Sunday 21 January 2018

Suits are for bank managers

By David Medcalf

David Medcalf
David Medcalf

Our Town is an historic town, in turn a centre of religion and of rebellion, of festivals and fair days.

Our Town boasts a distinctive lay-out with its own unique architecture. The people of Our Town, past and present, have been to the fore in commerce, culture and science.

Though Our Town is far short of being a city it is nevertheless big enough to have been many proud and worthy things over the centuries.

When Ireland was an island of saints and scholars, Our Town was home to relays of saintly monks saying their prayers on the banks of the river. In truth, the scholars were thin enough on the ground then and since but reverence has never been in short supply, a trend that continues to this day.

New preachers have been popping up in community centres and otherwise redundant shops to supplement the offerings of the longer established churches with their evangelical fervour.

Away from pulpit and pew, Our Town has always been a hot-bed of revolution. Whenever the nation stood in need of volunteers to wield a pike or fire a gun, the patriotic agitators of Our Town were first in the queue to have a pop at invader or oppressor.

It is good to remind ourselves of the virtues and attractions of Our Town every now and again, since Our Town is unfortunately overlooked most of the time by those who do not live in the place.

The merits of Our Town have never appealed, for instance, to the citizens of County Town who look down their supercilious noses at Our Town. Just because County Town has a purpose built theatre and a branch of Fielding & Fire upmarket homemakers while Our Town must make do with a bingo hall and an outpost of Euro Stretcher,

Meanwhile, the folk of West Town would rather starve than spend a cent in Our Town and they reserve their haughtiest scorn for visitors from Our Town. In fairness, it has to be admitted that West Town is held in similarly low esteem among the Our Towners - with some good reason. Wild West Town, more like!

Anyway, before the by-pass now under construction removes Our Town completely from the consciousness of all but the inhabitants and immediate neighbours, it is timely to recite just a few of the place's attractions. With its hilly streets and riverside location, Our Town is surprisingly beautiful. With its pitches, parks, courts and courses, Our Town is a sports centre par excellence. With its farming hinterland, Our Town is a magnet for grain and beef.

What Our Town ain't is a leading centre of men's fashion. In Capital City, the dandies wear suits. In County Town, the trend setters don jacket and tie. In Our Town, we pull on our old jeans.

Wear a suit in Our Town and you may prepare to be regarded with the suspicion normally reserved for bank managers or solicitors. The only ones in jacket and tie are the plain clothes gardaí who might as well be togged out in full uniform.

In Our Town, the default garb for most men is jumper and jeans .

Some towns are peacock towns. Some towns are formal wear towns. Our Town is characterised by baggy denim.

Similar distinctions apply between different fields of enterprise.

A friend of mine doing business in the City of London recently found that he was only taken seriously by the movers and shakers there when garbed in full pin-striped regalia.

Come to meetings in a three piece suit or face being treated as invisible was his experience. Then my pal switched career course and took up a position with a publishing house.

He discovered that attempts to impress authors and editors with the swanky Savile Row couture in which he cut such a dash around London excited more amusement than awe. Now he affects an open necked shirt and a felt hat inspired by the dress sense of Oscar Wilde.

Meanwhile, back in Our Town, most gentlemen only reach into the deepest recesses of the wardrobe for a suit when some close family member has dropped off the perch. Every so often Hermione suggests that her husband could be more dapper or distinguished but perish the thought that I would break the sartorial ranks which apply in Our Town.

Wexford People

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