Sunday, 31 October 2010

Stress relief...

I am so stressed right now. When I am stressed (and I have the money) I buy clothes, although clothes shopping is a favourite past-time of mine anyway - ever since my mother used to drag me round Bexleyheath Shopping Centre in the days before Bluewater opened up for business (on my 11th birthday) and used to make me try on clothes I didn't like, only for me to get her to buy me what I wanted instead - didn't always work mind you. When I was at University I spent a lot of money on clothes.

Why do some people think it's ''effeminate'' for men to like clothes so much? Some people relieve stress by walking (works for me sometimes), some by getting massages - I go shopping. As for owning too much, I think there is something very Christian about owning things - about being at once aware, and appreciative, of what one has and aware of those who have not. I work for my money (and my God don't I put up with some crap at work for my money), and therefore for my things, so I appreciate my things that much more. I hate spoiled children though - you know the sort who say ''mum jump for me'', and mum says, ''how high?'' - it annoys me, for instance, when I spend £65 (a day's wages for me) on a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt (I utterly agreed with a friend of mine who once said that polo shirts are the most civilised form of clothing) only for a boy half my years to turn up the very next week wearing one, just because he wanted one too. Three of my younger cousins are like that.

I am rambling now. Payday is Friday, and I aim to have spent about half of it by Saturday. I want Yves Saint Laurent, (don't think I can stretch Prada - the last time I was at Westfield they had a lovely burgundy colour shirt but I'd spent all my money in other shops; I should have gone in the Prada shop first), Ralph Lauren, Lacoste...whatever. Quite apart from the joy of shopping it's nice to have something to show for the hours of toil I've spent in my dead end job...


  1. Balance is the key, I guess. Of course we should be able to enjoy the fruits of our labour though. I wish I had something to show for my money as I don't know where it goes half the time (but then I've never really been very good with money). When I'm stressed I like to have pint (and then usually give in to having a cigarette aswell).

  2. You sound a lot like me. Especially when you wrote about brogues. mmm

  3. There is a small tailor in the vicinity of my village. As i am a supporter of traditional crafts against industrial production, i get him to do all what i need. And he's pretty good, and not expensive. Well, the only usefulness of clothes, is that they cloak our nakedness, right? That's enough a justification for me.

  4. Hackett is usually good too. I believe they have an outlet in Westfield

  5. Why do some people think it's ''effeminate'' for men to like clothes so much? Some people relieve stress by walking (works for me sometimes), some by getting massages - I go shopping.

    Well, Patricius - it's because most blokes (a) genuinely loathe shopping, and (b) affect some level of sartorial indifference. I'm in both categories. I'd rather stick hot pins in my eyes than go "clothes shopping"; but to be honest, the "sartorial indifference" is, shall we say, to a certain extent studied, if not affected. Most of my tailoring, apart from a handful of items acquired via my wife, is courtesy of JS Sainsbury's end-of-season half price rail, or the charity shops. However, I would go to considerable lengths to avoid being caught dead in a polo shirt and chinos (the uniform of Suits when not wearing a suit). For pity's sake man - surely you've more imagination than that! There are few things more tragic than the sight of a talented and imaginative young man in chinos and a bloody polo shirt. But then I don't get Tolkein either. I suspect there's some subliminal connection...

    Anyway - two stories, both true: enduring the purgatory of a French shopping mall, my French mother-in-law drew my attention to two adjacent clothes shops, a men's one (empty) and a women's one (full). "There!" she opined, "There is the evidence that you men are stingy and miserable! That shop will be out of business within the year!"

    "Not so", said I. "When a man needs something, he goes to the shop that sells it, picks it out, pays for it, and leaves. Half of those women in there will spend half the morning handling the goods or trying them on, without buying anything. I guarantee that the men's shop has a higher turnover and a lower wage bill than the women's." The following year, to my considerable satisfaction, the women's shop had vanished. The men's one is still there.

    A couple of months after I married for the second time, following two years of self-neglecting widowerhood (I was mid-thirties), an old friend in a bar in Glasgow was teasing me about the number of young women who seemed "interested" in me. "What the hell's going on?" I asked, genuinely peeved: "for years, nobody looks twice at you, then as soon as you get hitched, you're beating them off with a stick."

    "It's because your wife's bought you some decent clothes", was the answer.

    Anyway, Tolkein and polo shirts be damned. You'll be able to pick me out in a crowd, now I'm fifty, in my fisherman's cap, seasoned black leather coat and four days' growth, killing stress with a pint of ale and briar full of Balkan latakia, my face in a battered Dostoyevsky - not a polo shirt, elf, wizard or bloody pixie in sight

    Pretentious, moi?

  6. Hackett? Isn't that one of the brands football hooligans wear?

  7. Third true story, last week in Tesco's:

    Me: "I think that lassie on the checkout fancies me..."

    Madame: "No, darling. She thinks you're man on the fish fingers packet".

  8. Paul Knight - if anything Polo Ralph Lauren seems to be increasingly worn by the "chavs"

  9. Thinking about this post has sent me off into a protracted remeniscence, and I'm forced to admit that I've had a great deal of fun with clothes during the past four decades; not buying them - I've always detested shopping - but wearing a succession of things, most of which seem to have come second hand or semi-accidentally. I also confess my share of vanity, which these days consists mostly of observing that, despite a lifelong contempt for sports of every kind, and never having darkened the door of gym, I'm nevertheless leaner and fitter than a lot of men half my age.

    I was trying to remember what I favoured at Patricius's age; slightly earlier, it was a vaguely fin de siecle, very English variation of hippydom - black velvet jacket, levis, stack-heeled boots or desert boots, floor-length knitted scarf, shoulder-length hair. Think Nick Drake. Smoking as much of an illicitly imported North African vegetable product as a milk boy's wage could accomodate. Reading Hermann Hesse and Motor Cycle News.

    There followed a brief episode featuring cropped dyed hair and battle fatigues, which we'll pass over in silence. An apprentice's wage was dissipated in unconscionable volumes of Tennants Lager. This gave way to a style I made entirely my own, and still really like: Central European, mid-century bohemia, I suppose: inherited shirts buttoned to the neck without a tie; hand-me-down suits and scarfs, long raincoats, berets or trilbys. Hair cut barber-short, with a floppy fringe. Shaving once a fortnight, frame skinny and palor white. I did the last bit particulary well as I smoked a great deal and ate practically nothing. Reading Kafka, Camus, Dostoyevsky, Joyce; beginning of my life-long love affair with French cigarettes, though I haven't touched one now in ten years. This gradually morphed into beatnik - goatee, raybans, black polonecks and baggy black pants and beret, before spending most of the summer of '84 in a white vest, second-hand hiking boots, the raybans and an army surplus kilt. Reading Alistair Gray, James Hogg, metaphysical poets and TS Eliot.

    Late 80's - jaggy tweed jackets and cords, horn rims, beret and a pipe. Reading de Maistre, Aquinas and The Spectator. Drinking ale, whisky and gin. Mid-90's - black suit, black shirt, black boots (Blunstones); black beret or trilby, ankle-length faun "flasher" mac. Smoking the pipe a lot. Reading Mauriac, di Lampedusa and Deitrich von Hildebrand. Head close-cropped (as it has remained ever since). Last summer - straw trilby, half-wire raybands, posh short-sleeved shirt, cut-offs, sandals. Drinking wine and reading blogs...

    And so on and so forth. Did I fail also to mention the black polo shirt and white chinos, one summer in the 90's? I must have been drunk.

  10. I only buy cloths when my present ones start to fall apart. I'm a jeans and t-shirt man: I have been for as long as I remember. When I hit forty (which is beginning to be dangerously close) I might have to have a rethink - and I have a pipe and slippers already on standby. The only time I ever dress up, so to speak, is when I attend the divine liturgy or when I'm in a pool competition (pool is my passion).

  11. You know, my was having a similar conversation with my work wife, after she bought another purse. Even though I carefully demonstrated to her how with all the money she spent on purses and shoes, she could have gotten herself a nice custom M1911 (and could be saving up for a nice rifle), but she didn't seem to understand.