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A rhapsody in brown and beige
Each Saturday in the football season, as a result of a series of gaffes over the years, I am subjected to a severe sartorial test by Mrs S and eldest daughter Julie before I am allowed to appear in public. Despite this, last weekend I found myself confronted in deepest Cheshire with a chap wearing an identical cashmere sports jacket.
The female of the species, from my experience, reacts to coming face to face with a similar blouse, skirt, evening dress or piece of jewellery with a trembling lower lip and a firm desire to go home and change.
Men are more stoic and quickly adjust to a stiff upper lip. When I walked into the board room at Crewe Alexandra for lunch prior to Barnet's 2-2 draw I was,in my mind;s eye, a carefully prepared and distinctive dapper study in brown and beige.
Then I saw this Crewe director wearing the same jacket. I rubbed the left sleeve of his jacket and said: "Snap". He replied: "Mine is a Chester Barrie jacket" - indicating an expensive item from the renowned Savile Row in London.
"Mine too", I said, opening the jacket to reveal the Chester Barrie label.I added that my cashmere jacket had, in fact, come via an outlet in Crewe.
At this stage the one-upmanship style conversation was quickly brought down to earth by Barnet chairman Tony Kleanthous.
"I reckon if you looked on every street corner in Crewe you'd find people wearing this same jacket", he said.Oh, horror. Either I bequeath my splendid and well loved jacket to a charity shop or never return to Crewe!
Being colour blind has not helped me get it right over the years. I recall the time when Mrs S and I were driving up the M1 en route to a black tie dinner in Nottingham when she suddenly reacted in despair and asked what shoes I was wearing that evening.
It seems I only had the brown shoes I was wearing with me... and I immediately swung the car off the motorway as we reached Toddington to buy a pair of black.
There was also the time in my life as an editor when I was ensconced in my penthouse office at the Times building in Church Road, Hendon, and I rubbed the outside of my right leg ... to find I was wearing dinner suit trousers alongside a sports jacket. Mrs S was puzzled how a team of eagle-eyed reporters had failed to notice when we went for a lunchtime drink at The Chequers.
I have, in fact,had to develop a stiff upper lip attitude to life since early boyhood when I discovered that I had been named after ... a German dog. It's gospel that my mother, when pregnant, became addicted to a daily dose of a well-known 'Toytown' series featuring Dennis the Dachsund.
Not many people know that. Mother even carried the 'Toytown' theme forward four years ... my younger brother is Larry. I guess Larry the Lamb requires less of a stiff upper lip reaction than a low bellied dachsund.
Dennis the Menace was a film character of my youth and I then had decades of people smirking and asking me if I was a menace when I announced my first name. I am pleased to say that the latter day Dirty Den, as in EastEnders, never caught on.
The pressing problem of the moment, though, is what am I going to wear for the Accrington Stanley game this week?