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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Those Magnificent Men - Part II

My little cousin James is currently in Paris on exchange at the Sorbonne. It's great to have someone from home in this "overseas life". It makes it more real.

Most of my social relationships in Paris are 2 or 3 years old at the longest. I sometimes feel that it is too easy to split my personality into "pre" and "post" Paris - two completely distinct worlds. The experiences in each world don't know each other, or mix.

So it's great to have James in Paris, because the shared memories I have with him go back 20 years. The sort of memories that have now faded into the background, forming a category you now only know as "childhood". They are memories you can no longer pin point, or at least, no longer feel the need to. You just know that collectively, they somehow formed the basis of your personality.

James and I met up to watch a game of rugby in Paris the other day. I was surprised when he turned up wearing a vintage Eastwood jumper (see previous post). It was a classic rich navy blue, a v-neck of pure wool with the crest of the club emblazoned on the front. It looked like the sort of jumper that might be worn by a character in a post war BBC drama, except that it wasn't beige. Just underneath the crest, a single word was embroidered in white. "Eastwood". Dignified and simple, just like the club. To most it would have meant nothing, and yet to me, it could not have meant more. A thousand questions. Where did he get it? They don't sell those jumpers anywhere. What vintage shop did he find it in? How lucky could you be? But how? But how? But how?

"Oh my god, where did you get that?" I said, trying not to sound too incredulous.


"Um, that jumper."

"Oh! Guess what? Your Mum gave it to me."

"- I'm sorry?"

"Your Mum gave it to me before I left Australia. Apparently some 70 year old club doctor gave it to her in the 60s because it didn't fit him anymore. She told me she kept it wrapped in plastic in the bottom drawer of her wardrobe all this time. She'd been waiting to give it to someone. You were overseas. So she gave it to me. It's funny, I remember thinking that you love that club and that it was weird that she was giving it to me, her nephew, and not you, her son, considering how much you love that club and all. And I mean, she had it in her drawer all that time. She could have just given it to you, you know, for your 21st, or when you finished school, or when you left the country... you know, on a special occasion. But she didn't give it to you, did she? Who'd she give it to?"

I stared at him, blank faced as he answered his own question by pointing to himself with both thumbs while smiling.

"This guy!" he finished, just in case there was any doubt.

Well, it probably doesn't fit me, I thought to myself. I mean, otherwise mum would have mentioned that she had it.

I tried it on. It fit perfectly.

As you can see from the photos, James, my cousin, has been pretty good about not gloating. He wears it every time he sees me. If for whatever reason, he thinks I haven't sufficiently noticed that he has the jumper on, he will say something inconspicuous like, "Geez, I'd hate to not have this awesome Eastwood jumper." As I said. He's very subtle.

As you can tell, I'm taking it pretty well.


Anonymous said...

and he wears it so well...

Fiona said...

L'il James.. do the decent thing, mate! So we can all get passed the whinging!

James Pender said...

Yeah James, do the decent thing mate...

Hugh said...

Sorry dude, I never got around to telling you, but your mother gave me one of those jerseys when I finished high school. It is awesome.

James Pender said...

Oh, great. That's perfect.

James Pender said...

For the record, mum's comment: "You've already got enough hand-me-downs". Thanks mum.

Anonymous said...

perhaps you can have it alternating weekends, supervised.