Have You Got SatNav In That Tardis Mate? – How Some Sartorial Inelegance Allowed Me To Be A Good Samaritan
Clothes maketh the man, as the phrase goes. This sentiment has been expressed in various guises for centuries. From Erasmus in Ancient Rome to Shakespeare in Elizabethan England to Mark Twain in America. Like many such phrases, it is utter bollocks. Well, maybe not utter bollocks, but at the very least inconsistent in its levels of usefulness in the real world.
Albert Einstein, for instance, wore the same identical shabby ensembles for years. Usually without socks. Yet most reasonable people would agree that his contribution to science and society was quite positive in general. Apart from the atomic bomb thing, obviously.
Conversely, every politician you’ve ever regretted voting for was wearing a sharp suit when you were fooled into casting that vote. Even when they weren’t wearing a suit – the example of David Cameron springs to mind- they were wearing their idea of what “not a suit” might look like. It tends not to be a very convincing idea. Here’s David Cameron “going casual” :
Doesn’t look very comfortable, does he? Well what conman would when he’s been stripped of one of the most important tools of his trade?
Clothes, you see, maketh not the man. Clothes maketh the impression of the man. I was reminded of this fact a few days ago.
I was walking into town – I live in quite a small town- and had reached the pedestrian crossing you need to negotiate before reaching the town centre proper. Standing on the other side of the road was a man. As I strode towards him, he was sheepishly eyeing me up and down in as nonchalant a way as he could manage. Not an easy trick to pull off.
When I was a few feet away, he smiled a little bit and appeared to have reached some sort of decision. He stopped acting quite so oddly and then said “Excuse me” and asked me for directions. I gave him said directions and he went on his way.
“That was a bit weird,” I thought to myself, “I wonder what that was all about?”
So I replayed the event in my head, quite an easy trick to pull off as the event had only happened moments beforehand, and I realized what had happened.
Nature has decreed that I am destined to be a geek. I like Science Fiction and play Scrabble and watch Game of Thrones. I peruse scientific articles for entertainment. I have the word “Nerd” running through me like letters in a stick of seaside rock. If there were a seaside destination called “Nerd”, though I don’t think there is.
Nature, however, has also decreed that I look like a thug. Here’s a picture of me. I’m the one on the left:
And that’s just me and my mate Carl having a silent debate as to who might be buying the next pint. And he’s about three feet taller than me. Though I will admit the fact that I shave my head doesn’t aid my predicament.
The main problem though is that when I’m walking, I think a lot. And when I think I often look confused and in my case, people tend to interpret this confused look as anger. So, what the chap who was considering asking me for directions saw heading towards him from across the road was a rather angry looking, shaven-headed thug.
His sheepish behaviour is now quite understandable under these circumstances. And so is his sudden decision to ask me for directions after all. The point at which he made up his mind was, I realized, the point at which he realized I was wearing a Dr Who T-shirt. This one:
“Nobody”, he must have reasoned, “nobody who wears that kind of T-shirt is going to attack me in the street. Physically or verbally.” And he was right.
This isn’t always the case, mind you. A couple of years ago, in Norwich, there was a bit of a dust up between Star Wars fans and Dr Who fans. The Force was used to stop this, namely the East Anglia Police Force who came in and broke it up. Here’s a link to news report on it if you think I’m making this up.
So, I still maintain that clothes maketh not the man. But if those clothes happen to be a full, custom made Imperial Stormtrooper outfit or “a long-coat-with-enormous-wooly-scarf-and-bag-of-jelly-babies” ensemble, you can probably have a reasonable guess as to the nature of the man beneath the cloth.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2015