It's my last day in the 'Shire for a while. After a month of middle class home comforts: theatre trips, gastropub lunches, walks; and olives, grapes and a newspaper relevant to that day permanently on the table, I embark the five hour coach return to middle class student survival: nightclub stumblings, pub toasties, last-minute cycling; and stagnant mugs, fag ends and a takeaway leaflet relevant to that day permanently on the table.
One aspect of middle class student survival I intend not to return to, however, is the habit of leaving the house in trackies, pajamas, or even, that 'student staple', a hoodie. Along with a number of fairly questionable reasons for not partaking in this recreation, I have far too many clothes to spend most of my time not wearing them.
Wierdly, however, I guiltily love indulging in such attire at home. In fact, I rummage through the abandonees of my wardrobe, leaving aside those I brought down with me. There is something seriously comforting about tracksuit bottoms I last wore playing schoolgirl hockey, tee shirts I lovingly bought, sweatyfaced after gigs too embarrassing to mention, and hoodies that Gok Wan would hang on that washing-line of humiliation in Trafalgar Square.
It's not just the comfort, although that is a major benefit, it's the fact that I can relish in ugliness in a middle aged society that wouldn't turn a blind eye to it. And why should they?
Although this attire is usually restricted to the house, and to the vision of my parents and occasionally the postman, there was one incident when I entered Tesco in it, and left with utter shame.
I'd replaced the trackies with men's 80s jeans, and the hoodie with my ever-faithful men's padded shirt, but I still essentially looked horrific. My partner in crime was in Jack Wills trackies and a man's shirt (all my home friends and I have a nasty habit of accidentally dressing the same). We popped in for the purpose of buying 'girltime' food, which consists of bars of cheap chocolate and buckets of M&S ripoff snacks. In Studentdom, such activities would occur entirely naturally and guilt-free.
But alas, we were the 'Shire, where the only other participant in similar actions was a morbidly obese woman carrying a bottle of Rioja and a tub of mini muffins. It was as if the ghost of Christmas Future was rattling his chains in our face and laughing. And, the 'Shire consisting of tiny provincial towns, we were witnessed by approximately 5 ex-school mates, none of which we knew well enough to greet, thus adding further social awkwardness to the worsening situation.
All in all, while middle class students will happily parade around in PJs in supermarkets in Studentdom, ironically, it is seriously frowned upon in their hometowns. I've never shovved comfort food in my canvas shopper faster.