'I BOUGHT it two years ago, and honestly, I think I've worn it twice. So I thought of you...'
My mother looks at me. I look at the twinset. Yes, that's right. A twinset. Images of well-dressed, conservative women of the 1950s, boasting said twinset and pearls, spring to mind.
But you know, I enjoyed Mad Men as much as the next person.
'Thanks. I'll try it on,' I tell her. My mother looks pleased.
It is classic but modern. A mix of cashmere and wool, with a funky, dark floral pattern on the bottom half of the tee-shirt and matching cardigan. Floral is in, right?
'It goes well with these jeans, I think.' I gesture vaguely at the ensemble. My mother frowns. Clearly not looking at the jeans.
'What do you think?' I ask. She nods.
'It's lovely. And it'll be even nicer when you lose that little bit of weight.'
Right. She doesn't mean it unkindly, I know. She rarely mentions things like that. And let's face it, I'm old enough to take it. Especially from my mother.
'Is that new?' a couple of friends ask me over coffee the following day. We meet once a week, these friends and I. So they notice these things.
'Yep.' I wait for the compliments. There are none. And then,
'It's unusual, isn't it?' says one. 'I mean, it's a bit different.'
I blink, wondering exactly what she means. It's a twinset, for Heaven's sake. Not chainmail.
'Where did you buy it?'
'I didn't. My mother gave it to me. She'd bought it for herself...' I trail away. Had there been a brief, knowing exchange of glances? Something must have shown in my face.
'It's really nice,' one of them says, quickly. There's that word. Nice. The waitress brings me my usual coffee.
'How are you?' she asks. 'Are you having a pastry with that?'
'Not today, thanks,' I mumble.
I wash the offending articles, fold them, and leave them on the eldest daughter's bed. She's out of her teens. So I figure it's safe enough.
'What on earth are these?' she gasps, when she arrives home from college. Obviously not long enough out of her teens, I realise. 'Who wears woolly tee-shirts? Or cardigans?'
'Lots of people,' I say. 'Anyway, it's called a twinset.'
'You've been watching Mad Men again, haven't you?' She gives it a hard stare. 'Maybe you should wear it, Mum.'
I try for something non-committal, when it suddenly comes to her.
'Actually, do you know who it would really suit?'
'Totally,' she says. 'I mean, it's even her size.'
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