My name is Gabby. My mother Sadie named me Gabrielle after the Archangel she was trying to bargain with at the time. I read somewhere that Gabriel is the patron saint of postal workers, so it makes me wonder what she was hoping to achieve.
We live in an amazing Edwardian apartment block on the borders of Fulham and Chelsea. Our place has good sized rooms with lofty ceilings and glazed double doors leading onto an elegant balcony overlooking private gardens and tennis courts. The guys above us – Rob and Tony – are gay stereotypes and are totally hilarious and what’s more, they excel at both girly heart to hearts and cat-sitting Mum’s spooky feline, Zeus. Not that my mother would do anything so bourgeois as own a cat – Zeus adopted us as his humans out of all the apartment owners and so far, appears to be content with his selection.
My best friend Casey lives below us on the ground floor and works part-time in one or both of the shops Mum and I own, that is when she isn’t out being a professional busy-body, which she’d deny if you asked her, but she’d be lying.
I like to chat, so Gab suits me just fine – though I’m far from being an angel in any sense of the word – and since it could have been much worse, based on some of her friends’ kids’ names, I make sure not to complain.
I’m a mental butterfly – easily distracted – I just can’t seem to hang on to a thought for as long as the average person; or even, to be honest, a below average one. I’m the girl who goes to the previews at the cinema (the free mini-movies as Whitney would say) and leaves before the film. They put almost the whole plot in those things and it means I don’t have to waste my time watching the whole film. Try as I might I just don’t have the kind of stick-to-it-ness that other people have. So, all I can say is, it’s a good thing I’ve devoted my muddle-headed genius to all things fashion.
Career-wise I’d call myself a Fashion Hunter. You see everyone’s heard of those antique hunters who tour the country scouting out rare antiques. Well, I’m a vintage clothes hunter and spend an inordinate amount of time scouring online auction sites, my beloved home city, and sometimes even the underestimated, well to do Home Counties, for designer duds.
My Mum is living testament to the expression, ‘if you remember the ‘60s, you definitely weren’t there’.
I’ve long since given up on getting any sense out of my her – she took either the red pill or the blue pill back in the summer of 1973 – the result of which was ‘mind altering’ far more permanent than planned.
As for any other parent, I’ll just say we have been pretty much on our own since I was a toddler. My Dad had plenty of money but was, unfortunately, Teflon coated. Anyway, it didn’t take long for him to tire of my Mum’s particular brand of ‘I can’t remember my own name’, and he made for the hills quickly and permanently. Oh, and I forgot to say, my Dad wasn’t married to my Mum, he was married to someone else. And he also wasn’t only my father, he was some other kids’ father too.
My Mum is only sixty-six., she had me when she was thirty-seven, but she has already polished her ‘ageing hippy’ act to a lustrous finish. I’ve told her a hundred times to wise up and join the twenty-first century, but does she listen? Of course, she bloody doesn’t. She goes about her crazy, spell-casting, business muttering about ungrateful insolent children when I dare to poke my unprotected (ungrateful) head above the parapet.
Oh, another thing I forgot to say is that I work with my Mum. Or immediately next door to be more accurate (and I like to be accurate if at all possible).
The absconding father left a trail of cash in his fast retreating wake, part of which the old dear spent on a double fronted shop just off Kensington High Street. It has a timber frontage which we’ve painted in purple gloss paint. It’s a great old building and we take care of the ground floor where our space is but someone else owns the upper floors and they are in serious need of maintenance. I refer to the mini-trees which have self-planted a pixie-forest in the parapet walls up near the roof.
One half of the double shop unit is a kind of hippy shrine selling crystals and dream-catchers and Wiccan spell books and the other half houses the coolest ‘Boho-chic’ clothing in all London (possibly the world). According to the business plan, Mum casts a mean spell over her side and I charm the local well-to-do, and miscellaneous tourists, out of heaps of cash on the other.
The inside of my half is white, including the floorboards which I had sanded to within an inch of their lives so that those of us that prefer to try on our outfits without shoes don’t ladder our tights or stockings in the process. My Mum’s side is purple and black to fit in with the somewhat ghoulish vibe she seemed to be going for.
If there’s one thing you can say for me it’s that I don’t subscribe to the school of blaming your parents for every little thing that goes wrong in your life. So yes, I’m a chatty (perhaps dippy) hippy-girl, and my Mum is a super hippy. In fact, she’s the type of super hippy that could wipe the floor with Janis Joplin and Mama Cass in a hippy deathmatch. You should see some of the weird stuff she sells on her side of the shop, and she CASTS SPELLS for God’s sake.
We live in an amazing Edwardian apartment block on the borders of Fulham and Chelsea. Our place has good sized rooms with lofty ceilings and glazed double doors leading onto an elegant balcony overlooking private gardens and tennis courts (thanks absent parent). The guys above us (Rob and Tony) are gay stereotypes and are totally hilarious and what’s more, they excel at both girly heart to hearts and cat-sitting Mum’s spooky feline, Zeus. Not that my mother would do anything so bourgeois as own a cat (even as a wannabe witch). Zeus adopted us as his humans out of all the apartment owners and so far appears to be content with his selection.
My life is damned awesome like I said. My Mum isn’t the usual kind of parent I know but she loves me, and she’s done a pretty good job raising me (though I say so myself). And what I learned from my kooky parent is priceless. She taught me about karma and serendipity – that life has a meaning far greater than we could ever imagine – and wouldn’t it be super-cool if that meaning was to spread happiness, so that’s what I try to do. Focusing on our own happiness (you can’t give what you haven’t got), Casey and I are out and about at the hippest places at least four nights of the week, and that’s without mentioning all the festival weekends and gigs we go to, and we have quite a posse of friends who hang with us when we’re cruising.
I also try to help people out. You know, the ones who always seem to be running into trouble of some sort. I’m not that type myself (although some might disagree) but I’ve been helping the poor souls out since before I can remember. That got easier when I was at Uni and met Casey. Like I said she’s a busy-body which means she finds way more people who need a helping hand than I would on my own.
The only thing bad to say about life for both Casey and me is our distinct lack of man-candy. Neither of us and the same can be said for Mum if I think about it, can hold on to one for more than the slow blink of an eye. In Casey’s case, it’s clearly down to her crazy busy-body habits and her wide range of frankly disturbing hobbies which take up WAY too much of her time and piss off any potential soul mate before they get beyond a sweet night of doing the nasty and a softly boiled breakfast.
On the other hand, I’m a little harder to pin down. It’s not that I don’t yearn for a fine man in straight-cut jeans or micro-cords to brighten my days and spice up my nights. It’s just that, well, you could say I have trust issues. In fact, Mum and Casey do say I have trust issues. To be fair to me, and I always try to be fair to me, I have a good reason, namely Casey’s gigantic ego of a brother, AKA Lucas Mouth-watering Black.
So, I’m twenty-nine years old and Lucas and I had a thing when Casey and I were at Uni together so I would have been about twenty at the time. That’s nine years since I had a relationship make it past breakfast. I have been known, at the end of a long evening of debauchery with my posse, to lament ever meeting Casey. That way I’d never have met her brute of an older brother and consequently, my heart would have been in one piece when an appropriately chivalrous suitor rode up.
Not that I’m complaining about even one minute of my time with Lucas. When I tell you, he was a mouth-watering(er) (if that’s a word) version of Jared Leto, you will I am sure to agree that I would be a fool to regret so much as a moment of my time with him. But since, back then, I was a younger (and yes, gabbier) version of Sienna Miller, he really had no right to regret his time with me either. And there’s the rub. He did, in fact, dearly regret his time with me, the specifics of which he enumerated in minute detail on the day he dumped me.
So, why am I moaning on about Lucas ‘fucked-up-and-fucked-off’ Black today of all days? Well, joy of joys he is going to be moving in with Casey while he looks for a place to live. Apparently, he’s been hiding away in Edinburgh pretty much this whole time but has decided to migrate to sunnier climes, at least for the foreseeable future.
Casey and I have lived out a silent pact not to speak of her despicable brother for the past nine years, and I for one was hoping we could continue that behaviour well into our seventies, but it appears I have been invited round for dinner this evening to bury the metaphorical hatchet with the man of my nightmares. Well, not nightmares (since he really was the spitting image of Jared Leto), but the man of one particular nightmare, being that day in 2004 when he trounced all over my dreams and syphoned my heart out through some severely overused tear ducts.
The only good thing I can see coming out of this dinner (apart from homemade wholegrain vegetable pizza, which is Casey’s speciality dish) is that I will totally rock wanker Lucas’ world. If I was mini-Sienna back in the Naughties, I am Sienna-on-crack in the current decade. I pray that Lucas’ Jaredness has faded in the intervening years (say a shiny head and a Buddha belly) so I can gorge myself on the icing of my ‘I still totally rock it’ cake.
Casey says he’s a changed man but is a little vague on the details. All I know is, after what he did, he sure does deserve to have degenerated into an unfanciable troll and I would, of course, have boycotted the dinner if the invitation had come from anyone but Casey. Reason? In the fallout nine years ago Casey picked me over her moron of a brother and in my world, that kind of loyalty deserves its reward, or in this case, Chocolate Fudge Brownie with double cream (which is her favourite).