A little context may be useful here for some of you. Not for my wife the gardener, who worshipped Hamilton more or less, and felt on his death in 1996 as if a favourite, slightly muddy, uncle had died.
Geoff was the presenter of Gardeners’ World, an everyday sort of green-fingered guru. And he often wore jeans, not as a fashion statement so much as a practical choice for the job at hand. Perhaps you could call them dad jeans comfortably cut for the middle-aged body.
Anyway I looked in the mirror and saw Geoff Hamilton’s jeans – my jeans, obviously, but reminiscent of what Geoff used to wear. And it must have been the stance as I wasn’t carrying a rosebush or anything.
A more up-to-date denim reference point for the no longer exactly young man might be Jeremy Clarkson. But if I’d looked in the mirror and seen myself in Clarkson’s jeans, it would have been a ridiculous sight. The former Top Gear car bore is a lot taller than me, and a deal fatter round the middle, so his jeans would swamp me in unnecessary folds of car-creased denim. But Clarkson is a useful example as he usually still clads his smart arse in denim.
These thoughts arise from a nasty little worry worm about the wearing of jeans. Is there ever a point where a man becomes too old for denim? I think the answer to this question has to be ‘no’, mainly because it begs another: if not denim, then what? Jeans just seem to do the business. They solve without fuss the daily problem of what a man should wear. And most of the alternatives are lacking in something. For me the jeans are always Levis. I usually have a few pairs on the go, running from ‘best’ to falling apart at the yellow-threaded seams. A recently abandoned pair had a wallet-shaped hole in the back pocket.
So jeans it is, unless I am out on a work visit. I never wore jeans in my old job, although lots of people to go to work in their Levis, Wranglers or whatever.
Women probably have more worries about what to wear at what age, but such insecurities do buzz around a man’s head too. The other night we were watching the Hairy Bikers off being silly somewhere chilly, Finland if memory serves. At one point the pair stripped naked and jumped into a cold lake. I asked my wife for reassurance that I didn’t look like that from behind. The good news is that I don’t.
Years ago there was a line of dialogue in the great American cop series NYPD Blue. Veteran detective Andy Sipowicz was being teased about his lack of fitness by a male colleague who pointedly said he went to the gym because he didn’t want cottage cheese for a butt. Well we now know that those hairy bikers are plentifully supplied with cottage cheese.
Male vanity also arises over baldness. For instance, did my wife really have to take that holiday photograph displaying the top of my head quite so prominently? To everyone else that is just what my scalp looks like. To me it was an unwanted reminder of long-lost glories. Although I should be used to this depletion as there has been more pink than brown for pushing 30 years now.
As for the jeans, I’ll be sticking to the Levis for a while yet, however often Geoff Hamilton invades the mirror.