An Idiot Abroad


I have a thing about new clothes. I won’t buy any. I will buy bundles of boxers and party-packs of socks from time to time but that’s about it. I haven’t bought a t-shirt since I started running because I get all the tees I need from races. I have very occasionally bought a shirt in an emergency, usually after I’ve dribbled my lunchtime soup down the one I’m wearing or I’ve been caught in one of those rainstorms which soak me so completely that complete strangers are transfixed by the sight of my nipples and chest hair through the now-transparent fabric. Generally, however, I won’t buy new clothes.

I will buy second-hand clothes. My ex introduced me to the delights of the charity shop. (Hello Jane, if you’re lurking. Hope it’s all going well.) I thought it was weird at the time but she bought me what became my favourite blue shirt in a charity shop in Oxford. I’ve worn it so much that the collar is threadbare and becoming detached and yet I can’t bring myself to throw it out. It’s just such a beautiful colour and the fabric is softer than a kitten’s kiss. I have bought a few things from charity shops myself since then but now that I’m not a fat man any more, there is little on the rails my size.

That’s the basic problem I have now. I need skinny clothes but I don’t want to shell out for them. I’m stuck with shirts I bought five or six years ago because there is lots of wear left in them. It’s a waste for me. I could take them down to charity shops and make space in my wardrobes for clothes which fit but I never quite get round to doing it. Twice in the past week, I’ve gone into shops to buy a new pair of trousers and a couple of shirts, spent half an hour carefully selecting the items I want, taken them to the till and then bottled at the last minute and left the shop empty-handed. Partly it’s the cost. Clothes are expensive. Nice clothes are really expensive. The clothes I like are really very nice indeed. I tried again at Tesco. Tesco clothing is not particularly nice but it’s not that expensive. It’s like new charity shop stuff but even thirty quid for two shirts which don’t billow like spinnakers and a pair of decent trolleys which won’t fall down is too much for me to pay. I’m too tight to pay for snugly fitting clothes.

There is a proviso to that last statement. I’m not too tight to pay for snugly fitting clothes made from Lycra. If you can run wearing it, I’m more than happy to fork out for it. I wouldn’t buy those things for thirty quid on Friday but I paid £40 for my lovely new, too sexy for slow, track spikes yesterday. I didn’t even buy them from the interwebz. I went into a real shop and talked to real people and really bought a real pair or really quick shoes. Shame I’m too broken to use them right now.

Yup, I’m on the injury bench again. I broke at mile four of the Wimpole Half Marathon Hoohaah. In truth, I shouldn’t have even started but it’s my favourite race in my favourite place. Who wouldn’t want to run around Wimpole for a couple of hours and get a medal at the end? There was the additional delicious prospect of hugs from various marshals round the course but I never got as far as seeing any of my mates who were out there. They were perhaps a little relieved not to have to deal with a sweating, slobbery, wheezing mess of a man clinging onto them in an attempt not to fall over. Social runs can sometimes be so detrimental to social relationships.

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