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Do You Remember The First Time?
by David Kenny
I can remember the first pair of Adidas trainers I ever owned. A pair of Adidas Campus in red suede and white leather stripes and they were the bollocks. I can remember that my mum and dad splashed out for them. I can remember being in the shop we bought them in (which is now another homogenous JJB chain store staffed by bored teenagers) I can remember actually being excited at carrying them home and being hardly able to contain myself at putting them on. I loved those trainers. I mean really loved them. I even loved the smell inside the box, all fresh leather and new suede. And I thought I was in the cats pyjamas in them too, developing that annoying teenage trait of looking at my feet every 2 minutes. I acquired a distinct strut whenever I wore them, as if I was listening to Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman” on a continuous loop. This soon stopped after one day my mum had told me to “Stop mincing about”, her words piercing my teenage bravado like an arrow. Thank god for her tough love though. Walking about like that could get you lynched in a village in deepest darkest Aberdeenshire, in a scene very similar to the video of Small Town Boy by Bronski Beat.
For the entire summer I was the style king of our village. No scratch that, for the entire Shire. Which wasn’t too hard when the rest of the competition thought that bomber jackets with cartoon Rastafarians on the back of them were the height of sartorial elegance. In fact a lot of them used to wear snides of these hideous jackets such was the demand for them at the time.
And when it came to the footwear these punters were clueless. Horrific Nike abominations seemed to be the order of the day. Great big day-Glo monstrosities which looked like the offspring of some unholy union between a plim sole and a Ferrari. Air bubbles, springs, ridges, straps, suspension, soles as think as kerb stones and laces as fat as Mama Cass. Loud and lairy seemed to be their motto. And they had to cost at least a hundred notes other wise you would be branded a “cheapo”, thus proving you can’t buy taste
The only other competition in the sartorial stakes came from the Young Farmers whose fashion icon seemed to be the man from C&A. Their uniform consisted of black jeans (ironed-in crease optional) and a plain navy Ben Sherman shirt tucked in TIGHT. Next came the belt with a huuuuuge, shiny buckle and then the tennis trainers so dazzlingly white that they could detach a man’s retina from 20 paces away. And every one of them had a gelled fringe and a sensible waterproof coat. It was like Alex and his Droogs had gotten bored of the old Ultraviolence, started clothes shopping at Matalan and ended up holding ploughing competitions instead.
Then it all came to a crashing halt one day. At the local play park a few tonnes of sand had been delivered for the green keeper for him to sort out the football pitch for next season. However we got to it first and presented with a giant mountain of sand in the middle of summer we used it as our own personal beach, running up and down it and even creating our own game which involved kicking a football over it. However after wards I noticed that sand and suede do not mix and my beloved Campus’ were well and truly muntered. I was gutted. Now instead of smooth, deep red suede they were more like a fluffy, orangey pink. The worse thing was I knew that I would have to wait until Christmas until I could get a new pair of jimmies. There was no way my mum and dad were going to fork out for a new pair of trainers just because the suede had faded. So until Yuletide, which was six months away, I had to wear fluffy pinkish trainers. Maybe those Bronski Beat style beatings weren’t going to pass me by…
So there I was, stuck for the next six months with a pair of trainers that wouldn’t look out of place on the Scissor Sisters stage show. Where as before a simple walk to and from the shops would turn into one giant fashion show strut to show off my Adidas trainers, beige Levi cords and my Navy golf jacket, now I could make it to the Spar and back in record time. The sheer dread of being seen out in these trainers meaning that I would spend the minimum of time outside as possible, otherwise I would have to put up with the biting sardonic wit of the locals, usually a wolf whistle. There is something a bit disheartening about someone dressed in an Eclipse Bomber jacket, Adidas 2 stripe trousers and neon green Nike Air Maxes slogging your gear off. Especially when they have Bros haircuts and stud ear rings (and this was in the nineties!)
Thankfully, the summer came to an abrupt end like most summers do in the North East of Scotland and the nights began to draw in. The cold winds from the North Pole started to bowl down over the North Sea, so now aimlessly traipsing about the village for hours on end had lost its appeal and hanging around bus stops with lads in Novas with bum fluff moustaches was never my scene.
Staying in was the only alternative option which was fine for me because it didn’t mean I had to hide my feet in a pile of fallen autumnal leaves every time someone walked past me in the village. It also meant that the president of the local Lawn Bowls club couldn’t try to persuade me for the 412th time that year to join the Bowls club. Instead I stayed in a lot, listened to a lot of music with my mate Neil (who incidentally also wore smart trainers because his feet were so huge, even as a young teenager, he had to travel to a specialist shop to get trainers to fit his size 14 plates and they only stocked decent trainers.) and developed a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Quadrophenia (which had to stop after we invented the game “Bellboy” where you had to shout out the word ‘Bellboy’ as loud as you could in an unsuitable location. The staff at Woolworths took umbrage at this adolescent display of one-upmanship!)
And so in a strange kind of way those Adidas and the homophobia they inspired were an integral part of formative years. Instead of going out and buzzing petrol down the abandoned Railway line like the rest of the local reprobates, I was staying in and raiding my brothers CD and record collection, watching films I was too young to be watching and being witness to Neil demolishing 3 crates of cheap Belgian lager in a single sitting. Forming my own views on what was cool and what wasn’t. I remember being blown away the first time I watched Apocalypse Now or the feeling of being cool because when the rest of your mates are listening to 4 Non Blondes or harping on about some Nirvana dirge you were the one sat listening to UFOrb or Leftfield. Now with the benefit of hindsight I can see that it was really a pivotal point in my teenage years. A fork in the road which could have left me listening to terrible rave music with what seemed to be a chipmunk constantly warbling on about Ecstasy which was ironic considering it was agony to listen to. And in what can only be described as a cruel twist of fate, to see those Straw Dog Yokels who goaded me about my trainers today, they are proper Spice Boys. Stripey jumpers, pink polo tops, ripped baggy arsed jeans, dyed hair, the lot. Again the irony being lost them.
But never mind, the winter came quick enough, as it always does in the North East of Scotland. The sun disappeared, the arctic snows came and Christmas was just around the corner and I had my eye on a pair of sexy Adidas TRX and this time, this time things would be different.
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