Laurie's leather jacket by Martin RowsonWe also have one in brown, sort of a mulberry colour really. Would you like to try that as well?”

“No, no. This one’s fine. The black is perfect. I’ll take it now. Yes, I’ll take it now.”

Even the wait to have it wrapped seemed interminable. Why did they need to put those sheets of tissue paper in between the folds? Couldn’t they just sling it in a bag, issue the receipt and let me leave the shop before even the slightest worm of doubt wriggled its way into my mind?

I’d planned to have another look as soon as I got outside the shop but the rain was pouring down in Manchester last week so there was nothing for it but to race back to the hotel, rush up to my room, tear open the bag, dispose of the tissue paper and let it unfold in all its glory.

My leather jacket. My first leather jacket. Even just lying flat on the bed it seemed puffed up by all its associations. It was the jacket that my mate Jez had worn back in the ’60s when he’d taken me for spins along the Dock Road in Liverpool on the back of his big vrooming Norton. It was Marlon Brando’s jacket from The Wild One. It was Brad Pitt in Fight Club. It was Black Panthers and Ramones and Russian commissars and even the gorgeous Honor Blackman in The Avengers.

I pulled it on over the blue striped shirt I was wearing in readiness for my talk that evening to the Association of University Administrators. Perfect fit. But the big-toothed bronze zip seemed stiff. I gave it a few gentle tugs. It still refused to shift. Another stronger tug and up it came. Of course, of course. When you had a real leather jacket you didn’t fanny around with the zip as though you were donning a woolly windcheater for a trip to Homebase. You pulled it up vigorously in a single aggressive motion as you got ready to step out into the mean streets of LA or New York.

It wasn’t exactly an impulse buy. I’d been touring M&S with my young sister in search of her Christmas present when I saw a rack of girls’ black leather jackets. “Why not try one of those? You’d look good”. She demurred. “It would make me look too young. People round my way would think it funny.”

“But some people must wear leather jackets in Sale?” “Not my sort of people.”

That wasn’t good enough for me. I insisted that she try one on. Marched her over to the mirrors. Told her how well it suited her. Even managed to cajole a couple of passing shoppers to join in my appreciation. “Doesn’t she look good? Tell her she looks good.”

It was only when I’d bought the jacket for her and received her somewhat muted thanks that I realised what had lain behind my enthusiasm. I’d been subconsciously reckoning that if I could cajole my slightly timorous sister into a black leather jacket then there was really nothing stopping me from a similar leap of sartorial faith. Why be hidebound to my sensible elderly clothes when I could be, yes, properly hidebound. The second I’d seen her on to the Sale tram I raced into the Hugo Boss shop on the other side of the street and made straight for the leather rack.

I’m wearing it even as I write. I can smell its animal odour. Hear the faint seductive crackle it makes as I move my arms and shrug my shoulders. Feel its smooth black pelt against the back of my neck.

Last night I pulled on a pair of old black jeans and a white t-shirt and took my jacket on its first outing. What would they make of it in my favourite Soho pub? But even though I drew the zip down with considerable vigour as I arrived at the bar and ordered my small glass of Côte du Rhône everyone seemed too absorbed with their Evening Standard to notice that Marlon had entered the building.

I did have the slight sense that the other customers were standing a little further away from me than usual, as though aware that there was someone at the bar who looked as though he could suddenly turn mean. But it wasn’t until my old mate Dennis arrived that I received my first actual acknowledgment.

It was not quite what I’d hoped for. “Bloody hell, Laurie,” said Dennis, sizing me up and down as his glass of Merlot was being poured. “You’re wearing your wallet.”