When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
My mother and I were never really close. She had my sister and I one weekend a month and for a fortnight in the summer. It’s the way divorces go. But when I was sixteen she bought me a leather jacket. Now public school boys in the early sixties wore suede shoes, cavalry twills, tweed jackets and acne. A leather jacket was what teddy boys wore, what hells angels wore, what Marlon Brando wore when he trashed the town in the Wild One.
With this jacket I became someone else. The other boys thought it was cool, their sisters felt it was exciting, their parents made sure the cigarettes and whisky were locked very tight when I came round. It was brilliant. I was studying for my A levels, desperate to get into the rugby team, but this leather jacket took me to the other side of the tracks. A street fighting man.
I upped the ante. I joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. So now I had a black leather jacket and a cause. If I was dangerous before, now I was dynamite. I found with all this and a couple of swear words I could be the nearest thing to James Dean this side of SW19. This fantasy ended with leaving school, at university and in the real world I came across real leather jackets, real rebels, bad arses who could not just talk their weight but punched it.
Fast forward fifty plus years and I am pocking around in a charity shop looking for second hand books. I see a black leather jacket. blouson style, heavy, smelling of action. I take it home. I put it on. Vivien tells me that I look like a Jewish taxi driver. I die a little, but what does she know? She thinks its just a jacket.