If all that fails, there is only one sure way to break into the big bucks and that's the book with the television series tie-in, or just the television series if you're lucky, thus saving all that tedious writing. And it's so easy to start. It's all in the clothes. Wear the right gear and the television producers will beat their own 'sweet track' to your door.
Take John Romer. You don't see a man, you see a wide-brimmed hat with an archaeologist wandering around somewhere underneath. Whether pausing for breath halfway up the Great Pyramid or disillusioning us with the news that the Colossus of Rhodes didn't actually bestride the harbour (next they'll be telling us that Vikings didn't wear horned helmets...), the hat is there filling the screen.
Take Michael Wood. You remember him: 70's man in Search of Something. Whatever it was, the figure-hugging cord trousers were there searching for it with him. Standing on Offa's Dyke or up to his armpits in Troy VI, the sparely cut strides dominated the scene. A whole generation of women watched avidly. Stuff the prehistory; it was all about Michael 'Tight Buns' Wood. Those trousers had their own agent and did signings at the local bookshop.
And who can forget our own dear Mick Aston of Time Team? Unless you are either colour blind, simply blind, or saved from this spectacle by a black and white television, you will have noticed his sweaters. Noticed them? You probably watch from behind the sofa clutching a cushion in case they come out and get you. Ill-conceived knitted jobs with horizontal hoops of clashing primary colours, they fit where they touch and you can see the joins, no, you can almost feel them. These sweaters are evil manifested in garment form. No Oxfam shop would touch them. Where do they come from? Are they spawned? Cultured from demon seed in sulphurous swamps? Is some old lady sitting in Bognor, knitting them out of wool she has unravelled from tunics exhausted by generations of Kurdestan yak herders? Or are they sheared from the backs of mange-ridden musk oxen and spun by moonlight whilst dancing in a circle thrice under the Clifton Suspension Bridge, while Prof. Aston swans about with his film crew and Baldrick? No, these sweaters must be made by someone who hates him. But they serve their purpose: he is on the telly and you're not.
Over to you then -- choose your cloth. Jackets, trench coats, skirts (how about it guys? Be radical), loin cloths and boots are all as yet untapped. And don't forget to accessorise: Chiffon scarf? Snake skin belt? Plaited wrist thong for your trowel? Swap the trench for the catwalk and you'll soon swap the radiocarbon lab for the television show. Go for stripes, polka dots and Fair Isle and you'll soon be writing your own cheques.
© our fashion correspondent 1997
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© assemblage 1997