Monday, 27 June 2011

The horror, the horror

It's 30C here and I'm hating it. So much so that I have resorted to shorts for the first time since 1986. They aren't the same shorts: back then, it was compulsory grey flannel for school.

Because we were 'too menny', as another young chap with a large family put it, we travelled in a brown Peugeot 505 estate: it had three rows of seats and clearly sold well in Catholic countries.

It therefore had the glass acreage of a commercial greenhouse, and was always baking hot. The seats were upholstered in a particularly unpleasant brown tweed, which had two unfortunate properties: bare legs came out in a very nasty rash, and vomit became permanently enmeshed in the fabric, the odour becoming a permanent top-note to the sweaty anger of the passengers. We did try to chunder outside the car, but there were few opening windows available: where other cars had go-faster stripes, we had a linear splatter of lunch trailing from each rear window. It's memories like this which have ensured that I've never learned to drive, that I still get car-sick, and have never worn shorts until this day: scratchy tweed and fresh vomit on the back of ones thighs are the kind of childhood memory that rarely make it into autobiographies.

I'm not proud of today's resort to amputated trousers. In fact I'm hating this capitulation to weather-related casualness. My legs are not objects of beauty: stumpy, overly-muscled from fencing, and utterly pasty. I look, in photographs, like flash has been used when in fact I'm just a shade pinker than a boil-in-the-bag cod fillet: thousands of years of my Celtic ancestors trudging home in the rain, weighed down with peat for the fire, has militated against me ever resembling the lithe tanned images relentlessly pushed in our media. Imagine Wayne Rooney without the charm or good looks… though with more hair). I'd post a picture but you're my friends and I'd like you to come back.

To counteract the horror, I'm wearing what's essentially a Charles Ryder ensemble: simple brown shoes, the shorts, a silk-and-linen shirt and a fine white trilby. Though on second thoughts, it's more like something worn by a minor and despised character in Forster.

Thankfully, most of my colleagues are absent. The sidelong glances of citizens on the street were painful enough.

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