E is for Elastic #atozchallenge

For the last two years I’ve joined in the #atozchallenge, namely to post every weekday in April using each letter of the alphabet in turn. In 2015 it was places I’d been to, in 2016 it was London themed. This year it is a dictionary of my family, recounting incidents small and large that have taught me lessons down the years, caused me consternation or generally seared themselves into my memory.  I hope you enjoy them. To find other bloggers doing the challenge and maybe be inspired yourself, check out the A to Z Blogging Challenge Blog, here

Recently I have lost a little weight and the only clothes I have that still fit are those with some form of elastication. What would I do without that magic material?

Growing up in what my parents would describe as a rural idyll but to the teenage me was the arse end of nowhere, I desperately wanted the kind of life 1970s TV hinted at via some of the more avant garde programmes, such as Nationwide and Blue Peter. Trips to fun fairs, visits to shopping precincts with cinemas, ice skating and above all the ability to hang out without having to commute.

Hanging out required two things, it seemed to my nascent and barely there teenage brain: other teenagers and something to sit on. It didn’t need New Forest ponies and boggy heathland.

My mother was not an insensitive soul. While she might have abhorred hanging out per se, she understood the psyche that wanted to experience it. But we lived miles from anywhere, a gallon of petrol cost the same as the national debt of sub Saharan Africa or at least that’s how dad justified not giving me a lift anywhere and anyway the sheer awfulness of being taken by my parents and ‘seen’ would have undermined any hanging out credits that might accrue.

Then Mike, my best friend, turned 17, he passed his driving test within hours (or so it seemed), his dad had more cars than the average forecourt and we were set.

Except I wasn’t. The lack of hangingoutness experience meant I’d failed to develop a sartorial instinct and my dress code was more sesame than street. Jeans had passed me by, flares were things they shot in the air when boats got into distress and cheesecloth was used to, erm, make cheese, not shirts.

No one in my part of Hampshire had any spare readies and when the did the fact they called the pound note a ‘small green drinking token’ told you all you need to know about their spending priorities. It wasn’t on clothes.

So it was with a degree of reluctance but a certain inevitability that I turned to mum again, this time for her dress making skills.

She was game, worryingly so. She took me to the haberdashery department of some enormous store where she delved into their pattern department. ‘What style do you want?’

How the hell was I to answer that?


‘That’s a material not a style.’

‘Jeans and a, erm, jacket.’

Mum had never sowed denim before. She bought some brushed blue – ‘a popular choice madam’ said the pert and prissy salesman, not exactly filling me with any confidence that we had made the right choice – and promptly destroyed five needles on her ancient Singer as it fought to penetrate the cloth to make the seams.

It was with reluctance that she gave up and offered me a needle cord alternative. Again I chose and a patchwork of red and blue appeared. It was actually admired at the Hawkwind concert we went to, well almost.

You see, to save time she elasticated the waist. Someone noticed, someone who understood the faux pas that this was.

Laughter.  Humiliation. Mortification. But you know what? Those trousers were the most comfortable I’d ever had because they were tailored to my rather bizarrely shaped thighs.

The needle cord was hardly robust and the trousers soon tore but mum was on a  roll. She made me some flares in a check, a tartan set with straight legs and pink denim jeans. They were unique, ghastly and very me. And all were, to a greater of lesser extent, elasticated.

This is the only picture I can find with me wearing any of them – the blue check. I was in my third year at uni so they’d lasted at least 5 years and my then girlfriend, now wife liked them and admired mum’s skill. She hated the stay-press trousers, though. Those I acknowledge publicly here were a mistake.

At the time I’d have given several years of my allotted term and two vital organs for Wranglers or Levis. Now I’m glad I held out and was my own man. I may not have learnt much about myself at the time but  a few years down the road, being somewhat independently minded proved to be a good thing. Until I married, of course.

And now? Elastic is both a cost saver and comfy. I’m not knocking it.


About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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30 Responses to E is for Elastic #atozchallenge

  1. Mary Smith says:

    That brings back embarassing memories. I was desperate to have a pair of jeans – everyone was wearing them. Finally my mother agreed and we went shopping for jeans. I was so proud when I wore them until I met my friends. How could I have seen that everyone was wearing jeans but been totally oblivious to the style of jeans they wore? Flared jeans – well, they were called bell bottoms then. Mine had straight legs. Mine were what workmen wore to dig up roads. Mine were such a total fashion faux pas I don’t think I left the house for weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ritu says:

    “my dress code was more sesame than street.” Love that line His Geoffleship!
    And I’m Inclined to agree about elasticated waists!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. barbtaub says:

    Loved this post and hooray for Mum’s sewing skills!

    When she sent him off to the frozen wilds of Wisconsin as an undergraduate, my mother-in-law made the Hub a bright orange coat puffed into a gigantic ball with massive amounts of down. He was still wearing it fifteen years later when it sprang a leak, making him look like a molting pumpkin.

    I cut it down from coat to parka length by sewing a line of elastic cord to the new bottom, harvesting enough down in the process to make a baby bunting that warmed all four of our children. Meanwhile their father got another ten years out of Grandmom’s gift coat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Wow, that sounds like it was still growing – like the yoghurt mum once had that never seemed to stop. I’d love to see the molting pumpkin though – sounds like a punk band


  4. Iain Kelly says:

    Full marks to mum for improvising and creative thinking. There must be a market for elasticated denim clothing, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. noelleg44 says:

    I’m definitely into elastic, so you are forgiven. My Dad told me when I was 13 that he would no longer pay for my clothes. I could use the money I earned baby sitting (at 10 cents an hour) to buy what I needed. My Mom didn’t sew, so I had to learn. I can’t say I was high couture – maybe more like just high on something if you had seen what I made! Plaid pants and flowered dresses!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a gem your mum was, making your trousers for you.
    I agree that estastic is aways a good choice for comfort 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My newly emerged into teen years daughters used to make me park around the corner from the skating rink or the movie theatre where they were meeting their friends. The sight of their hippy mumma in her little white Volkswagon with the engine in the boot being way too embarrassing to publicly acknowledge. It was about this time I took to singing or reciting poems as I walked along the high street taking them shopping, just to watch them skittle several metres ahead or behind so as not to be thought associated with me 🙂 I wasn’t allowed to make them any clothes at that point, not uniform enough. I once had a pair of hipster, flared denim jeans, printed with bright red devils bearing little forks and the words ‘the devil made me do it’ scattered about. I loved those jeans – I found them in a sale somewhere and no-one else I knew had them. I also had a pair of red cowboy boots around the same time and wore them for years with everything. Loved them too! Nowadays I go for flats and elasticated waists 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. willowdot21 says:

    Are you stretching a point? 🤗💝

    Liked by 1 person

  9. JT Twissel says:

    As someone who lives in sweatpants, the problem with elastic for me is, I can’t tell when I’m gaining weight! Have to try to snuggle into those skinny jeans every now and then for the rude awakening!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Vg! I thought the check ones might be some sort of homage to Noddy Holder!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. LindaGHill says:

    Yay for elastic! Love the pants. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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