Look, with the year we’ve had and the limitations on normal, fun things we can do, we’ve had to make our own entertainment however we’re able.
While most of us did this by getting weirdly into jigsaw puzzles for a few weeks, one woman made up for missed going out opportunities by dressing to the nines once a week… to take out her bins.
Nicola Matthews, 49, wanted to bring some cheer to her neighbours amid Covid-19, so started dressing up with props, gowns, and full hair and makeup.
What started as a one-off became a weekly tradition.
For 20 weeks, Nicola was photographed every Wednesday at 8pm outside her home in Waltham Abbey, Essex, all dressed up with her wheelie bin ready to go.
The outfits started out fairly simple, but soon ramped up to include rubber gloves, costumes inspired by Austin Powers and Desperate Housewives, and, for her final week, a black and white ensemble inspired by Marilyn Monroe.
Friends, family and neighbours joined in the fun, while an uncle and aunt even sent gloves from as far as LA.
Her mum made a red sash and neighbours donated a red rose from their garden, to match her cream dress and red heels.
In total Nicola carried on her one-woman fashion parade for 20 weeks and helped raise hundreds of pounds for charity.
She said: ‘It was so funny dressing up and going out to push my wheelie bin.
‘Amanda Holden posed for her Ball Gowns Bins Out wearing a long pink dress, and I thought, “I’ve got a dress like that”, so I decided to pose as a one off with my wheelie bin.
‘I called it wheelie bin Wednesday, actually my bins go out on Monday but that doesn’t sound as good so I pushed my bin outside my house on Wednesday evenings and my neighbours, Christine and Gary, kindly took pictures.’
To replicate the image of the Monroe dress blowing up as in The Seven Year Itch, (1955) Nicola’s neighbour, Christine Newbery, was on her knees holding up Nicola’s hair drier.
‘That was the funniest moment of all,’ said Nicola.
‘It didn’t quite work but it was a laugh for us both, for Gary, Christine’s other half, and for another neighbour who happened to get out of his car just at that moment.’
Nicola wore dresses made by her nan, Hilda Green, who was a professional dress maker and died 13 years ago aged 87.
These include the long pink dress made for Nicola’s 30th birthday, and the silver one made from curtains used for a film set.
On a wet week Nicola wore a purple dress and posed with an umbrella, calling it Purple Rain, on her Facebook post.
Nicola would choose the dress the week before and mull over the props, hair and makeup until the next Wednesday arrived.
She spent an hour getting ready to have the picture taken each week.
One Tuesday morning Nicola got up at six and did a real bin day photo shoot with the refuse collectors.
Another week she did this with the people collecting the recycling.
Nicola even pushed her wheelie bin 3.5 miles in four-inch blue sparkly heels and a dress to her local fire station to raise money for the fire brigade, on May 31.
She said: ‘That was the most important thing for me.
‘I was overwhelmed to raise £645, I thought I’d be doing well to get £150.
‘It was so lovely how my neighbours all came out and clapped and cheered me on.
‘It was a very hot day, and my shoes were making me sore on the way back.’
Nicola, who works as a makeup artist for the British film industry, has 25 posh dresses hanging on the back of doors in her house, and 31 pairs of dress shoes stacked up in boxes.
She said: ‘It was lovely to cheer people up through these times, and to get the dresses out.
‘We have less and less need for long dresses these days.
‘My nan always said I made a great clothes horse, and the dresses she made me will always be my favourites.
‘It was a really lovely thing to do, and I enjoyed it but 20 weeks was definitely enough.’
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