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An Easter Sunday clear-out

Approaching the end of a quiet Easter weekend at home, for want of anything better to do, yesterday I decided on a whim to see just how much of my wardrobe I could consign to the rubbish tip.

I had better explain two aspects to this project.

Firstly, I am the kind of guy who pays but passing attention to his sartorial elegance.

Merc2Whereas for me the quality and abilities of the car I drive is a matter of some importance my brother tends to regard his as simply a box on wheels that conveys him from A to B.

The last time he changed it he gratefully took our father’s Mercedes saloon off him (45,000 miles on the clock) when the latter bought a brand new one (as he habitually used to when his current one reached the age of six), and has since notched up another 100,000 miles in it – scrapes, bumps and all – and shows no sign of every getting rid of it.

My attitude to clothes is similar to my brother’s towards cars – they’re just functional items that, like everyone else, I need in order to go about my daily business, but that’s about the sum of it. I buy stuff and then hang onto it until it either falls apart or else my waistline grows exponentially enough until I can no longer fit into my trousers, in which case I buy a new pair with a two-inch larger waist measurement. My default outfit tends to be a combination of denim jeans or chinos, a polo shirt and then one of about four pullovers, fleeces or sleeveless sweaters.

Once in a while I decide, or am persuaded, that my wardrobe is ‘tired’, take a deep and reluctant breath and then go straight downtown to purchase a new set of the above ensemble.

boyHowever, from about the age of four, having come to the realisation that I was an average-looking guy with a body shape that was at variance with all fashionable norms (at least when it came to clothes) – and therefore consequently, whatever I wore, I would go through life looking a bit of a prat – I ‘parked’ any notion of seeking to look my supposed best and simply got on with what I do, viz. trying to live my life actively pursuing the things I enjoy doing.

Hence the contents of my wardrobe – i.e. polo shirts, T-shirts, one black-tie-style white shirt with wing collars requiring cuff links, three ‘best’ (tie-friendly) shirts, two pairs of jeans, three other pairs of trousers, a range of jerseys, about fifteen pairs of shoes from trainers to casual-wear, two pairs of black shoes suitable for wearing with suits and … er … that’s about it, not counting jackets, suits and rainwear.

Secondly, I’m the sort of person who is hard-wired never to throw anything at out, with one caveat.

clothes2It’s a rather important one.

Periodically, with little warning, I wake up one day and out of the blue decide that it’s time for a clear-out. I don’t have a particular time of year – or even of a decade – when this happens, it’s completely random.

Okay, well not when a house move is imminent (last time for me twenty-four years ago) and – as minds turn towards ‘getting rid of stuff’ – both with the next abode in mind and the fact there quite probably a mass of crap has built up in my current residence which quite properly could do with a trip to the local recycling plant.

hippyThe truth is that, rather than constantly monitoring my life accessories upon an annual ongoing basis, I tend to do nothing in this department at all for yonks until some sort of ‘conversion upon the road to Damascus’ moment hits me – at which point, after a degree of initial reluctance at both the nature and scale of the task, I tend to get a bit light-headed and head towards the extreme, rather like a hippy with unkempt hair hanging halfway down his back and a similar beard halfway down his front who suddenly steps into the barber’s chair and has a US Navy Seal-type crewcut to end all crewcuts.

Cut back to yesterday afternoon.

Beginning my quest, as I had half-expected was going to be the case, it soon became clear that in the past five years I have failed to wear about 60% of the contents of my wardrobe.

QPRStraight into the discard pile went twenty items minimum of Queens Park Ranger’s home and away replica strips and about half again of Queens Park Rangers’ related casual wear including tracksuit bottoms, scarves and bobble hats and even a Queens Park Rangers onecie and a single pair of QPR-badged underpants.

When you’re a committed fan, of course, you always have to have your own example of the latest replica kit in order not only to demonstrate your fundamental allegiance but the fact that it has been refreshed for the current season to come.

Out went about a dozen T-shirts and sweatshirts (who at my age wants to be seen in a QPR ‘Happy Christmas’ sweat given me as a semi-piss-take by my daughter in 2015?) and – this a breakthrough in some respects – about a similar number of casual and other shirts whose wholly unfeasible fluorescent colouring or styling I had obviously been attracted (or had persuaded myself was fashionable) at the time of buying but which now no sane person, myself included, would ever be seen dead in.

Flip to the right hand section of the wardrobe – suits and jackets.

Here there were some sacred items, e.g. the QPR-colour-striped blazer and the double-breasted heavy duty Naval-type blazer that had been passed on to me and which I had spent a fortune having restored at a local tailors and use as a default item to smart or formal functions, but also a large number that were flung with glee into the fast-growing  ‘Get Them Out Of Here’ pile on the floor by my bedroom door.

suitSuch as my ‘go to’ loose-fitting grey double-breasted suit with attendant trousers sporting turn-ups and the ditto dark blue equivalent (estimated archaeological age of both circa 1982), neither of which – except the latter at funerals – have I worn since the turn of the Millennium.

The sense of ‘release’ and contentment that washed over me as they landed upon the floor was all-enveloping.

bogartAlso straight to the pile went my American-style green ankle-length great coat with the wide brown brush-leather collar arrangement (suitable for a Marlowe private dick to wear on a street corner in LA when following a female suspect in a torrential downpour), not least because many years ago, coming home three sheets to the wind in a freezing monsoon, I unbalanced somewhat, somehow caught it amidships on a spiked railing and thereby ripped a two-inch square hole in it on the left hand side.

Shoes were another interesting matter.

Seven pairs of them were going to the Great Cobbler In The Sky courtesy of having lost their ‘oomph’ – three of them with sufficient mould growing on them that I felt it necessary to handle them only when wearing a pair of yellow rubber kitchen gloves.

shoesAnd what about the styles? What on earth had I been thinking? Never mind 1960s-style brothel creeper ankle boots, I had some pairs that Larry Grayson would have baulked at donning and others with Velcro-style cross-over tags on them that would not have looked out of place had they been unearthed in the corner of one of the new Crossrail station building sites by earnest archaeologists dressed in yellow all-in-one suits and white hard hats and subsequently ended up in the Museum of London tagged as something important from the 18th Century.

Ah well, the local rubbish dump opens at 10.00am this Bank Holiday morning …

About Arthur Nelson

Looking forward to his retirement in 2015, Arthur has written poetry since childhood and regularly takes part in poetry workshops and ‘open mike’ evenings. More Posts