Constance Craving…

The town I spent most of my childhood in had two shops with almost the same name; TG and TG2. They were, I was told, completely unrelated. It was just a coincidence. Which in an age of people copyrighting adjectives seems rather baffling.

TG2 was the fancier of the pair. It sold “collectibles” such as porcelain dolls and the kind of plates that people stick on the wall instead of eating from. I walked around the store following my mother with my arms clamped against my sides as ordered; with her owl like head spinning around every couple of minutes to check I hadn’t been overcome and flailed my arms at a stack of Royal Doulton. A sensible precaution given I was the child who zoned out so much once that sat on someone without being aware of it.

TG was the much more exciting of the two. They sold “stuff”. I’m not sure how they described themselves to the tax office but stuff is genuinely the best term for their ever changing and utterly perplexing range of products. There were some constants. It was the only place to get fabric dye and thread from, other than the overpriced sewing shop. You could also buy forty years worth of hair grips, blue coloured gel and proper fixing lotion from there. Most importantly for every teenage and preteen girl in a three mile radius they sold Constance Carroll and Collection 2000 makeup.

constance carroll
Constance Carroll lipsticks in significantly less exciting colours than I remember. Photo from Mydiscountsdirect on eBay

A few doors away was Boots with 17 (still in numerals then), but they were an investment compared to most people’s pocket money. And the colour range was sensible – the sort of thing your mum would absolutely approve of.

CC and C2000 had a staggering range of frankly bonkers colours. I was early – middle teens when I first got to spend my not so hard earned cash unsupervised, and the opportunity to buy not only a lipstick, but a lipstick in an alarming pink or blue was not to be passed up. There were hundreds of colours to my teenage eyes. I suspect there were probably only about forty or fifty between the two ranges, but the rainbow had me entranced.

I knew that there was no way I was going to be allowed to wear them outside of the house, but just owning a colour that would make my mother squirm was pleasing.

At least one of the alarming colours was a fuchsia pink. Periodically since I have purchased almost identical colours – more expensively – my last was from Urban Decay. I never once wore it outside the house.

Another was purple, and again I’m a fairly consistent purple fan. Though strangely I feel much more comfortable wearing purple than bright pink and a MAC shiny purple was a work staple for a long while.

Along with the lipsticks there were duo eyeshadows complete with squished cotton bud applicator. I dutifully followed the advice in the Usbourne book of makeup (or whatever it was called) and bought blue and green. I looked ridiculous. Like blinking algae. This occasionally was allowed outside the house. My mother’s opposition to lipstick didn’t extend to eyeshadow.

But eyeshadow wasn’t as shiny and entrancing as lipstick.

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