If it hadn’t been for the socks I wouldn’t have bought the trousers.  And if I hadn’t bought the trousers I wouldn’t have bought the coat or the sunglasses.  So, really, it all started with the trousers because I wasn’t sure about them but once I had gone ahead and bought them there was no going back.  I should admit now – the trousers cost me one hundred and ten pounds.

Oh, but once you’re wearing a pair of socks which cost ten pounds, and your feet are feeling spoilt like a billionaire’s houseboat guest couched in sunbeams, you begin to appreciate what you get for one hundred and ten pounds of trouser.  And the colour of those trousers…

I saw them across the shop and I’m pretty sure that they saw me straight back.  They were resplendent red corduroys, I was a scruff in my usual attire, out of my depth.  I shouldn’t have been in the shop but I had wandered in once, unaware, and now visited occasionally, treating it like some kind of art gallery.  Looking at and not touching the clothes.

Before I knew what was happening I found myself standing right in front of the trousers.  I had no recollection of crossing the room.  I ran my finger down their perfect corduroy lines, I looked with my eyes but I also touched with my grubby fingers.  I sniffed them with my nose and when I picked them up I listened to the sound they made.  They were red but not a bright red – a kind of russetty, burgundy colour, a fine claret couched in sunbeams on a billionaire’s houseboat of my own imagining.

I wore them home, being unable to contain my excitement.  Both my head and my wallet felt dizzy, giddy and light.  One hundred and ten pounds, I calculated, was only four or five weeks of food.  The trousers felt soft against my legs which now shone red – a magnetic beauty such that I could only tell that they were my legs because they were attached to my feet.

A few weeks later I followed up my first purchase with a new coat and a new pair of sunglasses.  These subsequent purchases were made out of deference to the trousers because really I could not expect them to find happiness whilst accompanying my usual careless fashions.  But I stopped short of buying new footwear – there is no joy in pristine shoes.  I carried on with my usual bash-about shoes because I find that shoes are at their best when the leather is lived in like a second skin and the sole is rough and flattened like a hammered-down sentence.

In my new clothes I hid away for a spell, dressing secretly in my expensive socks, coat, sunglasses and, of course, trousers and then posing for the mirror.  It was the height of summer and I cocooned myself in perfect tailoring because I knew that being outside could not possibly be as good as this.  I played the radio continuously for ten weeks, letting it bring the outside world in.

It was early autumn when I strode out in my sartorial grace, just as the leaves were beginning to fall and litter the ground like crisp-roasted squashes and pumpkins.  Everywhere were people in their gardens, on their hands and knees in their best bash-about gardening clothes, picking chillies.  The chillies were something else – bright oranges, reds running into greens, bells and whistles, perfect yellows like tiny melons.  As though all the plants were Christmas-lit months early.  Through all this I moved, resplendent in my trousers, feeling like a ghost in the heavy autumn sun, like a billionaire on his houseboat couched in sunbeams.

Feeling like however heavy-footed I stepped, I would not touch the earth.


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