I like Toast catalogues. The images are beautifully shot, the destinations aspirational, the clothes covetable. The only slight downside are the Toast ladies, who frankly look as though they’re very, very bored at the thought of being on a whitewashed Moroccan terrace in some slubby khadi trousers with the prospect of souks and tagines later.
The prices are high. I have rarely bought anything and if I did it was right at the end of the sale. Since the challenge of the utmost kind though, new clothes are out of bounds, but a year or two ago the Spring catalogue plopped through the letterbox. There were the Toast ladies, this time posing round a pool and strolling up sandy paths in towelling fifties-style bikinis. I think there were sunbeams, and soda siphons, and raffia baskets. I bought a bikini in size 14 on sale .
It arrived. The colour was ‘donkey’ or perhaps ‘putty’. I could pretend to be a Toast lady, at least for a few minutes at home, but I was determined to be cheerful at the thought of farmers’ markets and some nice fish and chips.
I tried it on in the bathroom. The shorts fitted. I tried on the top. It was two tiny triangles of fabric. This piece of clothing was not built for purpose. It was made for a woman with a normal lower but a miniscule upper half. It was clear I could not go to the swimming baths dressed like this.
Wooden fried egg, Plan Toys
I squirrelled it away in a cupboard and hoped that nature might smile upon me, and that as time went on eventually I might fit into my bikini. It never happened. I admitted defeat and went to Debenhams. £12 bought me adequate support and fifties polka dots. It also saved the public from a view of my late thirties midriff. I believe they also sell soda siphons.