Death Of The Hoodie
I was a lazy slob last night. I couldn't face going to NOTLS on so many levels (Hoxton, clubbing, drinking, noise, people, crowds, Northern Star and their reactionary "revolution" in sound.) so I stayed at home and watched the ridiculous John Boorman version of Excalibur, the Dark Ages as a shimmering 80s sci fi disco dream. I told myself I'd work on the SC album art - I didn't. I just sewed sequins onto a new cardigan.
Why? Oh, of course there's a story behind it. I rose early yesterday and walked down to the Big Sainsburys to do my monthly stockup. I hadn't bothered to change, just threw on my long black linen skirt and a black hoodie over what I'd slept in (leggings and a Tshirt.) As I caught sight of myself in the shiny glass windows, I suddenly thought I looked ridiculous. Caught between cultures, caught between ages.
A hoodie is such an ugly, shapeless garment. The uniform of disaffected youth, a kind of cloak of anonymity. I bought it almost as a joke 2 years ago, when I was asked by a friend to start writing for Terrorizer Magazine. It was such a ridiculous thing - the idea of me, a woman in my late 30, writing for a metal magazine, that stalwart genre of disaffected boys. So I took on the uniform, and turned in a series of somewhat disappointing articles about Hawkwind, Silver Apples, Diamanda Galas. (Not metal, I know, but I was supposed to be their Special Dronerock Correspondent.)
I stopped when some other friends started taking it all too seriously - and realised that metal wasn't a joke, it had a meaning and culture all its own that meant a great deal to the people that loved it. How would I feel if some ironic club kid started writing about music that I genuinely loved and identified with? I decided it was wrong - this double pose, both me as a music journalist and me as a metal fan, when I am neither - and quit.
The garment, however, stayed with me, this ugly, black, shapeless, incongruous thing. Standing in Sainsburys early on a Saturday morning, next to another middle aged woman in pink pyjamas and a grey hoodie, I decided it had to go.
Maybe it was that Affluenza book - which, most of the time, I want to throw across the room and shout "people do NOT actually think like this, you exaggerate!" - talking about beauty as an expression of one's own personality (rather than the iron maiden ideal of the Beauty Myth.) Maybe it was the William Morris philosophy I was raised with - "have nothing in your house that you do not believe to be beautiful or know to be useful" - this horrible garment was neither beautiful nor an adequate expression of who I, now, am. Perhaps it was disillusionment with the Erol forum, and realising that it, and the world of clubbing is set up for 18 year old boys, not for 30-something women. I can never be a 18 year old boy, even if I wear their clothes. (Nor would I, in fact, ever *want* to be, despite this youth-worshiping culture that Erol inhabits.)
I bought a cardigan. A nice, soft, loosely structured proper Guardian Reader Cardigan. Charcoal black with flecks of grey and copper. A witchy cardigan. A folky backwoods sensible cardigan. (Well, perhaps too sensible really, which is why I sewed little copper sequins into the fabric, a glimmer of my old glittery self peeking through.)
I left the hoodie at Sainsburys. I can never quite bring myself to throw perfectly good clothes away, even if they're too full of holes for even a charity shop. My mother laughed aloud when I told her - she reckoned I should have left it on a hanger and hung it back up, imagining the amusement of chaos should someone try to buy it. But no, I folded it neatly and left it on a bench by the door. A part of my personality I no longer need, wrapped discarded like a piece of old clothing.
"Put off or put on, youth hurts, and then it's gone."