Most of us look back on our primary school (or elementary school depending which side of the pond you inhabit) with a mixture of sentimentality and probably some melancholy. I tend to review the past with vague embarrassment and regret. One of the reasons I try to relocate and reinvent myself every so often. One more favourable memory, however, is of a class in which we were allowed to let our imaginations run wild(ish), and pretend to invent a shirt machine. It could make the shirt of our dreams, or nightmares, or basically anything else we could imagine then use our limited vocabulary or art skills to describe.
There were shirts were literally made of chocolate (impractical, but fully dream-worthy), shirts which allowed the wearer to fly, some machines just made a damn good shirt. It was an exercise I wish I could repeat in my studies today. As a partially-starved student, my shirt would potentially have both the means to produce copious quantities of pasta, and the means to cook it. Unoriginal, I know, but absolutely ideal. Unfortunately, however, my time is now spent looking at dusty texts in dark libraries. I am on the back-line (as opposed to the front-line) in finding out what happened in the past and what this means for the future. No more do I get to use my imagination to conjure up an incredible shirt. No more do I get to colour that same shirt in with my shiny new box of 8 Crayola crayons. These are sad times.
Right here and right now, however, I will endeavor to create a few of the shirts that modern society both wants and needs. It is a potentially pipe dream to imagine that a machine could ever exist to actually create these extraordinary shirts. I could certainly never make it… I am an undergraduate historian. There is a way, however, that this could come to fruition. If you would kindly keep reading, I’ll get to it.
The first magic shirt I would run through my magic shirt machine in this day and age, would be the shirt of equality. A radical concept, I know. This would be equality of not one, not two, but all the genders under the sun. Not one, not two, but all the races under the sun. Not one, not two, but all the sexualities under the sun. Not one, not two, but all the religious affiliations under the sun. If I now say: “etc, etc”, it is not out of wishing to offend everyone. I merely mean to say that my first shirt would make everyone equal. Literally everyone, no one person left out. Unless they aren’t a very nice person, then my shirt doesn’t care quite so much. I look in the vague direction of various politicians as I make this statement, fully acknowledging that they probably are not the only ones who could do to make some apologies… Anyway…
My shirt would do this by extending into a visor or some kind of brain thing, which means differences are seen as they truly are. Differences are wonderful and beautiful and to be celebrated, not condemned. If there was no variety in the world, there would also be no fun! My shirt recognises this. It wants others to recognise this. Perhaps the shirt would involve very environmentally-friendly confetti. Who knows? It would be a miracle shirt and I do wish it could exist (or rather that it didn’t have to).
If the celebratory confetti of the last shirt was not environmentally friendly, I would hope that this next shirt would have issues. It’s probably a green shirt in more than one sense of the world. Green is a great colour, underrated I feel. Keeping the planet green (or blue in some areas like… I don’t know… the sea?) is also underrated. There’s so much plastic in the oceans and in the sea creatures and – incidentally – in us, it’s quite depressing. Our planet is not as much celebrated as it is chopped down and smogged up. Granted some of this is fallout from historical developments which we were not enlightened enough to see as bad, but we’re aware now. We’re aware that if we carry on at the rate we’re going at, we will surely destroy the planet. Trump may vehemently deny it, Gove may declare us ‘fed up of experts’, but all the evidence, all the experts, point to disaster. The planet is warming at an alarming rate and animals are dying because of us. Before I upset myself too much, I’ll get onto the properties of this particular shirt.
It can balloon to cover all the holes in the ozone. I don’t know the technicalities, but I’m sure it wouldn’t cause some other kind of catastrophe in doing this. I’ll make it from the right stuff, plus it’s magical, plus imaginary (sorry). It could also double up as a drinking vessel. Plastic bottles are not the root of all evil, but they certainly help it along the way. This shirt, brilliantly, requires some kind of rent too. Recycle directly into it and it will thank you by letting you continue to wear it. Animals an also wear this shirt as a kind of ‘sorry’ from the entire human race. Just to apologies for killing them and their habitats because we thought we were/are superior. Breaking news: no one is superior to anyone else, not even animals. We’ve made this world all about us, hopefully this magical shirt will aid the animals so they can thrive in spite of us. Best of luck to them. This is only the second of many imaginary shirts I could come up with to fix many very real issues.
A shirt can only ever be as good, as strong, as versatile as its wearer. Perhaps it is not a magic shirt we need, but a change of mindset. A reason to believe in ourselves. A way of putting ourselves through the magic shirt machine and coming out not only with a damn good shirt, but with a reason to go forth and take on the world. This is something we need to do, as citizens concerned with the welfare of ourselves, our planet, everything in the universe. It should also be something we want to do, bearing in mind that one shirt cannot do everything. Focus on making one thing better, and everything else will follow. If everyone makes one thing better, one thing they feel passionately about, and everyone supports them, the world will be perfect. No one will need a magic shirt machine anymore. Unless they want a shirt made out of chocolate. Maybe speak to Willy Wonka about that one though.