Since I’m still in Grumpy Di mode, I thought I’d play a Friday afternoon game of a little something I like to call Sartorial Slam. Hours of fun for the whole family. Let’s start off with an easy target: psychics. There’s a fortune teller (fortune maker at those prices) who sits in a dirty little alley next to one of the local delis. It’s a squalid sort of place where unidentified liquid drips from walls and seeps into your shoes. Kind of funky. But she’s got her little card table and her set of tarot cards, and probably the seedy desperation of her al fresco office suits the purpose of communing with the afterlife. But what’s with the outfit, honey? I’d like to make it clear right now that I simply don’t believe hemp clothing makes you a more credible diviner of future events (or a better “life coach” for that matter. I think “life coach” and all I can see is beige linen and a lingering handshake). Same goes for turquoise jewellery. I am unmoved. Unpersuaded. And you can tie-dye your entire wardrobe, rattle crystals in crimson crushed velvet pouches, and set fire to your artfully unkempt hair with a Sandalwood incense stick, and I still won’t believe a word you say.
Then there’s the man-child. There was a guy at the RTA this afternoon (part of the anticipated hoard of people crushing through the door when I returned for my test, not to mention a loose poodle in an outfit clearly inspired by Prancer and Dancer’s sleigh bells) who I see around Man Town quite a lot, and I always want to point and laugh at him because he just dresses like a dick. He’s about fifty, and he gets around on one of those low-riding, obscurely menacing bicycles favoured by tough boys who aren’t yet old enough to drive. I’d guess he’s father to at least one such teen, because he seems to have stolen all their clothes. He’s got stupidly long, messy hair that makes such a big point of announcing his deep creativity and wholesale rejection of office worker values. He’s a free spirit, man. He’s such a free spirit he has to prove it by wearing the same ripped cardigans, stovepipe jeans, and scuffed untied Converse we all know so well from every other deep individual intent on mastering the same look. I think we can lay that one firmly at Curt Cobain’s headstone, except – important distinction – this guy is not Curt Cobain. To top it all off, he also wears gigantic sunglasses, sunglasses that look like he must have won them at a carnival. Why? Why do you dress like a pre-pubescent boy? What makes you think your ageing arse-crack is worthy of public display? Why are you even in the RTA when I know you spend all day doing little wheelies on the beachfront?
The third finalist in today’s Sartorial Slam is a set: twins. When I see adult identical twins dressed identically, I just want to run and hide. Because they’re scary. And I blame the parents who go in for dressing their kids in the same clothes in the first place. Nuh uh. Please don’t do that. First, you inevitably end up featured on one of those websites where everyone mocks your Christmas photo (you know the ones; everyone’s wearing reindeer jumpers). Second, I think kids have a hard enough time without having to contend with the general creepiness of being dressed in the same clothes as their siblings. This problem becomes much more acute in the case of identical twins, people who must struggle (although I’m guessing, what would I know?) to find a sense of independent identity as it is. You’re not exactly enhancing their chances by insisting they dress alike, now, are you? There’s something infantile about it, maybe because we’re so used to seeing infant twins in matching gear. But it’s one of those things that really spooks me. I saw a pair of adult identical twins, dressed identically to the point of disconcertion, walking along the beach not long ago, and you know, they made me really sad. They were plain women, frizzy haired, lumpen denim-clad figures with really poor posture. They were clearly spinsters, clearly the centre of each other’s world, each a perfect reflection of the other. But it was like they’d taken the fact of their being twins to such an extreme degree of eccentric doubling that there was simply no room for anyone else. And as comforting as I’ve no doubt the other’s constant companionship must be, still it struck me as a picture of real loneliness. And that made me feel so sad – particularly because neither woman looked remotely happy. To me it was just a big siren call for, among other things, starting them off early with, you know, their own damn clothes.
Oh, I could go on, there’s so much sartorial slamming I could do, but I think that’s enough for one day. I’ve just realised I’ve got to decide what the hell I’m wearing tonight… and that old boilers in short dresses shouldn’t throw stones.