44. Cat-hat.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I got my first proper job. On the first day, I arrived early. As one does. Three hours early. I don’t like to take chances. At least not on the first day. After that it all goes to hell. Finding everything completely closed, I sat myself down on the ground and settled in for a wait.

I always like to make a good first impression.

I always like to make a good first impression.

I didn’t have too long to wait. Soon, a young woman arrived. She was wearing long, flowing black clothes, white leather gloves, and a pair of those cat-eye glasses from the fifties. She looked me up and down and strolled over.

“Hello,” she said, stretching out a hand “you must be the new guy. I’m doing Dorothy today.”

I was in no position to argue. I smiled and shook her hand, making a mental note not to turn my back on her at any point, or make any sudden moves. Only later did the penny drop. Dorothy Parker! She was dressed as Dorothy Parker! Oh! A lunatic! I was going to be working with a crazy person!

Who says work is boring?

Who says work is boring?

Luckily, I quite like crazy people, so I married her. And nothing has changed. She still dresses like that. Not like Dorothy Parker. But according to a theme. I will wake up in the morning and pry open an eye to find her standing in front of the mirror in green leggings and a button-up shirt with a belt round it. “Robin Hood.” She will say. And I will back slowly out of the room to go and get some coffee.

I will emerge from the bathroom to find her dressed in a cocktail dress at seven o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday, with a beaded headdress on. “The Great Gatsby.” She will say. And I will try to ensure my movements are fluid and unthreatening.

This is how we take out the rubbish.

Hello, sailor!

Hello, sailor!

This is how we take a stroll along the beach.

To be fair, I was wearing my formal black speedo.

To be fair, I was wearing my formal black speedo.

Mowing the lawn?

Don't worry. She's wearing heavy steel capped work-boots. Safety first.

Don’t worry. She’s wearing heavy steel capped work-boots. Safety first.

Quiet day at home?

Thank god it was Blondie and not Cindy Lauper!

Thank god it was Blondie and not Cindy Lauper!

She is still, as you can see, completely round the bend. I should, I suppose, alert the authorities. But I like her like that and besides, what happens if she’s doing “Rosie the Riveter” on the day they come to take her away. There will be blood, and I suck at cleaning.

You can also use the "Buy me a beer" button on this site to buy tickets to the gun show.

You can also use the “Buy me a beer” button on this site to buy tickets to the gun show.

This has all rubbed off on me over the years. I, too, dress to a theme. The same theme every day. That theme is “Never forget to wear pants when taking the kids to school. Again.” I look like this.

I'm wearing pants in this shot. I swear it.

I’m wearing pants in this shot. I swear it.

Unless, of course, we’re going to some sort of formal do, in which case I will wear a collared, button-up shirt.

A tie, however, would be a bridge too far.

A tie, however, would be a bridge too far.

Why am I telling you all this? The youngest 23thorns has come of age. Let’s call her V. No longer is V the sweet, pliable little cherub who would look up at me with limpid blue eyes and say “Thank you, Daddy!” when I picked out an outfit for her. No longer does V give me a sympathetic smile as Mrs 23thorns, channelling a 17th century pirate, returns the outfit to the cupboard with the rather curt explanation that blue, orange, purple and yellow somehow “don’t match”.

She has, you see, decided she is big enough to dress herself. This wouldn’t be a problem if she took after me. But no. No she does not. She, too, dresses to a theme. She, too, has  the same theme every day. Every day is Helena Bonham Carter day.

People throw at least $100 at her in change every day.

People throw at least $100 at her in change every day.

In order to get dressed every day, Helena Bonham Carter apparently chooses three different outfits and then puts them all on. That’s how V rolls, too. She has, you see, got four older cousins. Girl cousins. Cousins who hand down their clothes. V is four, and has over a hundred pairs of shoes. I’m not exaggerating. I have proof;

We wake up at 2am every day so that we have time to pick out a pair.

We wake up at 2am every day so that we have time to pick out a pair.

If that’s what’s covering the bottom layer, you can imagine what the rest of the cupboard looks like. So this happens.

She is hospitalised with heat-stroke at least twice a week.

She is hospitalised with heat-stroke at least twice a week.

Yes, that is indeed a small person wearing leopard print gumboots, purple corduroy trousers, a white dress, a floral skirt, a blue jersey, and, on top of that, a pink vest. No, she is not playing dress-up. That is how she is going to go to school. Yes, we should probably step in at some point. No, we are not going to. People lose fingers doing that.

Instead, we have told ourselves that she is finding her identity. Building character. The same way Dr Frankenstein builds friends.

This is how we go shopping.

This is how we go shopping.

We keep hoping that the teachers will be too busy with all the other kids to notice that Helena Bonham Carter has snuck into their lives. But we’ve been rumbled. The other day I was blearily ploughing through my second cup of coffee when a cheerful little soul appeared in front of me, chest puffed out with pride, and what looked like three different jerseys. “I,” she announced, with gravitas beyond her years, “have a cat-hat!”

“Oh.” I said. I’ve learned not to let myself be drawn into conversations that start like this. “Good”.

Later, I found out that she did, indeed, have a cat-hat. She had snuck it into her school bag. The teacher sent home this;

Do you have a cathat? I don't have a cathat. Why don't we have cathats?

Do you have a cat-hat? I don’t have a cat-hat. Why don’t we have cat-hats?

It just so happens that I like the way Helena Bonham Carter dresses. She lives in constant danger of becoming a parody of herself, but somehow she manages to pull it off. It’s all about attitude.

Attitude and a steady supply of powerful hallucinogens.

Attitude and a steady supply of powerful hallucinogens.

V is going to have to develop the same sort of attitude if this is going to carry on. I’m not too concerned. Yesterday, on the way home from school, she stuck her head out of the car window as we drove past a crowd of people on the side of the road. “I”, she shouted at the top of her lungs, cat-hat flapping in the wind like a deboned airborne pink turtle, “AM V, BUGGERS!” She is indeed, and I think she’ll be OK.

Someone has to keep their feet on the ground round here. Luckily, there’s me and the boy. Normal people. People with a quiet, conservative sense of decorum who understand that your clothes are there primarily to avoid public nudity. Or maybe not. He came with me to the shops the other day;


Yes. Those are paint flecked shorts. And dark green knee high football socks. And formal black dress shoes.

We think he might be German.

We think he might be German.

Someone has to keep their feet on the ground round here. Luckily, there’s me. I could go on, but I have to go now. Mrs 23thorns is doing “The Fifties” today, and she wants me to take a picture of her taking out the rubbish bin. Bye.


67 thoughts on “44. Cat-hat.

  1. I’ve rustled up some answers to the questions in your Tiny Houses post. My reply is here – http://raveburbleblog.com/2013/07/07/23thorns-in-answer-to-your-questions-on-tiny-house-living/

  2. chowanyau says:

    pls ask Mrs and Ms. 23 thorns where they get their outfits. Mine Little one wouldnt let me dress her from the age of 7, has now morphed into fashion police banishing ‘hideous’ items of clothing from Mama’s wardrobe.

  3. Beth Honeycutt says:

    I love your descriptors and the pics. Individuality is too often ignored, so hurrah for your familial freedoms. I recall our daughter’s early outfits with mismatched socks and shoes and the wildish colors with which she adorned herself. Now in her 20s, I am happy she is still the same independent young woman. Freedom is often too hard won!

    • 23thorns says:

      Damn. I was hoping the girl child would work this out of her system now and go on to become a dull but highly paid corporate drone. now who’s going to support me in my dotage?

  4. Brilliant post. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

  5. You and your family are obviously quite, quite made. Something I rather like in other people. A hilarious read – thank you. I shall follow your blog. No wait. I just put more layers on. Perhaps I shouldn’…

    • 23thorns says:

      I saw on your blog that you live in a tiny house, and I had to write a blog about it. I sincerely hope you’re not offended.

      • Mad, I meant, quite mad!

        Pffft! It would take more than that to offend me, although your concern is noted and appreciated.

        You raised some good points actually. And when I return from my 30 hour shift away at work and have a decent keyboard in front of me again, I shall duly answer some of your questions heretoforthwith. (If that’s not a real word I shall dub it a neologism and claim complete ownership of it and charge people to use it. It’s a cutthroat world, the literary one.)

  6. Such an amusing post and family! Thanks, too, for visiting my blog and all the best for more of yours!

  7. I love this. so witty and creative. I appreciate you liking my vintage plate post. I am really glad or I really would have missed this wonderful story of your life.

  8. pfstare says:

    Oh your daughter would get on so well with mine…… I am very au fait with the Helena Bonham Carter look. She’s nearly 8 and all I can say is it only gets worse 😉

  9. Louella says:

    BEAUTIFUL!! Oh my goodness… *holds belly from good feeling giggle fits* What an amazing thing to do. Every. Single. Day! Yes please…

    Reminds me of when I used to wear my satin Pajamas to school and flannelette PJ’s and Big Bird feet slippers to the Hookers Ball in protest! (some ridiculous things they do here locally every single year that gives people an excuse to go out wearing next to nothing). I don;t care what anyone says, some of us just are not meant to walk around with no clothes on. (OHS yanno!)

  10. erickeys says:

    My boy only where’s truck themed clothing – but he loves pink toys/chairs/cups – and the girl dresses like a little girl. Wanna trade for a few weeks?

    • 23thorns says:

      Be careful what you wish for. by the time we’re done with them, your boy will be losing his toys/chairs/cups and your girl will be dressing like three little girls.

  11. HaHa that was a great read!!!!! Helena Bonham Carter what an Idol!!!!

  12. gorgeous and perfect family!

  13. Spy Garden says:

    HAHAHAHAHAhahahah I was crackign up this whole post. “we think he might be German” HAHAHAH haha

  14. For some reason, I kind of adore your family.

  15. Had a good laugh this morning. Very amusing post.

  16. mollytopia says:

    All four of you are fantastically interesting – I’m hooked! Thank you for all the awesome photos – what a great post : )

  17. Lyn says:

    What a thoroughly delightful, fun and, to me, normal family.
    I used to work with a lady who had a different hat for every day of the week. She was known as “the hat lady” by those who worked on a different floor. Some of her hats would make Cat-Hat look positively boring.

  18. Judy says:

    I am reading yet another delightful, beautifully written post by Mr. 23 Thorns and thinking…what does this guy do for a living again? Went back to ‘About’ and saw WAS going to write a book, now a blogger. Well frankly, I am completely PRE-SOLD on the book!! So whenever you are ready you’ve got a customer!

    I am pretty sure you hit the Like button on something of mine and I knew I’d been by before and enjoyed the visit but forgot. They call it surfing the web but sometimes you get turned upside down in the surf, get disoriented and forget where you were. So I now I follow so if I take a tumble I’ll know where I was!!

    I am serious about the book!

  19. KG Visions says:

    What a beautiful family you have!!!!

  20. Kami Tilby says:

    Delightful family you have!! And all along I had been thinking that you were the odd man out.

  21. mariekeates says:

    It’s called an eclectic dress sense and it’s great!

  22. narf77 says:

    Whilst Mrs 23Thorns may, indeed, be clinically insane (although concurrently strangely alluring) when it comes to her choices in fashion you omitted to tell us all that your strange proclivity for Australiana came from the fact that you are, yourself, the reincarnation of one Mr Greedy Smith from one of our more regional rock bands “Mental as Anything”. I first need to point out that Mr Greedy Smith isn’t in fact dead so you are both inhabiting the same space in the time vortex continuum (which explains rather a lot really…) I will spare you the vision of Mr Greedy Smith now…NO-ONE needs to see that except Mrs Greedy Smith…I am talking in the past when Mr Smith had a career to speak of. Perhaps you are going about this fame thing all wrong Mr 23Thorns. Perhaps you don’t actually have to bother with all of this silly blogging stuff. You just need a Reg Mombassa and Martin Plaza look alike and you could go on the road! Don’t worry too much about sounding like them, indeed singing at all…that’s what those machines are for that allow hot to trot tottie to make hit singles…you just need to cultivate that peculiar Aussie accent for your news conferences and with your undoubtable “Sarth Effricanism” you are almost halfway there! Let us know when your cover band is coming to Tassie…I might even get the moth eaten sock under the mattress to stretch to a ticket or two…
    The hobbit is too cute for fruit Mr 23Thorns. You know those baboon instincts? They are kicking in! She looks like a 4 year old Cyndi Lauper (now we all know what that obscure segue was leading to further up in the post). I agree the son-and-heir is most probably of the German persuasion. If he was wearing sandals with those knee high socks (we ONLY have your say-so that they are, indeed socks and not tights Mr 23Thorns…) I could pinpoint it for certain. You have a most interesting family and an equally interesting selection of weeds growing in your paving. There might even be a post in them…just sayin’…

    • 23thorns says:

      I had a careful look, they’re socks. They’ve got those timelessly stylish stripes at the top.
      Those weeds, dear Narf, are the noble “rhus lancia”. Or at least they were, until some silly arse renamed them “seasia”.
      As for Greedy Smith, I googled him. You cut me deep, Narf. You cut me deep.

      • narf77 says:

        Did you check out “Early Greedy” Mr 23Thorns? I told you NOT to look at older Greedy…Rhus lancea is a bloody great big tree Mr 23Thorns… you appear to have planted several of them all together in your paving…methinks you have a need to live on the horticultural wild side to say the least! Brave man…who needs a wall anyway…

      • 23thorns says:

        Nope, round here rhus lancea doesn’t get too big. what you can’t see in the picture are the paperbark acacias, which at five years old are already tearing down the walls. Our neighbours must love us!

  23. westerner54 says:

    You are all wonderful.

  24. I love your family. I wish I had peeps like you to hang out with.

  25. What a fantastic little story. I’ve never heard of someone dressing in themes, but I like it! How original and honest to one’s self.

  26. Aw, my little cameo here reads almost like a love letter. You are too sweet. Thank you. I think there might have been some autocorrect issues though. Somehow ‘stylish’ and ‘graceful’ have been auto corrected to ‘lunatic’ and ‘crazy.’ It was Windows 8 right? It’s so buggy.

    • 23thorns says:

      What do you mean, almost?!?
      Not only is windows 8 buggy, but every time I try to edit my post on WordPress, it takes me through to the home page of those nice single Russian ladies in our area who wanted to be friends.

  27. Fantastic that you love and enjoy a woman who dares to be whatever she wants to be. I threw my outfits away and conformed under duress. I love your article, love your family.

  28. Mrs 23Thorns and I formed The Rubbish Collection Day Collective quite recently. I, however, have not been able to contribute as my would-be photographers have conspired against me, and leave home before the sun rises every day. Probably for the greater good 😀 My son once wore a replica viking helmet to work. They didn’t fire him. Probably for the greater good.

    • Buck up ma’am. I know your second rubbish day has just passed without so much as a sniff of a boa.

      And props to your young man. Valhalla or glory!

      • Eish…. I may have to rope in the local dustbin divers. They may make off with my phone though o_O

        My young man and your young man share much common ground when it comes to sensible dressing. Mine turned out alright, and yours will too 🙂

    • 23thorns says:

      For a small price, I will be happy to drive around Johannesburg taking photos of women dressed in period costume posing with their rubbish. We can do a coffee table book.

  29. Buzzwordz says:

    Some how, your eating the worm on live camera doesn’t seem so odd anymore!

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