I used to have this poster framed on my living room wall when my children were small, and I loved the simple elegance of it. It epitomised everything I wasn’t, and never would be – a rich, thin, sophisticated, upper-class Lady. Or perhaps even a well-travelled demi-monde much in demand, wending my way across the world by using my feminine wiles to my advantage. Realistically I’ve always had more in common with the lowly lady’s maid of the era than the stylish fur-trimmed woman depicted – I’d have been practical and efficient and hovering invisibly in the background, earning my keep by sheer hard working-class graft, pretty much the way I do now.
But I could still dream… even as an exhausted young mum of three I could still avidly watch Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot’ and other such costume dramas and imagine myself in that beautiful fantasy (for me) Art Deco world of bright young things having fun; cocktails and dressing for dinner and dancing ’til dawn with no real responsibilities… The fascination of all that decadent, modernist hedonism lured me in every time; the intriguing aristocratic life of luxury, entitlement, and absolute certainty of self has always captured my imagination.
Part of me still thinks it might still be fun to travel one day on the 21st Century Orient Express; live out my dream, because I do so love train travel and the journey itself would be truly spectacular regardless, the experience of a lifetime. Yet another part of me knows that my thrifty nature means that even if I did unexpectedly come into enough money to make such a journey a potential reality, there are always countless other practicalities I would undoubtedly prioritise to spend it on before even thinking about wasting it away on one – albeit amazing – train journey.
And I suppose that’s why me not having been born with a silver spoon in my mouth and having everything handed to me on a plate like those golden age train travellers of the past makes all the difference? For me such luxury is just that – a luxury, not a necessity, and as such always comes bottom of the list when balancing a limited budget. But nevertheless I can still dream, that alluring image has stayed with me long after the original framed poster has been replaced on my wall, if not in my heart. The sheer thrill of it all still draws me in; the thought of travelling so romantically across Europe in the vintage carriages of the Venice Simplon Orient Express with all its history and vintage elegance still quickens the wanderlust in my soul, and perhaps it always will…