The Carrot Connection – How Weird Fish Can Show You Whether You’re Middle Aged Or Not
Years ago, Jasper Carrot used to do a joke which went something like this:
You can tell when you’ve reached middle age when you walk past the display window of Greenwoods and find yourself stopping and saying “Nice cardy.” (Greenwoods, in case you are unaware of it, is a rather antiquated gentleman’s outfitters and the sort of cardy that remark would be aimed at might look something like this.)
Yes, I’m aware that the cardy in the picture is probably no-one’s idea of nice but trust me, it was the best of a very bad bunch when I did a picture search on the subject.
Ever since I turned forty, I have congratulated myself on a yearly basis on not yet having had my “Greenwoods Cardy Moment”. It turns out though that this annual self-congratulation had been a sham. A farce. A piece blatant self-deception to avoid an unpalatable truth.
There are two reasons why this is the case. Firstly, the town I live in doesn’t actually have a Greenwoods so I could never have walked past their display window in the first place. Secondly, fashion had pulled a bit of a switcheroo on us since Jasper Carrot first told that joke. A Greenwoods cardy is no longer the litmus test for the onset of middle age. Quite the opposite, in fact.
You know who wears cardigans like that nowadays? Fucking twenty-something hipsters, that’s who. Look:
You see? Maybe they think it’s ironic. Or maybe they just don’t have any taste. Well, I know which option my money’s on.
I had this revelation the other day when I had to buy a coat. My faithful old jacket had fallen apart to the extent that it no longer just looked “well-worn but still serviceable”. In fact it had begun to look like I had just been attacked by a rabid dog and hence a replacement was urgently required. So I went to a big shopping centre in a nearby town in search of said replacement.
After wandering around for a while, I walked into a shop called “Weird Fish”. I immediately liked all of the stuff in there. To my eye it had a sort of edgy, surfer kind of vibe to it. Lots of the tops looked like this:
They varied in colour of course, but they all looked like the kind of thing you’d whack on after a hard day’s body boarding before going to get off with a sorority chick at the midnight beach bonfire party.
I didn’t buy one of these tops, just the coat, but I stored the idea of them in my brain for a future shopping trip.
Thinking no more of it I went to work the following day, resplendent in my new “Weird Fish” coat. Then, as the day went on and I served more and more customers, I noticed a worrying trend. Lots of male customers were wearing these “Weird Fish” surfer tops. And not one of these customers was aged under 45.
That’s when it hit me. It was like that episode of The Twilight Zone where the girl goes running alongside the aeroplane shouting “It’s a cookbook!” That cool surfer top might not have had an argyle pattern on it and it might not have zipped all the way down the front but it was, when you boil it down, a cardy. I’d coveted a fucking cardy.
Without realizing it, I’d had my “Greenwoods Cardy Moment”. Fashion having moved on though, I just didn’t have it at Greenwoods. Jasper Carrot would be turning in his grave. If he was dead. Which he isn’t.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2015