Yes? Or just me?
Well this week I sort of accidentally became the unofficial inspirational leader for a group of loved-up hippy folk.
While at the Co-op in Wisbech…
I am one of the rare finds in Wisbech – it seems – during the daytime, as I don’t wear a tracksuit and a baseball cap. Usually I will wear whatever is close to hand, comfortable and reminiscent of something awesome. T’other day I decided to pop into town and get some shopping from the Co-Op (the one in the Horsefair, not the one that’s shutting down near B&Q, as if this means anything to the majority of you, but the devil is in the detail) and I was going by bike so donned my suit jacket (embellished with a few pin badges), a white tee and jeans. Finishing the outfit I wore a pair of functional shoes, that to most people look like the footwear of a 40-something history lecturer. Thinking that this ensemble would be as inoffensive as any other I popped into town and parked up, locking Bess up (my bike is called Bess). I hadn’t been browsing around the chiller cabinets for long before I was approached by a young man wearing sandals and looking vexed in some way. It seems that I was dressed like a ‘fashion-following sheep’ and that I shouldn’t buy anything processed. Well this annoyed me a little bit, as I have already made it clear that I have no interest in trends at all, but I was then given the perfect opening for a rebuttal.
“You don’t even know what it’s like to love the Earth”
(There might have been a “man…” in there as well, but that might be my imagination making the hippy out to be more of a movie hippy than a real one.)
So I said, while lifting the bottom of my shoe up to reveal the three holes that go right through to the foot, “Would I wear these if I was so opposed to feeling the Earth with my feed?”, tiny bit pretentious I know, but it got the right reaction. At that exact moment the hippy went from a criticising glare to a mellow smile with wide-open eyes. I swear that even his tufty facial hair smiled too. “Dude! You must love it! Oh man, you get it, you get it!”
“Yes” I replied, “I get it”
“Man, you could hurt yourself though, a lot of broken glass around”
“Well, thanks for the concern there, genuinely, but I came on my bike, Bess”
“Bess! BESS! That’s so cool, you named your bike!” he said the next bit quietly, “Do you ever, you know, like, talk to her?”
“All the time”
“That’s cool… that’s cool”
He then introduced me to his three friends, and told me that they were having a night under the stars getting to know one another better, I assumed this meant some copious amounts of unprotected sexual promiscuity, but didn’t push further in case I was invited. They all seemed to treat me with some degree of reverance before one explained that they were impressed by someone dressed as I was being so in touch with my environment, and that usually “suits” as they called them, are nothing more than money-obsessed wretches. I agreed with them and was hugged.
I walked away, finished my shopping and went back to my bike where the four were stood admiring Bess. Now you have to understand that Bess is a bicycle of an older persuasion, solid in frame crooked in wheel, but she is my trusty steed and it appears that my new-found friends were of the same opinion. I was complimented on the amount of rusty parts on her, that I didn’t fall for the ‘maintanence conspiracy’ (despite having given her a dose of WD-40 that morning, but I kept that quiet) and as I unlocked her I swore that one of them patted her saddle affectionately.
I explained that I had to get moving as my partner was preparing some food and I was bid a fond farewell with the following cry:
“Dude! Remember, the suit maketh the man, don’t be the man, be the man instead. You are the man, not the man, keep the shoes!”
Which wasn’t at all confusing.