Category Archives: Social Trends

Living with legends

The tall, black hoardings have gone up. The great displays boasting of “creating legends since 1937” are shrouded. The few lights left on look like candles that someone forgot to blow out.

It is the beginning of the end. Earls Court has closed for good. The deconstruction process has begun.

A shedload of memories

For over three-quarters of a century this vast shed and its more recent sister building, Earls Court 2, have played host to the great, the good, the sometimes bad and the occasionally nonsensical acts and activities that have been part of our lives over that span of time. Earls Court

For many of us who’ve lived with this venue as our neighbour, Earls Court was always the home of the Motor Show, the Boat Show and the Ideal Home Exhibition.

We were used to seeing the annual procession of expensive limousines on low loaders, the incongruous sight of luxury yachts being towed through our streets and whole houses being shoehorned into the cavernous interior of a building which, on many occasions, became a kind of three-ring circus full of raucous folk hawking their wares and hoping we’d buy their sometimes outrageous offerings.

There was, too, the Royal Tournament, an event marked for locals by the early morning sight of the Household Cavalry exercising their horses along Lillie Road, past the Brompton Cemetery and up Warwick Road.

And then, of course, there were the bands.

Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen, George Michael, David Bowie and a host of other big names; they all played Earls Court. It was, after all, the only venue in town big enough to hold their vast, adoring audiences.

And there was the trade.

For many local businesses – particularly those in Earl’s Court’s lively hotel and restaurant trade – the exhibition centre was a hugely important source of income. The manager of the long-since-closed L’Artiste Affamé once told me that visitors to the Boat Show brought in almost enough revenue to keep him going for eight or nine months.

A new community

Now we are faced with a different prospect; the creation of new “villages” featuring high-end residential properties whose doubtful value to the community is to be offset by new doctors’ surgeries and – it’s said – a new school.

The proof of this particular pudding will, of course, be in the eating.

In the meantime, life goes on and – thankfully – some things haven’t changed. Bob Dylan

The Troubadour, for example, is now a double-fronted establishment with an associated wine shop. Yet – in the basement where a young Bob Dylan and Paul Simon both performed – there is still live music several nights a week.

Response, the community project founded in the late 1970s by Neil Barnett and James Evans, still functions, albeit with a changed role reflecting Earl’s Court’s fluctuating population and fluid character.

The pubs are still busy. One – until recently a branch of O’Neil’s – has been refurbished and reverted to its original name: The Bolton.

Lost opportunities

While we may legitimately mourn London’s loss of an internationally recognised entertainment venue within an Olympian stone’s throw of Harrods, we can at least hope that this cosmopolitan part of the capital will not lose its identity along with its memories.

Who knows but that another legend may be born in the basement of the Troubadour. Or that a busker will appear at the entrance to the station and, catching the eye of a passing stranger, once more turn Earl’s Court into a place where small dreams become big realities.

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The hard choice in May

A week is a long time in politics, so they say.
Well, if a week is a long time, the four months between now and the next UK general election already seems like an age.
And, at my age, I wonder if I can bear it.
Argument and counter-argument
With Christmas over and the New Year well underway, the various political leaders have already started sharing their thoughts with us.
The state of the economy and the National Health Service, our membership of the European Union, the changes needed in our education system, the condition of the country’s roads and general infrastructure; all these and many more weighty matters will be the subject of endless debate. There’s no doubting that some issues will be the subject of fierce argument.
Now, what troubles me is this.
Have any of us got the stomach for a continuous diet of bilious rhetoric, half-baked ideas and sour grapes?
And will four months of that be enough to satisfy our appetite for certainty in an uncertain world?
Of course, it’s too early to be worrying about who to vote for.
None of the contenders – and there are many more than usual vying for our vote – have so far laid out their policies in a clear and unambiguous way.
So choice is hard to determine.
The alternative vote
I’ve talked about this before (see my blog of October 16 2014) and I make no bones about mentioning it again now.
The sheer breadth of choice likely to be on offer at this election cries out for a space on the ballot paper where we can vote “No Confidence”.
I believe that, with so many parties to choose from, and so little prospect of any of them offering clear-cut policies that look as if they will bring certainty to our future, we deserve the right to register our dismay in an accountable way.
If I had this option, the next four months would be bearable.
Even the daily diet might be palatable.
Because I could choose to listen to the debates – or not – to get sick of them – or not – knowing that, come election day, I could register my true feelings in a responsible way.
Compromised choice
As it is, the system will probably force me to make a compromised choice, either voting to thumb my nose at the incumbent MP or to keep some other unsavoury candidate from winning the seat.
Of course, I hope to be offered something positive to vote for.
But, while I still doubt that I will, I would like the chance to register my dismay in a meaningful way.
The alternative is unappetising to the point of being totally indigestible.

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Jazzin’ (and votin’) with Ken

Yes, he does wear suede shoes. And yes, he is overweight. And, to judge by the way he shambled onto the stage at London’s King’s Place last night, he’s not so much a big beast of British politics, but a wounded beast showing his age.
Ken Clarke, Britain’s former Secretary of State for Almost Everything, was in conversation with Michael White, the Guardian’s former political editor.
Although, to be more accurate, Michael White tried to have a conversation with Ken Clarke.
As ever, Clarke bulldozed his way through the interview, giving White few chances to intervene or guide the flow of words and ideas. He was like a small rock standing in the way of Clarke’s progress.
A ramble through a life
The evening had begun – prior to the appearance of the man who loves a pint, a cigar and good music – with a half-hour session from a jazz trio.
It moved on from there to a brief excursion through Clarke’s upbringing in Nottinghamshire, to his grammar school education and time at Cambridge (where he studied law) and to his years as an MP, government minister and member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet. “A bloody good government to have been in”, he said.
“People go into politics because they want to change things. That’s what Margaret wanted to do. When she left office, Britain was a different place. Not many Prime Ministers can claim to have done that.”
Few would argue with this view. Only, perhaps, with the manner of achieving the change.
The European question
Clarke is an avowed supporter of the European Union.
“Almost all the progress we have made in the last 40 years has been due to our position in Europe”, he said. “I believe that, if we were to leave the EU, we would be lost and diminished as a nation. No leading politician would bother to call the British Prime Minister for their view.”
He also believes that UKIP’s Nigel Farage has done Europe a great disservice by, as he put it, “conflating the immigration issue with Brussels and European Union reform”.
According to Clarke, anyone who suggests that the Conservative Party is “running scared” of UKIP is playing into Farage’s hands and, effectively, adding to UKIP’s dubious credibility.
“That’s a dangerous game to pay”, he says.
Overcoming voter apathy
As a Europhile, Clarke believes that, in order to overcome voter apathy, someone has to make the case for Europe.
“Instead of all the negativity, particularly from Farage, we need a positive message about Europe. Anyone who’s pro-Europe should be getting people enthused about the benefits of Europe, promoting the message of progress and giving them something to aspire to.”
But unlike me, Clarke doesn’t believe in compulsory voting.
“You’d get all sorts of riff-raff voting. Winos and reprobates. People who wanted to avoid the £25 fine, or whatever it might be. I’m against it, just as I’m against giving prisoners the vote.”
Instead, he firmly believes that politicians should give the voters something robust to vote for, a kind of take it or leave it approach.
In his day, he contends, politicians didn’t pay so much attention to their PR advisers.
“Margaret never read the papers or listened to opinion polls. She had her agenda and she stuck to it. Nowadays, our politicians worry too much about upsetting people and losing their vote. She didn’t care how many people she upset!”
Clarke doesn’t seem to, either.
As he left the stage, the jazz trio were reappearing, ready to serenade the man who who doesn’t care.
Or does he?
Asked if he’d have liked to have been Prime Minister, he almost roared “Yes!”
I don’t think that’s a man who doesn’t care!
I’d like to have jazzed with him.
Heck, I might even have voted for him!

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Vote, they say. But how?

Hardly a day goes by these days without us being asked or told how to vote for some cause or another.

Last month, the residents of Scotland were asked: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” To many people’s surprise, and many others’ disappointment, they turned out in force to narrowly vote “No”.

Last week, the people of Clacton were asked to vote for a new Member of Parliament, their previously incumbent Member having defected to the UK Independence Party. The original Member got his job back, albeit under a different banner.

The other day I was asked to vote for Time Out magazine’s awards for the best best local restaurants, cafés, pubs and shops in London.

And so it goes on. We are asked to vote on anything, from the best of an obscure category to the worst of some other mysterious grouping.

As for being told how to vote politically, even former Sex Pistol, Johnny Rotten, is in on the act! He believes we should all vote, no matter how apathetic we may be about British politics. “Stand up and be counted”, he says.”Make your voice heard.”

And I agree. We should all vote.

The trouble is, many of us either don’t know who to vote for, or see the whole process as a waste of time because none of the parties, or their candidates, offer anything we can relate to.

Much of this apathy is, no doubt, due to our disillusionment with Parliament and our MPs. The expenses scandal clearly undermined people’s trust in the establishment. The differences between the parties’ policies are so slim it’s impossible to slip a cigarette paper between them. The all-too-frequent bouts of incompetence do nothing for our confidence.

As a result, many of us see politics as a waste of time and don’t bother to vote at all. Which, as Johnny Rotten would no doubt agree, is a crying shame.

A new alternative

I believe voting in Britain should be compulsory.

“Pretty radical”, I hear you say.

Well, maybe. But look at it this way.

If we were all legally obliged to vote, we might all pay more attention to what’s on offer and, instead of abdicating our responsibilities for the way our society is governed, we might actually engage with politics more positively.

Some of us, of course, will never want to vote for any political party or movement.

At present, if that’s how we think, we can always go to the polling station and write whatever we choose all over the ballot paper. “None of these candidates are suitable” or “Bollocks!” or “I’d rather go to a hen party than vote for one of these dogs” are all candidates for this style of voting.

But this is not very productive.

Under the present system, the spoiled papers are set aside and described as such: “Spoiled Ballot Papers”. They’re not counted. No one knows how many there are. They’re just a pile of waste paper and a waste of time.

The confidence trick

My suggestion is that, as well as being obliged to vote, we’re offered a space on the ballot paper where we can put a cross against “No Confidence”.

This way, we could express our disaffection. All the “No Confidence” votes would be counted, just as if they were votes for an accredited political party, and the politicians would know exactly how many people, nationwide, had given Parliament the thumbs down.

As a result, people like David Cameron and George Osborne, David Milliband and Nick Clegg, will know beyond all reasonable doubt that XX% of the population have no confidence in any of them.

It’s my belief that this will make them think.

At the present time, they don’t have to. They can simply brush aside all the spoiled papers by telling themselves that people who do that kind of thing don’t matter. “Loonies”, as David Cameron might describe them.

But, faced with the certain knowledge that a percentage of the population – which could be as high as 50% or even 60% – were actively saying “We have no confidence in any of you”, the folk in the Westminster village would have to pay attention. They would have to ask themselves: “What are we doing wrong?”

Doing the right thing

Making voting compulsory and offering people a chance to express “No Confidence” is the right way forward.

It will make people understand that we all have a responsibility for our society and how it’s governed. It will give us all a chance to express what we feel about politics, just as it will continue to give us the opportunity to support the candidates and parties we favour.

And it will ensure a properly representative turnout out major elections.

That must be better than living in a country governed by people who sometimes represent fewer than 30% of the population.

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Is there a thief in your telephone?

They used to say: “Watch out, there’s a thief about!”

Nowadays, a better slogan might be: “Watch out, there’s a thief in your phone!”

Why do I say this? Here’s why.

A few weeks ago I received a telephone call from a man claiming to be DCI Paul Graham, who said he worked for the National Fraud Department of the Metropolitan Police.

He wanted me to know that one or both of my bank debit cards had been compromised that morning.

According to Graham, someone had used one of my cards to make a £699.00 purchase in the Apple store in London’s Covent Garden, and had then used either the same card or the other card to make a substantial withdrawal from the cash machine at Sainsbury’s in nearby Holborn.

When I asked him for some more detailed identification, he repeated that he worked at the National Fraud Department of the Metropolitan Police, that he was based at Holborn police station, that his badge number was EK350 and that I could dial 101 and someone at the Met would confirm that he was a regular policeman.

What would you do, under the circumstances?

I dialled 101 and someone did, indeed, confirm that DCI Paul Graham, badge number EK350, worked in the National Fraud Department.

Still suspicious

I was nevertheless still suspicious, so Graham suggested I call the number on the back of my debit card and ask my bank to confirm that he, Graham, was a bona fide policeman working for the Fraud Department. They would know, he said.

I dialled the number and was told that Graham was bona fide. I was asked if I had given him any of my personal details and, when I said no, was told that was a good thing.

I remember that, in the course of this call, I wasn’t asked any security questions. Doh!

As soon as I hung up, Graham was on the phone again, this time telling me I shouldn’t be so suspicious; that it had been confirmed by two people that he was a genuine policeman; and that I should believe he was only trying to help me.

Although his plausibility was doubtful, I remember thinking he might be OK when he gave me what he called a Crime Reference Number – CE030917085826 – and a package reference number, PK350.

He also asked me to turn off my computer’s router, which I did.

He then asked me to check to see if either of the chips on my bank cards looked in any way damaged.

I told him they didn’t, at which point he said both of them would still have to be analysed by someone on his team and that, in order for this to be done, both would have to be collected and taken to Holborn police station for examination.

“Only trying to help”

I had, by now, started to get much more suspicious and somewhat distraught, especially when Graham kept repeating that he was only trying to help me, which I had begun to doubt, and constantly prevented me from saying anything to him by talking across me.

“Bear with me,” he kept saying. “Bear with me. I’m only trying to help you.”

Believe me, if this ever happens to you, you’ll know how cleverly persuasive these guys can be.

Graham’s next ploy was to tell me that, if his team were to succeed in their examination of my cards, they would have to know the PINs and, please, would I put them into my telephone keypad.

I initially refused, as any sane person would. But, when he repeated, persuasively, that he was only trying to help me, and only trying to prevent any further fraudulent use of my cards, I reluctantly agreed and punched the PINs into my phone.

At this stage I’d become so distraught and malleable that, had he told me to shoot myself in the foot, I’d have asked him to wait while I went and bought a gun.

Instead, he told me to put the two cards into an unmarked envelope, seal it and a courier would come to my house and collect it.

I asked him how long that would take. He said it would be about fifteen or twenty minutes.

“Have a cup of tea”

By this time I was beginning to get very distressed by the whole experience, so he suggested I put my phone onto speaker mode so that I could – as he suggested – go and get myself a cup of tea and “relax”. With the phone on speaker mode, he said, he would still be able to keep in touch with me.

I didn’t make a cup of tea, but I did hear Graham saying the courier was now only six miles away.

Then he said he was only two minutes away.

When I asked how I was supposed to recognise him, Graham said he would be from Express Couriers and that he would ask for package 242. I was not, under any circumstances, to hand over the envelope unless the courier asked for package 242.

A few minutes later the courier arrived at the house. I live on the ground floor of a converted terrace house, so I let him into the common hallway.

The ‘courier’ was probably no more than 18 or 19 years old, about 5’ 6” tall, of Indian or Pakistani origin, with black hair and a young man’s beard. He was wearing black clothes and carrying a black backpack. This much I remember.

When I asked him for some form of identity, he simply said he was from Express Couriers and that he had come to collect package 242.

I asked him again for some identity and again he said no more than that he was from Express Couriers.

I said something along the lines of “No identity, no package” and he again said only that he was from Express Couriers.

“Give him the envelope”

Graham was still on the phone, so I told him the ‘courier’ was here and he said it was OK, I should give him the envelope.

Foolishly, I did, and the ‘courier’ immediately left the house.

When I picked up the phone, I could hear Graham laughing like a maniac, saying something like “That was a good fraud, eh? Now I’m going to take fifty grand off you! A good fraud, eh!”

At this point I completely lost my self-control and, because yet again he was talking across me, I screamed at him to shut up.

He just went on laughing at me.

In my rage, I told him he was nothing more than a common criminal and that, if he was ever caught, I would personally make sure he was thrown into hell where I would light – and stoke – the fires myself, forever.

After a few moments, he hung up.

As soon as I could, I rang my bank and, after answering the necessary security questions, reported the whole incident, including the fact that I had re-started my computer and could see on the screen that, by using the stolen bank cards at 11:58 and again at 11:59, someone had accessed the cash dispenser at the Earls Court branch of Sainsbury’s and withdrawn £300 from each of my bank accounts.

The bank promptly cancelled both my bank cards and then transferred me to a member of their fraud team, who took the details of the whole incident, as best I could remember them.

A complete fiction

I subsequently reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police. After confirming that Graham was not a bona fide policeman, and that his badge number EK350 was entirely fictitious, they arranged for a couple of uniformed policemen to visit me.

When the policemen arrived, I was so unsure of everything I said them: “How do I know you’re policemen? You could have picked up those uniforms in a fancy dress shop.”

It was a relief when one of them showed me his Metropolitan Police badge.

Later that day, about four hours after I’d been the victim of what I now recall as a terrifying fraud, I received three calls on my mobile phone, all from an unknown number.

I rejected the first two but answered the third.

To my horror, it was – or at least sounded very like – Paul Graham, who seemed to be saying he was sorry for conning me but, after all, he had only taken £600 not the £50,000 he had boasted of, so I should be glad to have gotten off lightly.

This time I didn’t say a word, other than hello, but just let him prattle on until the line went dead.

Hang up

Next time you receive a call from an unknown stranger claiming to be either a policeman or someone working for your bank or credit card company, simply hang up.

If the caller’s genuine, they’ll ring again and you can decide whether or not to speak to them.

If you’re still unsure, hang up again.

Remember: even though you think you might have friends in your phone, you might just as easily have a thief.

Beware. What happened to me could happen to you.

 

 

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Brand’s voting values

Russell Brand has never shirked controversy.

Now, having gone head-to-head with Jeremy Paxman on the BBC’s Newsnight show, he’s really put the cat amongst the establishment pigeons.

Interviewed by Paxman, he had the temerity to suggest that “democracy is irrelevant” and to inform him that he never votes. In a follow-up piece in The Guardian, he said: “The only reason to vote is if the vote represents power or change”.

Lambasting the entire establishment – politicians, bankers, big business, the police and the church – for its disengagement from real life, he believes that all of us can “contribute ideas as to how to change the world”.

As an example, he cites his friend’s teenage son who, in a school essay, said he prefers the idea of spoiling ballot papers rather than not voting, because it shows the politicians that “we do care”, that we think the political system has no meaning or relevance to our everyday lives.

Suzanne Moore, writing again in The Guardian, backs Brand for his approach to what she describes as “a nexus of politicians, media and police” that currently dominates political debate in the UK, and for stimulating that debate.

She also points out that “it took a comic to do this”, going on to say that comedians often function as “our public intellectuals, wise and witty speakers of truth”.

No joke

Brand may be a comedian, but there’s nothing jokey or stupid about his basic stance.

He may very well have called for the impossible: a utopian ideal in which everyone’s voice can be heard.

But his point about the closed society of the establishment is well made.

The question is: How can we encourage ourselves to take more interest in politics; to give ourselves a chance of making the difference Brand endorses?

How can we break down the walls of the establishment citadel so that its occupants can see the world beyond their limited horizons?

Make us vote

One solution would be to make voting compulsory.

But what if we don’t want to vote for any of the parties on offer?

I don’t believe the teenager’s spoiled ballot paper is the answer.

Spoiled ballot papers don’t amount to anything. So far as the establishment is concerned, they’re just rubbish. Not worth the paper they’re printed on and certainly not worth counting.

Which is why, for years now, I’ve held that – not only should voting be compulsory – we should be given a slot on the ballot paper where we can put an X against NO CONFIDENCE.

Faced with a recognisable percentage of the population who have NO CONFIDENCE in any of the political parties or independent candidates, rather than a vague idea of the people’s disaffection based how many spoiled their ballot papers, the establishment would have to pay attention.

If nothing else, they would have a clear idea of how many of us they’ve alienated.

They think they know now, and that we can be disregarded, but the facts would take some refuting.

Anarchy or empowerment

The present system of voluntary voting and spoiled papers leads only to a deluded level of amateur anarchy.

Compulsory voting, and a guaranteed opportunity for expressing a resounding thumbs-down to the whole system, would lead to a greater engagement in politics in general, and – as Brand has suggested – an increased feeling that we could do something that might, just might change the world.

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The ties that no longer bind

Rummaging through some stuff the other day, looking for something else, I came across a photograph of myself, taken in 1950 at the first school I ever went to.

Nothing unusual in that, of course. We’re always finding things we didn’t expect when we’re looking for something else.

No. What struck me about the image was that, even at the tender age of nine, I was wearing a tie.

A couple of days later, a friend of mine emailed some pictures he’d turned out while he was rummaging through some of his own stuff.

They were of him and me, and me on my own, and dated back to the early nineteen-fifties. Once again, I was struck by the fact that we were both wearing ties.

What was even more intriguing was that, in the short time it had taken me to graduate from primary school to grammar school, I’d figured out how to look sharp.

I’d even learned how to tie my tie in a Windsor knot!

A dandified stylist

In those days, the Windsor knot was de rigueur for dandies.

And, boy, did I fancy myself as a dandy! I even turned my droopy shirt collars inwards and upwards, to mimic the shape of the sharp, cut-away versions worn by society’s fashionable elite.

All this fancy fiddling came to an end when, at the tender age of thirteen, I went to a pre-sea training school and spent the next three years dressed as a small but nimble able seaman in Her Majesty’s navy.

No ties in that uniform, sadly, but plenty of opportunities for razor-sharp trouser creases, fancy-dan cap-ribbon bows and jaunty-angled cap wearing to keep me happy.

It was much the same when I joined the Merchant Navy.

The only ties that offered much joy were the black bows required for dress uniform. So I quickly learned how to tie my own. There’s class!

In the mid-1960s, I left the Merchant Navy and went to work in the City where, if I thought about it at all, I imagine I’d expected everyone to be dressed the same. And probably in drab.

Not a bit of it. To my great surprise, I discovered an entirely new set of uniforms.

I soon learned to recognise old school and regimental ties, and to distinguish between a discount broker and a stock broker. The former wore a silk top hat, the latter often wore a bowler.

But most intriguing – even exciting – was the joy of personal ties. I encountered striped ones, spotted ones, tartan ones, psychedelic ones and plain ones in slim, wide and even kippered versions.

Good grief, I even bought some Liberty fabric and made some of my own!

I was in tie heaven.

The advent of the trademark

When I left my job in the City and finally found my way into advertising, I soon discovered yet more liberties to take with ties.

I took to wearing bows bearing patterns.

I’d haunt the halls of Harrods at sale time, scouring their displays for ever more outré offerings.

I drew the line at the county set’s dogs and horses, looking instead for ideas born of original thinking.

Eager as I was for examples of creativity, I have to admit some of the patterns didn’t bear much thinking about!

Nevertheless, bows – the ones you have to tie yourself – had become my trademark. And I loved them.

I could even be seen sporting one as I cycled to work.

A passing identity

In the late 1980s, when I left my job as Creative Director of a somewhat sadly and eventually badly managed advertising agency and started working as a freelance writer, I was still wearing bow ties.

Perhaps, in a changing world, I was clinging to the last vestiges of my working identity.

Maybe I was simply still trying to be different.

All I know now is that, when I look around at today’s world, it saddens me to see so few men wearing ties.

And even fewer wearing bows.

I shouldn’t carp for, these days, I seldom wear one myself.

But, when I do, I feel – not trussed or buttoned up as some might think – simply more complete.

Like anyone else wearing any kind of uniform, I feel more composed, more grown-up, more responsible. Even, dare I suggest it, more authoritative.

All of which raises an interesting question for me: does the demise of the tie, and the shedding of so many uniforms we used to respect – doctors’ white coats, teachers’ black gowns, bus drivers’ peaked caps – signify some kind of diminution of societal responsibility?

Are we, in becoming less formal in our dress, becoming less formalised as a society?

As we loosen the knots around our necks, are we casting off the ties that used to bind us together in coherent, organised groups?

Or is it – as has been so often said of late – that society is becoming increasingly divided along its old class lines and – in the choice of wearing or discarding ties – we’re seeing a resurgence of the split between the old boy brigade, who still wear ties and cling to uniform habits, and their counterparts, the hoi polli who, the brigade might say, know no better than to tear about tieless?

A knotty problem

Of course, there’s nothing sinister in being seen tieless. It doesn’t mark a man out as a bad hat.

But it does worry me when I see male journalists on television, standing in some august setting, reporting on a serious subject in an open-necked shirt that doesn’t fit very well.

They seem to lack authority.

I’m not suggesting reporters should be made to wear evening dress – which used to be the case for newsreaders when television was young – but I do think it would be better if they were dis-encouraged from looking as if they’ve just got up from a deck-chair on Brighton beach and wandered into shot.

Perhaps the answer is quite simple.

Those who like ties, or have to wear them, should exercise their choice or play by the rules. Those who don’t shouldn’t or needn’t.

So long as I can wear one when I feel like it, I won’t get into a knot about it!

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