Today a facebook friend of mine, Abu Faris, mentioned a blog: Look at my fucking red trousers! It mostly concerns (this being England) a form of dress worn by men who want to be taken for upper-class. The trousers are an extra shibboleth of twittedness just in case the brown trilby hats don’t get the message across. Here’s another example, some hostile-looking graduates of the British military college Sandhurst posing in their red-trouseredness as a group. Something that struck me is how confrontational some of the pictures are, mild-mannered photographers almost starting fistfights: I especially like this and this one (the three school prefect types in the second one look up to no good to me, though I couldn’t tell you why). Elsewhere on the blog are pictures of hipsters in red trousers. I’m guessing they’re following in the footsteps of punks on both sides of the Atlantic. After black, and white, red was always the punk colour. There’s a picture – it must be somewhere on the web, but I can’t find it – of Richard Hell in about 1978 wearing tight red trousers; for me at the time it represented some kind of extreme of coolness.
Which brings me to Norwegian red trousers. The russefeiring is an elaborate and meticulously prepared drunken month-long celebration made by and for kids in their final year of high school. My daughter is currently part of this. Strictly speaking the red trousers are dungarees, but the upper portion is NEVER worn, I’m told. It just isn’t. Your name and the name of your school are applied to the trouser legs in block letters and then you don’t remove them for a month except for the obvious reasons. Later in May every russ person in Norway goes to Stavanger to do more celebrating.
If I was dressing up like this I’d consider wearing red Italian pope shoes but maybe, like for the fat Englishmen, these outfits are about contrasts rather than matches.
They wear the outfit every day now. Yesterday Alma rebelled and wore her canary-yellow drainpipe pants, but today I saw she’d come to her senses. There’s also a cap (you can see it on the Wikipedia page) but it’s not worn until 17 May, Norway’s July 4th, for some reason. Some russe groups (not Alma’s) buy an old school bus off last year’s celebrants and drive around all night drinking beer. Every so often you’ll see a small band of them at the supermarket loading up on hotdogs and cases of beer. Things to be thankful for: it’s light until quite late by this time of the year and I’m quite sure, being Norway, the driver doesn’t touch a drop. Everything is so well planned. To me the most peculiar part of it is that when it’s over the boys & girls return to school, with terrible hangovers, to take their final exams.
I can’t figure out who’s responsible for Look at my fucking red trousers! except that they’re using the pseudonym Henri de Pantalon-Rouge. I do wish people would stand up and use their own names.