I look like a wolf that has been hypnotised by a Chunky Chicken
IT IS not yet October, but the smell of cordite is in the air.
Autumn came early this year, bringing with it the whiff of gunpowder, treason and plot. But you will have heard enough already about the Labour party conference. My own experience of sedition and restiveness came last week, when I attended a protest in London in defence of an age-old country tradition which is being threatened by thoughtless city-dwellers with no understanding of rural ways.
I write not of foxes. Ever since my days as a Boy Scout I have been suspicious of any activity in which ruddy-faced men chase helpless vermin through fields on horseback. (Even now, I sometimes emerge from a nightmare with a shout of "Tally-ho!" echoing in my ears.) My protest was about something more important: tweed.
Apparently, tweed is fashionable. These days, the flibbertigibbets of the design world can’t get enough of the wiry fabric, and the matrons of Harris are - I understand - labouring ceaselessly to produce material for bunnets, capes and training shoes, to be worn by dim debutantes in the salons of Mayfair and Kensington. And, you may say, good for them.
Well, no. I have nothing against matrons, or, more’s the pity, dim debutantes. But I am opposed, in principle, to fashion. It is, by definition, the enemy of reason, a fool’s errand, and an advertisement for vapidity. It does not take an expert to understand that what is fashionable today will be deemed laughable tomorrow.
All of which would matter little were it not for the fact that, by standing in the same place for 40 years, I have become accidentally trendy, mistakenly modish. At the bus stop, I am now afforded respect, where once I provoked abuse. Louts now offer to buy my hat where once they knocked it off. My jacket prompts envious glances, even when I hide it, as I do in autumn, beneath a blanket of cagoule.
It is not that I dress carelessly. My clothes were chosen for hardiness and anonymity. They are designed to render me invisible. Now, by accident, I am conspicuous. I look, to coin a phrase oft-used by my mother, Mrs Elder (or Ma’am), like a wolf that has been hypnotised by a Chunky Chicken.
So I drove to London, taking turns behind the wheel of the Dormobile with co-conspirator in tweed, the Commander, who has never been able to acclimatise to soft fabrics in civilian life. On arriving in London, I piloted the Dormobile along a pedestrian precinct in Bond Street.
We paused to allow the Commander to sign autographs, and then drove home again before the Japanese tourists worked out that he was not, in fact, the Duke of Edinburgh.
It was a grand protest. No one noticed, and nothing changed. The next morning, I had a nippy rash on my inside leg. Well, no-one said democracy was painless.
Kirk Elder is a senior citizen from Peebles. He is prone to chafing
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
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