I admit it. I am terrible at shopping. My daughter Esther picks out clothes for me better than I do.

The other day I was in a men’s shop “helping” Robin look for a shirt. Couldn’t believe my eyes to come across a shirt with ripped sleeves and the label read that it had been “individually stressed”.  In another shop there was a T shirt with random holes, and jeans with holey knees too. Who were they kidding? We went home happy in the knowledge that he didn’t really need to upgrade his shirts or jeans as the current ones were already in fashion.

Last week I wrote about the X factor. On the episode I watched there were so many performers with these fashionably ripped jeans that ironically the ones who really stood out were those who didn’t have them.

There is this longing in art to stand out, to be different, creative, innovative. So often the artist has to go to the bizarre to be recognised. 

When I was studying third year music composition at university I knew I had to do something out of the ordinary to impress the tutor and make the grade. At the time our bedroom door in our 100-year-old house had the most incredible 3-part harmony squeak in its three hinges and, depending on how fast you opened the door, the sound would make a whole melody moving higher or lower. I told my tutor that I was thinking of writing a piece for double bass and squeaky door and I immediately got his attention because it was out of the ordinary for a piece of music.  Although I never got around to recording the door properly (sorry about that – would have loved you to have heard it), I do appreciate that the tutor got me to think more innovatively and stretch my creative skills.

Maybe the creators of ripped clothing are really just wanting us to feel comfortable with the new stuff. They know that we like a comfortable old garment that fits like a glove.

There is something comforting too in a familiar piece of music that we have come to enjoy singing, listening to or playing. Maybe we could play the older pieces more, simply to enjoy the sense of satisfaction in being able to play them well.  This applies as much to the familiar as to the older styles of music that have become classics. Sometimes we get weary of them and need to shop around for something different. But maybe we will find out that old just became fashionably new. 

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