Friday, 31 January 2020

When I was a teenager, back at the start of the seventies, it was fairly usual to see young people walking around the streets casually holding an LP thus displaying their cool taste in music. An LP was what is now called an album. It stood for Long Player, which albums still are I suppose. An LP was a major part of expenditure for young people in those days, males especially. Nobody cared very much about brands; there were no mobile phones, no trainers, no mp3 players, no computers nor videos. Status of sorts could be attained by customising your jeans (fraying the bottoms of the legs), tie-dying your t-shirts or walking the streets barefoot.

If you met someone new and they visited your room in your parents' house, the first thing they would do was to flick through your LP collection which was usually housed in a special portable case with a handle and a fold-back top. The front would drop away from the sides to allow one to flick through without extracting them. The weird thing is that virtually everyone had the same records. Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Doors, Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Fairport Convention, Cream, Simon & Garfunkle so I suppose it was just a way of seeing if you belonged in the same social group.

I was reminded of this lately, nearly a half-century later in London's leafy Queens Park suburb. More and more, I am seeing women aged between thirty-ish and fifty-ish walking around the area carrying yoga mats. Yoga mats neatly rolled, in some almost-invisible harness that allows them to be slung over shoulder without unrolling. Is there a major growth in the popularity of yoga? Or is a yoga mat the new (old) Leonard Cohen LP? Perhaps the new analogy is the same as the old, I carry Dylan therefore I am as cool as Dylan - I carry a mat therefore I am as cool as someone who does yoga.

Anyone who can afford the cost in time and money of doing yoga classes is surely someone who does not need to work so is it just a way of feeling superior not only to the working stiffs but also to the other fortunates whiling their weekday time away in coffee shops?