WE are leaving for Manchester to help our son and his girlfriend move flats. I am dressed in my typical uniform of broken-in Levi’s with the bottoms turned up, Doc Marten shoes (lightweight ones, not the four-wheel drive winter versions) and an old shirt worn untucked.
“Are you sure that’s a shirt that’s best worn untucked?” my wife asks. “Only you’re so slim you don’t need to wear a shirt untucked.”
Oh, what a gentle yet piercing observation. To the point without being rude, and sweetened with a honey squeeze of flattery. So I tuck the shirt in and after that I am deemed presentable enough to leave the house.
As we drive across the M62, a road much travelled, I think about the rules of male fashion. Lots of men decline to tuck in their shirts. It’s quite a thing nowadays. I have even seen a Facebook post with the title: “Do I need to tuck my shirt in?”
I left it unread as it was by way of a disguised advert for shirts I probably can’t afford.
Many middle-aged men wear more or less the same clothes, dressing as I like to, perhaps with brogues instead of Docs on a night out. When I went into an office five days a week, I always wore a tie. Nowadays I avoid the noose if possible, but do string something striped around my neck if I am interviewing someone.
Here in York, the Lord Mayor, the first Green incumbent, is a cheerful and friendly man called Dave Taylor. From what I can see, he is throwing himself into the role with great charm and energy. Everyone should be happy with such a Lord Mayor, especially as the previous one spent a lot of time complaining about things. Yet a letter writer to the Press moaned about Dave’s lack of a tie in a photograph. This makes you wonder if perhaps some people’s minds are not much bigger than the knot in a tie.
It is raining in Manchester, just like the last time we went. We move everything between the flats, including our son’s collection of guitars. In one of many trips in the lift, I notice that my son is wearing jeans with the bottoms rolled up. I point this out to him. “Short legs,” he says.
One of my brothers wears his jeans that way too. Short legs all round.
Removal business over, we have something to eat at Salford Quays, dodging even heavier rain, then drive back over the M62. As we skirt Leeds, I am driving in the middle lane. Time to move over, I think, as I am not one who usually hogs the middle lane.
Before I can do that, I spot a Range Rover coming up on the inside lane. So I wait. The car pulls level and the driver gesticulates that I should have moved lanes.
I leave him to it. Once his big red face, and his big black car, have rolled away to conquer more tarmac, I move over. I would have done this earlier if an intemperate idiot in a house-sized car hadn’t been overtaking me on the inside.
As he was sitting down, I couldn’t see if that driver had his shirt untucked. But I am guessing that it was tucked in and tied in a knot under his testicles, as that would explain his lack of good humour.
Either that or he was just an annoying tit. And no doubt he drove off thinking the bald bloke in the old Volvo estate was an annoying tit. Now isn’t that just how life sometimes rolls: annoying tits in all directions, whether or not they have their shirts tucked in.
So the sartorial question of the day is: should men tuck their shirts in? All suggestions welcome. Today I put on a T-shirt as no one tucks those in; or at least I hope not.