At last you find me in my rightful place, up to my duffle coat in wind and drizzled glory, pacing the bridge of HMS Abercrombie and deep in the Bay of Biscay, my exact coordinates, undisclosable. Hedges, my trusty Number One, (and in real life my butler back at Thrumpington Manor) appears at my side…’0400 hours Captain, time for cocoa I believe’…’Your beliefs are as correct and reassuringly English as ever Hedges, make mine a large one, and don’t forget the squirty cream and the choccy topping’.
Sweeping the stacked grey slates of the waves for a lone wolf U boat, I light yet another Capstan Full Strength and wonder, what will he be thinking…he’s beneath me somewhere, running silent, running deep, blonde haired, and with a fondness for leather trousers and plenty of sausage…Jurgen Wolfgangbanger, about to shout ‘Loose’, and blow us all to glory.
The muffled bark of the ship’s tannoy disturbs me from my fevered musings, what was that? ‘Mr Witherspoon, that’s Mr Witherspoon, will you please report to the reception desk on deck 9. Your Cocker Spaniel has escaped from the dog compound and is in the swimming pool, bursting a lilo’
Ok, so it’s not 1943 anywhere outside my 8 year old head – we’re on the 3.30 out of Portsmouth, bound for Santander in Northern Spain on the pensioner’s favourite, the mini cruise, all aboard HMS Pisspants. But it’s the nearest we’ll get, it’s the Atlantic for Christ’s sake, do you need to be a poet to imagine what it was like when the depth charges went over the side, surely, this is not a drill? Well as we sit in the karaoke bar, you need to be more than a poet, a social worker, and a therapist.
First up is Fred, lover of Roxy Music, socked, sandaled, bum bag akimbo, and what does that T shirt say, ‘This is not a bald spot, it’s a solar panel for a sex machine?’ He’s clearly done this before, as he urges us to ‘Come on, come on and stick together’…Freddy, I wouldn’t stick with you if you brushed yourself with honey and sat on my face, so we’re leaving, down to the TV Soap Quiz in the Funtime Lounge, although hold on, wait a minute, there’s a kid with Down’s Syndrome on the dance floor, mike in hand.
‘And now Terry will sing Don’t Stop Me Now, by Queen’ says our compeer Sharon, poodle like, career ended, drugged by the years at sea and in her eyes, all the lights of Vegas, have gone out…so we sit down, and Terry begins. Is he a shooting star leaping through the sky, a tiger defying the laws of gravity? A racing car passing by, like Lady Godiva, is he going to go, go, go…is there no stopping him? Well no – he waves his arms, and sings something that sounds good to him, unaware of the words on the screen, or the screen itself. And while a bunch of middle aged bikers from Rotherham howl with croaky fag fuelled laughter, I look over to his parents in their quiet sadness and pride, and I cry. He’s their Mr Fahrenheit alright, and for that moment before my inevitable descent into self interest, he was mine. Thanks Terry, and God’s speed.
Which brings us neatly onto our subject for today, choosing the right sweatshirt. What do you mean ‘Where’s the bloody relevance in that?’ How dare you! What do you think this is, an empty sham, a hollow facade in which I use the subject of choosing the correct garment for your clothing range, as a flimsy veneer for me to write what the hell I want? Now what I need here is what comedians call a segway I believe, a neat way of moving from one subject to another…aha, I have it! In the fashion game darlings, we often call a sweatshirt a ‘crew’, as in crew neck, and what do you need to run a ship? You see, it may be gale 8 to storm 10, veering west, severe gale 9 to violent storm 11, rain then squally, becoming shitty, but I get there in the end.
To redeem myself, I’m about to tell you the truth and save you googling your nuts off in search of the perfect ‘crew’. There are three available off the shelf in my humble view. They must remain un printed to avoid supplier favouritism, but call me and I’ll whisper their names. This is what you’re looking for.
A straight, narrow and tailored sleeve – not the usual ballooning nonsense, unless your looking for a fresher’s hoody to spatter with Vindaloo and post pubescent fluids.
A wide rib on the cuff – this will elongate the line of the arm, and add, dare I say, a whiff of elegance, avoiding the just got an orange sweatshirt for my new job at the garden centre look.
An even wider rib on the bottom hem – this again lengthens and flattens the fit on the hip, making you look tall, lean, and dangerous…like Jack Pallance as the gun fighting baddy in the film Shane, trust me it’s worth a look, it’s one of Barry Norman’s favourites, and why not.
Go for a decent weight – now two of my recommendations are 280 gsm, grammes per square meter, which is just about enough, and if carbon sueded for extra softness makes for a happier day. But as you know, I’m an old school and chalk dusted kind of headmaster, likely to throw a heavy wooden board rubber. I like weight. In sweatshirts, and guitars, and cakes, so I will always veer towards a 380, or even 400 grammer. Let’s face it, the English winter is colder than the Queen’s pants, you need to wrap up out there and eat your Ready Brek – if we’re selling a sweat, make it something that buyers will pick up and think ‘that’s worth a few quid’…make it blizzard ready.
Do I need extra features, a drop tail, a contrast stitch? Do you cocoa Number One….the right fit, the right fabric, and as they say on the Black Pearl, you’ll be part of the ship, part of the crew….