Rebecca Armstrong: I thought I was too cool for Olympic tat – I was wrong

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The Independent Online

When it comes to memorabilia, I've always thought of myself as a bit of a refusenik. Official momentos often fall on the wrong side of cool, and I like to think I see through the marketing dark arts to the cheap polyester below. When Paul Simon played Hyde Park earlier this month, I turned my nose up at the souvenir T-shirts (especially at the ones with Hard Rock Calling on them, the festival at which he appeared, because if there's one thing that's less cool than memorabilia, it's admitting you have ever had anything to do with the Hard Rock brand), even though the gig was brilliant and a night well worth remembering.

The past 18 months have, of course, been extra specially jam packed with events guaranteed to spawn commemorative objects. Last year's Royal wedding! The Jubilee! And now, of course, the big one: London 2012. I've often walked past the Olympic merchandise shop in St Pancras station and idly wondered who on earth would want to buy a stuffed Wenlock, say, or an uncomfortable-looking running top courtesy of Stella McCartney. Or, worse, replica kit that during the Games will make it look like you're trying to trick people into bed by pretending you're a competitor, and afterwards less buff buyers will look as though they're Olympians gone to seed in record time.

Then the other week my husband bought himself a Links of London 2012 Team GB Band (a woven gap-year bracelet sort of affair). I gave him some lip about how the only Olympic event he'd be eligible for would be wine-guzzling and have kept up the gentle ribbing ever since. Last week, one of my esteemed colleagues announced he was off to buy himself an official Games T-shirt after work. I rolled my eyes, took my leave and jumped on the bus home. Where I spotted a man wearing an Olympics hat. It was one of those umbrella hats that are, you know, useful for keeping the rain or sun off. Neither of which you need much protecting from on the bottom deck.

Ha! I thought. Look at me, being excited about the Olympics without buying any tat. Then I saw the T-shirt my colleague had bought. It was cool. Really cool. A replica of a Los Angeles 1984 shirt. And then office excitement about the Games reached fever pitch in the office last week. And before I knew it, I'd come out of Marks and Spencer with a Team GB T-shirt. So there it is. I'm not cool. But perhaps if I hide my T-shirt in the loft for the next 20 years, one day it will become so. Just don't tell my husband.