Has it ever happened to you that your clothes attack you or gang up on you in some way? They are like rebellious slaves, sick of being dragged on and off you whether they feel like it or not. They have subtle ways to get their own back on you: buttons pinging, zips breaking, or inching their way down to expose less than perfect underwear, seams coming apart. Shoes of course, have a whole set of strategies for causing you pain and embarrassment: laces breaking , heels catching and snapping, turning you into a lopsided being, the backs of your feet rubbed raw so you are an ugly sister, dripping blood as you hobble sadly home.
From the age of five when my skirt button popped and the whole garment dropped to my knees in the playground (oh the scornful laughter) to the incident at the bus stop as a student (last night’s knickers sliding out of a trouser leg), it’s an ongoing. Last week my coat tried to strangle me. It’s a military style khaki coat with epaulettes and everything so probably has a violent streak. I’d had it cleaned and was dashing to a poetry masterclass in Newcastle. Walking up Percy Street I realised there was some kind of creeping thing going on: the coat had moved up to my waist and was tightening around me. Couldn’t work it out. Decided that maybe something in the chemicals of the cleaning process had shrunk the lining and the motion of walking was somehow causing this effect. It was so serious and awful that I dashed into a charity shop and bought another coat for a fiver. This coat – plain, beige, boring – was like the loner people speak of thus: he seemed so ordinary! He kept himself to himself! I put it straight on, stuffed the offending original in a bag and hurried on. After about five minutes, this one had effected a strange sideways movement so that the front buttons were now at the side.and my thighs so constricted I was walking like a woman in a very tight skirt. I had to unbutton it and let it flap behind me derisively.
Sinister. They are both in the cupboard under the stairs, probably plotting a fresh assault. Of course, it could all be down to the size of my arse ..