As a student I loved to experiment with clothes (I must have had a premonition that a lifetime of cardigans was before me). In my first term at university I cropped my hair, bleached it almost white and added food colouring streaks to match whatever clothes I was wearing that day - great if it didn't rain. I put multiple piercings in my left ear with a sewing needle (don't try this at home - it does hurt) when I should have been writing an essay on West Stow Anglo-Saxon village (I have since developed displacement activities that do not involve pain). The androgynous look continued with army fatigue trousers (very comfortable, the pockets were always useful) , khaki-coloured shirts with button-down collars and a black silk tie for more formal occasions (sorry Dad - I expect you wondered where it went), black lace-ups completed the ensemble. Comfortable and stylish - to my mind anyway.
One night when so attired I went to catch the midnight bus to Oxford (apologies to Gladys - does not have the cachet of the original). Outside Warren Street tube I was approached by a plump, middle-aged lady in a vivid yellow satin frock. She first asked if I knew the way to Brewer Street. I said that I didn't, being fairly new to London, but that we could look in the A-Z which I just happen to have with me in one of my many pockets. She smiled and asked what I did. I began to explain at some length that I was an archaeology student at UCL.
She became slightly more insistent, almost purring: 'What I mean darling, is what do you like to do?'
I begin to ramble on about how I liked foreign films especially anything by Eric Rohmer (oh yes, I could have featured in a junior 'Pseud's Corner'). It gradually occurred to me that she had quite impressive five o'clock shadow and looked more Glen than Glenda (good film - I know it is sometimes billed as the worse film ever made - but not in my opinion)..
Finally realising that subtlety was wasted on me she asked: 'Which way do you swing?'
Somewhat confused I said that as far as I knew I didn't swing, but I was off to Oxford for the weekend.
When I told Nan what had happened she sniffed: ' Well, if you will wear trousers you have to expect these things.'