“I could buy a half decent set of forks for that” was my initial response, when presented with the price for a pair of – sadly non exploding – troons and matching jacket. Okay, the cost may have been somewhat justified by the small detail of them actually fitting but even so…
There is a little shop in Ross that preserves the 1950s shopping experience. You are served by the genial owner who has all the mannerisms of “Mr Humphries” in his prime. I am not sure I needed to have my inside leg measured quite so carefully. Certainly not twice.
Anyway, he listened – politely – while I explained my ongoing suit buying problem. Other than being a tight-arse northerner. One, I am a strapping six foot individual*, but essentially a dwarf from the hips down. Two, being a cycle obsessed freak, my thighs fit in flappy shorts and not much else. Three, because of one, I need a jacket that would double – for most normal size people – as a full body cape and 4) I don’t like wearing suits
He eyed up my carefully thrown-together ensemble (baseball boots, dirty jeans, ancient paint-stained T-Shirt, baldness – possibly trying too hard) and presented me first with a garment of 1980’s shiny-ness. I have to say I was less than keen as even I know the Crocket-and-Tubbs era has clearly passed. But on slipping it over my wonky shoulders, I couldn’t help thinking somehow this was making me look even more debonair that normal. A tough act as I’m sure you’ll agree.
Sadly we ran into what I like to call “the trouser problem“. Either comedy clown-waist or drain-pipe tight thighs. No matter, off he hummed and harred into a stockroom putting me firmly in the mind of Mr. Ben, before returning with a rather traditional Navy Blue Suit. Luckily Carol was there to stop me launching into a diatribe about how boring and old fashioned it looked, before I’d even thrown a leg in. Amazingly, this one fitted even better, although my purchasing decision was now being made purely as a mitigation strategy to prevent further reach-arounds.
Eventually we agreed that with some minor alterations, I’d stop looking like I had stolen it, and talk turned to prices. Problem is, this is a proven sales strategy get the customer something they think they want and then hit them with a price. I didn’t dare ask for a discount in case he offered – instead – to throw in a Cravat or a Shooting Stick. It’s that kind of place.
And yet, I found myself curiously enjoying the experience. He clearly had millions of years of experience. It wasn’t pushy or disinterested. He did actually seem to care that I wouldn’t stride out in my new threads looking as if I’d just been demobbed. Curious times indeed – maybe this is what middle age feels like.
Anyway, as the Clash famously said London is Calling and I am reluctantly answering that call. 72 hours of logistical hell, congestion charges, tube stations, protocols, procedures and speeches. All with two small-ish children who find it all fantastically interesting, and therefore become even more difficult to control. I shall report back early next week on how it all went, unless the speech was so toe-cringingly unfunny, I’ve booked myself instead into long-term therapy.
* in my own mind, and out of range of a mirror.