Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pocket Ballast - Part 1

or Least We Forget....

I’ve been told the pockets of McDonalds uniforms are sewn up to avoid petty theft. Urban myth or not, the rest of us carry all sorts about, borrowed, planted, cherished or long forgotten. As Number One in a series that I can’t guarantee will extend beyond this we explore one piece of pocket ballast that should always be present.

My assistant models one below:

Richard II ((1367 – 1400), 6 January – 14 February to be precise) kicked it off and since its auspicious start has been seen in every walk of life, in numerous guises, assuming endless roles.

For many (read, ill informed) the handkerchief is an unhygienic piece of cotton in someone else’s pocket.


Perhaps there are more hygienic methods of wiping your nose.

Article 1. A Schnoz.

But should this be the sole criteria by which should live our lives?

You can, he and they can, but I’m not.

What are the options?

Put simply there are none.

There is no more unedifying sight than that of man scratching around in his pocket to pull out a scrap of tissue, attempt to mop his nose and continue his day with paper detritus dangling from his upper lip.

A pathetic, ill prepared and now kowtowed figure of a man appears where once stood a friend you respected and some admired.

If you're still wavering think of the sniveller on this mornings tube and yesterdays bus. They were admired only for their exit. A warm welcome may continue from their mother. No one else.

Once you're in, however, proud owners of this humble square will find a new world opens up. A good handkerchief is but a fold from a neckerchief (sometimes referred to as an ascot by our friends west of the Azores).

Any casual visitors to the English South West will have know of their use by sailors to keep draughts from their neck and the sun off it later in the year. This should be reason alone; any excuse for even the smallest of nods to the nautical world is something not to be left folded in a glass cabinet.

They go from cold, to warm to bandage just as effectively.

Further afield the lowly cotton square is the standard western film good guy / bad guy test; point at back = good, front = bad.

Historically, yes the white handkerchief has had low points in it's use in place of a white flag to indicate surrender or a flag of truce, but they were also left with war time squeezes to wave sailors off and keep under pillows.

A white linen number is the perfect accessory to a suit, and the fold thereof can range from the austere to the flamboyant; The Presidential; The TV Fold; The One-point, Two-point, Three-point and, yep you've got the system, the Four-point Folds are all recognised forms. And that's leaving out The Cagney, The Puff (and Reverse Puff), The Cooper, The Astaire, The Straight Shell and The Diagonal Shell.

(TT. Any excuse.)

A handkerchief's use can go on and on; impromptu cloth, padding, container and not least that immortal piece of British seaside head gear.

Yes, there are more exciting items to rattle on about; made on a bench in Northampton, hand sewn in Maine, sourced from mountain beasts, sweated over in an Italian village workshop (well before lunch and an afternoon nap at least) but they mean nothing if you haven't got the fundamentals sorted.

Obviously the case for could continue but really, that should be enough.


Blogger Lynn said...

I was told to carry two. One to use and one for show. I'm glad to see you posting. I had checked in every once in a while and was worried that you might have a cold or something.

10:45 pm  
Blogger james at 10engines said...

pocket ballast... great phrase. enjoying ATWMB.

2:39 pm  
Anonymous James said...

6:19 pm  
Blogger Jake said...

When I went away to school, 'a dozen white pocket handkerchiefs' was prominently on the uniform list, and I have made sure to keep well stocked ever since.

Lynn is right, though, these should be in addition to the (usually more colourful) number in your breast pocket.

11:56 pm  
Blogger EJ said...

Less gentlemanly, but if you know you're going somewhere a bit smelly (the tube during summer springs to mind) a handkerchief with a dab on scent on it is a godsend. You might get strange looks clutching a bit of cloth to your nose but until deodorant is mandatory it's a pretty good solution.

4:21 pm  

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