It’s the end of an era. This week, I finally parted company with a loyal friend after nearly eight years together. I have finally bought myself a new leather jacket.
No, that’s not a metaphor. My first jacket was a present from my mum when I was fifteen. I was just about to start that obligatory fortnight of work experience and I was doing my time in a local primary school. Kids being kids, the first question I got asked when the reception students I was assisting saw me wander across the playground in it was, “Do you have a motorbike?”
I still don’t have a motorbike.
I lived in that jacket – some of my friends wondered how on Earth I managed to walk the streets of Cambridge in black leather in the middle of July. It was just what I did. In many ways that jacket was part of me. I wore it every day during my last year of secondary school, it accompanied me through the rough ride that was sixth form, and it was my coat of choice through my gap year and university. Even when the lining was coming apart and all the pockets had huge holes in, I still wore that jacket to work most days. It was with me at my first gig. I wore it to many more since and countless nights out. It’s had beer and cider spilt on it, been vomited on twice (by other people), been used as a pillow and been used as a blanket on many occasions. I’ve even had sex on it.
It was a Topshop jacket. High fashion, not high quality. The polyester netting that passed for a lining started coming apart years ago. The colour faded out of the sleeves, giving it a battered look, and eventually the cuffs wore through. Finally, the zip came off one of the cuffs and the front zip came off in my hand one day soon afterwards. Two years ago, my mum had given me an IOU for my twenty-first birthday for a new leather jacket. It was time to cash it in.
I went on a bit of a browse and saw a jacket I liked in a shop in the Palisades shopping centre in Birmingham. I bought it the next day. Being a landmark birthday present and a present from my mum, it still feels special. But after seven years of adventures, I don’t have the same affection for it as I did for the old one. It’s been on its inaugural night out, at least, but it has yet to be christened the way the last one has. Meanwhile, my first jacket is wrapped carefully in a bag and stored in a cupboard. Battered beyond use though it is, I can’t quite bear to let it go.