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Civil liberties Climate change Ecological English Culture Environment fashion Nostalgia Politics Society Uncategorized war

Is the Spirit of Flower Power still alive?

Lounging on the sagging brown leather sofa in the Petersfield branch of Costa Coffee, I take a swig of my coffee.  Not my normal velvety creamy latte, but a black coffee. Dark and with no sweetener. Not anywhere near as satisfying, but under my new weight loss regime, essential.

A middle-aged woman walked briskly past the window, a stark contrast to the overcast day; bright floral trousers, baby-pink quilted jacket, a lurid multi coloured beanie hat, and electric blue plastic clogs.

Her flamboyant outfit sent my mind rocketing back 4 decades, to the mid 1960s.

The summer of 1967 was sunny and warm. I was eight years old, and loving my school holidays. To my boyish eyes, all of the local women were fabulously gorgeous, and there was an excitable buzz everywhere.

In the USA, the Summer of Love was happening, with over 100,000 young hippies assembling in Haight-Ashbury, a San Francisco suburb, preaching peace, happiness, self-determination, and rebellion against repression and materialism.

These flower children were hopeful and idealistic, as we all are when we are young, and want to see change.

I started to ponder things. The hippie dream was one of love and peace, with multi-ethnic communes striving to live with minimum impact on the environment – an ethos that was strong in 1967. I wondered how much of that dream has survived the intervening 52 years?

The hippie motto of “turn on, tune in and drop out” was a rallying call to disengage from contemporary middle-class values and materialism, and concentrate on expanding the mind – albeit propped up with the use of Psychedelic drugs and living in harmony – not just with each other but with the environment.

Pop culture drove some of this, with icons such as the Beatles promoting eastern religious teachings, and whilst vegetarianism had always been an option, it never had the wide promotion and uptake that it enjoyed with the hippie generation.

Hippies were generally aligned to “Make Love not War” and many thousands protested at the US’s involvement in the Vietnam war, including two demonstrations in London, leading to a number of injuries caused during confrontations with the Police.

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The Hippie counter-culture was influenced by a number of global events. In January of 1968, Alexander Dubček, the First Secretary of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party introduced a series of reforms intended to give more democratic freedom and civil rights to its citizens. By August of 1968, the Soviet Union aided by other Warsaw Pact countries invaded and ruthlessly supressed the “Prague Spring.”

At about the same time, in Vietnam, the Tet Offensive began, leading to the US military commander General Westmoreland announcing that the Viet Cong could only be defeated by drafting another 200,000 men, and activating the reserves.

This not only unsettled middle-class America, but also further affected the Hippie psyche. Draft-dodging became recognised as acceptable conduct amongst the disaffected young; In my part of the globe, England, I well remember the protests in London, and seeing in later years the student riots in France, as the idealist young rebelled against the old world order.

The increasing public awareness that there could be a better way led to the normalisation of the emergent ecologic movement, and that man should go back to living in harmony with the planet.

Music of the time reflected the changing values. Donovan sang “Universal Soldier” as a protest about the Vietnam War. Barry McGuire released “Eve of Destruction” as a protest against the broken civil rights system, war, the worsening situation in the Middle East and the assassination of John F Kennedy.

At the time, this angry protest was deemed so inflammatory that several radio stations in the USA banned it, as did Radio Scotland. Even dear old Auntie Beeb placed it on a restricted playlist, meaning that it couldn’t be broadcast on general entertainment shows.

So, what of the Hippie dream now?

Well, it may not exist in quite the same form, but be under no illusions, there are still plenty of idealistic people out there.

Greenpeace still upholds ecological ideals and frequently protests robustly.  More recently in the UK we have seen Extinction Rebellion protesting against the lack of state action on the climate emergency.

Highly organised and connected via social media they advocate peaceful protest against inaction by the government.

Their website suggests that protests should be occupying relevant and significant buildings, chanting at meetings, and gluing themselves to doors and infrastructure. Not quite so radical as French students setting cars ablaze, but still quite effective.

I think that pretty much everyone has heard of Greta Thunberg, the schoolgirl who protested climate change outside the Swedish parliament every Friday. Now an internationally recognised figure, and a speaker at global climate change conferences, she has captured the younger generation’s consciousness and has catalysed a global movement.

In the UK in 2019, School and University students called a strike to highlight climate change, as did youth from across the globe, from Australia to India, and the USA to Sweden. The events were co-ordinated using social media under the banner of Fridays for Future.

However, there are other equally able and motivated young people here in the UK, who don’t appear to be as well known.

Take, for example, Bella Lack. She is now 17 and has been an activist against climate change. She has over 150,000 followers on social media, and as a result of her activities, she is Youth Ambassador for the Born Free Foundation, The RSPCA, The Save the Asian Elephant and The Ivory Alliance.

Amy and Ella Meek, sisters who formed Kids Against Plastic, an organisation that is dedicated to reducing single use plastics, and educating young people in the environmental issues facing us, and highlighting the fact that young people have a voice, and can make a difference.

I believe that the Hippie Dream is still alive and kicking. Its face may have changed, but its spirit lives on in the likes of Greta, Amy, Ella and Bella.

These are the new Hippies – caring, thoughtful, and motivated to make the world a better place for all of us.

Maybe their music isn’t as good as that churned out in the 60s Summer of Love, and maybe we don’t have Woodstock or Flower Power…

 

Perhaps we should…

 

Mark Charlwood© 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Climate change Ecological Environment fashion Security Society Uncategorized

ARE YOUR CLOTHES RESPONSIBLE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

The gloomy sky overhead Haslemere made it seem darker and colder than it was. A depressing midweek afternoon, with both Christmas and the New Year landmarks disappearing over the rear horizon.

Costa Coffee was almost empty, and I shared the place with just one barista and the branch manager, both of whom were courteously ignoring me, and conducting a desultory, spasmodic conversation related to their respective family Christmases.

As always these days, Christmas was a mixed bag of news, but one item did catch my attention. A lot of media coverage was being dedicated to criticising the time-honoured Christmas jumper.

It seems that such jumpers are environmental disasters, and the bombardment of negativity made it almost feel as if the green lobby were deliberately greenwashing Christmas. In some cases, this leads to “green fatigue”, and I heard a lot of comments that bemoaned the continual media attention focused on environmental issues. I must admit, that I too “switched off”.

The net result is that, as usual, my interest was piqued, and I immediately fired up the laptop, and started researching the environmental impact of the garment industry.

What I discovered is interesting, yet shocking.

The fashion and garment industry is simply huge. It is worth US$ 1.3 trillion, and employs about 300 million people. It greedily consumes 60% of all textiles produced.

Approximately 5% of all EU household expenditure is for clothing and footwear, (80% clothing, 20% footwear) about 12.6kg per person.

EU research also revealed that more than 30% of the clothes hiding in European wardrobes had not been used for at least a year.

According to a report published by Worldbank[1] the garment industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions!  That is more than the combined annual Global Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) for Aviation and International Shipping[2], yet the media focus is nearly always focused on the transport sector.

Consider this; annually the garment industry uses 93 billion cubic metres of water – that is enough to satisfy the annual consumption needs of about five million people!

This is not just the water used for manufacturing garments, but also includes the irrigation requirements of the cotton and fibre crops.

Dyeing material and treatments during manufacturing contributes to 20% of worldwide wastewater generation.

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Polyester, one of the most popular fibres for clothing, is made from fossil fuels, and is totally non-biodegradable. It does have the benefits of being tolerant of washing at lower temperatures, has a low water footprint, dries quickly, needs virtually no ironing, and it can be recycled into new fibres.

Now the downside. Recent studies have shown that just one domestic washing load of polyester clothing can discharge in the region of 700,000 microplastic fibres in the waste water, which subsequently release toxins into the marine environment, which eventually contaminate the human food chain.

This in itself is an appalling situation!

To put this into perspective, it takes about 3,800 litres of water to make a pair of jeans. This equates to CO2 emissions of about 34kg!

a machine sewing a jean

Photo Credit to © Jrstock

Garment production is resource-greedy, and materials used all have an impact on our world. For example, we are exhorted to wear natural products rather than synthetic, but perversely, natural products are the most un-eco-friendly – cotton contributes to excessive water consumption. The production of wool also adds significantly to methane emissions[3].

So, manufacturing clothing currently has a high environmental cost.

You may buy that pretty dress, or that cool shirt, or yet another pair of denim jeans. Do you think of the hidden environmental costs when you buy it?

Globally, clothing is massively under-utilised – and usage of clothing has slumped by about 36% compared with just fifteen years ago. Some items are discarded after just seven to ten wears. This is appalling!

An article in the Daily Mail reported that many women had adopted a throw away “wear it once” mentality related to clothing. The report suggested that much of this was due to the peer pressure exerted through social media in not wanting to be photographed or “tagged” wearing the same item more than once.

Model walk the runway at Fashion Show. Legs of model on catwalk runway show event.

Photo Credit to © Zoran Kompar

The associated costs are high and that’s not just from an ecological perspective. Globally, customers are squandering an estimated US$ 460 billion per year on waste and unneeded replacement.

Less that 1% of textile materials recovered from clothing is reused for clothing. Most of what is recovered is simply shredded and then used for lower purposes such as furniture stuffing, insulation, and cleaning cloths.

Unused clothing is often just dumped into landfill as refuse. There are high costs associated with the disposal of clothing, and to put this into perspective, the UK spends approximately £86 million per year to process and dispose of it.

This is also driven by the relatively new fast fashion culture. In the past, most clothing designers would launch their collections on a seasonal basis, but now many lower cost clothing stores offer new designs far more frequently, sometimes as often as weekly!

The fashion chain Zara offers 24 new clothing collections each year, and H&M between 12 and 16.[4]

Fast fashion is frequently made from very cheap materials – almost planned obsolescence and is likely to fail quite quickly.

The consumer is almost led to believe that items of clothing are perishable goods and outfits are seen as disposable in the same way as a cigarette lighter.

The pressure on consumers, both from social media and commercial retailers to refresh their wardrobes has led to a state where the average person buys 60% more clothing today than they did in 2000.

In 2000, 50 billion new garments were made globally. In just twenty years, this has doubled, according to research conducted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Significant environmental impact occurs during consumer use. Throughout the lifecycle of the clothes, they will be laundered many times, using water, chemicals and energy. Each time they will shed microplastics into the water system. They will then, in many cases, be tumble dried, and then ironed and pressed, using yet more energy.

So, what can be done?

Firstly, the old linear manufacturing system has to change. Linear systems simply take raw products, and through subsequent processes, manufacture a garment. The garment is sold, used, washed, used and then discarded.

A new circular economy needs to be created, where the discarded garment is collected, processed, recycled and remanufactured.

Clothing designers need to embrace a new concept of reducing waste at every stage of production. Products should be designed to have multiple life cycles using materials that are tailored to their intended subsequent uses.

Manufacturers should be considering materials such as bio-based polyesters (which use starches and lipids sourced from corn, sugar beet and plant oils) and man-made Cellulosic (MMCs) made from dissolved wood pulp. New products such as Lyocell (Tencel) made of cellulose from Eucalyptus which grow quickly and require no irrigation or pesticides must be rapidly incorporated into the manufacturing chain.

Retailers should also introduce much more effective labelling with tags clearly stating the item’s sustainability and emissions information, and better and more intuitive washing and care instructions.

Secondly, consumers need to make a significant change in mindset.

They need to be encouraged to make small behavioural changes such as reducing the temperatures at which they wash clothing, always washing a full load wherever possible, avoiding tumble drying, and buying clothes made from ecologically friendly fibres.

Unwanted clothes should always be donated to charities rather than discarding them into landfill.

Dare I also say that clothes should be washed less frequently, airing them instead, and avoid any unnecessary ironing.

Instead of fast fashion, “Slow Fashion” should be adopted – buy fewer clothes of better quality, and keep those for longer.

New ideas such as a clothes sharing economy. Why buy clothes, when you could lease them, or rent them for a pre-determined time?

High Tech solutions may be just around the corner – with Artificial Intelligence working with advanced three-dimensional printers that would simply produce a custom item of clothing instantly and on the spot. No overproduction or distribution and warehousing costs there, eh?

So – maybe you should make a cup of coffee, and go and check your wardrobe.

I just checked mine, and I seem to have quite a lot of clothes cluttering up my life which haven’t been used for a year.

I only own 8 items of footwear – and that includes 2 pairs of hiking boots, a pair of motorcycle boots and a pair of dress cowboy boots. Two pairs of deck shoes, and two pairs of work Chelsea boots. All of them are regularly cleaned and maintained, so replacement is rare.

I now have to fill a number of bin bags to take a trip to the charity shop.

So – Buy cheap, buy twice!

Together all of us making a small difference, makes a big difference.

© 2020 Mark Charlwood

[1] Worldbank

[2] 2.5% International Shipping; 2% Aviation

[3] European Parliament Briefing “Environmental Impact of the Textile and Clothing Industry©2019

[4] European Parliamentary Research Service

Categories
Comedy English Culture Humour Satire Society Uncategorized

Snowy Saturday Update

Regular readers of my literary meanderings will know that I am partial to a good cup of coffee whilst sharing my happy, yet jaundiced view of life. Hopefully, you will have noticed that I always try and put a comedic spin on everything I write. I have enjoyed humour and comedy since I was an infant.

I recall sitting on my Dad’s lap in the mid 1960s, listening to the radio on Sunday lunchtimes with him.

In most matters my father was quite a serious man. A highly skilled engineer, in both communications and electro-mechanical disciplines, but his sense of humour was, to put it mildly, weird and wonderful.

And so the development of my comedy muscle was exercised by listening to the Goons, Hancock’s Halfhour, The Navy Lark, The Clithero Kid and many more.

My sense of humour was further nourished by watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Goodies, The Kenny Everett Radio Show, Kenny Everett on TV, –  and then the fantastic Young Ones, Bottom, Blackadder, The Fast Show.

So my sense of humour is by necessity somewhat offbeat, and sometimes is quite dark and black – as I believe in the old adage that its always good to laugh at misfortune, even if it’s someone elses.

Anyway, I thought you would enjoy my account below.

Whilst I don’t have much hair left, I do like to go to an old-fashioned gents barber shop, rather than an androgynous “salon” where a haircut can evaporate a sum equivalent to the National Debt in a matter of seconds.

However, whilst my tonsurial consultant is a traditional gents barber, it doesnt prevent him from engaging in conversations and freely sharing his opinions with me whilst he’s buzz cutting my head.

So, there I  was a couple of months ago, getting a haircut prior to departing on a short holiday trip to Rome. When I mentioned the trip to the barber he responded:

“Rome? Why would anyone want to go there? It’s crowded & dirty and full of insane drivers. You’re crazy to go to Rome. So, how are you getting there?”

“We’re taking Alitalia”  I replied. “We got a great rate!”

“Alitalia?”  he exclaimed. “That’s a terrible airline. Their planes are tired, their flight attendants are even older, and they’re always late. So, where are you staying in Rome?”

Sighing, I explained “We’ll be at the downtown International Marriott.”

“That dump! That’s the worst hotel in the city” He replied. “The rooms are small, the service is surly and they’re overpriced. So, whatcha doing when you get there?”

“Well, I am planning on going to the Vatican and  hope to see the Pope.” I replied.

“That’s rich,” he laughed. “You and a million other people trying to see him. He’ll look the size of an ant. Jeez I wish you  good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You’re going to need it.”

A month later, I went into his small shop to have my regular haircut. The barber asked me about my trip to Rome.

“It was wonderful,” I explained, “not only were we on time in one of Alitalia’s brand new aircraft, but it was overbooked and they bumped me up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a beautiful 28 year old stewardess who waited on me hand and foot. And the hotel – – it was great! They’d just finished a $25 million remodeling job and now it’s the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked, so they apologized and gave me the presidential suite at no extra charge!”

“Well,” he muttered, sullenly buzz cutting my scalp……

“I know you didn’t get to see the Pope.”

“Actually, I was quite lucky, for as I toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder and explained that the Pope likes to personally meet some of the visitors, and if I’d be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down as he spoke a few words to me.”

“Really?” asked my Barber. “What’d he say?”

He said, “Where’d you get that SHITTY haircut?”

THANKS DAD!

Categories
Ecological Environment Science Society Technology Uncategorized

Can Underpants Contribute to Sustainability?

My Mother always used to tell me when I was a child, that I must wear clean underwear every day. Her justification for this advice, was that I wouldn’t be embarrassed if I had an accident, and got taken to hospital. Strange logic, maybe, but I grew up with the healthy habit of wearing clean underwear every day.

This offers two benefits to society.

Firstly, it reduces the chances of body odour, and secondly, ensures that any bacteria and microbes that accumulate in the old under-crackers are reduced to a much lower level that they would be if one were to wear them for days on end.

Having said that, the wearing of clean underwear every day takes its toll on the environment.

A report conducted by Yates and Evans[1] found that 12% of domestic electricity demand, and 13% of mains freshwater demand in UK homes was for laundering.

Further reports suggest that an average washing machine will consume 17,160 litres of water per year, and given that the average household uses their machine 270 times per year, that’s a massive 63 litres every time the machine is used!

Apparently, according to the UK’s Daily Mirror[2], the average UK man owns 13 pairs of underpants in total, buys new pants once every six months spending an average of £20.75 a year on them. Interesting?  Maybe not, but stick with me…

Now the same article also goes on to explain that shockingly, 10% of my fellow men wear their shreddies for seven days before washing them. YUK! Un-hygienic for sure, and probably not likely to make you irresistible to the ladies!

Society is stuck on an unsustainable track – The garment industry manufactures clothing, we buy it, use it, wash it, use it, wear it out, throw it away, and then buy more, and so the cycle goes on.

Interestingly, the textile industry is one of the major contributors to pollution and the generation of CO2. According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation the textile industry’s share of the carbon “budget” will increase from 2% in 2015, to 26% by 2050.

Manufacturing textiles is also greedy of other resources. In 2015, the manufacture of textiles consumed 98 million tonnes of oil. By 2050, this will have increased to 300 million tonnes, (always assuming there will be any left by then!)

A chilling by-product of manufacturing clothing, is the addition of an estimated 23 million tonnes of plastic microfibres into the world’s oceans.

We should be doing all that is possible to reduce the amount of new garments that are coming into existence.

I am not advocating that we extend the use of underpants creatively with a wearing pattern such as day one right side out, day two inside out, day three back to front etc., but there is a new alternative.

But there is hope.

Organic Basics is a Danish company that has been developing sustainable fashion, and designing clothing that impacts far less on the environment.

By using silver thread within the construction and weave of their range of pants and socks, they have extended the wear to wash interval hugely – and laundering a pair of pants just twice a month is now possible!

This is all down to the use of silver, which kills 99.9% of bacteria, and is used as an anti-bacterial filter by NASA in space travel.

The garments are made from 100% recycled materials most of which is recovered from post-industrial waste such as fibre, yarns and waste from weaving companies. Furthermore, they are fully approved by Bluesign, an organisation supporting a sustainable textile industry.

However, sustainability does come at a cost – in this case two pairs of men’s Silvertech® Boxers costs a whopping €56.00 (£48.56 as at 24/01/2019) so this may put them out of reach of many individuals.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. A recent study by Nielsen showed that 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for ethically sourced and sustainable products. In the case of millennials, this rises to 73%.

So, the question remains –

Will my Mother’s advice still hold good?

[1] Dirtying Linen: Re-evaluating the Sustainability of Domestic Laundry (2016) University of Manchester (UK)

[2] Daily Mirror, 21/04/2016

Categories
Humour Society

The Demise of My Blue Denims… Or Not

Settling back into my customary seat near the window of Costa’s in Petersfield, I took a cautious sip of my medium skinny wet latte with an extra shot. I say cautious, as the last time I sat here, I was nursing a burnt tongue and lip – the barista thought I had said “Extra Hot” instead of extra shot. I won’t get caught out like that again in a hurry.
Leaning back, I started leafing through the shop’s copy of the Daily Mail, in search of articles of interest. It was a bit of a slow news day, with lots of coverage of the US hustings between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. 
I mentally switched off. Reading about our own home grown liars and cheats was enough, without reading about someone else’s. 
I carried on, skimming articles for value, when my eye was drawn to a few column inches at the foot of the page.
“Why You Should Ditch Your Denim at 53!”
“Surely not” I thought. I read the article swiftly. It seems that research has shown that many people feel that denims and jeans are the province of the young, and that older folk such as myself shouldn’t wear them. 
I looked askance at the article. The very foundations of my world were rocking. Last week, it was my old trainers that I decided had to go, as balding fat blokes shouldn’t wear such items if they were to retain even a shred of street cred. 
Jeans and trainers were the uniform of my generation – our trademark, our sartorial protest at the generation before, in their baggy grey flannels and knitted pullovers. 
The style was academic, and in the past, I have worn skin tight drainpipes, flares with hems of twenty four inches, straight legs, and boot cut varieties, in standard denim blue, black denim, and, embarrassingly in the early seventies, crimson denim. I’ve had comfort fit, relaxed fit, button fly, zip fly, and even a pair with a Velcro fly, although to be fair that was a homemade repair when I got the old zip jammed and couldn’t be arsed to get it fixed. 
Over the years I have used many makes, including the eponymous Levi’s, Lee Copper, Inigo Jones, Wranglers, and even Tescos own. 
I have had (to my shame!) matching denim jackets, one of which was even fleece lined, but it in my defence it was the seventies, and I was in my late teens. 
I felt a bit sad. The thing about denim jeans is that they are so eminently practical. Pull them on in the morning, walk the dog, fix the car, cut the grass, go out shopping and then go out for a beer, and all without having to even think about changing.  
The things are almost indestructible too. I have had a pair which I have practically lived in, that I bought in 2008 on a trip to the USA. Levi’s, standard weight blue 501s. I used them for walking, motorcycling, flying, boating, cycling, and dare I say it. Even after that level of use and abuse, they are only just beginning to decompose around me. 
Don’t get me wrong, it’s just the material at the entrances to the pockets that is fraying and falling apart. The rest of the structure is OK, with the dye fading, and the wear patterns in the pockets where I habitually stow my wallet and mobile phone showing almost white. They just won’t die!
Carrying on my musings, it occurred to me that if I make the decision to retire gracefully from wearing denim, I need to assess and decide upon the look that I will need to replace it. 
I could take up wearing chinos full time. The trouble is that Chinos are fairly smart casual, and I couldn’t work on a motorcycle, and then go shopping without changing. Military surplus is a non starter. 
I could buy a few more pairs of adventure utility trousers with the zip off legs. Maybe invest in some cargo trousers, with multiple pockets.  
Or maybe I should just ignore the style gurus, and carry on wearing my blue denim jeans. They have served me well for forty five years, and I guess another twenty won’t hurt. 

Categories
Satire Society

Time to Save My Sole(s)

I guess it had to happen at some point. 
Every generation has its sartorial signature. For my generation of baby boomers, it’s blue jeans and training shoes. I sighed, looking at my four year old Converse All Stars. I was about to go down the pub for quiz night. I had gone to the utility room, and pulled my faithful trainers from their shelf. 
The once pristine white leather now cracked and grubby, despite my best efforts with the leather conditioner. The laces, fraying, the insoles malodorous and worn. Despite the abuse of four years of almost constant wear, the soles with their moulded blue tread looked almost new, with just a small area around the ball of the foot and a slightly chamfered heel to testify to their age.
I felt an odd sadness sweep over me. I had enjoyed a constant relationship with casual footwear since I was a child. I remembered with loathing the awful black plimsolls with the elasticated tops that my Mother used to force me to wear at primary school. 
Luckily, I soon grew out of them and recall going to my secondary school, and having a surge of pride when I pulled on proper trainers rather than the dreaded tennis shoes that had to be whitened with a no doubt toxic white creme which cracked and flaked as soon as it dried. These trainers were my thirteenth birthday present. 
I can remember them now – Power Toledos. They were black leather, with a suede toecap, and a biscuit coloured ridged sole. They were very comfortable, and I was soon wearing them virtually all day. 
As I grew older, and left school, I fell in with a group of friends who were very much into 1950s rock’n’roll, and it wasn’t long before my trainers were kicked into touch in favour of what we called bumper boots, and my baggy Levi’s switched for snake proof drainpipe denims with a turn up. This phase lasted for about three years, during which I experimented with crepe soled blue suede shoes, motorcycle boots, platform boots and Doc Martens. 
However, the sheer practicality and enduring street cried of trainers lured me back, and I have virtually lived in the things since the mid 1980s. Thirty years of Adidas, Nike, Puma and Hi-Tec, each pair lasting me a few years. 
I’m now 57. I caught sight of myself in the mirror the other day. A balding fat bloke in the obligatory Levis and a pair of scruffy Converse All Stars.
I though about the image, and mentally shuddered. It was not a good look. Well, not for a middle aged porky chap with virtually no hair. I am the Flight Operations manager in a large blue chip company, and my days were now filled with suits and meetings. 
My current peer group of friends fall into two distinct categories. The rural look, with old, crinkly waxed jackets, tough boots and Stockman coats and hats, or the American collegiate look, with smart chinos and loafers. 
But until now, I had stubbornly clung to my winter “look” of baggy tee shirts, comfort fit Levis and trainers, and my summer plumage of baggy tee shirt, shorts and trainers. I suddenly realised that I was somehow stuck in a time warp, an endless Groundhog Day of arrested development. 
I snatched the shoes up, and strode over to the flip top bin, and hurled them viciously inside, the flip top spinning madly under my onslaught. 
With a pious feeling I was about to walk away, when my eye was drawn to the tickets secured to the side of the fridge.  
Status Quo’s “really and truly” farewell concert was due to happen a few short months away in December.  
I realised that no adult red blooded male who has grown up with the Quo through the sixties and seventies could possibly entertain the idea of going to a Fab Four gig wearing anything other than blue denim and trainers. 
Smiling, I reached into the bin, and pulled out the iconic footwear. “One more wear guys” I muttered, and hid them in the back of the cupboard. 
I think it is fitting that my old pumps will retire at the same time as the blokes who will forever be associated with jeans and trainers. 
Mark Charlwood © September 2016