I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Thursday, 12 May 2016

Leather's sentiment

I need to remind myself of brother Nick, six years younger but distant from me in Alzheimer's toils. I remembered him this morning, fumbling with my wristwatch unable to work the strap buckle. Not surprising, the buckle had disappeared.

This happens regularly. The strap consists of stitched leather. Sweat from my wrist rots the stitching; strap and buckle part company. The strap doesn't have to be leather - theoretically it could be expanding metal, but alas no: a sub-editor I admired described metal straps as "a mark of the beast" and ever since I've taken him at his word. That was in 1952.

Instead, for a time, I used a cheap (but secure) plastic strap of the sort shown. But then Nick pronounced. Nick, by the way, was a company MD, had wealth, lived a stylish life and wasn't given to compromise. "With that watch," he said, "you should use a better strap."

Nick knew the watch was expensive and was a gift from VR. Hence the pricey leather - pretty if risky, but also a reminder that pierces Alzheimer's veil.

Hardline Hope, a novel (19,453 words)
Two hundred yards away black teenagers were playing on what remained of a basketball court. Only one of the hoops still remained and that was bent down. Much of the court’s wire netting had been torn away from the angle-iron posts. The shallow bowl surrounding the court ensured that all mobile rubbish accumulated precisely in this area.

None of which meant anything to the dozen youths. Even to someone as ignorant of the sport as Lindsay their intensity was unmistakable as was their elegant skill. It was of course the great liberator, nourished in the black US ghettos and now spread to Britain; a way out of poverty that was also cool.


  1. I fail to see why an unostentatious expandable metal watch strap should be "the mark of the beast" RR. If it is, then I have been a beast since about 1970, having experienced precisely the worn leather symptoms which you describe. My band fits snugly, but is easily removed from my wrist for washing, etc. (and these days, for regularly taking my blood pressure!)

    Can you justify that statement from 1952? In those days the received wisdom was that a well-dressed man should wear a hat and that suede shoes were the mark of effeminency. Autre temps, autre mores.

  2. PS:
    Those who wore suede shoes showed signs of effeminacy - Your red pen, as sub editor, will not be necessary.

  3. Avus: You fail to see... etc. But would a beast necessarily recognise or admit to his own beastliness; most would say he was an interested party rendering his testimony nugatory.

    While impractical the leather strap is, to my mind, more elegant than the expandable bracelet. That is merely my opinion although it also happens to be the opinion of the manufacturer (Longines) since the watch came with a leather strap. Since that judgement (ie, on beastliness) was issued by someone I respected other equally subjective reasons for disliking expandable bracelets have occurred to me: they are heavier than leather, I tend to associate them with callow "yoof", they seem to predominate and if possible I avoid the herd, and try as I might I cannot avoid seeing them as ugly symbolical chains.

    Fanciful nonsense you will say but practicality does not always rule. Otherwise, for instance, house windows would be much smaller (ie, as in Sweden), since "having a view" would be thought a matter of taste compared with greater thermal efficiency.

    Opinions formed in 1952 are not necessarily invalidated by the passage of time. Only a few years previously political opinion decreed that an NHS would be desirable.

    In the North effeminacy was marked by keeping a hankie up one's sleeve. The suede-shoe opinion must have lost traction with the introduction of Hush Puppies which belonged to the rather mannish genre: desert boots.

  4. I thought you would be able to talk your way out of it!
    I was a regular wearer of Hush Puppies, too (but never kept a hankie up my sleeve)

  5. I hate hankies up the sleeve, firstly because they feel disgusting, secondly because they fall out and thirdly because the only reason to have one there is the deplorable convention that women's clothes shouldn't have pockets, something to do with 'ruining the line' (in my case, what line?) and that women are expected to carry handbags at all times.

    The amount of grubbiness and sweat collected by a watch strap is also quite gross. Probably a bit nastier collecting in the interstices of a metal bracelet than on a leather strap, but it's a close thing. In my twenties I had one of the first Swatches, in a funky (as I then thought it, only the word hadn't really come into that kind of usage) bright yellow. My job at the time of roasting coffee precipitated the plastic strap turning a really horrible grubby grey green then breaking so the watch was useless, as strap and casing were moulded all of a piece.

    I've since had a number of others, including my dad's old wind-up after he died, the battery operated version of my childhood Timexes, a more girlie thing with an expanding metal bracelet, a squarish light men's one... all gone the way of all cogwheels. I must be very hard on watches, I think. Now I have in a pocket somewhere a red plastic kids' thing I got in Lidl for five euros. I frequently lose it for long periods since I've now decided I can't stand wearing a watch, have few appointments to keep and am never far from a clock of some kind or from Tom who is never without his beastly metal braceletted one anyway, so I only occasionally stick the watch in a pocket if I'm going for a walk. Not wearing very feminine clothes means I have a lot of pockets, so I rarely remember which one it's in. Last time I found it it had stopped and I'm really not sure it's worth replacing the battery.

    That's a poignant thing about your brother.

  6. Lucy: Although I'm not entitled, I take a proprietorial attitude to your comments of this length and density; lying to myself that I'm the one who freed observations that would have otherwise remained untapped. The credit should, of course, lie with you

    This one leaves me with a mystery - that you can do without a watch. For me it isn't simply about knowing the time at any given moment (though I frequently play a game whereby I guess the time and see how close I can get). Time on an analogue watch-face is expressed as a shape, a shape which in turn generates comfort (time in hand) or harassment (too close to a deadline). In that way the watch reflects my state of mind and I'm not alone. Too fanciful

    Mind you I admire your vagabondish attitude towards watches (Which pocket, etc) but can't help feeling that this is driven by desire. You enjoy avoiding curbs. Yes, I think watchlessness is you even if it isn't me.