I HAVE spent some of my best times in the pub, but when I was invited to a local beer garden last week, for a family birthday, I felt The Fear.

It wasn’t so much being with other people, as pubs generally seem to be doing a great job with safety measures. What chilled me to the bone was wondering what on earth I should wear...

I have lived in jeans and trainers for the past year. I can’t remember the last time I put make-up on. I think it might have been Christmas Day. My earrings lie untouched in trinket boxes. Dresses, skirts, jackets and other reasonably smart clothes haven’t seen the light of day for over 12 months. They hang in my wardrobe looking sad and forgotten; it’s all a bit Miss Havisham. Occasionally I catch a glimmer of colour as, reaching for comfies, my hand brushes against a wrap dress, and I briefly recall those hazy days of wearing actual clothes and shoes.

I toyed with the idea of dressing up a bit for the pub but I told myself: ‘I’ll look ridiculous. And with make-up on I’ll resemble a clown.’ So I made zero effort and headed out in my lockdown uniform of jeans, sloppy sweater and trainers.

With many of us having spent much of the past year slouching round the house in jogging pants, the ‘no pain, no gain’ fashion mantra is becoming a thing of the past. And lockdown, it seems, has created a new trend - with comfort at its heart. In a recent TV report, a fashion influencer was modelling ‘posh joggers’; a kind of tracksuit worn with high wedges and big jewellery. It looked suspiciously like the shell suit horrors of the 80s. A high-end gentlemen’s outfitters was showing off elasticated waist trousers, made with Italian stretch cotton. They looked like the beige/grey slacks you see in Sunday magazines, next to ads for sit-down showers.

Despite my fear of returning to proper clothes, I miss them. Dressing up and taking pride in our appearance is what separates us from chimps. How sad if we swapped lovely stylish clothes for eternally slopping around in joggers and hoodies. We need to bite the bullet and embrace the discomfort of fashion.

l WHAT I know about football could be written on a beer mat, with enough space left for a shopping list, but having come from a family of loyal local club supporters, I know that this is a sport interwound with culture and identity.

Football clubs are rooted in working-class communities, but it’s a big business game, and that, as far as I can tell, is a dilemma. With all six Premier League clubs withdrawing from the controversial European Super League, it would appear that the backlash from fans, and some players, has ‘saved football’. But is it a hollow victory?

Billionaire club owners come and go, making obscene amounts of money along the way, but it is the fans who remain loyal. They are the ones who care deeply about their clubs, and stay with them through thick and thin, because it is part of who they are and where they are from. But it is the big money owners who bring in the huge investment and the superstar players, beloved by fans.

If the Government’s fan-led review sees more supporters making decisions on the boards it could mean a pay cap for top players, but is any of this going to make any difference to the lower league clubs and grassroots football? Tickets, football shirts and all the other paraphernalia will still be expensive, too costly for many fans. And football will remain a big bucks business, and largely elitist.

That’s how I see it anyway.

I’ll get back to my shopping list...