The tart who gave her heart to fab

23rd June 2000 at 01:00
FAB is back. I have this direct from the mouth of my teenager who last weekend was singing the praises of her new khaki combats and body warmer.

They are fab, so it seems. No doubt they'll soon be "gear" and "groovy" too. They may even get to be "swinging". God help us. Sarah's generation has an unpleasant habit of unearthing everything that embarrassed me about my own childhood and recycling it with squeals of retro-glee. It was bad enough in January when some TV exec decided to bring back Pinky and Perky but an adjective like fab! It was always a self-conscious, brainless, posturing little word from a time when PR was in its infancy and a phrase like the "Fab Four" was supposed to sell The Beatles. Worse, "fab" was taken up as the call sign for Lady Penelope and those curiously undersexed brothers who lived with their dad in Thunderbirds. No one ever knew what F.A.B. stood for although my guess - fatuous abbreviated bilge - probably wasn't far from the mark.

Some words stand the test of time. John Lennon invented "grotty" and I think we still know exactly what that means.

"Trendy" merged around the same time and has finally been transformed into a genuinely useful adjective, albeit one that's garnered certain pejorative overtones along the way. But Fab is a simple fashion accessory, an empty headed pseudo-superlative with no inherent meaning. As fashion moves on it will be replaced, returning to the archive of redundant vocabulary along with "spiffing", "stonking" and "wowza". According to Sarah it is Tart magazine that has given its imprimatur to the resurrection of fab. These teenzines only ever deal with two subjects: "My most embarrassing moment" and "What's in for the next 2 days". It is mags like Tart which have sold pedal-pushers, combats, funky hats and body warmers to a generation of impressionable girls, who will look back in horror in a few years time at what they used to wear - and the vocabulary they thought trendy.

Time, luckily, is a not just a healer, it brings with it perspective. Certain items of clothing do stand the test but fab is as redundant now as it was 35 years ago and it will go the way of loon pants, tank tops and tartan trousers.


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