|How many coats does one man need?|
I write a column for an alpine club newsletter each month and thought I'd share my latest missive here on Views From The Bike Shed too.
Last week, when moving my motorbike in the garage its handlebars caught in the pocket of a jacket hanging nearby. Moments later, the sound of ripping fabric confirmed that my latest Gortex waterproof would now be sporting an extra-large vent across its front. After a few choice expletives, I put the bike on its stand and proceeded to remove all the coats from the rack.
Can you guess how many there were?
I’ll not tell you exactly, but let’s just say it was well into double figures. Which isn’t so bad, I reasoned, because, first of all, there are the seasons to consider: winter storm wear, summer showerproofs and autumn or spring mid-weights that double for trips to the pub. Then there’s that retro Scandinavian one, made of what we used to call poly-cotton but now some fancy pants equivalent. And lastly, there are a few that these days fit a bit snugly round the middle but I’m holding onto out of hope.
What's more, these are just my walking coats. There’s also the cycling kit, and the kayaking paraphernalia (a whole different world, believe me) — not to mention the ski gear or the various duvet jackets and the body warmers and the pack-a-macs and ponchos… Did I mention fleeces…? Honestly, the marketing guys must rub their hands when they see me coming!
But let me admit a little secret.
For all the kit that I own, the jacket I use the most is a twenty-five-year-old anorak that sports fraying seams, questionable grease stains and pockets full of sand. It’s much the same with footwear (another sad story, but we’ll not go there) for which, despite having every possible variation, I’ll most days opt for my handy pair of slip-on jungle mocs.
In fact, when I think about it, almost everything I reach for first is more battered than beautiful. My climbing gear is housed in a forty-year-old rucksack; my hat of choice came with me to Wales (so three decades ago) and I use the same pair of track pants that I did when I ran the Cardiff half-marathon in the Nineties.
Actually, they really could do with replacing…
But this year, as all those Black Friday offers come flooding in, I’m determined… indeed, I’m resolved, steadfast, hell-bent and adamant… that I won’t buy anything which isn’t absolutely necessary or an unmissable bargain (of course) or would boost my confidence or make me look slimmer or fill that gap between autumn and winter when the weather’s not quite one thing or the other…
Those marketing guys won’t be rubbing their hands quite so gleefully now, will they?
Have a great December.