Don’t get Ketchup on your good shirt now.
Too late. I had woken up that morning with the unmistakeable craving for a sausage sandwich. Not porridge and egg and a refreshing smoothie but a dirty, succulent, corpulent sausage sandwich. The one concession to health was that the sausages sizzled on our George Foreman. The alternative: getting one at a petrol station deli counter with pork content so low it could actually be halal.
I’m paying for this indulgence now as the ketchup comes sailing out on that first reckless bite onto my only clean shirt.
It’s a pity it didn’t fall on The Fleece.
The journey through life is punctuated by many signposts that tell you how you are progressing and how far you have left to travel to your ultimate destination. Some signposts are poorly maintained, the distances still in mile. Others are obscured by vegetation or are situated after the junction. There are a few large blue motorway signs, often with a phone number on them. An example of the latter is Excessive Praise For And Attachment To Inanimate Objects. This can take a number of forms “That kettle is a great oul yoke isn’t it. Never gave a bit of trouble” and “I’d be lost only for this fleece”
I’m wearing the fleece now – a loyal friend in times of changeable weather. It cares not a jot for ketchup stains, shrugging them off as would The Kraken the pitiful harpoons of desperate sailors.
Like a stray dog it arrived into my life unbidden – it was a freebie from a comedy festival – but has remained with me when other pedigree jackets that were bought have fallen by the wayside
But unfortunately, social mores dictate that a fleece – stained so that it looks like an artist’s palette – cannot be worn in polite company. I have to go shopping.
Ughh clothes shopping. About twice a year, when the snow has melted from the mountain passes, I hitch up the wagon and go buying clothes in the nearest town. It’s the plot of ‘Seven Wives for Seven Brothers’, without all the brothers, wives or acrobatic wood-chopping dances. I want to get in there, get something, get out and then dynamite the pass to prevent the posse from trying to follow me with a loyalty card application.
Or at least I would like to get in quickly if I can actually see the clothes. There is hope for the future survival of the planet judging by much swanky clothes shops have lowered their lighting in recent years. As you pass through the doors of one of the newer high-street chains like ‘Tool’, ‘Horsebox’ or ‘Saliv8’ now, it takes a little while for your eyes to become accustomed to the gloom. Often they are lit just by the glow of the sales assistants checking their smartphones.
When you make out the décor, it’s definitely not like Roches Stores. Many shops now want to make you believe you are buying your clothes in a dystopian post-industrial world where man clings to civilisation in the ruins of old steel foundries. Albeit steel foundries made of plasterboard.
All around, the mannequins taunt me with things that fit them. It’s all very well for mannequins. They were formed in a factory which made them symmetrical. No wonder the clothes fit. And boy do they fit.
I tried on a pair of skinny jeans for the first time in my life this week. Or I tried to try on. The walls of the changing room crashed as I wrestled with them. When they were finally on we stood looking at them. Both me and the jeans agreed we should see someone else. It’s the same feelng I get when wearing a hat that is not a Thinsulate. An invisible Jeeves whispers in my ear “Are you quite sure Sir?”
I blame the mirrors.
If you want to hold up a mirror to your soul, stand in a changing room. You could be sauntering around town, feeling chipper about yourself, whistling the Austin Powers theme tune but all the “phoo-phi-phi-phoo-phee” will stop when you encounter your changing room reflection.
The problem is not your reflection – you’ve seen that loads of times. It’s the double reflection where you see yourself as you really are. All the little lacks of symmetry are accentuated and you wonder Who is THAT? And depending on the clothes being tried on, you see the bits you normally don’t ever get a chance to. Like your back. A back which, in my case is now being colonized slowly but surely by hair. Settlements in the chest have broken through to enclaves at the shoulders and thence to the back creating a trading corridor that will eventually lead to the destruction of native tribes…
“COLM! What are you doing in there?”
My wife’s voice snaps me out of my hair-raising and I try on the shirt.
“That’s grand –I think you should get it. Do you want to wear it around town?” she asks as I creep from the cubicle. I think about this for a second and decide no. Just to be on the safe side. I’ve just got a sudden craving for a sausage sandwich.

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