Never out of fashion
How long ago did punk splutter out? Remember all those safety pins and slits? What about the New Romantics and hefty blokes slapping on the lippy and eye shadow? How about the much, much earlier Teddy Boys?
I recall going in my early teens to an old tailor working from the front room of a terraced house in the back streets of south Lowestoft to get some trousers narrowed to the cool 14-inch bottoms that everyone wanted in those days. Drainpipes, they were, my cheapo attempt to emulate my fashion idols of those days, the young fishermen (pictured) who were earning loadsamoney every week and getting suits hand made at Edwards in the High Street. They were in outrageous colours and combined Teddy Boy styles with cowboy touches.
If you want to investigate this unique fashion niche, artist Peter Wylie, another Lowestoft native, did a section on Dockside Dandies for the BBC Radio 4 Making History slot last month. It's in Programme 7 and is easily downloadable from the BBC site.
What started me off on this tangent was the D.I.D piece in the Big Debate blog yesterday (it's in the Post today - Thursday June 5). Part of the not entirely serious diatribe (actually a plug for a record shop) bemoaned the passing of vinyl and other retro pleasures.
What struck me is that these things don't disappear.
They may leave the mainstream, yes, but some enthusiast somewhere will be at it, whether it's playing 78rpm records, 12-inch singles, dressing in Teddy Boy suits, Rocker or Mod outfits, riding scooters, playing wax cylinders, piano rolls, driving Routemaster buses, wearing loonpants, playing in Rockabilly bands, touring the world in Airstream caravans, using CB radio, collecting Sinclair C5s, Acorn and Amstrad computers.
Walk round the shopping centres, parks and pubs of the Midlands and keep your eyes open. There are punks out there still, analogue radio enthusiasts, Dinky car buffs and so on. Once a trend or fashion is invented some benighted soul adopts it as his/her own lifetime preoccupation. I am still fond of the Olivetti Lettera 22 typewriter, for instance. Anyone else got a fashion or gadget fad?