Tim Key: My reaction when opening my wardrobe is the same as opening my fridge. A gloom descends


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The Independent Online

On Wednesday evening I was suddenly struck by just how piss-poor my wardrobe is. It was around 8pm, I had dressed one of my friends up in some of my clothes and sat him on my sofa, and, after staring at him for about 15 minutes, I have to report I was almost physically sick.

It was after an energetic game of five-a-side football that I proposed to my friend, Lord, that we go straight to my flat and gorge ourselves on an Indian takeaway. Rather than go home and freshen up, he could have a shower at mine, throw on some of my clothes, stuff his face and shove off back to his after that. It would be a laugh. He agreed, hopped in the shower, gave himself a good old sponge-down, visited my wardrobe as instructed and returned to the lounge a new man.

But not in a good way.

He wasn't wearing much, but what he was wearing was awful. He sat, ashen-faced on my sofa sporting a pair of faded cords with a crimson splodge where a pen had leaked some time ago. And cloaking Lord's famously ripped torso was a flimsy pink shirt-cum-blouse, which was literally – and I don't use this word lightly – festooned with tropical fish. It was all topped off with a dark orange cardigan and a thin frown. The guy looked like a chump. And I was responsible.

I have never considered myself "across" fashion. Ever since I have been able to dress myself I've been making an absolute pig's ear of it. Even when I was little I would always seem to wear the same dreadful, purple dungarees, and as I grew older I think I – metaphorically speaking, at least – kept them on. My wardrobe has evolved into a perilous zone; one that I avoid visiting. My reaction when opening its door is pretty much the same as my reaction when opening my fridge's. A gloom descends. I bow my head down. I lift it up for one more look. And I shut the door.

Lord looked broken in my clothes that night. A young, thrusting, fashionable man who's no stranger to a sharp suit or a tracksuit top, he looked demeaned as he ate his rice. At one point I asked him if he would like to visit the wardrobe again, try to find something better. He walked towards it like a ghost.

God knows what's in there these days. I haven't visited for months. When I have to, when there's some wedding or tribunal, I'll prise it open and have a look, but I can't say I like it. There's nothing there for me. Spooling through the rubbish that dangles in there is a similar experience to leafing through bills. No matter how many times I go through it, the conclusion is the same. It's all bad, nothing good.

Lord appeared after what seemed an eternity looking more dejected even than before. The only change: his fish blouse was now incorrectly buttoned. I can only assume he'd taken it off, tried something else on, and then gone back to this crap.

These days, I tend to stick to one or two uniforms that offend no one, that leave no impression. The clothes I wear are invisible. I wear socks with stripes in blue and red. I wear dark blue jeans and a blue T-shirt, and I'll wear some kind of woollen thing over the top. These items can always be found either (a) on me, (b) on the floor, or (c) in a machine I've bought that washes the stink out of them. It's very rare they'll go back to the wardrobe. So it's very rare I go there.

So in some ways, seeing Lord sat there in my garb was a reminder of the kind of things that happen in there. Clearly I need to sort it out.

One option would be to hit River Island with my credit card. But the thought makes me want to hurl, so I think I'll just make my wardrobe safe, and carry on as is.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm going to buy a padlock. Lock it away forever.