the art college at which i was a less than exemplary student featured as part of its claim to fame, a remarkable similarity to an art institute in chicago. or at least, so i was informed. from the outside the overall impression was one of acres of glass, deliberately so in order to effect this verisimilitude. however, into the american building had been incorporated an appropriate air conditioning system, allowing all that glass to remain permanently shut even in the height of a very warm summer. the scottish equivalent, according to legend, had not been provided the same financial resources and was thus devoid of such cooling.
this meant, of course, that even in the depths of winter, a sunny day could render the environment nigh on stifling, and therefore those sealed windows had to be replaced with less aesthetic but openable versions. i can't say this made one whit of difference to the inmates, though i daresay the architect wasn't best pleased. and surprisingly enough, though the college featured a substantial and well constituted library, there was at least a single shelf given over to books on architecture, despite our contention that architects simply couldn't draw in the first place.
though i never did get round to reading it in while an enrolled student, one of the books in that section was entitled ghastly good taste, a book written by sir john betjeman on the apparent loss of aesthetic sensibilities in modern architecture. written in the 1960s, and despite my superficial appraisal based on its seemingly nonsensical title, it is regarded as an important milestone in architectural criticism. i now have a paperback edition sitting in the upstairs bookshelf.
in the intervening years, however, ghastly good taste as become a phrase that could be applied to many an item of consumerism, frequently on an ever-changing basis. though i cannot think of a specific example right this minute, there are many items that have survived the iniquity of initial damnation to become not only much sought after, but highly popular objects or accoutrements. the christmas sweater seems like a good seasonal example.
beloved of television or movie producers at this time of year, the character at which fun was being poked would often find themselves dressed in a thick woolly pullover featuring a reindeer, santa or some other seasonal graphic. though innocent enough in their own right, and seen on many a child at christmas, dressing an adult in such fashion was regularly seen as an infallible visual joke. in recent years, however, the fortunes of the christmas sweater have improved immeasurably, as has its retail availability. a quick search will reveal plentiful offerings of ugly christmas sweaters, surely paralleling betjeman's ghastly good taste.
while obviating the former description, a rather fabulous offering from hackneygt in the shape of a fully formed long sleeve, fleece-lined cycling jacket has joined the party. the dye sublimated print from a mere two paces distant, bears an uncanny resemblance to a knitted sweater. as i whizzed past, accordingly dressed, i have little doubt that innocent civilians would have been suitably convinced. having replaced santa's reindeer with bicycle riders on both front and back, the jersey's provenance is advised via the letters hgt on the sleeves, spelt out in red stars.
no doubt the superficiality of the season could have been cheerfully encompassed wihtout disdain, but in fact, this is a bona-fide cycle jersey that's not just for christmas. highly pertinent to the conditions currently battering the hebrides, it is commendably windproof with a fleece lining similar to the common roubaix material and a close-fitting but very welcome collar. i must confess that it turned out to be a lot cosier than i expected, with a decent length of sleeve and a set of three large rear pockets to swallow the rainjacket that i feel compelled to carry in such conditions. though the green, red and white design is surely bright enough to identify the wearer in traffic, there's a scotchlite reflective strip 'neath the centre rear pocket. the hem also features some red gloop to keep it from riding up in use.
whether you're happy to wear this hackney gt alpine jacket at other times of year is entirely down to your own sensibilities. i certainly would, but i guarantee it will be worn with great pride at next sunday's velo club mince pie ride. it might just be the very item that loved one could buy you for christmas or even the other way round.
ho, ho, ho.
the hackneygt green alpine fleece jacket is available in sizes from small to xl and retails direct from the hackneygt website at a cost of £79.95.
saturday 14 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................