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Sunday, June 10, 2007

The correct use of shorts

Like most grown men in the 1950s, my father didn't own any shorts. They were a garment that his generation associated with a recent unpleasantness with the Japanese. Thankfully it wasn't warm when Macmillan was Prime Minister, so he could get by.
His son, however, tends to rely on shorts from May to October. A trip to the shops yesterday provided an opportunity to see how different groups of modern British men are reacting to the current stifling temperatures. Silver haired members of the regiment of the retired turn out (or are, one suspects, turned out) in the biscuity shades decreed by Marks and Spencer, their feet forced into trainers held in place with velcro.
Meanwhile the look for the young father seems to be the polo shirt, the wrap around shades that cricketers use to project inscrutability and then the cropped trouser which terminates a foot above the sockless trainer.
I'm not sure about this. Fathers, I feel, have a social duty to look reliable. This used to mean a pipe. Obviously that is never coming back. But there is something faintly disreputable about this look (or at least the cropped trouser element of it). Maybe it's the piratical connotations or the echoes of the footballer on holiday. There is something about it which is not altogether right.
When the Englishmen of 1940 got their legs out it was in order to frighten Rommel - not to look like S Club 7.