CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hampshire Life today CLICK HERE

Chris van Schaick on his ever-growing pile of old clothing this spring

PUBLISHED: 12:46 18 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:48 18 March 2014


After years of hoarding his clothing rejects for decorating and gardening duties, Chris’s pile of denim and chino has reached new heights this spring

Even at this spring cleaning time of year, they say people in the country never throw anything away. They’re usually talking about old scythes and stuff that could be used as firewood. But in my case, it also applies to my personal trouser mountain. Let me explain.

Mrs v. S. has often chastised me for my trouser choice at a weekend. Winter: “You can’t paint in your nice trousers”. Summer: “You’re not going to do the garden in your new jeans are you?”

So it was that I began to hoard discarded jeans and frayed chinos in a corner of my den, waiting for the day when they could be pressed into painting or gardening action. The pile started to grow taller with the addition of out-of-date stripy shirts and retired woolly jumpers.

Over time, my ratio of old trousers put aside to painting actually done became as seriously unbalanced as the British economy. It got worse each time Mrs. v. S. said: “We haven’t got time to do the bedroom ourselves, we’d better get Dishy Dan The Decorator in.” Dan himself doesn’t have my trouser problem. He wears dungarees, which I’m told are fetching.

The only way out I can see now is to start my own decorating or gardening business, just to clock up the hours of painting and hedge cutting necessary to make 
any kind of dent in the Meon Valley Trouser Mountain.

But another danger lurks. What if you try to tackle the problem by actually doing some painting in painting trousers or – heaven forbid - gardening in gardening trousers? It’s all very well until the painting or the gardening in question requires you to leave home turf. You run out of vinyl matt or bagged compost at the vital moment and head off to Hedge End to replenish wearing beige corduroy and a very washed out Iron Maiden t-shirt.

A whole new dimension of etiquette kicks in. Can you leave the car for any other reason than essential paint or compost buying tasks?

Slip into the Co-op for a litre of milk? Maybe. But step lightly across the road to the artisan coffee shop for a crafty flat white? Out of the question.

A chum of mine was once dispatched, at the end of a decorating day at home, to pick up the kids from school. But he was specifically forbidden by Mrs. Chum from getting out of the car in case he was seen by fellow members of the parents association in “those trousers”. She would never have been able to face Rachel at Pilates again, had the family been shamed in that way.

Not for the first time, I’m left reflecting on the effortless ease Mrs. v. S. can bring to these matters. For as long as I can remember, she’s had a solitary pair of painting trousers. They’re red velour drainpipes, which must have seemed as good an idea as the Exchange Rate Mechanism back in 1989. In her case there’s no heap of other cast-offs. Just this single pair, picked out for the task with gimlet-eyed ruthlessness and coated – project after project – with more whiter shades of pale than Procul Harum’s You Tube page.

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 10:42

Is this the ultimate city break? Winchester has it all: from ancient history to space exploration, plus cafes, cocktails, culture and countryside… But with so much to do, choices are going to have to be made

Read more
Yesterday, 09:55

10 of best photos of Hampshire shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Mon, 15:25

Remember, remember… Here’s a quick round up of some stunning displays across Hampshire this year

Read more
Mon, 15:22

The community shop is thriving. Why? And what makes the perfect village store? We went in search…

Read more
Mon, 14:27

From Jane Austen to Karl Marx, our towns and villages have fascinating links to some of the biggest historical celebrities. Viv Micklefield follows in their footsteps with the help of a blue plaque or two

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Our guide to some of the best Halloween events on offer across Hampshire this October

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

We round up 8 things you didn’t know about this little South Downs village

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Enjoy some easy walking around the Lymington to Keyhaven Nature Reserve says Fiona Barltrop

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Hampshire this month

Read more
Monday, September 24, 2018

Head to the Isle of Wight to enjoy the charming villages of Brighstone and Mottistone, taking in superb views, an ancient monument and enchanting gardens with our new walks writer, Fiona Barltrop

Read more
Monday, September 24, 2018

With the centenary of the end of World War One commemorated this year, the reopening of the iconic Royal Victoria Chapel, part of our military heritage, is timely

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

This year Winchester’s Theatre Royal celebrates the 40th anniversary of its re-opening as a performance theatre

Read more
Monday, September 17, 2018

Avon Valley, Beer and Cake is the ABC of why Ringwood, a busy market town on the western edge of the New Forest, makes a quirkily clever choice for a break away

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Lego enthusiast Duncan Titmarsh has built his business brick by brick; from tinkering in his garden shed to internationally acclaimed sculptures

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search