I've remembered what I wanted to write about that I forgot a few days ago and had to talk about a Partridge instead. In all honesty the Partridge was probably better, but here goes. I was moved to think about this subject by my own children, one of whom is approaching that age. We were travelling back down from Scotland on the train after Christmas, and waiting on the platform at Kirkcaldy as it pulled in I scanned around to make sure that everyone was present, not playing on the tracks and so on, as all good shepherds do, and for a moment panic set in as I couldn't see the kids. There was Mrs L with the suitcases, but in place of my kids were three small gansta rappers dressed in hoodies with bright shoes (trainers, I think they're called) and caps. And then I realised that they were my kids, and that they looked ridiculous. Not that they look different to any other children of their ages, but that this is just what kids these days wear. God, I thought, did I ever look quite so stupid when I was a kid?
Most emphatically YES in capital letters. I looked absurd!
But did I in fact think that I looked really cool and, dare I say it, stylish? O-hhhh yes. Big time. If you didn't know already, I do not have a single stylish bone in my entire body. Never have, never will. But this did not stop me as a brand new teenager thinking I 'had it'. Are all kids as delusional as I was? Did my parents not look at me, shake their heads, and think I'd get over it? Why did they never say anything to me?! Perhaps this is something that young people have to work out on their own, and anything a parent says disapprovingly to a teenager simply makes it more compelling to said teenager Had they in fact said I looked like a total plonker, would I have hit the shops the next day?
Top of the fashion crimes list was my grey and white paisley shirt. Short-sleeved, more than a hint of shiny, I adored it. I looked and felt positively amazing in it! And it was awful! Looking back on it from the pedestal of 2015, that late 80s shirt was positively disgusting! It is a shame that I was on the way down from my parents, as I am sure that in the family photo albums there is a photo of me in that shirt, and I would very much like to share it with you. Were my parents not so technologically inept I could perhaps have them scan it and email it to me as they will, I am sure, remember the shirt. Another time perhaps, but for now just imagine the most grotesquely patterned cheap-looking monochromatic shirt that anyone anywhere ever produced, and that's it.
And then there was the jumper that got me sent home from school. I was of course a model pupil, if a bit of a smart arse, and so when I read the official - and if I might say so, poorly drafted - uniform policy, it occurred to me that there was nothing within the spirit of the text that said I couldn't wear my frankly superb diamond-pattern golfing jumper. All school jumpers had to be black, grey, or red. Well I had just the thing, a jumper that in addition to having all those colours simultaneously was also irrepressibly fashionable.
I don't have a photo handy of this either, however if you google "cool jumper circa 1988" the top hit is basically it. Imagine this bad boy with a darker shade of grey as the main weave and that's what I wore to school that day.
And shortly afterwards it's what I wore home from school that day.... Despite my protestations that this jumper significantly over-achieved versus the uniform policy, I was sent packing by a stern teacher with no fashion sense whatsoever. Its effect on the female population thus remains unknown, but I can only imagine that my life would have turned out very differently had Mr Caldwell agreed with me that it was sublimely kosher....
Oh dear. I can only look back now and shake my head. What was I thinking? I suppose it is a stage that we all have to go through before we 'find' ourselves. You should just all be glad I haven't found lycra.