My Celebrity Life
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I impulsively bought a space suit and I wear it nearly everywhere

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I grew up near Honeysuckle Creek in Australia, one of the tracking stations that relayed signals from the Apollo rockets and moon landers back to Earth. 

Some of my school friends’ parents worked for NASA, making sure that everything ran smoothly. The original moon landing is one of my earliest memories. 

Safe to say, space has always thrilled me. An aunt of mine told me that I am Kenny Baker’s second cousin, once removed, so I’m sort of related to R2D2. I guess you could say that space is in my blood.

Now I bring this part of me with me everywhere I go.

In my mid-forties, I reached a point when I could just about afford a decent made-to-measure work suit, so I shopped around. I considered loads of options.

One of life’s sadnesses is that for most of us, the point at which we can afford lovely clothes is generally a time when we are starting to metamorphose into a sack of potatoes. 

I work in marketing and communications and wanted to find something with the necessary panache, but looser and more practical. A versatile suit that would serve me in all sorts of situations: business meetings, weddings, holidays, etc.

I couldn’t settle on anything, so I tried to visualise the ideal suit. I thought instantly of Neil Armstrong planting his foot on the moon. Suddenly I had the answer.

Some men in their midlife crises buy a ‘menoporsche’. I decided to buy a space suit. 

I Googled and came across a company called Space Toys, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They were doing decent replica Apollo 11 space suits, complete with helmet, for about £750, which was my budget. 

So, in one of those late-on-a-Friday-night impulsive moments in 2014, I pressed ‘buy now’ and secretly purchased one. 

Hamish Thompson

I intended to buy a smart work suit, but purchased a £750 space suit instead (Picture: Hamish Thompson)

It arrived about six weeks later, hand-sewn by someone called Marcie. It came in two large cardboard boxes, plain wrapped as requested, having spent a bit of time in customs.

It was delivered to the office and I had to open it straight away. I lugged it to the bathroom and struggled into it. I walked back into the office as the man who fell to Earth. Sadly the reaction was more David Brent than David Bowie.

At the time I was commuting to London from St Albans. To make the investment worthwhile, I really had to put it to good use. So I started travelling in it. The lovely thing about it is that it combines a bit of spectacle with complete anonymity.

I could see people’s reactions, but they couldn’t see me behind the reflective gold visor. I guess it’s how Banksy must feel.

People started taking pictures of me and soon I was on Instagram and Twitter and on various news sites. A colleague called me to say that a real astronaut, Commander Hadfield, had come across a picture of me on a train station platform that was doing the rounds, and shared it on Twitter. The Walter Mitty in me was thrilled.

One day in summer 2015 I was passing the entrance to Somerset House while London Fashion Week was on. The suit is a bit impractical to wear all day (it can get pretty hot inside), so I had a change of clothes in my bag – and a scarf.  

Hamish Thompson in fashion magazine

I featured in the trendsetter column in London Fashion Week Daily (Picture: Hamish Thompson)

In the spur of the moment, I took out the scarf, ‘accessorised my outfit’, and walked into the square at Somerset House. I guess I thought I’d get noticed, but I hadn’t expected the reaction. 

The paparazzi descended on me in this supernova of flashbulbs. I got interviewed by Italian fashion TV and various other radio stations. There was a selfie and Instagram frenzy. I had to think on my feet a bit and I went with the pretence that I was making an, ahem, ‘earnest contribution to fashion innovation’. It’s not a vernacular that I know well, but I did my best. 

To satisfy a bewildering fan base, I stood in front of the sign, adopting a classic catwalk pose as best I could in a massive white polyester suit.

It worked.

The next day I was in the trendsetter column in London Fashion Week Daily, the official publication of the show. But the best was to come. Roll forward six months and at the next catwalk shows around the world, space suit-inspired outfits were everywhere.

Hamish

What Hamish looks like under his suit (Picture: Hamish Thompson)

The idea that a 50-something man, not exactly famous for his dress sense (or certainly not in a positive way), could possibly have influenced fashion history is something that left anyone who knows me, especially my kids, gobsmacked.

I’ve put the suit to very good use since. It has opened plenty of doors. I’ve shopped in it, given out awards in it, won business in it pitching to other space obsessives, protested against Brexit in it, set a very niche ‘world record’ in it by saying ‘hello’ to Jason Isaacs from the stratosphere (fans of Kermode and Mayo’s film programme will understand), and I’ve travelled widely, though sadly never off Earth.

And of course, it offers a useful layer of protection in these socially-distanced times.

The only real downside is that it’s quite ‘atmospheric’ inside, so it’s not an all-season suit. I also need to build in more time to travel.

Getting in and out of cabs takes a bit of effort, as does crossing the road, and I get stopped a lot. Walking through Leicester Square in tourist season can take an hour.

My next plan is to make the world’s lowest budget sci-fi in it, which I envisage as a sort of extra-terrestrial version of Tommy Wiseau’s movie, The Room. It’s called ‘Space £19.99’.

The plot is a bit like Iron Man, but without the achievements or the iron, or the seaside Malibu beach house.

I’ve written to Samuel L Jackson to see if he’ll do a cameo, but I haven’t heard back.

You’ve got to ask, haven’t you?

You can find out more about Hamish and his work here.



My Life Through A Lens

My Life Through a Lens is an exciting series on Metro.co.uk that looks at one incredible photo, and shares the story that lies behind it. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email kathryn.snowdon@metro.co.uk with MLTAL as the subject.

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Credit: Original article published here.

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