Until earlier today my finances for the rest of January seemed to be in a wonderful state, and I was inclined to spend pretty freely on clothes and shoes. But something has happened, which I'll touch upon at the end of this post. If I'd known, I would probably have hesitated to buy the two items I'm about to write about. But I didn't know, and so I made the purchases, and they're now in my wardrobe, ready for wearing - each begging to be given an outing, in fact - and I might as well celebrate the fact!
The first item is a dress from Phase Eight in Tunbridge Wells. I was in TW with a friend of mine, Gill. We'd got there early on Wednesday 7 January, had breakfast at Wood's Restaurant in The Pantiles (a place highly recommended), and then ambled up towards the main shopping centre. Both of us were in the frame of mind to buy something nice from a sale rail. Gill saw three dresses in Phase Eight that she liked, and I saw one. The lady shop assistant put us in adjacent changing rooms, so we were able to show each other how our garments looked, and discuss their fit - an experience I very much enjoyed. The dress I selected for myself was in the sale at £59. Here it is at home, hung up:
I love the swirly flying-birds pattern. Like some other things I have, this dress has plenty of extra fabric over the bust, and, like the silver-and-gold party dress I bought in December, the fabric is gathered in on one side, which has the effect of making the most of whatever waist one has. You can see that in these shots of me, wearing the new dress (though, for some reason, not my glasses!) at home next morning:
See how it accentuates the swell of my hips. Of course, it would all look better if I lost a bit of plumpness midships; but even as it is, I'd be happy to whizz off to a posh party in this new acquisition!
Then two days later on Friday 9 January I went off to Worthing on my own for part the afternoon, and I found this black Tigi jacket at Beales. Its sale price was £35. Here it is, hung up at home next morning:
As you can see, the fabric (which feels like tapestry) has a dogtooth pattern. The label said 'size 14/16', but it still felt roomy. I've been choosing size 18 for outer garments during the last year or so, but Tigi's 'size 18/20' would have been rather too big.
There's a story here. In September 2013 I was in the Lyme Regis area for a few days. At a store called Trinity House in nearby Axminster I found a jacket just like this one. The fabric pattern was slightly different, but otherwise it was the same garment. It was a 'new season' line, and was selling at full price, then £50. I very much liked it, but couldn't make up my mind on the size. In the end a nice lady called Lorraine helped me out with her opinion (See the post Andrea and Lorraine on 27 September 2013), and on the strength of this I bought the size 18/20 version. It was very roomy indeed, but I did like it. Back at the caravan, and elsewhere, I wore it with pleasure - at least for a short while:
But although the jacket was undoubtedly trendy, and very comfortable and easy to wear in a loose sort of way, you can perhaps see a drawback in choosing the larger size. The width of the shoulders caught the eye. And with my large frame, shoulder-width needed to be disguised, not accentuated. I didn't want to look like a bloke in it.
And then, only a month later, an idiot man at Specsavers in Brighton sirred me when I walked in wearing the jacket. Here's a picture of my outfit later on in the same day:
Do men look like this? Well, they do have broad shoulders rather like that, and an observer might assume from the hang of my jacket that my own shoulders were just as wide, even though that wasn't so. I decided the jacket, though nice, was dangerous to wear. Eventually it went to a charity shop (as mentioned in my post The purging season on 14 March 2014).
This time, in Worthing, I opted for caution! It had to be the smaller size, to avoid that shoulder problem. And I got another lady shopper to look critically at the whole issue. She was very happy to assist. I tried both sizes on for her. She said the smaller size was definitely the better fit, the fit that didn't make my shoulders seem huge and mannish. So I bought accordingly.
I'm so glad to have a version of this jacket once more! It was a wrench to take it to the charity shop. I'd missed it ever since. Quite possibly, if I hadn't been sirred by that silly man, I'd be wearing the original today. But as some of you will know only too well, it doesn't take much to sow the seeds of doubt, and lose faith, and come to see something as a liability and not as an enhancement. I'm no different.
As for that financial calamity, it was a past mistake that has now left me poorer by £391.11. Not a misguided purchase. I have made an error in recording the running balance on my bank account. I've just discovered it, after making a thorough reconciliation of the balance I thought I had with the 'official' balance on my latest bank statement. I should say in my defence that I routinely do several things that should make a gross error like this unlikely:
# I keep my record of transactions on a series of annual spreadsheets of standard layout, and because the spreadsheet takes care of all calculations, there is no possibility of any arithmetical error.
# I update the current spreadsheet at least once a day.
# I check every item on the spreadsheet against the monthly bank statement.
# I make very certain that the running balance at one year end is correctly transferred to the start of the following year.
I recall carrying out a full bank reconciliation some years back (though I can't remember exactly when). That would establish what the running balance figure on my spreadsheet should have been on that date. Given my careful routine practices, it ought to have still been correct in 2015. But somehow it had become inflated by £391.11. This might imply an overstated bank receipt, an understated bank payment (both seemingly impossible if checked without exception against the bank statements), or (more likely) some fundamental error in principle, as might have happened in late 2005, when I switched from one current account to another, but tried to show all the entries for both accounts on the same spreadsheet - possibly unwise! A mistake might have inadvertently created this £391.11 discrepancy.
I could now spend time attempting to discover the precise date and nature of the error (or combination of errors), but it would require looking carefully at thousands of transactions, covering many years. I can think of better things to do.
How strange, imagining that I was £391.11 richer than I really was - and for a very long time! It's a wonder that I never went overdrawn. I must have got pretty close to it from time to time. How lucky not to have encountered difficulties.
The current running balance has been corrected. It's £391.11 less than it was yesterday. To compensate somewhat, I've transferred £350 from my savings account. This steadies the Melford Financial Boat for the remainder of January, but reduces my net savings this month to a dismally low £200. I won't re-establish the lost family fortune at that rate.