Pinch Punch

First of the month, as a children’s TV programme of many years ago used to say. Now we’re in June, and my 20th birthday is just one month away. Not good at all. As it gets closer, it increasingly is getting to me how so many people in the media now manage to do things in life, start going places, earlier and earlier. I was watching Bangladesh play cricket on TV the other day, and it shocked me that half the team was either the same age or younger than me. One player was just 16. When I was 16 I had gone absolutely nowhere. I still feel I’ve gone nowhere. And yet these lot were playing for their national side. Ack.

But now I’m home. Things have been happening non-stop since Saturday… I’ve been out every day so far getting clothes and other gear I’ll need for life out in the wild West of Colorado. OK, so the towns and cities won’t be too far away – some 60 miles – but as far as I’m concerned this is the most rural I’ve ever been. Something different. I should really be settling down and looking forward to it, but it’s very nerve-wracking. And I’m definitely not looking forward to the flight.

It’s been a pretty normal experience since I got back. I told my family yesterday that I wish I carried around with me a tape so that on it I could answer the questions “How are you? How has University been? Where are you going this summer? What are you doing? Oh you’ll never come back!” just once… and then if anyone wishes such a status report off me, I can play the tape out for them. I sound like a broken record. Yes I’m good. Yes University is good. Yes I’m going to Colorado. Yes I’m working in a summer camp. No I will come back.

I shouldn’t complain that people are interested in me, but I just can’t help it. Sometimes it’s frustrating answering the same question again and again. I suppose it could be good training to be a politician.

Yesterday I bought a sweatshirt with a hood on it. So you could call it a hoodie. It is a hoodie. I’ve been following the debate in the UK about how all hoodie wearers are anti-social “yobs” with interest. I’ve never owned a hoodie. Not because I don’t like them… I just have never needed one. But my excursion to the US will need something slightly warmer given that it can get cold in Colorado at night.

But I’ve always been concerned at how poor this country is in general terms of debating skills. We like to follow the lead of our print media, and sometimes you can argue with people and suddenly realise that what they’re saying is what you read in a newspaper some days before. I don’t claim to be the most original person in the world, but when I think about something, I like to at least put it in my own words.

So when the “Evil Hoodie” debate began, I began to feel the usual level of rage I get when I see our media whipping us into a new moral panic. It even made me feel like buying a hoodie just to protest that not all wearers of such clothes are “yobs”. In fact, I’d say the vast majority aren’t. So now I have one, and can show a mark of solidarity with my peers. See what happens? If you criminalise something, you make it popular by drawing unnecessary attention to it. Nice one.

Of course, irony follows me everywhere. As I walked out of ASDA last night, the alarms went off. There we go. Hoodie wearer. Alarms going off. Doubtless he’s a criminal. I was gently escorted back into the shop. Turns out the person at the desk forgot to take the alarm tag off the cheap sunglasses I’d just bought. Innocent explanation as usual – as it 99% of the time is. I remember when I worked for a shop which had an alarm system… I don’t think it ever went off for a genuine reason. It was always the assistant’s fault for not taking the alarm tags off. I knew that, everyone knew it. So if the alarms went off on a customer, we were always apologetic immediately and helped relieve them of this embarrassing situation.

Not for me, of course. I’m sure the hoodie had nothing to do with it… but still, I would like to have been treated a little better. It’s just ironic that I could have contributed to the negative image of such clothes to the innocent by-standers.

Disaster follows me everywhere.

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