Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Harry poses a question.
Like many others the world over I have been mesmerised by the news over the last few weeks. News that keeps telling me , amongst other things, that the nest egg I amassed from all my years at the coal –face has been reducing on a daily basis.
This isn’t the forum to lament one’s personal lot.
But perhaps it is a forum in which I can admit to my detestation of bankers and financiers. And to the sway they have held over our consciousness for the last few years.
Deregulation of financial services in the eighties resulted in all those things we have become familiar with: obscenely high salaries and bonuses, sharp practice, and an end to probity and a celebration of avarice.
‘The City’ ( which is London shorthand but I refer globally) achieved such a critical mass in terms of its influence on the way we live ( the economy , stupid) that the axis of aspiration seemed to shift. And the cars and the houses and the restaurants and the resorts all seemed to be chasing the city dollar. Designed for them and priced for them. Macho, tasteless, and soulless. ( Dubai anyone?)
And so did fashion. Certainly for men.
There has been conformity in their avaricious behaviour and conformity in the way they dress.
I know this because every smart , formal shirt seems to be designed for a financier. Because you can’t get a tab collar shirt anywhere. Why not? Perhaps because a tab collar is just a bit too fancy/ racy/ retro/ non-conformist.
But back in the day you could choose a shirt by the fabric, the cut ( short or long tail included in the list of options) and the collar. But for the last twenty years the collars have all been city style. Just walk down Jermyn Street, (the street of shirts): T M Lewin, Hiditch and Key, Turnbull and Asser; and the upstarts Hackett and Tyrwhitt. Not a tab collar in sight.
Maybe now, collectively , we will get over our fixation with the money men and people will stop assuming that us blokes want to look like them. From this day on they are no longer the icons that they were.
Those ghastly cut-away collars and silly silk knots as cuff-links will now be seen as the uniform of the shyster.
Short selling is like borrowing a pound of tea while the price is say, $5 per pound and selling it at that price. Then when the price drops to $3, you pay the current price to the person you "borrowed" it from, netting $2.
Thank you deja pseu.
And here I will add the football 'offside rule', explained:
You're in a shoe shop, second in the queue for the till. Behind the shop assistant on the till is a pair of shoes which you have seen and which you must have.
The 'opposing' female shopper in front of you has seen them also and is eyeing them with desire.
Both of you have forgotten your purses.
It would be totally rude to push in front of the first woman if you had no money to pay for the shoes.
The shop assistant remains at the till waiting.
Your friend is trying on another pair of shoes at the back of the shop and sees your dilemma.
She prepares to throw her purse to you.
If she does so, you can catch the purse, then walk round the other shopper and buy the shoes.
At a pinch she could throw the purse ahead of the other shopper and, *whilst it is in flight* you could nip around the other shopper,
catch the purse and buy the shoes.
Always remembering that until the purse had *actually been thrown* it would be plain wrong to be forward of the other shopper.
My friend Eamonn over at his blog makes the following interesting point:
We went the Korean national day do at the embassy on Friday night. It was my first time at such an event and something that struck me was the huge difference between what was being worn by males like me; black shoes, nondescript dark jacket, shirt and tie, or a dull suit, and what the numerous military attaches present were wearing; yards of gold cord, racks of multicolured medal badges, rows of shining military speciality pins, loads of trousers with brightly coloured stripes down the sides etc etc.
Could it be that they, having proven their invincible heterosexuality by being in the military, can feel relaxed in gear like this, while the rest of us want to prove how hard we are by rejecting foppish display?
Shares in my bank fell by 40 per cent on the markets yesterday, so I could lose everything - my whole overdraft. God only knows what the hell is going on with the economy, someone sent me an easy-to-understand summary of short selling: I gave up after the second sentence. However, something seems to be up with capitalism and where's it all going to end?
Yesterday I was on the way to Rigby and Peller to be fitted for the bra to go with my my Booker dress and walking through Mayfair, down Conduit Street and past Vivienne Westwood, Donna Karan could not help but wonder if this was it, the end of the life we've known, and in a year's time would I walk that same street and see boarded up shops, beggars, soup kitchens?
By disposition I prefer pleasure to self-sacrifice, hope to pessimism and despair. I took comfort in the fact that I have a wardrobe full of beautiful clothes to see me through the Great Slump. I had a bit of time to kill before my bra fitting appointment and I stepped into the Mille Harris shop and tearoom. As every fule no, in a recession lipstick sales increase, as women buy a low cost item to cheer themselves up. I spent a delicious half hour in Miller Harris drinking a fragrant cup of her own handblended tea, eating a lemon shortbread biscuit and browsing through the magazines before inhaling a divine sniff of expensive scent. It cost me a fiver and if I'd had time I would have stayed there for an hour.
And this is how to get through the times that lie ahead. Find small pleasures, anything to cheer ourselves up. We are going to need all the pleasure we can get.
And not long after it was explained to me that alhough I am 57 years old, I do not know how to put on a bra.