Thursday, 19 November 2009

Dropped Trousers

If I were approached by a film producer about making a low budget film about a priceless pair of trousers, I'd have the right material right to hand – no, to leg – cut from life (but it wouldn’t be a biopic). Furthermore, I’d be able to shoot the film in one take – without any cuts or edits - in real time. The star of the movie - a pair of trousers (green tweeds), exact size and age unknown – 25 at least. I know roughly how old they are because I’ve been wearing them on-and-off for a quarter of a century (even though they’ve never fitted and they tend to chafe on ‘Ladder Awareness’ courses).
The trousers in 1984

The same trousers in 2009

James Mcavoy would play my character, his trousers never look like they fit him properly (Dudley Moore would been even better in this respect); but Mcavoy’s lovely Scots accent will be wasted - his part has no lines. The only other roll requires a woman, an actor with a deep yet astonished sounding voice, and one who can cast a 'cutting', icy stare. Bettie Davis would have been perfect, but let’s send the script to Demi Moore. The trousers play themselves.

First one-arm-pull-up in the trousers, 1985

Latest one-arm-pull-up in the same trousers, 2009

London, autumn, 1984, I’m walking though Richmond Park, it’s getting dark. I’m on the main road (no more than a country lane really) and there’s nobody about - no traffic - the park gates are closed to cars at dusk. I slow down to light a cigar and admire the lights coming on across the city when a bike overtakes me – whizzes past with an affected cough (I hate that, joggers adopt the same cough). As the bike disappears into the distance I see something fall off the back. Even though the bike had gone quite a way I could have shouted, and I probably would have if I hadn’t been coughed at in such an affected manner. So I leave my cigar in my mouth and carry on walking until I reach what's been dropped: a pair of trousers. I go through the pockets (two), nothing; turn them inside out - no labels or other identifying features - they appear to be hand made. The fabric’s tweed - a hue of green, but the strangest thing is their weird cut – I’d never seen anything like it – they just balloon out from the waist to an enormous sagging behind, before tapering down into nothing, at the ankles. And it was impossible to sex them – they were odorless. These anonymous tweeds were without a doubt the most bizarre trousers I’d ever come across. I pop them in my bag and continue on my way until I see this ancient gothic-looking tree with a vertical opening in its hollowed-out trunk, a short distance from the road; the type of (“Sleepy hollow”) tree children love to hide in: this hollow-trunked tree provided the perfect changing room.  

Changing-room open

Changing-room closed

I enter a tree in chinos, and come out again, in tweeds. It’s a shame some of our older, time-hollowed- trees are not fitted with full-length mirrors (must get on to English Heritage or the National Trust about the idea).
I thought they looked great – the tweeds were me; so much so that I left my chino’s in the fitting-room – abandoned my trousers in a tree. Back on the road, despite a slight chafing, I was still pretty pleased with myself. By now it's almost pitch-dark (so I couldn’t admire my legs anymore) and I hadn’t gone very far before I see a light coming towards me. Next thing, my tweeds are illuminated by bicycle light. The cyclist had turned back (“The Nightrider Returns” – great title for the film). She stops at a safe distance and remains astride her bike: the up-lit face of a woman (30ish) staring with incredulity, at my groin. “You are in my trousers, my Jeff Banks”, she barked. I didn't have time to reply (and what could I have said?), before she stamps back into her rat-traps and disappears into the night, leaving me standing alone in the dark, with Jeff Banks.

Jeff Banks, who made my trousers, nowadays makes trousers for Sainsbury's.

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