It’s not often us conservationists get to dress up and go to a fancy meal in an extremely fancy hotel. And that’s what makes the Nature of Scotland awards so special: a fabulous meal with sparkling company and wearing shoes that certainly wouldn’t be practical for the day-job.
It’s always a memorable event but this year will be memorable for another reason: between arriving at the venue and leaving a few hours ago, I have somehow lost my clothes. Not the clothes I am currently wearing I hasten to add, the clothes I had arrived in before changing into my finery.
When I went to change back into them for the dash to the train they weren’t in my bag. “Why wouldn’t they be here?” I thought, indignantly. Surely someone wouldn’t rifle past my wallet to steal a pair of brown trousers and a top I got 5 years ago from the Salvation Army shop.
Truly a conundrum. I thought my way back through the evening. I’d arrived in work clothes and gone straight to the toilets to change so I went back to check. The toilet I’d changed in was engaged. I waited. But time was marching on and the last train to Glagsow was going in 15 minutes. I contemplated shouting over the door “Erm excuse me. Have I left my clothes in there?” Then I thought better of it and sprinted off for the train. I stopped on the way out at reception to ask if any clothes had been handed in.
The concierge kept a totally straight face as he received the information and then turned to a colleague saying “this lady has lost her, um, some, well, items. And wonders if they have been handed in”
“My clothes” I quickly clarified in case they thought it was something worse. But no-one had seen them. I dashed off.
Fortunately I hadn’t lost my comfortable boots with my clothes as there would have been no sprinting in those shoes: skyscraper platforms. A type of shoe I have neither worn before nor owned (the extent of my previous high heels experience extending to a vertiginous one and a half inches above floor level).
No, these completely unsuitable and almost unwearable shoes actually belong to my 14 year old daughter who, having discovered it was a black tie event, poured scorn on my choice of shoe.
“You can’t go out dressed like that mum.” She said, perfectly horrified, in almost the same tone I’d use as she struts out to a party in a lacy midriff-bearing ensemble. “See those shoes, they are just awful. Mum” she says “Awful granny shoes. Yuk”
Well what else will I wear then? I blustered.
“Theeeeese” she purred appearing cradling a pair of ridiculously high black suede heels.
I squeaked at them in parental shock, demanding what they were and why a 14 year old owned them. My daughter recoiled theatrically. “My babies” she said defensively as she stroked the shoes like a Bond villain with her cat. “And you certainly won’t be borrowing them them.”
It needed a bit of negotiating but, eventually, after agreeing to pay for a new dress for the school Christmas dance, I got to wear the shoes.
Still musing over the whereabouts of my clothes I ran, Cinderella-like, in full length party gown (heels in bag) through Edinburgh in fear of missing the last train. And on the platform, when I arrived in a whirl of stress, I found three people from my table at the dinner. We greeted each other and I casually commented that I wished I was wearing the clothes I’d arrived in but couldn’t find them.
“Sooooo. You mean you’ve lost your clothes at the hotel?” Asked one of the women slowly, as if to make sure she caught what I’d said correctly and then everyone fell about laughing.
“Oh I found some clothes in the ladies loo” piped up another woman.
“When I came in to the toilet there were two women discussing the clothes.” She said “one was asking ‘Is it just a coat?’ And the other said it was definitely a full set of clothes. And socks.”
She said that the three of them were musing over how on earth someone’s clothes got to be in a toilet cubicle and what had happened to the owner.
“I thought we should take them to reception as lost properly” she said “but then we thought – what if the owner comes back for them and they aren’t there? So we left them. They’re probably still there.”
And perhaps they are still there… It’s now late and the party is over. I think I’ll need to make an awkward phone call to the hotel in the morning to try and retrieve them. The explaining is going to be fun.