Saturday, 28 April 2018

Def leopard



Yesterday in a small market town in Hertfordshire, two women were spotted looking at their reflections in the windows of a Toni & Guy.  “Let’s check ourselves out!” one had suggested, laughing -  and looking back at them, posing stupidly in the rain-spattered reflection, were two 55-year olds, smiling broadly under their umbrellas, both dressed in leopard-spot coats, dark jeans and black boots.  A bemused customer inside having her roots retouched grinned in the mirror.

We did turn a few heads.  I mean, I knew she had a leopard spot coat too – a bit different from mine in that it’s fluffy and a tad more golden in shade, but what were the chances of us both wearing them today?  We only get together a few times a year, reuniting here in our old hometown, the place we rarely visit now, but where we first met at school.   If it had been sunnier, I would've worn my green coat.  If it had been warmer, she would have worn her black jacket.  But it was cold and wet and we'd both dressed as big cats.

“Hey, but we’re cool!  We’re rock’n’roll!  We used to be in a band!” I assured my dear friend playfully  – we were never in a band, at least not a real one, but somehow we might as well have been, as that’s how it felt to be part of our little punk scene here, forty years ago.  You sort of felt like a someone; it was like a rural equivalent of the Bromley Contingent.  And some of its regular characters who weren’t known then did go on to be bigger someones.  It was as if there was something special about this town and its thriving underground music scene that nurtured its rebellious youth a particular way.  

As well as catching up on news and views over lunch, we luxuriated in a little reminiscing, about a time when we might both have killed for the leopard spot coats we were now wearing, but wouldn’t have been able to get one anywhere.  I'd been lucky enough to get a pair of tailor-made leopard print trousers (with a drawstring waist!) through a small ad in the back pages of the NME when I was 15.  The young fashion student making them up to order on her electric sewing machine knew she was onto something.  I loved those trousers like a pet - a rare, exotic pet.  You just couldn’t buy these things off the peg in the late seventies – in fact the only women you’d see in this fabric pattern (a scarf, or a skirt, perhaps) were also likely to be in their late seventies.  Okay, they probably weren’t, they were most likely only 55 too – but anyone over the age of 30 just got boxed into a category we thought of as ‘old’, didn't they?

Maybe that’s what the 15-year-old schoolgirls coming down the street thought when they caught sight of us as we wandered back from our reunion lunch with wine and garlic on our breath....  Oh - look at those two daft old ladies, both in leopard print coats!

(No! We're rock'n'roll! We used to be in a band!  Almost!)

34 comments:

  1. surely you should have posted def leppard's Photograph

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    1. Hi acidted and thanks - I guess I should've done, but I never liked them!

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  2. This is perfect C, just perfect. Your reunion sounds like it was a lot of fun. I was part of a little reunion myself recently, that I really must write something about when I get a mo'. No leopard spots in our case though!

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    1. Ah thanks TS! Yes, always fun and a real tonic to see old friends. Would love to read about your little reunion too (no matching shirts, then?)

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  3. I have a leopard print coat too, plus many other items, I am trying to quell the addiction ,though apparently I read in a Sunday supplement it's considered a neutral now!

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    1. I had a feeling you might too, CA :-) That's so funny about the print being considered a neutral now but I can see how that's happened. My friend was saying how she was queueing up for a gig not long ago and spotted about 5 or 6 other women in similar coats. We've decided it's the height of chic!

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  4. Wonderful. Though I’d have gone with ‘Love Herts’.
    I’ll get my (leopard print) coat.

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    1. Thanks....yes, I reckon I should have soundtracked this post with something (but probably not that!)

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  5. No Leopard Skin Pillbox Hats as accessories?

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    1. Very New Romantic fashion! Perhaps that should have been the song to soundtrack this with, though (see above reply to John). Would have been a rare thing to see Dylan on these pages :-)

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  6. '...anyone over the age of 30 just got boxed into a category we thought of as ‘old’...' - wonder if this number has gone up a bit these days? Once heard, I think it was Ben Goldacre, say that, to the youth anyone over 40 was the same age. Just, generically, old. But what do the youth know?

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    1. I wonder? Maybe it has gone up a bit as we seem to stay younger for longer now, and the idea of younger people going to see bands/artists who are in their 50s/60s etc. is nothing unusual but would've been in my youth. (Although I did see the UK Subs in 1979, when Charlie Harper was 35, and didn't question it too much. Oh and Vi Subversa of the Poison Girls who was even older than I realised!) Thinking back to people I actually knew when I was a teenager (e.g. teachers, friends' parents, etc.) - when I worked out how old they would actually have been it was quite shocking to realise that they really weren't at all. In fact I think even 25 seemed old when I was 15....now I'm more than twice that and it's all too weird!

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  7. When I think of leopard print, I immediately think of Bet Lynch. Wonder if she got her outfits from an ad in the back of the NME too?

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    1. I always thought of her too! And imagined that she was 'old', indeed the kind of old lady I was talking about who still wore it - she must've been all of 35 at the height of her leopard print wearing barmaid days!

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    2. Possibly even younger...

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  8. You paint quite a picture with your prose today, CC. Tip of the cap for donning the leopard.

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    1. Thanks Brian. It keeps us young(ish)!

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  9. Anywhere near Bishops Stortford ?

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    1. Oh! You didn't see us, did you?!

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    2. Can you email me on my blog email address?

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  10. Love this - You must have cut quite a dash but by accident really. No accident however that you are both drawn to the same styles when it comes to clothes as to be friends in the first place you must have had similar tastes. Funny how leopard spot became the fabric of choice for punks as prior to that it was the preserve of the older buxom barmaid!

    I think I've mentioned my leopard spot story before, but it was when I got it horribly wrong and turned up at an event where everyone else was dressed in twee Laura Ashley. Definitely stood out that night!

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    1. Thanks Alyson - yes, you must be right about the styles and the friendship itself. Although we've gone in different directions in areas of our lives over the decades, there's something in common at our core.
      I remember your lovely story - and leopard spot is far better than Laura Ashley!

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  11. Nice to keep in touch with friends from the past.I thought Tiger Woods was known as big cat? I suppose it's ok for you to take the name for a day :)

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    1. It is good to keep in touch, yes - I value my dearest, oldest friendships hugely and feel really lucky to still have them.
      Tiger Woods and big cats? - ah, next time it's going to have to be tiger stripe coats...

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  12. "Well, I see you got yer...leopard skin...uh...coat thing". Nice one. It's good to remember your still a rebel at heart and even a band that only existed in your heads is still a legendary band in my book. Reunion gigs?

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    1. Reunion gigs play in my head all the time. Oh, what we could've been - if only we hadn't had to go to school....

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  13. With the world as it is, there's nothing wrong with luxuriating in a little reminiscing. Nice post.

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    1. Thanks and yes I agree - not necessarily yearning for those times again but happy to look back o them very fondly with those I shared them with.

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  14. Hee hee, I've missed Blogger and reading your blog in particular, C. I changed browser a while back and have not been able to access blogger since then...until this morning for no reason I can fathom - but read this and thought I would mention that Cara DeLevigne (or some equally pointless "influencer" embryo) wears a leopard print coat regularly and so it has become fashionable again in the last few years. So some 15 year olds possibly spotted you and thought :"oh look at those Ancients trying to look like Cara (or whoever!) .... because how could you possibly NOT be trying desperately to emulate Cara? ;o)

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    1. Yve! Hello again! Really pleased to see you and it's been a while - hope all good in your world. I've missed your blog and comments too.
      And oh god yes, you're probably right about Cara or other similar current media personality. How old is she? Oh dear, just looked that up, she's 25. No, I don't want to dress like a 25-year old... but, aha, let's turn this on its head - perhaps the real truth is that she actually wants to dress like a 55-year old?!

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    2. Hi C!!!! Good to be back and really inspiring to know that many of you are still here blogging away, I've really missed it. I think it was something to do with Facebook taking over my sign-ins??? Dratted Facebook! I always wanted to look like a silent movie star when I was in my teens and twenties, Louise Brooks or someone like that.... so I do swear that they Cara's of this world probably are basing their look on those of us who have matured like a fine wine (OK, I Corked a while back!) ;)

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    3. Yes - that was a problem I had with the FB sign-in because of not having an account, so I'm glad you can get in again now.
      That silent movie star look has a perennial appeal and at least Cara is natural. I can't imagine the current painted on Groucho Marx style eyebrows and rubber lips look will have quite the same timelessness!

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