Drama and chaos are the perfect accessories for youth; when one's skirts are short and the nights are long, tortured tears and eliptical, unending conflict are absorbing, exciting, vital. Limping into my mid-forties, though, I prefer peace, stability and an impeccably-edited wardrobe.
After a year of brick-wall-head-banging and misery-induced skinniness, I am celebrating the impending arrival of winter with a spare, verging on monastic wardrobe. Bag after bag has gone to charity, on E-Bay, to friends. The walls and wardrobe doors in my room are now a flat violet-grey. Less than a dozen garments hang aesthetically from matching hangers. The resulting closet space has given the rattling skeletons such acres that many of them have fled in fright.
The hard-won lightening of my heart I am enjoying was matched yesterday by Freddie who was off school with a 40-Woodbine cough. After exhausting the surreal offerings of every obscure sporting channel, some God TV and the unmissable opportunity to buy a set of coloured chopping boards, he bounced into my room where I was arranging three t-shirts on an otherwise empty shelf. He sprawled on the bed next to the dog who was perched with elegantly-crossed paws.
"Pliz," I sneered. "Leaf de showroom. We sell clothe only to rich customer. Not peasant in mis-match pyjama suit with sticky-out hair."
"You know clothes?" he interrupted, rolling his eyes. "Well, can I get some nice ones? All my jeans are soooo flared and I hate pants. Now I'm ten, I should be wearing boxers. Cool ones from Top Man."
I segued seamlessly from Snooty Shopnazi to Cricket Mummy. "So is that why you went on a six-day tour with six pairs of pants and came back with five clean pairs and one pair missing?"
"Oh Mummy, he dimpled, shameless. "I love your funny voices. Do it again."
So later, we drove into town and conducted a skinny-jeans-cool-boxers commando raid, creeping about with a lot of scarves on in case any teachers were loitering in the 9-14 Boys department of H&M.
When we got home, he put on enormous headphones and listened to some bloke boasting that the club couldn't handle him. I held up his entire wardrobe item by item and he gave thumbs up or down like a gangsta Roman Emperor between admiring glances down at his lanky denim legs.
I filled a lot of bags with summery Boden checks and Gap pastels, remembering his once-chubby thighs and sartorial malleability. When the car was full, he inspected his own sparse shelves, the jumble of sweet colour replaced by a few neon T-shirts, a lot of nylon sports tops and some reverently-folded Top Man boxers.
"Cool. Please don't do that gay voice again though."
I wish I could grow up in one afternoon.