There are times when I feel a bit like that black sheep on one of my favourite ties. I'm most certainly not a black sheep in the usual sense of the term, the reprobate member of the family. Nor would I describe myself as a maverick. Not even particularly unconventional. On the other hand, I'm not exactly the spitting image of what many people from other countries would regard as the typical conventional Englishman. Let's just say that there are times when I like to stand out from the crowd.
It really only started when I was about 17. Back in those days it was the accepted thing for a boy to dress reasonably smartly to take a girl out, even if it was just for a coffee followed by the pictures. I had a Harris Tweed sports coat in a palish greenish colour and I would wear this with grey trousers and a white shirt. And a tie, always a tie. I had a range of woollen ties in plain colours - yellow, pale blue, light green, brown. These ties were, in those days, a little avant garde and wearing them was my way of expressing my individuality, of standing out from the crowd.
All through my working life I have tended to wear ties just a little brighter than most. Not gaudy, just different. Like the one in the picture.
That was part of the reasoning behind my growing a beard. I was working in a bank in those days and a bearded bank official (we were encouraged to describe ourselves as bank officials rather than bank clerks) was a distinct novelty, definitely "not quite the done thing". It was several years before I met another banker willing to look different.
I still have the beard but nowadays I rarely wear a tie. There must be 30 or more in the wardrobe and I really should chuck some of them out or send them to a charity shop - although many of them are unlikely to find buyers at a charity shop or even a jumble sale. Those ties are symptomatic of so much of my life. It really needs a good clearing out but somehow I just never seem to have to time. There's always something more important or urgent clamouring for my attention. One of these days...
But this is the first Saturday of the month and I must get myself off to the Lions book fair.