It’s a frightening thought that the generation currently being born will have a memory stick of PowerPoint presentations, with a host of back-ups, rather than a box of photographs in the attic.
The loft, for many of us, is a museum of our own past. Keepsakes, presents and useless items that sentiment prevents us from throwing away, occupy the unused corners of our household. But every so often we spend an afternoon up there.
It happened to me, just recently. All I wanted was a few extra chairs for a gathering of friends, but I soon became trapped in rediscovering that my life has been as frantic as the arrangement of the attic itself.
But one thing that stuck out when flicking through the old snaps was how much uniforms have played a massive part in shaping who I am. Collective attire in various groups along the way have contributed to a personal timeline of clothing, not least did it make those memories easily identifiable.
And that was the desired purpose of those uniforms all along, to give a group an image. I’m certain that my recollection of school would have been completely different had it not of been for my trusty navy uniform.
As soon as I got over the sniggers on public transport, I began to wear the image. Saluting the flag started and ended the day and forgetting to wear black socks genuinely resulted in detention, but we were all experiencing the roller coaster of school-life and our uniform reflected that. Many of my peers have gone on to enjoy fruitful careers in the navy, but I was seasick from day one.
Still, I can’t imagine those pictures being as resonant if I’d have attended school in some of the atrocities I had in my wardrobe that made me want to be that kid who forgot to wear their ‘civvies’ on non-uniform day.
Likewise, the blue shirt and sweater embroidered with a Boys Brigade logo recollected how, for seven years, I proved the theory that anyone without musical talent tends to be pushed towards percussion.
I kidded the world that I could play the xylophone and somehow shoehorned my way into a marching band that won national honours. All in the same uniform as some of the most naturally gifted musicians I have ever met.
Basking in the shared glory and being equally accountable for every missed note. Just like the many old rugby kits I find myself sieving through, part of a unit that achieved everything together.
Uniforms are far more than just a corporate gimmick, anyone can be who they want to be while wearing a uniform, be it a helpless xylophonist or a nautical student who spent more time in isolation than at sea. But uniform is just a reminder that it’s possible to be individuals together.