I am not a man who typically makes bold decisions. On a day-to-day basis my greatest considerations are typically whether or not to match my socks to the colour of my tie, what kind of sandwich I should eat for lunch and how many sticks of celery I will use in my juice. There is not much bravado required for any of those decisions, no matter how many minutes I spend each morning agonising over my socks. I don’t lead a particularly complex life, which is what made my choice to leave for Glasgow on Saturday morning without a jacket all the more remarkable.
It was a moment of wild improvisation when I opened the curtains and my bleary, still-drunk eyes were met by a radiant spring sunshine and I first considered the possibility of not wearing my denim jean jacket. Such a notion should surely at least be contemplated over the bathroom sink whilst brushing your teeth, so I gave myself those few minutes to account for all of the possible outcomes.
I don’t tend to wear a jacket as a statement of fashion; I view it more as storage space. My jacket is a vessel for carrying my wallet, earphones and phone. Those are pretty much my only three possessions of note and if I wasn’t going to wear a jacket the question would beg to be asked: where would I keep my worldly belongings? There is only so much space in the pockets of a pair of jeans and I argued with myself that it might be too uncomfortable to try squeezing everything into those pockets for an entire day, but I successfully argued back that it would probably be more uncomfortable to be wearing a heat sucking jean jacket all day and sweating like a hog roast.
There is a certain element of risk in leaving your house in the west of Scotland without a second layer of clothing, and there was a part of me that had visions of sudden explosions of rain and grumpy black clouds prowling over Glasgow. I wondered whether I would be able to survive if there was an unexpectedly cool evening breeze on my walk back into the city centre. But then part of the process of making a bold decision is to acknowledge that although there may be risks, the potential gains are so overwhelmingly spectacular that you are almost compelled to take the gamble, and it was with that in mind that I cast aside my fears of what could go wrong and enjoyed the freedom of going jacketless.
Others around me in the Jock Stein Stand had made even bolder decisions in their sartorial selections, with some wearing simply a t-shirt. The middle-aged dude with the floppy grey hair and occasional red jeans who sits in the row in front of me wore a black t-shirt which afforded me a brief glimpse of a tattoo on his tricep. It appeared to be a heart with the date “28-12-1929” etched beneath it and for a few minutes of that goalless first-half I wondered why that date would be relevant to him.
Celtic Park was bathed in a pleasant warm sunshine. Beams of light cascaded from the top of the stand, casting a lustrous and illuminating glow on the forehead of an inviting figure at the front of the section next to mine, 139. It was the most beautiful steward in the history of the world. She was looking hot in her high visibility jacket, and I can only assume that the temperature was quite high for her as well.
There was a slight disappointment that the most beautiful steward in the history of the world wasn’t casting a watchful eye over the safety of my section this time, but I still couldn’t help but wonder, if she could see me, would she be impressed by my bold decision to come to the game without a jacket. I had to think that she would be; although almost everyone in her section had also attended without a jacket and she didn’t appear too fussed about that. In fact, she seemed more amused by the playful children in the front row of section 139. I have never envied young boys so much.
The longer the game went on with the Celtic attack scorching the St. Johnstone defence with four second-half goals the more comfortable I was feeling in my minimally layered approach. There was a certain freedom which came without the burden of a jacket on my shoulders or the need to take it off and find a safe spot to rest it in. I was able to leap from my seat with no inhibition, chant along and celebrate. It seemed a shame that the Huddle had whimpered out before it reached my end of the stadium, though with a string of empty seats around me it would have been a bit of a stretch for me to get involved. Many of the familiar regulars who sit around me weren’t present, with some day tourists taking their seats. The Northern Irishman with the inaudible accent was replaced by a trio of Spaniards who were marginally easier to understand, despite communicating exclusively in Spanish.
As I embarked on the walk back to the city centre with my wallet safely snuggled in my jean pocket and my earphones attached to my phone I was able to bask in the dying embers of the afternoon sun and with it the glow of knowing that my bold decision to not wear a jacket was correct. Even if I subsequently ate a disappointing ham and egg salad on the train home, the shine couldn’t be taken from my day. The risk I took earlier in the day had been rewarded with a regulated body temperature and a refreshing lack of sweat on my shirt.
Celtic 4-1 St. Johnstone
JJ 1-0 The discomfort of wearing too many layers