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.