Veiled, I was to be: Multiply, enduringly, symbolically veiled.
During the delightful Bath excursion with Sue (Vincent) and Stuart (France) back in January – and amidst a colourful welter of Pump Rooms, pasties, pints of cider and fudge to die for, my various roles had been explained to me…
I dove immediately for one of my dictionaries of symbols – and found that the veil is associated both with protection and with separation from the ordinary world. I let this settle in the frothing broth of my mind, hoping that the sediment would bring wisdom eventually.
So – veils it was! But…how? Where? What?
‘Clueless with clothes’ describes me perfectly – and, if I’m honest, I had only the vaguest idea of what a veil looked like, let alone where I might get such a thing (not being a big fan of mugging brides on their wedding days for that all-important fashion item!).
Amazon it had to be because I loathe clothes shopping with a passion – and, generally speaking, would rather gnaw off a body part than drive to Weston-super-Mare’s ghastly array of shops for the sartorially enlightened in order to buy so much as a pair of socks.
Fortunately for me, the costume-related theme was mediaeval and, with my Pre-Raphaelite looks, a courtly floor-lengther in velveteen seemed a natural enough acquisition. Even more serendipitously, the theatrical costume emporium which I stumbled across on-line offered a dizzying array of the damn things, with veils as part of the ensemble.
‘Bargain!’ thought I as I chose a fine green number and a sumptuous crimson, both adorned with gold brocade and, as far as I could tell, built to accommodate the fuller figure (which I most certainly am!).
To order them was the work of a few seconds. But then I realised that I also needed a black veil – and this is where things got a tad complicated, not to say bl***y frustrating. Typing up ‘Black Veil’ kept bringing me up against what looked like fifty million t shirts advertising what I assumed to be a band named Black Veil – and, since most brides go for the white and virginal option (even if the latter word is mainly from memory!), actual bridal veils in anything other than pure white were thin on the ground.
But I did find one – a sepulchral effort which looked as if it had been worn by Morticia Addams. Problem was, unless I paid an arm, a leg and jettisoned my liver, the fastest delivery on offer got the ruddy thing to me too late for the Silent Eye weekend!
Fast forward a few days and my package of luscious velvety dresses arrived. They fitted. They flattered. They fell fetchingly onto the floor! Ooh, I was so excited!
The only drawback was the two veils. Yes, indeedy: In the picture, both had looked as white as Mary’s Little Lamb’s fleece; in reality, one was the yellow of jaundiced skin, the other a sickly and repellent orange!
With less than a week to go, and two veils still to get, I will freely confess that a certain panic ensued. Until, that is, I happened across a wonderful Gothic black job. It appealed to my inner Punk immediately, strewn as it was with skulls, hellebore flowers, a choker to match and wrist covers with sinister falls of manky-looking stained lace depending from them!
Not an exact copy, but close enough for the moment…
It covered a multitude of sins (or my face, as it is also known!) – and I even toyed with the idea of taking my fluorescent pink Doc Martens with me to complete the outfit.
Even better, I could get it delivered within two days! Yes!
The white veil finally peeped its head over the parapet of garment-buying trench warfare the next day – and, although short, somewhat twee and not exactly designed to cover the face, was snapped up by Yours Truly with the kind of relish shown by crocodiles wrenching off hippos’ legs.
That white veil, which arrived last Thursday, allowed me to complete my Ritual Drama wardrobe at the eleventh hour – and, on Friday 22nd April, I set off Up North for ‘Leaf and Flame: The Foliate Man’!
The laughter, and twist of citrus cynicism, that this veiling caused was true and bright in its own way – but it was, and perhaps is, a veil in itself: A veil with which to hide my inner heart and hurt; the wit I use to deflect, to hide, to be both louder than life and, ultimately, unseen…
Hiding behind veils, I was – veils of fear, of anxiety, of silenced voice and lost self, of uncertainty and shyness, but wanting desperately to join the normal world, to fling back the face-covering net and dance in sunlight and laugh and be with special companions…
More, much more, to come…