Monday, 21 May 2012

Gucci Loafers, Self Help Manuals, Mankini's & Anne Boleyn.

Recently I spent some time up in my mothers attic.
No, she didn't lock me up there with all her other "lost children" and no, I wasn't hiding from the police.
I use the attic as an extension of my wardrobe and I was transferring winter clothes to their rightful place (bin bags and old suitcases) and removing summer clothes from their usual place (bin bags and old suitcases). 
In England we only ever get a week of Summer and the rest of the year it's four seasons in a day so I've always found it useful to keep a selection of my clothes at family, friends, neighbours and selected police stations. 

You never can tell when a fur coat and a mankini will come in handy.

I've used this particular method of clothes rotation since I left home so in the furthest corners of my mothers attic and in the cases and trunks I have long forgotten are things that could now be classed as "vintage".
 It's a sure sign that you are getting old and that you also have the inclination to be a hoarder when you find things that belong to you that could easily be sold on a market stall on Portabello Road.
I found a cream linen suit from Joseph that was the first suit I ever owned and I found a pair of scuffed Gucci loafers that were bought for me by the first boyfriend I ever had. The suit still has all the markings of a heavy night of drinking Jack Daniels down the front of it and the shoes were the cause of the demise of my first relationship. 
In truth, I wanted them and he wouldn't buy them for me for fear of "buying shoes for the one you love will make them walk away from you". 
So he instead he bought me a pair of gloves?
I then marched straight back into Gucci, exchanged the gloves for the shoes I initially asked for and did indeed, walk away from him. 
At that point in my life, it was obvious that if you didn't get me what I wanted then I'd exchange the gift and the giver for something else.
There are three awful, shameful things in this story.
1. I can't believe I was ever so shallow and heartless.
2. Why the hell did I never get that suit cleaned?
3. What on earth was I doing wearing a cream linen suit and Gucci loafers anyway?
I guess the look I was going for at the age of 21 was some kind of euro trash pimp or a member of the Miami Vice squad. Whatever the look, there is only one photograph in existence of me wearing both the suit and the shoes and you can't really tell it's me because the head has been hacked off of it. 
Obviously the work of my first boyfriend.

Up amongst the clothes were also old C.D's, L.P's and Cassettes. 
Does anybody under the age of 20 even know what a cassette is? 
How sad they will never know the joy of spending every Sunday afternoon locked in their bedroom with their ear to the radio waiting for the countdown of the Top 40 to begin. Nowadays if you want to steal music you just go onto the Internet and download it illegally. It was much more fun and needed a lot more skill when you had to time the exact moment to take your finger off the pause button.How the hell do you expect to become a criminal mastermind when someone else is doing the job for you?

The most telling of everything I've hidden, forgotten and now rediscovered is the amount of books I read when I was growing up and the ones I read after I thought I'd finished growing. 
Sure enough there is some Dickens and some Brothers Grimm and I'd say just about the usual amount of film star biographies you'd expect from a gay in training but there are books upon books about the Kings & Queens of England. 
It seems Anne Boleyn may have featured heavily during my formative years.
I found books about Andy Warhol, Quentin Crisp and Leigh Bowery. The diaries of Joe Orton, Kenneth Williams and Alan Bennett are stuffed in a trunk next to guides to the best hotels in the world and interior decorating manuals. 
My childhood bedroom was probably more akin to a five star hotel - albeit one that had posters of Diana Ross on the wall.
I also found a book called "How to Make Relationships Work" - and it's obvious to everybody I've dated and also the great love of my life that I never bothered reading that one.
What I found most surprising of all was the amount of "self help" books I had read.
 "You Can Heal Your Life" "The Lost Art of Being Happy" "The Road Less Travelled" "How to Tame a Monkey Mind" - each of these had been excessively well thumbed and fingered.
Why was I reading these kind of books as a teenager? Why wasn't I out getting drunk and having my trousers pulled down?
I have no idea how I would have found out about these books and who would have advised me to read them, although I did spend an inordinate amount of time reading my mums Cosmopolitan and doing  "Will I Ever Find A Boyfriend & Get My Period At The Same Time" type questionnaires.
I don't know how it makes me feel finding all those books? I'm glad that I was always questioning and wanting to open my mind and be a better person but it makes me sad that I thought I could learn that from a book? 
I'd even underlined page after page in "You Can Heal Your Life" in fluorescent magic marker?
It seems I must have always been a therapists wet dream and yet I don't remember being that confused? 

The things I've hidden away in the attic are markers of my innocence, my loss of innocence and my wanting to learn and open my mind.
They are also markers of my selfish and unfeeling behaviour and my (mostly) awful taste in music. 
The clothes illustrate that I always had expensive (but questionable) tastes and the books are the most important of all because they show that not only can I read but I was border line obsessed with self help manuals and the Queens of England. (What a combo).

Now twenty years later I can honestly say that:
1. I would never wear a cream linen suit again.
2. I would never wear a pair of Gucci Loafers again (or expect someone to buy them for me).
3. Buying gloves for the one you love instead of what they really want will only make them want to strangle you.
4. I don't really feel the need to read a self help manual again.
5. I need to write a book called "How to Stop Reading Self Help Manuals".
6. I really wish I could spend every Sunday in my bedroom with a tape recorder and listen to the Top 40 on the radio.
7. At every opportunity I will still do  "Will I Ever Find a Boyfriend & Get My Period At The Same Time" type questionnaires.
8. I should really stop identifying with Anne Boleyn
9. I really need to meet a man called Henry.
10.I definitely need to spend less time up in my mothers attic.

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