SUDDENLY thin ties were back in fashion – and my Dad had a wardrobe full of them.
Oh yes, brown with little yellow spots. This red one – a bit racy for my Dad, surely? And ugh – what’s that on the front? A 30 year old Brylcreem stain. Gross.
But I walked away from my Dad’s wardrobe with a fine selection, and Kate Maguire confessed herself much impressed, which at the time was rather important to me.
I finally threw them out a few years ago – but they brought back some memories of a lay-by that warmed me up on a winter’s afternoon.
And then my smile broadened even more. Soon the wheel would turn full circle. Did Tom not go out every Saturday night?
Was this not the summer when Ben would discover “out” was more attractive than in?
Soon they’d both be beating a path to my wardrobe...
‘I don’t know how it’s happened, Dad, but your ties are back in fashion. It’s just that I’m going out and well... do you think I could borrow a couple?’
‘Of course you can, son. I borrowed some of my Dad’s ties. And one day your son will come to you...’
‘Thanks, Dad, that’s brilliant. And you’ve such a sense of style. Mum’s always said so. Wow! That green and orange one is awesome...”
Except it hasn’t happened.
And I don’t think it’s going to. Goodness knows I’ve tried.
Dropped a few hints – “I seem to have grown out of this, Tom, but it should fit you.”
But my eldest doesn’t seem to have any sense of style.
“Did you buy that for a bet, Dad?”
Meanwhile the boys have been growing. And I’ve been complaining.
“I simply can’t do it, Jessica. I’ve run out of money. Flat broke, Cleaned out. Completely boracic until the end of the month.
“Look,” I said, lifting my right foot in the air.
“A hole in the bottom of my shoe. Thanks to university accommodation bills I have to hop when it starts raining.”
“Dad, you’ve got more than one pair of shoes.”
“Besides. There’s some here that Tom’s grown out of.” What? Was my wife suggesting I should wear Tom’s cast-off shoes?
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I snapped.
“Well, why not? They’re perfectly serviceable. Both boys have got bigger feet than you.”
“Ha, ha, Dad,” Jessica smirked. “You know what they say about guys with big feet.”
“Yes I do, Jessica, but I’d prefer it if my 18 year old daughter didn’t.”
Jane wasn’t to be denied.
“They’re by the door. And you’d finally be wearing something fashionable.”
But it wasn’t raining. I didn’t have to make a decision. Not for two days anyway...
“I’ve no clean socks,” I whined on Saturday morning.
“You’ve a drawer full of socks.”
“Not sports socks. I’m wearing my shorts. So I need some short socks.”
“Here.” A pair of socks whistled past my ear. Then another. Then another.
“It’s not my birthday.”
“Obviously not. They’re Ben’s. He’s grown out of them.
“So it’s a simple choice,” my wife smiled sweetly. “Go into town looking like an Englishman on holiday.
“Or wear your son’s socks.”
So this was what it had come to.
You change their nappies, hold their hands on the first day of school, guide them through teenage angst – and end up wearing their cast-offs.
“A long line of famous people have worn cast-offs, Dad.”
More helpful advice from my daughter. “Harry Potter and er, er...”
I sighed, accepted defeat and bought the whole outfit.
Yes, that was me you saw in town. In Tom’s shoes and Ben’s socks...