I really should have more sympathy because when I was a geeky teenager I too did this: wore a long black coat even when the weather was warm. Even when the summer heat was beating down onto my angular shoulders like a scorching hammer onto an extremely bony anvil. I persevered. I stuck with the sweaty neck and the rivulets of moisture that ran down between my callow shoulder blades. Just so I could walk around with a swirly long black coat and imagine I was somehow cool and mysterious.
It had nothing to do with painful shyness and a need to obliterate my physical form with a large bail of machine processed wool that had been tailored for a man 5 sizes bigger than me.
No. It was about fashion. It was about coolness.
And if I suffered in the heat then I suffered for fashion.
And looked an absolute twat (sorry: wassock) in the process. Because I can see now that I did not look cool. I did not look like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. I looked like a nerd who just didn’t have the confidence or maybe the intelligence to dress in a manner that was climate appropriate.
People were laughing at me behind my back but I couldn’t see them because the huge airplane wing collars of my ex-army de-mob coat were obscuring everything that existed behind my 18 year old ears.
But I can see it all now. Because every time Leamington Spa is blessed with warm weather – as we have been this week – there are inevitably at least 2 members of the local populace who (like me when I was a barely pubescent teen) persist in wearing a huge, ankle-dusting coat of leather so black it looks like it has been woven out of hairs from the devil’s own arsehole.
And instead of reaching out emotionally to these idiots with sympathy and understanding I instead feel an overriding urge to sing as loudly as I possibly can the opening bars of Rage Against The Machine’s “Wake Up” used in the closing credits of The Matrix.
When my family and I are cruising the windy streets of Leamington Spa in our trusty Peugeot, the moment they hear a “Na-na-na-na-na! Na-na-na-na-na!” burst from my lips all eyes will swivel to the pavements in search of the black caped sweat crusader who has crossed my field of vision.
And there he will be. Black coat lopping the top off sundry dog turds as he walks, legs struggling to lift the massive moonboots he is wearing on his feet and his head bowed and dripping inside the inevitable hoody that he is wearing beneath his absurd trench coat.
I’m not sure why it angers me so much. Possibly because I am in some way angry at myself for not waking up to myself sooner. If I could go back in time I’d give myself a kick up the arse (if I could find it beneath all that voluminous material) and urge myself to put on a T-shirt. Get some sun on my arms. Not sweat so much. Let the air get to me and circulate.
Heaven forbid, let the world actually see me.
Who knows, if I’d done that I might actually have got myself a girlfriend before my 30th birthday.
After all, miracles have been worked with less.
In the meantime: Keanu Reeves, you’ve got a lot to answer for (and don’t even get me started on those stupid ruddy sunglasses)...