Friday, July 12

One morning a little while ago, I was reading in the lounge – listening vaguely to the rhythm of rain pattering against the windows – when I happened to glance up and see an anoraked man walking past our house. His anorak was red, with a luminous yellow reflective hood. It would've been difficult to miss him.

As he ambled along the street, my eyes followed him lazily, and I found myself wondering what owning such a loud, retro-reflective jacket might say about him "as a person". Someone did say once that "the clothes make the man”.

The hood definitely shouted: 'this gentleman is safety conscious'! More concerned with not-being-knocked-down, than staying on trend. It also seemed to whisper: 'anxious'. Or maybe just: 'cautious'. There were even murmurs of: 'admirable' as, I guessed, there was something to be admired in a person who was so unashamedly yellow-hooded. It suggested a lack of concern for what others might think (i.e. ‘he looks a bit silly’) and a determination to get out and about, whatever the conditions outside.

One thought skipped along after another, and I began to wonder whether I should buy something reflective – a little armband, perhaps, or something to stick on my bag if I'm ever walking at night. 'I probably should,' I supposed. It would be sensible (even if I’m not exactly prone to nightly saunters. Muggers, murderers, moths etc: too many potential dangers lurking in the dark).

But, I continued to think (the highly-visible man now out of sight, my book, unread, in my lap), in spite of the fact that – yes – it would be sensible to buy a reflective something-or-other, it’s highly unlikely that I ever will. What with all the other things I need to do, need to spend my money on, it’s not really high on the priority list

So really, I realised, if I were to go out of my way to buy a – I don’t know – a glow-in-the-dark wrist band or something would be strange, wouldn’t it? Even if it was prudent. It would say something. (‘Poor Melissa! Such a worrier. Loosen up a little, won't you?’)

Not that I particularly want to buy a reflective garment. But how strange, I thought (rain still falling, less vibrant anoraks now passing the window), how interesting to think: if I ever did decide to go out and buy a reflective-something-or-other, that decision might be interpreted as symptomatic of something deeper. Of what? A distrust of all seeming well, maybe. An overly keen awareness of life’s unpredictability. An inarticulated fear, perhaps, of the real world, of risk taking, of love...

(P.S. I’m not trying to 'diagnose' all people who wear reflective clothes, by the way. I’m just remembering a thought that I followed... and wondering where the boundary lies between being cautious and afraid.)

(P.P.S. After musing on the Case of the Sensible albeit Somewhat Silly Looking Anoraked Man - and also knowing the difficulties of seeing dog walkers when I'm driving at night - I actually think Topshop et al. should start making coats with luminous yellow reflective belts or stripes or fun glow-in-the-dark shapes so that being safe wouldn't be such a big deal. It would actually be sort of cool. I might sell this idea to the high street... y'all heard it from me first.)

(P.P.P.S. The pictures are kind of unrelated to the words. Just a small collection of things that have made me pause recently and - click - need to take a picture of.)

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