I think I’d be less amazed if it was more rare. Because then it would make more sense to me. But the fact that it happens with such mundane regularity is what disturbs me the most.
I mean, who loses an item of clothing? Who leaves the house, goes about their business in town and then gets home again and says, “Oh buggerations! I seem to have mislaid my coat / jacket / trousers / left shoe in the street?”
Because I’m not talking about leaving things on the bus or in the office or in the library or in the car park at the back of Sainsbury’s late on a Saturday night.
I’m talking about mislaying things in the street. On the pavement.
And it doesn’t just happen in Leamington Spa; it happens all over the place. Certain types of people – people whose genetic make-up and IQ are as yet unknown to me – manage to lose the clothing from off their bodies and not actually notice that anything is missing.
How? How is that even possible?
I mean, I was walking home yesterday and I came across a discarded jumper on the pavement. It wasn’t there the day before and looked reasonably clean. This in itself had me shaking my head and wondering how someone could lose that from about their person and not notice. But there was more. Ten yards further along there was a jacket. A decent looking jacket. Also discarded. I realize I am making a connection here that I cannot prove but I bet the two items of clothing had one common denominator: the same owner.
In the past I have also come across lone shoes – trainers, boots, high heels. All singular in their singularity. How can someone lose one shoe and not notice?
Two I can understand. You’re in high heels and being chased by the police (you are a transvestite thief, OK?) and it’s just easier to run without your gait being compromised by 6 inch stilettos... so you discard them to aid your getaway. But why get rid of one and keep the other?
It doesn’t make sense.
Discarded baby clothes I can understand too. I know how this works. You’re pushing young Quentin around in his Maclaren buggy and you’re so busy keeping an eye out for rogue cars, rogue pedestrians, rogue rottweilers – any one of whom could be about to make a beeline for little Quentin – that you fail to notice said Quentin hoofing his mitts, his shoes and the cardigan your mother knitted for him out of the pushchair and into the street. By the time you get home you’re too frazzled to go back and look for them and that cardigan was a bloody embarrassment anyway.
But a pair of men’s trousers?
I have genuinely found such an item of clothing discarded around my local town.
Was someone debagged on a stag night? It’s possible. But given the absence of shaving cream and novelty marital aids in the surrounding area (and believe me I looked) it seems unlikely. Was there a sudden and violent heat wave that prompted someone to whip off all their clothes in a delirium of dehydration like that poor Arab fella in Lawrence of Arabia (yes, I know, they were all poor Arab fellas)? In the UK? In summertime? I think not!
So all I can surmise is that in every street, in every town in the UK, there is someone with a genetic imperative to strip off. To strip naked and shake their tassels into the startled faces of the X12 bus queue.
I’d like to think it was someone with the face and body of Keeley Hawes. Sod that. I’d like to think it was Keeley Hawes.
But it isn’t, is it?
It’s Mr Bertram Hardcastle from no. 47 Middleclass Close with his ruptured hernia, his man-boobs, his asthma nebulizer from Boots The Chemist and his cornbeef cankles.
The one man in the country who should remain fully clothed at all times.
People, next time you find some discarded clothes in the street, beware and be very, very afraid.
Mr Hardcastle might be looking for someone to help remove his G-string with their teeth*.
*Apparently this exercise is rendered less onerous by only breathing in and out through one's mouth.