Cargo cult

“Undo: If you could uninvent something, what would it be?”

Many thanks to the latest ‘365 Days of Writing Prompts’ for this opportunity to have a good, old-fashioned, grumpy old man rant.

What would I uninvent? Oh, so many things if I only could. Unfortunately, I have to assume that people cannot be included, so that’s a let-off for One Direction.

It will have to be cargo pants. More specifically, cargo pants as a fashion item.

My children have been told more than once that if they ever see me wearing cargo pants, under any circumstances, I am to be immediately placed in a twilight home at least three days journey by train away from anybody who has ever known me. I will not bring shame on my family.

I am not saying that there is no place in the world for cargo pants. On the contrary, they are an important and practical part of military uniform. If you are a member of the armed forces they are very functional – and that’s good. I can also see the merit of them if you are some kind of intrepid explorer

But if you are not a soldier – or Indiana Jones – what are you wearing them for? Would you go to the supermarket in an Armoured Personnel Carrier? Maybe in Helmand Province you would, but not, I would suggest, to the nearest Waitrose.

The thing with cargo pants is that they just don’t look good. That’s fine, because for military purposes, of course, looking good is not the point; they simply need to be practical. If you’re a soldier, it doesn’t matter that the minute you put anything into the pockets you look like you have suffered a compound fracture of the femur.

And if you’re not a soldier, it does matter that the minute you put anything in the pockets you look like a complete knobhead.

It is rather telling that, in the course of researching this post, apart from Wikipedia – which actually highlights the military origins – almost every link was to either a clothes manufacturer or a fashion retailer; and I don’t mean the Army Surplus Stores.

I even saw a photograph of cargo pants for women that were so tight they looked like they had been sprayed on. So tell me: exactly how do you open a painted-on pocket? And if you can’t, why is it there?

Okay, you may say, but I don’t put anything in the pockets, I just wear cargo pants as a fashion statement because I am cool, hip and awash with post-modern irony.

No. Read my lips. You are a knobhead.

And if, in a brave new world bereft of cargo pants, you are wondering where to put your mobile phone, I could offer you a couple of suggestions.


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