Even Kylie found her gold hot pants and they're now in the V and A before being recycled yet again. We suspect they'll go for more than 50p, the original price Kylie paid. The stars are catching on but the snobbery surrounding the unmentionables still exists. Perhaps it's the high street giants keeping these best kept secrets out of the press. Corruption in the corporations? Not I said the sparrow with my bow and arrow.

The Girls, undaunted by the luke warm response to charity shops from the toffee nosed ranks of the fashionistas from which they have thankfully risen, have started their own awards extravaganza The Brocs, Best Of British Charity Shops and the Oscars are just around the corner. Will 2007 be their year?

Having found themselves homeless and penniless after a string of disasterous choices the designer wardrobes they were used to are history. Give these women a problem and they'll find a solution, particularly when it comes to looking fantastic. The jewel in their depleted crown has become other people's cast offs. The joy of rooting through old cardies and turquoise anoraks to find a needle in a haystack, a high that beats weed they assure me. Now free and viceless, a huge thank you goes out to all the other crazy shopaholic women, shadows of their former selves, victims to their obsession for retail who fill the charity shops with the by product of their addiction, brand new designer treasures, tickets still attached. The Girls are eternally grateful for all the amazing donations people make but are genuinely happy to help anyone overcome their madness. It is possible to get over any addiction, they've mastered them all and now coach others to do the same everyday.

Anyway their jaunts up and down the country in search of the creme de la creme has lead to the first Broc to be awarded. Before I announce the winner I would like to point out the five criteria the stores are judged on and how the points awarded.

1. Cleanliness and smell. (Yes or No)

Everyone's fear of a bad charity shopping experience is a bad smell. It doesn't matter if it's the staff, the customers or the merchandise (or a combination of all three) a bad smell will leave you running for the hills. If the store can't pass the smell test it's out of the running for the BROC.

2. Window Design. (1-3)

Is the window well dressed? Does it entice the customer in?

3. Store Merchandising. (1-3)

Is the store visually appealling. Is the store well laid out. Are the displays interesting and current. Are the clothes colour coordinated. Are sizes organized and clearly marked.

4. Quality of merchandise. (1-6)

Quality varies hugely. A score of one indicts mostly no name brands. Two would indicate mostly inexpensive high street brands eg. Primark, New Look. Dorethy Perkins. Three, middle range high street, eg. Marks and Spencers. Four, designer high street, eg. Karen Miller, Hobbs, Jigsaw, French Connection, Morgan. Five, boutique, eg Ted Baker, Bench, Versus, Armani. Six couture, eg. Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Channel.

5. Staff. (1-3)

Do the staff care about their job or are they just getting through their community service?

6. Price. (1-4)

One indicates expensive, two average, three, very reasonable and four down right cheap.

The Girls are looking are looking for stores that score in excess of ten out of a possible twenty and of course pass the sniff test.

Harrogate, North Yorkshire plays host to 7 soon to be eight charity shops, with a Sue Ryder store opening soon opposite Shelter but the prize of the beautiful spa town is Dr. Barnados with a score of 14. The staff make this wonderful charity shop a pleasure to visit. Well done.

If you are a charity shopper yourself and not ashamed to admit it you may have met the mad pair and no they are not American although their outlandish clothes sometimes lead people to make that assumption. You know what they say about those that ASS U ME. Just because they don't look like everyone else doesn't mean they must be American. If you'd been there (or read their book) you'd never make that mistake. Rarely are they ever spotted in leisure suits and sneakers unless by cross country runners in the bleak mid winter.

Keep reading for the best of the best when it comes to charity shopping and watch out all you fashion disasters, they are coming to a town near you.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Out With The Old And In With The New

Last Friday The Girls headed out of the country and to the big city, London. In the olden days travelling to Chelsea in their ancient car would have been unthinkable for a start off. The ex ego maniacs so preoccupied with their image and the imaginary perception of others would have meant they missed out. How sad. This trip however had none of those depressing, negative vibes. Seeing their old stomping ground with detachment and no preconceptions was eye opening.

Sitting lunching in Langans on the Old Brompton Road surrounded by celebrities, with Christies just up the road at number 85 was something they would have killed for in the past. This time, clear headed they recognised Tom Cruise and Jerry Hall smiling at them for exactly what they really are, fakes dining for free in the form of two dimensional black and whites. Oh yes, anyone can say they sat next to Tom and not be called a liar. How do you think Peter Shepherd gets away with charging a tenner for one tiny crepe. Well he did buy his share off Michael Caine. That name still pulls in the punters thirty years on even though culinary genius and founding partner Peter Langan is long dead. Think about how much batter ten quid would buy and you get a vague inkling of how much the wise take us all for celebrity spotting desperados.

Celebrity stalking has now entered a new era for The Girls. They only do it now with an official invite. Fortunately with their TV career moving out of first gear they hope it won't be long before they are shaking hands in the big league, on the Punch sorry Richard and Judy show.

With the business over by three, (things actually get accomplished when alcohol doesn't figure) The Girls had time to meander down The Kings Road with the beautiful people. Being able to focus is an advantage when people watching, another reason to avoid boozing at lunch, but the dramatic conclusion of the day was collectively how thin everyone was. For a country where sixty percent of the population is obese, there was no sign of it there. It was quite a pleasant surprise for the Girls to be catapulted back into stylish land and be able to admire the self control in others instead of the self worth. Clearly not everyone is stuffing themselves into oblivion.

Changing your behaviour is an overwhelming, daunting task for all of us until we have done it. Then like anything else, in retrospect, we can't believe it took us as long as it did. Once you lose the weight, stop smoking, in fact accomplish anything for yourself you can't believe you didn't do it years ago. The reason most fail to accomplish their goals is being unable to face them as their truth in the first place. The key is being able to detach yourself from the "I" (the you) you don't like and view the "I" you from an objective place, effectively through someone elses eyes. It takes time and dedication to see yourself as others see you. Well we all think we're fantastic don't we but that is just our self preservation mechanism, the ego at work. If it painted a clear and realistic picture many would have actually aspired to being a twenty stone, balding librarian with a heart condition from a 40 a day smoking addiction and a penchant for kebabs.

The interesting thing for me is we can immediately change our behaviour and break our patterns if the media tell us to. As a society overnight we have detached from Jade Goody and attached to Shilpa Shetty. Shilpa was on the front page of every British newspaper this weekend. We are still at war? The fashion industry would crumble in a heap if the majority of us didn't buy into trends, hipster belts out, wide waist belts in. We even follow like sheep when it comes to where we live, where we go on holiday and even what we eat. But why?

The truth is very few of us have the sense we were born with let alone the where with all to use it. The mistake we all make is looking outward for fulfillment and inward only to help ourselves.
If we are able to reverse this in everything we do, look outward to help others and inward for our personal fulfillment we'd find we would get on much better. yes that does mean not being selfish so I suppose it's a tough one to sell, even when happiness is the prize. The problems arise for anyone who's a sheep. The latter means thinking for yourself and ceasing to follow the herd. I guess we don't want to be happy that much. Baa!!!

If you are the 1% this has struck a cord with, the first question you need to answer truthfully is, "Are you a sheep?" Then when you've found the courage to answer yes, rejoice in the fact you are on your way.