Jumpers

They might both have come from Marks and Spencer, but the navy blue pullover was a much better shape than the sky blue one. Of course, it was the navy blue one that I managed to shrink, leaving the disliked sky blue one to stare accusingly from the cupboard, as if demanding to be worn.

The pattern to which the sky blue pullover is knit is odd, I am never sure whether I have put it on back to front. It has become a pullover for wearing in the house where no-one will notice if it appears baggy or misshapen.

When I was young, I would have been delighted at having a pullover from Marks and Spencer about which to complain. For some years, the pullover I wore around the house was a hand-knitted one that was a dark chocolate brown in colour. It endured so long because it was made from very coarse wool which felt more like the pile of a carpet than anything from the fleece of a lamb.

The pullover was a familiar companion, much liked by the chocolate brown dog that was our family pet. The pullover was so tough that it was possible to have tugs of war with the dog. The dog would pull at one end of the sleeve, and I would pull back, chiefly because my arm was still in the sleeve.

Jumpers like my chocolate-brown home knit were functional.

None of us would have thought about fashion or style, there would have not been enough money for such considerations. A jumper was about keeping warm. If it was oddly-shaped, or oddly-coloured, or had oddly lengthened sleeves from the tugs of the dog, it didn’t matter. Who was there to notice? Who was there who would have said anything?

As long as the pullover kept you warm, and you were prepared to let it be a goalpost for games of football in the neighbouring field, then that was all that was required.

The passing years brought a greater awareness of fashion, but never a capacity to dress fashionably. In the company of my cousins, I always felt myself a Wurzel Gummidge figure. Even if I had had the money to buy clothes different to those that I wore, I wouldn’t have known what to buy.

If there were a single symbol of my youthful years, then it would be that old brown jumper. Battered and not quite right, it might still have a contemporary relevance.

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