Archive Anecdotage

It's a matter of taste

One day, not long ago, I lost my trousers. Careless of me, I know, but I forgot to pack them in my suitcase for the trip to Japan. Normally they are left in my dressing room after every show, always drenched with perspiration. They turn up, lovingly laundered, laid out with my other clothes at the next gig. The unsung heroes of backstage deal with our catering and wardrobe in such a very professional way; and we are left to concentrate on 'higher' things.

Well, it had been decreed that we would do without wardrobe for the Japan tour on the grounds of cost. Although it made sense at the time it turned out to be a false economy. I arrived in Nagoya sans pantalons; probably because, for some years I've not had to worry about the stuff I wear on stage and the trouser department in my brain (sic) is more concerned about their tenancy than their truancy.

So, I was forced to improvise; this would set the alarm bells ringing for anyone who knows me or even bothers to look. I have the dress sense of a saxophone, I am to sartorial elegance what the Great White is to P.C. The trouble is, clothes have never interested me beyond their function. I have tried valiantly to respond to the encouragement of 'those who care about these things' but it never really works out.

I'm genuinely puzzled, what's the fuss? The comic book 'Ketwangg' spent so much effort sending spandex types to review my lower half around the early '80s, I thought it was a new kind of trouser press. Maybe it's the expectation, the convention, the compartmentalisation ... you know, Milletts and Gucci, Hippies and Punks. People (no I don't mean 'real' people, just 'some' people who are the self-appointed arbiters of fashion, the civil servants of style) like to know where you stand and your clothes are your statement of intent. Well that's nice isn't it?

Anyway, as I looked through my suitcases I found nothing obvious that I could wear on stage. An old pair of shapeless jeans; shame on me, pyjamas; hm, possibly, some trackies; too heavy when wet .... I dunno. My first requirement on stage is comfort. I don't like having my shoulders and arms covered; admittedly this precludes me from the cabaret circuit, 'but, what the heck, I surprised her with a puppy' (zip - woof!). I can't wear anything restrictive from the waist down because I like to leap about a bit. Once I find the right thing I tend to wear it for years, until it falls to pieces, or gets spirited away by 'those who care about these things'.

'Oh look! A pair of black shorts, that'll do'. That one thought, formed in a nanosecond, that carefree decision considered free of consequence; you've heard of Chaos theory? Well, I'm genuinely surprised that the Universe hasn't fallen in upon itself, thus far that is.

An old pair of Converse All Stars (pooh!), a pair of baggy black shorts (sort of knee length) and a cut-off black T-shirt ...... sublime. I boogied my way through two or three shows before the clouds began to gather. The rumblings of approaching thunder. The co-ordinated wave of criticism hit like a tsunami. 'We' (i.e. anyone who could get in the room) 'do NOT like THOSE shorts!'

'Wow' I thought, 'this is a first'. The most my apparel had ever achieved was .......... nothing; a yawning ambivalence at most. 'What' I mused, 'could have sponsored such a reaction?' The comments ranged from 'they make your legs look skinny (oh dear, now that's really upset me), to, and this is my favourite, 'it wouldn't be so bad if it was summertime'. I've got news for you matey, it's summertime every night up there; just take a look at the puddle I stand in after a 2 hour thrash up.

The result of all this is quite productive really. The 'shorts' were originally a temporary measure, an expedient, but now of course they have become interesting and I've never had interesting clothes in my life .... so I guess they're here for a while.

It became obvious that the failed plot (The Great Trouser Conspiracy) was of such machiavellian proportions that the only foil was ...... taste!, which reminds me of a few lines I once scribbled entitled ....


              If I  were to lose my senses
                  and many say I have
             I'd lose them in this order.
             Sight would be the first to go
                   it's failing anyway. 
             And then the Sound not far behind. 
                   I need a quiet day or two                        
             I'm Touched enough
                    and smell's a waste on me.
             I think I'd save 'til last
                     my Taste impeccable Taste.

© Ian Gillan 1996

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