Enter Jamie, from his Nike trainers to his fashionably oversized baseball cap (I’m guessing it has some other appellation, but am too unhip and disinterested to go looking—but you all know the sort) festooned with its own logo (which again I “should” know, but again can’t really be bothered enough to go looking) he is every inch (or centimetre for the younger reader) an Ad Man’s dream.
Now I know I’m old, and grumpy, and horribly uncool, but I can’t be doing with all this branding. In the good old days, when life was austere—and I mean properly austere, not the austerity-lite Dave and George are enacting, we were glad to have shoes of any sort—let alone trainers, and trousers that came to within four or five inches of the floor without having to have extra bits let in. Labels were things you cut out of the back of your jumper to stop them itching, not “accessories” to blazon every spare surface.
Well o.k. there was the year every red blooded male child hankered after a pair of hiking shoes with a compass in the heel and a “bear paw” tread, but that was essential survival gear for when you found yourself trapped behind enemy lines, a fate more common for the average eight year old back then, when the average eight year old was allowed, nay expected, to play out in all winds and weathers and states of enemy occupation… but I digress.
On this occasion Jamie (who’s closer to sixteen than eight by the way) was accompanied by a worried looking Cathy (his mum) and after a cheery Jesterly “What ho!” she prompted him to roll up a letter strewn sleeve to reveal the forearm underneath. It transpires Jamie’s forearm has a hole in it. Well more a crater than a hole—it has a base. A mainly greeny-grey rather septic looking base, with angry looking red edges all around. It’s around 2-3 millimetres deep, and self inflicted. A few nights before, Jamie and some mates had been out braving the Biblical floods getting out of their heads on scrumpy and howling at the moon (traditional country pursuits in these parts). For some reason they then decided to do a spot of branding of their own, and one by one heated a lighter to a glowing white heat before jabbing it, now unlit at least, onto their own forearm!
On the plus side, in the modern era of antibiotics the resulting sepsis can be easily treated, and the circle is no bigger than the blunt end of a pencil. On the minus side it looks deep enough that it can’t but heal with a substantial and rather ugly looking scar. Unlike the brands he’s wearing now, but will be too cool for himself in a year or two, this one will be for keeps. He says he’s not unhappy, he wasn’t “self harming” in that sense, and that it was just a “lark”, and for now I think I believe him, but I hope this isn’t the start of some new and scary trend. Somehow it feels far nastier that the present dual fetishes for piercings and ink.