Up and down. Down and up.
Down the road to Brighton, up the stairs with a load of equipment. Had a good time playing – the audience was subdued, respectful almost. Which made us worry a little…in the UK they tend to get rowdy, loud. “You’re doing fine!” someone shouted.
I’d worn a new old dress I’d picked up at a vintage shop in Norwich. Pleased to have something different to wear, something that hadn’t been knocking around my suitcase for the last four months, something I hadn’t seen myself in on YouTube, Facebook and mirrors in toilets before shows without dressing rooms. Ladies in the audience had given me some lovely compliments – it’s usually the girls, not the guys, who comment on what you’re wearing.
So we’d finished playing and packing up and I changed into whatever clothes I’d worn in the van all week. Sitting alone in the room with the last of our stuff and a guy stumbled in.
“You look A LOT better now than in what you were wearing before. That dress looks TERRIBLE. You shouldn’t wear it ever again.”
Like being slapped in the face. The ravings of a madman or the sage advice of a fashion expert? I mumbled something ineffective, like “other people thought it looked, umm, okay”. What did it matter what this guy thought? He had what looked like a perm growing out. He was drunk. But like the lone bad review that sears itself into your brain, every critical word crisply echoing in your head for the rest of time while the positive press composts in a wet pile, his was the voice of authority, the one that says “You thought you were something, didn’t you? Well you’re WRONG.”
Then he said he was looking for his hat.
I perked up. “A pork pie hat?” He nodded, excitedly. “I saw some guy leave with it a little while ago.” His face fell and he lumbered out of the room, leaving me wondering.
Wondering why I’d tried to defend myself instead of just telling him to piss off.
Wondering why I hadn’t told him that a man with a perm is in no position to offer fashion advice.
And smiling at the memory of the table of drunk people who’d picked his hat up off the floor and passed it around. “Hey, look at me! I’m a dork in a pork pie hat!” Low on the forehead, tilted back – they’d put that hat through its paces. “Take my picture, take my picture!” one of them had shouted. He’d leaned against the wall, glowering, the hat at a ridiculous jaunty angle. “Photo of a man in a stolen hat,” he’d deadpanned, before they’d all fallen about laughing.
Did I wear the dress again?
Of course I did.