Belfast Telegraph

What those ladies who lunch love to talk about

By Frances Burscough

I’ve just come to the end of a really hectic few days covering Belfast Fashionweek.

As I’m the Telegraph’s catwalk commentator, a bit like Joan Rivers but without the silicon/collagen/botox, I was there at every show, scrutinising and reporting on all the action backstage and onstage.

Then I’d to race outside to file copy before spending the rest of the night reading up on the next day’s shows.

I also had a business column to write; two preview films to watch, then review; a portrait to finish and a chapter of my book to complete — and that was only after I’d done all my daily domestic duties too, including two school runs per day; packed lunches/clean uniforms; parent/teachers consultation/driving one son to a music exam; another son to his driving theory test; one orthodontic appointment; one vet’s visit; one blind date and a four-episode catch-up of Boardwalk Empire!

So when the closing event of Fashionweek — the Style Sunday lunch — came around, I was both exhausted and a bit burnt out. Normally my Sunday morning lie-in is as sacrosanct to me these days as going to Mass when I was (forced to go as) a child.

Nevertheless, it turned out to be the absolute highlight of the week.

The thing I enjoyed so much about it was being exclusively in female company. I suddenly realised that having lived with two boys and worked solo from home for so many years, I’d lost touch with my female identity. Forget Mastercard, this was priceless.

Mind you, this was a veritable feast of feisty females from the fashion industry and the media and every one was as sassy and as classy as they come.

On my table I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to Pamela Ballantine from UTV and social columnist at the Belfast Telegraph. She turned out to be the funniest woman I’ve ever met in my 20 years in Norn Iron.

“We’ve now got to the stage in the proceedings, with so many women talking at once, that we’re probably only audible to certain breeds of mountain dog,” she commented, somewhere between the starter and the main course.

She was right. A total of 75 women — and almost as many bottles of wine later — and the racket had reached fever pitch.

So just to keep you all in the know, I did a quick vox-pop to find out what the hot topics of the day were among this gaggle of gossiping glitterati ...

(I’ve included definitions in brackets, where necessary, for men in general and the naive and clueless)

Table one: Cougars (older women dating young boys). Merkins (clip-on pubic wigs! Seriously, they do exist. The mind boggles as to where the clip goes ... ) Second marriages. Cake decorating.

Table Two: GBFs (gay best friends – apparently every woman should have one), GHDs (Good Hair Day straighteners. Apparently every woman should also have one), Big Knickers. Stockings vs hold-ups.

Table Three: Big Knickers (again). Clip-on hair fringes (the latest trend in fake hair). Favourite coffee in Starbucks (Full-on Frappucino vs Super Skinny latte). Toy Boys vs Sugar Daddies, the pros and cons.

Table Four: Big Hair. Big Knickers. Chicken fillets (silicone bra-boosting inserts). Chicken Madras and how to cook it. Cupcakes. One-night stands.

Table Five: Cleaners, nannies and au-pairs: how much do you pay yours? George Clooney — would you or wouldn’t you?

Blimey. Talk about adult education ...

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