Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Back to school. Flannels. Grey flannels. Put on your grey flannels. Itchy grey flannels. Grey school flannels. My school was made of flannel. It had flannel walls and flannel doors and a flannel roof. The teachers spoke a load of old flannel and they wore flannel. They were made out of flannel. They had flannel skin. They taught flannel lessons and we sat flannel exams. We failed flannel. We got flannel grinds and re-sat flannel. We studied flannel schoolbooks with grey flannel covers that were all about flannel and were published by Flannels book publishers. ‘I’m going on to study flannel in college’, said Jimmy Flannel whose dad owned the flannel shop (Flannel’s Flannels) where we all bought our back to school grey flannels.

You’d get sick of the flannel. You’d need a break from the flannel. At least we had the flannel holidays. I enjoyed the flannel holidays. The flannel holidays, a time when we gave each other flannel to celebrate the Feast of Saint Flannel, the flannel martyr who was flannelled to death with flannel.

My father invested in flannel. ‘You can always count on flannel’, he’d say. ‘There’ll always be a need for flannel’, he’d proclaim as he sat there in his flannels keeping track of his flannel shares and watching the flannel channel. They broadcasted a documentary about the Large Flannel Collider the other night. It was quite interesting, in a flannelish way.

Personally, I think something went wrong with the world with regards to flannel. I think things became too flanneslistic at some stage. Every aspect of our lives became too flannelised. I reckon it started with global merchant flannelisation and the flannel land enclosures. Jimmy Flannel agrees with me. He has a doctorate in flannel now. He’s writing a book about the sixteenth century Anti-Flannelists. He’s gone very anti-flannel himself. He keeps going on about how flannel is the root of all discontent. He constantly brings up the Flannel Wars. Jimmy’s father doesn’t talk to him since he took against flannel.

It’s hard for people to imagine a world without flannel. We think flannel is essential like water or air but I ask you to try and imagine a flanneless world. A world free of flannel. Flannel free. What would we be without flannel? So many of us define ourselves in purely flannelist terms. Have we forgotten what it is to be flanneless? Has flannel stolen some part of us, forever? When Adam and Eve were cast out from the garden and made ashamed of their nakedness, did they don flannels?  The tragedy of flannel. The curse of flannel. Flannels. Grey flannels. Put on your grey flannels. Itchy grey flannels. Grey school flannels. KLF once burnt a load of flannel. People were disgusted but I got it.

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