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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Liberté sans fraternité


I considered a series about objects I've clung on to. My climbing boots were acquired in 1952 but I've posted about them twice before. My mechanical Longines wristwatch, a gift from my ma for my twenty-first: same thing. Several pairs of underpants I've worn for a decade or more. Washed until they felt like spider's-web - which then blew away.

Seems I've run out of memorabilia; my past has disappeared as must shortly my future. A one-post series, then, devoted to my Liberty tie.

It's about twenty-five years old. I haven't worn it for ten years, perhaps fifteen. Retirement represents the luscious luxury of going tie-less. Not quite true because of funerals but the Liberty tie is too happy for those.

It just occurs to me: ties are consumables. Two dozen wearings and the middle goes crumply. I shoulda done the decent thing. But I've never shed my West Riding meanness. Liberty is - or was - an expensive uber-store on London's Regent Street and the tie cost £25. What drove me? I've never been body-proud.

I grew into that tie. Felt good in it. It was long; my rule of thumb - both ends must reach the belly button. The design didn't appear round other less worthy necks. And the floweriness disguised my Northern origins. It helped me ask difficult journalistic questions, then follow them up with more difficult ones. Briefly it made me fearless. Cheap at the price.

WIP Second Hand (55,373 words)
He wiped his wet mouth on the back of his hand. She’d only known him composed, the transformation was demeaning. He said, “I’ve tried not to think about failing. But I couldn’t shut it out. My work – it’s changed. My agent says I’ve become another person. He’s exhilarated – the fool.”

7 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

That was obviously a good tool in your editor days - the idea should go into those courses we were forced to attend on how to be an effective salesman with advice such as: stand up when negotiating on the phone, get face to face instead of on the phone for an important negotiation, sell the benefits etc. Perhaps you could sell the concept to somebody who makes all that stuff up. I was one of a dozen area managers, and I seem to remember at our meetings most of my colleagues were given to a certain amount of competitive flamboyance, but I don’t ever remember being advised to go and buy a good tie.

Joe Hyam said...

How eleganty you have layed out the tie for its photograph. It looks like signature.

Blonde Two said...

Were you ever tempted to wear the tie inside out so that the label showed. Maybe not - one should surely recognise a Liberty print!

Rouchswalwe said...

I feel fearless in my furry leopard ski vest. Our recent cold snaps give me ample reason to wear it (even indoors)!

FigMince said...

Clark Gable in ‘The Hucksters’, back from WWII (well, the American second half thereof), wanting to get back into advertising, goes into a menswear store and spends his last few bucks on the one thing he knows he’ll need: a ‘sincere tie’.

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh:I don't think tie-buying or tie-wearing can be taught. Ideally both these events should resemble the coming-together of two botanical half-elements to create the subsequent complete plant. Not so much a conscious decision; rather the result of a natural force. In fact the world of men's clothing secretly recognised that sales people had no taste; that's why matching shirt/tie/spillover handkerchief sets were created. Journalists weren't even accorded that kind of patronising attention and were thought to be beyond the pale.

Joe: I must admit I was guided by higher and utterly unknown forces.

B2: You've got it in one. Having experienced a Liberty design from the inside, as it were, I concluded it was unique. And, by extension, so was I.

RW (sZ): Dear, dear friend. I do not wish to rain on your parade but there is world of difference between clothing that is utilitarian (however fancy) and that is which is solely a mark of conspicuous consumption. Mind you I'd rather have you alive than a peacocked-up corpse, dead of hypothermia.

FigMince: Let us go to one of those same-sex chapels there to consecrate our nuptials. The Hustlers! Never saw the movie but read the book (by AG Wakeman) several times. All that play with the word "sincere"; the soap baron spitting on the table. To my shame I'd forgotten the tie-buying episode but it fits the story's ethos perfectly. The biog of Wakeman on the back of my Penguin version said: AG Wakeman wasn't exactly sure what his job was in advertising but when he left his last agency he was proud that they replaced him with three people. Welcome back; TD needs your sardonic eye.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Lovely tie, lovely post. Liberty is still on Regent Street and still expensive though it doesn't have the cachet it once had.