T H E  A M P  D I A R Y
7 March 2000

So one day you wake up and you realise you have a problem. Lots of problems, but this is the biggest. It's about coats.

The first warning that things were not as they should be in coat-land were when you met Frances for the first time since America, wearing the 2nd hand coat you got in San Francisco. You'd told her all about it on the phone and everything, and she DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING. For a pair of clothes-whores who pore over each other's chazza-shop purchases and construct elaborate stories and rationales around each new 'look' you invent (Frances is working on the Squaddie Slut look at the moment), to NOT comment on a purchase means only one thing - GARMENT COVENTRY. Your new coat failed, and was punished with silence.

Then, wandering round your new home in the trendy part of town on Sunday in your old fave coat, the one that cost a fiver from Q store in Brixton and has a furry collar and a furry hem, you kept seeing tourists and NORMAL people wearing the same kind of thing, and you knew you and coats were over. That kind of coat, anyway. The kind of coat you'd sell your soul for. The kind of coat you grab for in chazzas like a bulimic after the next bag of Corn Puffy Pops. The fluffy kind, the old kind, the charming, graceful, glammy kind. You and it are over. Your love is dead.

You imagine people - rational people - saying: 'If you LIKE it, if you genuinely LIKE it, you should wear it regardless of whether it's in fashion!' . Oh PUH-lease! you tell the rational-people-voices in your head. Don't be so naive! Wearing stuff you genuinely like is not the way to be fashionable. Anyway, you believe that to keep doing the same old thing because you genuinely like it is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. It is cowardice. It is doubt. It is fear of change. It is LIVING DEATH. It is 25-year-olds living in mortgaged-to-the-hilt flats in Clapham, still listening to the Bluetones 3 years after they left college.

And now, the forces of unfashion and cowardice have you in their clutches. You LOVE your coats. You have worn them for EVER! You don't know what to do. You don't know where to go next.

Except you do. You just don't want to. It's there, there on your clothesrail. It's a kneelength, blue, padded jacket, with a hood, and maroon and grey bits round the shoulders that stick out like the bits on the outside of the Pompidou Centre. It's 80s postmodernism in action. When you wear it you will say you 'just really like it', but this is a lie. You will wear it because it is hip, so hip that noone knows it yet, except you and Frances.

You do not like it. In fact, you dislike it, but to reveal this would show you up as sad and shallow and fashion-obsessed, as surely as insisting you 'just like' a huge fluffy-collared coat that everyone else is wearing shows you up as dull and entrophied and scared by change. Oh it's a minefield, a fucking fashion minefield. And you're wobbling, scared to put a foot wrong, about to fall flat on your face.

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