Richard Ord: Making a mountain out of a coat sale
A hollowed-out still-warm bison worn as an overcoat is both functional and eye-catching.
My 15-year-old son, Isaac, was having none of it.
He wanted a North Face jacket or nothing.
For those who are lucky enough not to be “blessed” with cash-draining teenage boys, you may be unaware of the North Face clothing brand.
It is, in essence, a licence not so much to print money, but a licence to grab parents by the lapels, slap their faces about a bit before removing their wallets with force from their trouser pockets. And you ought to be grateful North Face chucks the empty wallet back in your direction, they take everything else.
They are an expensive designer mountain-wear clothing brand worn predominantly by people who will never venture anywhere near a mountain. It’s not so much mountain-wear as loitering-around-amusement-arcades-and-supermarket-car-parks-wear.
With winter looming large, I was tasked to take our Isaac around the shops and get him a warm winter coat.
He was reasonably open-minded about the jacket he wanted. He would take any North Face jacket available, as long as it was black … or maybe grey. Black and grey are the colours of choice for his generation. It matches their view of the world and pallor.
I did point out that he didn’t need a jacket designed for men usually found clinging to the side of the Eiger. Surely a mountaineer’s coat is a tad over-engineered for a boy hanging around the park annoying the local residents.
“When the weather took a turn for the worst in the Wild West of old, men would kill and hollow out a bison, before slipping inside the fresh carcass to keep warm in icy conditions,” I told him. “Couldn’t you do that with a dog in the park if it gets really cold rather than draining your poor father of all his cash for a designer jacket?”
He was having none of it. Every jacket I pointed out was rejected on the grounds of it not being a North Face jacket.
To the untrained eye, these North Face jackets look just like any other coat in the shop. The trained eye, however, spots the difference easily. It’s the extra zeros on the price tag! Dead giveaway.
Money is no object for my teenage boys. Even a simple shower is an exercise in draining cash. They spend at least 25 minutes in there. And when they borrow my deodorant, they don’t give it a quick squirt under the armpits, they attack their bodies as if they’re gone up in flames and the can of Lynx is a fire extinguisher.
I won’t tell you how much the jacket cost, other than you wouldn’t get much change of out of a £171 note.
I was rather hoping to get a decent winter coat myself, but my expensive shopping trip with Isaac has limited my winter clothing options.
If we get another sub-zero blast like the Beast from the East, the dearth of bison in our neighbourhood means this year I will mostly be wearing skinned labradoodle.