I was listening to Women’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 as I drove into town yesterday. They are celebrating 70 years of broadcasting this year and as part of that, they are doing tracks of the years featuring woman artists. Yesterday it was celebrating the eighties and one person mentioned was Grace Jones and how iconic she became then for doing exactly what she needed to do to be Grace Jones (apparently she still is). I remember her as a model, singer and actor but I didn’t really know her apart from what was in the media and I think there is lot to her than what the media portray. She did her own thing and for me that is inspiring.
People tend to comment on my clothing. Yesterday I got, “you’re dressed very brightly” and “we’re not even going to comment on the shorts”. Earlier in the week I got, “I wish I didn’t feel the cold like you do” and “you’re brave wearing shorts”.
It is true that I dress brightly; I have chosen to do this because for one thing I like it and because it is winter and this season is so monochrome at times, that I really think we should dress to cheer ourselves up. Well that how I dress, to counteract the winter blues. It started because it is normal to wear bright clothing when one skis (though of course fashion will favour certain things which I ignore – why do women where white trousers?). Bright colours are normal for most leisure non-violent outdoor activities because if something goes wrong, it is much easier to spot bright colours from a distance (again white trousers make no sense on snow). Outdoor brands became fashionable and so it is okay to wear somewhat bright clothes on the high-street I guess. Personally I could say that I am safer because I am easier to spot on the streets, but I think it is more about enjoying being colourful.
I think there is also a factor about being noticed, but being noticed at a distance. Being seen by others means I exist however briefly. I guess it is about loneliness and feeling different. I am part of the crowd but different, an external representation of how I feel inside. I do find it rather contradictory in that I want to be noticed but I don’t want to be engaged socially by strangers in general, though I am perfectly pleasant if somebody does say “hi”. The anxiety I hold in my head can evaporate once I am talking to someone else; getting outside of my head is good for me. I am also reminded of a jester in court, they standout, they entertain and often they get away with ridiculing powerful people. Scratch that, I don’t have the wit to be a jester.
So onto the shorts, working back in reverse order. Is it brave to wear shorts? It sounds like I am being tough being a short wearer but what is tough about exposing one’s legs? Perhaps my legs are offensive so I might start a fight? Will the fashion police descend on me and scoop me away for rehabilitation? Is the skin on my legs so tough that I am immune to the weather? Perhaps my legs are so hairy that I might be kidnapped and shaved? I suspect though they are thinking about the cold and how I am braving it wearing shorts.
Which takes me onto the next phrase, I can tell you categorically that I do feel the cold. It is true that I am one of those people that when I exercise, I generate seemingly vast amounts of energy (perhaps nuclear fusion scientist could learn something from me) so I either get sweaty or I lose the clothes. I prefer not to sweat. This works okay in the cooler months of the year but I have to say that as soon as the temperature approaches the mid-teens centigrade (around sixty Fahrenheit) a vest and short shorts won’t stop the perspiration forming, so I am not a pleasant being to behold (ceilidh dance with me at your peril). Heat generation requires movement though, and as I type my legs are covered up with a thick furry blanket, my hands are a bit cool, and my nose is cold; honestly, I do feel the cold!
But you know what? I don’t feel much of emotions and I think this is key to why I wear shorts. I feel few emotions but I do feel sensations. I do feel the cold on my legs, the movement of the air as I walk, the warm of the sun, the bitterness of the wind, the heat of a radiator. In short I feel more alive when I wear shorts. I feel more alive when I cycle too but the best is when I go swimming, the flow of the water over my skin and the rhythm of the stroke can be as relaxing any massage; I just need to be fit enough to appreciate that.
As for “not mentioning the shorts”, how crazy is a sentence like that? All I can do is nod and smile, and go “okay”. Though I guess an alternative would be to do a Fawlty Towers “don’t mention the war” comedy routine; I might have to work on that one though.