A five and a six

Lisa Reiter has posted a Bite Size memoire challenge based on a roll of the dice. Six options and I only had to roll twice to get the one I wanted. Five gave me gardens – ok – and six – yippee – ties.

Why so excited about ties? Well I just posted a picture of my current tie collection in response to a Charli Mills prompt on food. Here it is again.

2014-09-07 11.06.11

So I have been thinking about them. And while I have a deep love of gardens and gardening, I posted recently on my mother’s so I wanted something different.  Hence ties.

As a child I chewed my ties. My mother was inordinately tolerant of the moth-eaten ends allowing me this nervous habit while she would scold me for other, less destructive misdemeanours. I don’t when I stopped the chewing. Possibly when I realised they tasted of honey roasted bogeys (the honey being left over from the last meal).

I did learn to tie my tie reasonably quickly, quicker than shoes which I still find a bugger. Later, about the time I headed for University, and freedom from the claustrophobia of a life lived on a  small scale in backwoods (and certainly backwards) Hampshire, my father made a big thing of changing my tie-knotting approach, insisting I learnt the ‘Windsor knot’ as the manly way to tie and giving up my over and under method that had served me well for years. I’ll give the old sod credit; it is the neatest knot easily mastered by the would be dapper man about town who also happens to have the coordination of a beached jellyfish. He did let me down on the bow tie front, never teaching me how to tie one properly and now, like so many men, I rely on clips and elastic. A sign of things to come; at some point, I imagine most of my clothes will comprise clips and elastic.

Well as I mastered the tie, I have never liked them. The ludicrously colourful collection you see above was my small way of rebelling against the tyranny of a dress code for men that required a daily dose of strangulation. You have to wonder who would invent this ridiculous accoutrement, but then you hear about the unfortunate deaths of Stephen Milligan and, possibly, Michael Hutchence from autoerotic strangulation and it makes perfect sense. I only wish I had had the balls to rebel as Henry did in my memoire. I came across Henry in the late 1980s, working for the Bank of England. You expected them to be a fusty old fashioned bunch but far from it. The only thing about the story I have changed is Henry’s name.

Dress Code

Henry worked for the Bank of England. His attire hardly fitted the expected: tan shoes, tailored purple trousers and a pullover even a golfer would avoid as too loud. I mentioned Henry to my boss. ‘Ah, Henry. The man who broke the Bank’s dress code.’

Henry hated formality. One baking day he loosened his tie. The Chief Cashier referred Henry to the code. Henry pointed out there was nothing about tightness, just ‘Gentlemen must wear a tie.’ It took six months to update the code. Smugly the Chief Cashier provided a copy to Henry. ‘Gentlemen shall wear a firmly knotted tie.’ Henry tightened his tie and the Chief Cashier left, satisfied. Two days later, the Chief Cashier, passing Henry, noted the open necked shirt. ‘You are not wearing your tie, Henry.’ Henry undid his jacket. His tie had replaced his belt. ‘The code is silent on position, sir.’

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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15 Responses to A five and a six

  1. Henry, you clever bastard.

    This piece tickled my humerus, thank you Geoff.


  2. avalinakreska says:

    I like ties. So this is for you Geoff. By me.

    I can’t write a poem without a cravat
    The muse is not coming, can’t seem to sing
    I thought that a hat might focus my thoughts
    But I need a cravat lying under my chin

    I ransacked my wardrobe, I looked deep inside
    Through ancient long stockings and fake boobs (a joke)
    Old pants with lost holes in em’, shirts that are dyed
    Work ties in thousands and almost lost hope

    When at last sitting quietly behind all the ties
    A bright yellow fellow, with hands clenched in prayer
    It sat looking noble and ever so wise
    He said ‘Look you idiot, I live under the chair’

    I asked him much later as he sat under my chin
    If he’d missed me as I had, that he’s needed for knowing
    He told me ‘Dear Geoff, I’m here just for show
    Your poetry is locked up in a safe that needs blowing’

    So together we gathered my life in a fuse
    And set the match to it now suddenly I know
    That I need to use feeling and emotions to pour
    Out all that I’ve gathered and just let it grow

    Avalina Kreska

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Well I have to say that is tremendous. So beautiful and written in response to my prosaic prose. You have tied me to a flight of fancy and unknotted a world of possibilities. I will treasure that Avalina. Thank you so kindly! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. willowdot21 says:

    Doh! you’ve got me all tied up!


  4. Annecdotist says:

    This is great fun, Geoff, and reminds me of my own affairs with ties. I enjoyed wearing them in my late teens and early 20s – and had a somewhat shabby collection from jumble sales – but that was probably because I got a kick out of subverting stereotypes. Don’t think I could do it now, but I did tie a friend’s bowtie for his wedding. On the subject of autoerotic throttling, I recommend (a novel, of course) Breath by Tim Winton.
    Lovely memoir, one big hurrah for Henry! Dress codes are so bonkers when they try to pin it down precisely.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lisa Reiter says:

    Bloody marvellous, Henry! I love a tale of the rebel winning in the end!

    Thanks for playing. I love your stuff 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Ta everso. He was quite unassuming but clearly a stubborn sod. A brilliant statistician the Bank put him in charge of a property development for which he was utterly unsuited. We didn’t end on civil terms sadly but I did admire him. And I love the excuse to have a rummage in my memory. My life has been one absurd tableau after another or maybe that’s just the way it looks from my eerie.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Charli Mills says:

    A terrific post extending the tale of ties and a fabulous bite I can just imagine. In western culture, buckaroos wear neckies which are large satin square scarves. They are practical–keep your neck warm in winter, cool in summer and can serve as dust covers on a cattle drive. Out of that a tradition of decorative scarves arose for both men and women as well as something called the bolo tie which is usually made of rawhide or leather with a decorative sliding clasp. I loved wearing the western scarves tied around my neck as a kid but could not tolerate it now. I’m all about clips and elastic now!


  7. Jeanne Lombardo says:

    Came to this a little late Geoff, but loved the way you “nailed” Henry. Just read a piece somewhere on the pleasures and pitfalls of modeling a character on a real person. You have achieved success here. Even in such a short piece, Henry shines. The dialogue is great, the details sharp. Bravo! (By the way, I rolled the dice until “ties” came up too 🙂 )


    • TanGental says:

      Thank you Jeanne. Some characters are so huge from the get go they are almost four dimensional. Herne was (hopefully stil is) one. Glad you enjoyed it.


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