23 May 2024

Funny Old Thing, Trousers .

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Apparently I’ll be 72 soon. I think there might be a mistake. I must write a firm letter to the National Archives of Ireland and ask them to amend my records.

I certainly don’t feel my age. I feel more like my waist size. Like my age, this has slowly increased over the years.

Not many people know this, but there is a highly skilled gang of sneak thieves in Dublin City who creep into people’s houses at the dead of night, when they’re fully asleep, and, without making any noise, they go into their wardrobes and take out all their clothes. Then they steal an inch or two, about 5 cm, of fabric from the sides of people’s shirts and the waistband of their trousers.

Now, here’s the really sneaky bit, they sew them up again, in a very skilful manner, so that you’d never know they’ve been in and out. Then, a few days, or a few weeks later, you put on the shirt or the pair of trousers and, damnations, they don’t fit. Feck.

Only with the recent changing of the seasons, have I discovered that I’m the victim of this heinous crime. All my trousers are too tight. Double feck

We used to call them pants. But the English call underpants pants. Confusing. Once upon a time, in my far off youthful days, I might contemplate trousers on a guy of a certain sort and imagining what was inside them, I might then begin to pant. Maybe that’s where the name comes from. Now I just want a comfortable pair of breeches

There’s this great scene in the movie The Naked Civil Servant where John Hurt says something along the lines of ‘there comes a time in every homosexual’s life when he has to wash out the henna and wash in the blue’. A similar process happened to me a number of years back and I decided it was a time to whip off the denim and ease on the khaki. My go to trousers now are khaki chinos.

I did hang on to an old faded pair of Levis 501s for years in the hope that the sneak thieves might have a spasm of conscience and return the stolen inches. But, alas, they never did. I eventually donated them to a charity shop and regretfully let the memories fade of them encasing my legs when I was a dancing boy in Heaven in the 1980s.

I remember my first pair of trousers. They (it?) were for my first holy communion and I was about 7yo. Naturally, they were short and tweed. Our neighbour, Mr Kelly, who owned Kelly’s Gentlemen’s Outfitters in North Earl Street lived on our street. He was a very kind sweet man and when we kids needed new suits, he would bring several in the car and drop them off at our house. They all looked more or less the same but we got to choose. So long as The Mammy agreed.

Incidentally, I got my first job in Kelly’s, just after I left school and was a bit ‘lost’. One of my jobs was to bring trousers that needing shortening across the road to a tailors shop. This was on the 2nd floor of an old building and there were two old grumpy guys working there. They had old fashioned, even back than, irons consisting of a heavy cast iron body with a lid. A second bit, that fitted inside the lid, was placed in the open coal fire until it became very hot and was placed back in the body of the iron. This was then used to iron clothes. I still remember the smell of scorched wool.

What brings all this to mind was a recent visit to Dunnes Stores in Henry Street to get myself a new pair of trousers. They’re for work; smart casual and all that. Outside work, I’m eejit casual. Never gurrier casual though as I avoid hoodies and , horror of horrors, tracksuit bottoms.

I made my way to the gents trousers section, to get some trousers. I hate shopping and never know what to get. I always hope that the shopping fairy will waggle their wand and the right choice will miraculously appear in front of me. This rarely happens. I wander and waddle around the racks like a discombobulated duck, with similarly rhyming words echoing around in my head. No, they’re too heavy; no, they’re too cheap; no, they’re too tight; no, they’re too baggy; no, they’re too elderly; no, they’re too polyestery. I cast a horrified gaze on the Slim Fit range and hurriedly move away. Ditto, slacks. Where’s the Relaxed Fit rack, I wonder.

I spy a pair with a seriously elasticated waist and ‘stretch’ material. Hmmm. They have a nominally tailored look and made with a ‘cotton mix’. But, wait, they have no flies. They’re old man trousers. I might be old but I’m not an old man. I move on. I eventually find a reasonably priced pair of chinos and am satisfied.

I think of the lovely Hugo Boss linen suits I bought on eBay a few years back for a steal. I don them when I go to the theatre or other cultural events and wear them with a pair of Church’s burnished brown brogues with the click clack heels. They fit me but I still look like an unmade bed. I must have quare bones because style runs away from me. No point in getting expensive clothes. Feck the form and follow the function; fashion be damned.

Trousers in the olden days were actually stockings so you had two separate ones. As trousers have developed and they’ve been sewn together, the name has still continued to be used.

Funny old thing, trousers

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