Tony Clarke


1970. The Year of the Three-Button Vest. Tie-dyed, the epitome of hippie cool. Aged sixteen, ignorant of the ‘tie’ part of the dyeing process, I drape my pale green ‘grandad’ vest over our kitchen drain and splash dark green dye over it until the desired effect is achieved.

When dry, I put it on, then take the well-worn path down to the home of my best mate, Tom. We round up the usual suspects, whose comments on my striking attire reflect their immaturity, and traipse up to the green nearby for a kick around. It’s a warm spring day. Reader, I sweat.

Later, back home, I allow myself one last admiring look in my wardrobe mirror, then reluctantly peel my prize creation off. In the mirror I see the Incredible Hulk’s weedy younger brother; no ‘hulk’, but torso a fetching green. ’Twas then I understood the ‘wash before wearing’ rule.


Memories of my youth prompted by my memory map inevitably often feature my best friend Tom, who lived about half a mile away on the same estate. I’d visit Tom’s house a bit more often than he’d visit mine on account of him living near a better green, with proper goalposts, and amongst a bigger pool of potential teammates. I prepared the vest in the memoir in anticipation of wearing it at the Isle of Wight Pop Festival later that year. Not sure why I gave it its debut in a football game but I vivid(green)ly recall the result.

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