It’s impossible to miss the current trend for paring down, clearing out and divesting ourselves of all that is unnecessary, cumbersome and gratuitous in our lives. Frugal is the new watchword for our times. We are all now upcycling like mad, not to mention reducing, reusing and recycling. Greed is no longer viewed as good – it still exists, it’s just greed for vintage stuff now which makes it somehow more acceptable than greed for new goods.
I’ve done as much as the next person in cutting a swathe through the piles of hoarded crap, secretly carting mountains of slightly Shah-soiled clothing to the local charity shops. Indeed, the Shah is an accumulator par excellence. The other day, I unearthed an old photograph album and the kids were leafing through it – roaring with unkind laughter at their parents’ 80’s haircuts and fashions. TS came across a photo of the Shah, (young, slim and dark of hair) and made some unkind comments about waistlines and wrinkles and Grecian 2000 and then said, “hold on a minute – see that shirt Dad’s wearing in the photo –he’s got it on today!” And sure enough, the same old polo shirt, now not holding its shape quite so well (for which read ‘stretched to fit’) and somewhat faded in colour but undeniably the same item as was in the photo, was taut across the torso of the Shah.
My boy was disgusted. “How could you?” he berated his father. “That bloody shirt’s older than me!” (He wasn’t wrong). But the Shah knows no shame where clothing is concerned (or where hoarding is concerned, or anything else for that matter.) What the children view as an embarrassing predilection for skanky old clothing, the Shah sees as a parsimony to be applauded and encouraged. If he wants to come out anywhere with me on a weekend, his outfit has to be examined first and I am likely to remark “oh good, got the gardening clothes on again have we?” such is his love of baggy, shapeless trackie bottoms and 20 year old polo shirts.
I meant it when I said he knows no shame. He is one of those lucky souls who trolls through life, completely unconcerned by what others think of him. I feel I should illustrate this trait with a vignette or sixty two. (Oh God, there are so many, where shall I start?)
Let us backtrack a few years to a Summer Ball. This was an eagerly anticipated fundraising event in aid of the PTA at our kids’ school and it was serendipitously held at a hotel which was literally round the corner from where we then lived. The Shah took this as an immensely good omen and laid his plans accordingly. Sadly, there were some people on the PTA of whom the Shah was not particularly fond – the husband in one couple in particular – let’s call him William. (NB the Shah has just read this over my shoulder and suggested that Willy would be a better name....you see what I have to contend with?)
Anyway, we were all tarted up and about to leave when I found the Shah rummaging through the kitchen cupboards like a man possessed. “What are you doing now?” I asked, impatient to leave. “I’m looking for a bottle,” came the reply as if it was entirely normal. “Er, what for?” I asked. “Why, I’m going to spike that tosser’s drink,” quoth he and finding a small brown medicine bottle (God knows what had been in it before) he filled it with vodka and happily slipped it into his pocket. From then on, he spent the entire evening, (while getting drunker and drunker and consequently less and less subtle) cack-handedly attempting to slop half a gallon of voddie into William’s glass of wine. William (who was of much more temperate habits than the Shah) easily avoided his clumsy attentions.
Thwarted, the Shah turned his attention to the disposable cameras that had been put on each table, the better to capture the revelry. By this time, we had reached the Disco stage of the evening and the dance floor was heaving. One of the other parents there was a tall Scotsman who was sporting a kilt. Never having seen or spoken to this bloke before, the Shah decided it would not only be a good idea, but wholly acceptable to shove said camera up said kilt and try to take photos of whatever there was to see. This guy was presumably as drunk as the Shah as he didn’t seem to be in the slightest bit bothered by this drunken bum and his ridiculous antics and laughed happily as the Shah staggered about the floor, cannoning off the other dancers, waving a camera around with about as much efficiency as Inspector Clouseau..
Some weeks later, having staggered home on the evening, holding each other up and screaming with laughter, I found the camera and took it to be developed just for a laugh. Every picture was a blur of swirling colours – not a discernible image in sight.
In the continuing spirit of the clear out, I chucked the photos away. Perhaps I should have binned the Shah as well!