‘Forget the makeover – give me chocolate’

When even a full emergency makeover in one of Stockholm's largest department stores left Kathleen Harman looking like a cross between Posh Spice and Cruella DeVille, there was only one option left: chocolate.

Tipping Point

When a woman gets to a certain age, it is fairly normal to look in the mirror and see her mother staring back at her. It is quite another thing however, to be cleaning one’s teeth and be presented with an image of one’s paternal grandmother. It was a very low moment, I can tell you.

Catherine Deneuve once said that there comes a stage when a woman has to choose between her face and her bottom. In my case I appear to have paid the price of procrastination – the face of a crone and the backside of a hippopotamus.

How could this have snuck up on me without me noticing? Is this what happens after one crayfish party too many? Any youthful flesh I may have had has headed south, leaving me looking like a cross between Cruella DeVille and Posh Spice.

I can’t see my bottom so it’s easy for me to be in denial about that issue but with the glögg season about to start, I just cannot have my face acting as my chaperone. It’s like Halloween but without needing the mask.

So in a state of almost panic, I pulled on the least impractical pair of boots I own and tottered as fast as I could to one of Stockholm’s largest department stores, straight into the arms of a kindly make up assistant.

This lady could see that this was an emergency makeover moment as she led me gently to her chair and listened sympathetically as I blithered on about haggard skin the texture of reindeer biltong and chapped hands that would have a Norwegian Fisherman weeping into his trawl of herring.

In the manner of all caring Swedish women, she did that strange teeth sucking thing and exclaimed ’Ah, I think you now need a lot of make up’, in exactly the same way I imagine a surgeon would say ’Ah, I think you now need a heart transplant.’

Et viola – after twenty minutes of preening and advanced glamouring, I was transformed into, well even more of a cross between Cruella DeVille and Posh Spice, with copious amounts of scary eye shadow, orange foundation and burgundy lip liner. I feigned delight, bought beauty products I will never use, and left somewhat deflated, but only from the scraggy neck upward, obviously.

It was time to hit the chocolate.

And where better to go for chocolate than Xoko in Birkistan? Xoko is the beautiful Gulddrake award winning café of master chocolatier Magnus Johansson, the gentleman responsible for the desserts over the past five years at the Nobel Awards ceremony.

To call Xoko a café is a bit of an understatement. It actually has a proper Spanish influenced evening menu, an onsite bakery and the most amazing chocolates and desserts to eat in or take away. The café itself is extremely pretty in a Space 1999 sort of a way – it features a white wall with giant circular cut outs through which low voltage citrus coloured light. can be seen. The actual display area where the bakery products, desserts and chocolates are displayed is as beautiful as any jeweller’s shop.

It was chocolate that I came for and I found it in the shape of a luxurious mousse which had a fabulous raspberry filling and a funny little merangue on the top. Hells Teeth, it was the culinary equivalent of a bit of rudery with George Clooney. This confection cost 42 kronor, which is a bit more than a packet of M&Ms but it was worth every single öre.

I ordered a swimming pool sized latte macchiato and settled in for my treat of an afternoon. So there I was with my coffee, my award winning chocolate raspberry mousse, my notebook and my camera when my phone rang.

‘So, what are you up to?’ asked my friend on the line.

‘Oh, nothing much’, I replied, licking the back of my spoon, ‘I’m just working’.

And with that I could feel myself grinning from ear to ear, completely ruining the burgundy lip liner which was probably now smeared in chocolate mousse and coffee foam anyway. I might have the face of a crone and the backside of a hippopotamus but I do have the best job in the world.

Xoko, Rörstrandsgatan 15, 113 40 Stockholm

Tel 08–31 84 87