In a tale that in many ways mirrors my own ‘spiritual t-shirt wearing development’, Tim Newman explains his attachment to his CCCP t-shirt:
In some way I’m trying to project the image that I have a connection with Russia and its people, and trying to show that Russia still exists and is worth considering even if it is very different from the days of the USSR. Wearing the CCCP t-shirt achieves this to some extent, although I prefer to wear my Rossiya one, which gets worn weekly as opposed to once every 3 months.
But then he decides that a link to Russia isn’t a good enough reason to wear a t-shirt marking communism…
…I may leave my t-shirt folded in my wardrobe for the forseeable future. It is of appalling quality and fit (it being bought in Russia after all), and I was never too comfortable wearing it anyway – both physically and ideologically.
I must confess that I, too, own a faded well worn red t-shirt with a CCCP Hammer & Sickle logo. I picked it up several years ago in a funky little Montreal shop packed with revolutionary t-shirts because I desperately wanted to go to Russia one day and this, along with a little Russian flag I also picked up that day, were markers of my intention. I was a little uncomfortable with what wearing the CCCP logo said about me but, it was the only thing in Russian I could find, so wear it I did. I was going to Russia one day, and I wanted everyone to know about it (mainly so that I’d have no excuse to back out).
Because, even as a Westerner, I was uncomfortable with the idea of wearing my CCCP t-shirt, you can imagine how shocked I was to find that, when I did finally arrive in Russia, almost every teenager with pretensions to style was wearing one too (although all of them, it has to be said, looked far, far cooler than I ever could). To my embarrasment, I never actually managed to get around to asking anyone exactly why they wore the CCCP logo, but I couldn’t think of a better reason than Tim’s – to be close to one’s country. But, all the same, once I’d seen what communism had actually done to Russia, what a wreck it had left behind, I could never feel the same way about wearing my t-shirt.
Yes, I do still own it. I doubt I could ever bring myself to throw away – its like one of those comfortable old shirts that us men can never quite seem to part with, because of the memories they contain. But, all the same, these days the CCCP t-shirt lies unworn in my wardrobe, nourishing moths, and I go out about town in my Aeroflot t-shirt instead. Russia’s International Airlines, it proclaims in tiny but bold yellow lettering, taking that venerable old Soviet standard bearer and, for good or ill, turning it into a vibrant symbol of Russia’s capitalist future. The lettering may be peeling off, it’s may be just as red as the CCCP t-shirt and it’s certainly just as tatty, but whether you love Russian capitalism, or hate it, it still screams out ‘I love Russia!’