Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 22 December 2013
Back to black
Yesterday, I was wandering around our flea-market in the pouring rain when I spotted a large, black, police-issue, Gannex raincoat hanging up. I tried it on and it fitted, so I bought it.
Although wearing a black raincoat is the perfect excuse to wear my black Crockett and Jones booties, I now have to buy some black trousers to go with it, and a black Kangol rain-hat as well. One could not possibly wear pale tweed trousers with this very austere looking mac, so now I am going to have to go out today and get the rest of the outfit.
Like a lot of arty bastards of the late 1970s, I used to wear nothing but black all the time, mainly because choosing from your wardrobe every morning was made so much simpler by doing so. Lou Reed thought the same thing. Then it became a bit of a ritual, and I try not to adhere to any rituals other than the nightly drinking of beer.
Then, as I entered my forties, I noticed that some middle-aged men wore black as a sort of uniform, denoting their artiness. I know some 60+ year old Art School teachers who still wear black, and - worse - tuck their black T-shirts into the top of their trousers in the Summer, emphasising the little gut which wraps itself around all men who do not spend hours in the gym after the age of fifty.
It was this point at which I decided that I had reached the age when I could get away with wearing tweeds and autumnal colours. This was the beginning of my ill-fated attempt to appear avuncular. The actual result was even more frightening to children than if I had worn a full-faced, black rubber mask.
Just before I reached forty, I was working in Germany - Cologne, actually - when I found a very similar, austere black raincoat which was a Deutsches Bundesbahn (German railway) inspector's top-coat. I wore it all the time.
Late one night, I hopped on a train to go home, and at the next stop, a young woman got on and sat right opposite me. Eventually, her eyes fell on the tiny little silver stud in the lapel of my coat and a look of absolute horror and dread came over her face. The little stud was stamped 'D.B.', but it was so small and insignificant, that I had not bothered to remove it.
I then realised that she had taken advantage of the late hour by not bothering to buy a ticket, and thought that - at any minute - I would ask her for it so I could inspect it. The fine for riding on a train without a ticket was extremely severe - the equivalent of hundreds of pounds, or even thousands.
To my shame, rather than calm her down by letting her know I was a simple, English civilian, I revelled in the situation until she jumped off at the next stop to get away from me.
This was an amazing insight for me at the time - I had a very small inkling of what it must have been like to be wearing an SS badge in the same country in the early 1940s, and how it must have bestowed a sense of absolute power on previously impotent, emotionally bereft men.
This latest black raincoat has two epaulettes on the shoulders which H.I. has been trying to persuade me to cut off. I had other plans for them, though.
I went onto eBay and found a site which sold the small, chrome numbers that police pin to their epaulettes, and I bought two 4s and two 9s, for only £5.20, delivered.
Anyone over a certain age will remember a fictitious bobby in Britain called 'P.C.49'. If ever there was an avuncular policeman, it was P.C.49. As far as I remember, he was a proper plod who was kind to children (when he wasn't clipping them round the ear), but very stern with petty criminals, who he always apprehended - sometimes with the help of children.
The trouble is that there are no policemen on duty now who are old enough to remember P.C.49, and I am a bit worried about being collared by one of them for impersonating a member of their own calling, no matter how half-heartedly.
In any case, H.I. said that she thought it would be a 'wanky' thing to do for a feeble joke, so I might just put the numbers in a drawer when they arrive. I had a couple of the above-mentioned beers when I bought them too, which may have clouded my judgement.