When I heard I was a finalist in the national Voyager Media Awards for the weekly column I write, I was shocked and a little horrified.

It wasn't so much that I was up there with famous folk... that will take at least another few months to sink in... no, it was the realisation that I had to go to an awards evening. In Auckland. In public.

I suspected a certain standard of tidiness might be expected of me. And not the "putting my cleanest gumboots on to nip to the supermarket" kind of tidiness. Or the "If I wear this scarf it will cover the stain on my top" kind of tidiness.

No, I had a sinking feeling it would involve nail polish and makeup.

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Nail polish always seems like a lovely idea. The colours look so yummy in the shiny bottles. I'm frequently tempted and pop a "Burgundy Bouquet" or "Pretentious Pink" in with my pharmacy purchase.

By the time I've scrubbed at my fingernails with a nail file previously used to freshen up the contact ends of the batteries from the TV remote control I start to lose confidence.

A few swipes of burgundy whatsit later and I remember that I'm a) clumsy, b) need new glasses and c) I forgot to get nail polish remover and now I have blotches of blooming burgundy on my couch and coffee table.

Makeup and I have a similar relationship... I sand, prime and fill, add some concealer and some colour then some more concealer to conceal the colour then go through a packet of makeup remover wipes and start again.

Eventually I achieve a look somewhere between plague victim and circus clown and I call that a win and move on.

And what to wear? Flinging my wardrobe door open I looked for the tidiest outfit I own.

Easy. Pristine white shirt, black tailored jacket with a velvet collar, fitted white pants and long black leather boots... hang on, that's my riding gear.

Looks like I'll need a posh frock then. That should be easy enough. One posh frock coming up.

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Many boutiques and many, many frocks later I find something that fits. And isn't a horrible colour. And doesn't show too many wobbly bits.

The feeling of triumph lasted as long as it took the saleswoman to say "accessories."

What? Oh. Accessories. Of course.

The frock was just the beginning.

I would have to match up shoes and stockings a "little clutch" - no not the vehicular "can you drive a manual?" type, it's a tiny handbag.

Then there were earrings and a necklace and shoes and a wrap. Or a jacket. Or should that be a pashmina, or a stole?

I bought some footwear. They reminded me of work boots. I liked them. My friends and family said no. So I bought some very high heels. I liked them. My feet said no.

I searched for a week for a wrap in a particular shade of blue. Eventually I found it. It looked awful with the dress.

I booked in with my hairdresser - I hadn't been looking after my hair since I used the last of my conditioner washing the pony's mane.

I booked in with a nail technician. "I've been digging the garden with my fingernails," I explained and showed her.

"I can tell," she said.

I got my eyebrows waxed - ouch - and my eyelashes curled, my hair and nails done. When I got home the dogs didn't recognise me.

The next day I got ready to go - bag packed, eyebrows perfect, hair curled. I refused to pat the cat lest I get fur on me. I made my husband feed the horses and goats lest I break a nail. I barely glanced at the sheep as I swanned out the gate.

As I drove down the driveway I sniffed. My perfume smelled...odd. I sniffed the air, I sniffed my bag, I sniffed my scarf.

There was definitely a whiff of...something.
I sniffed the sleeve of my coat.

Ugh. Cat pee. There I was primped, primed...and peed upon.

It was a very undignified rush back into the house, shedding my coat and chucking it in the laundry, flinging on another. A quick look in the mirror revealed I was about to head for the airport with a coat hanger dangling from my jacket hood. It was not an elegant look.

I got there eventually. I didn't win the big one but I didn't fall off my heels. And it was so stylishly dark that no-one could have seen if my wrap was the wrong shade of blue.

Just as well, as it also hid the strand of hay that clung to the back of my stockings.

I could have worn my cleanest gumboots after all.