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Black-Tie dos

With apologies, this is published after the evening mentioned happened…my fault…I didn’t see this before we left.  I must have been worrying about what I was going to wear. MJ

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My wife and I are going to a black-tie charity do tonight, the most curious aspect of which is the one that has always struck me as odd.  All the men, by long-standing convention, will look exactly the same as each other, and all the women will have gone to great lengths to look entirely different from each other. 

Great mortification will be felt on both sides if two women wearing the same dress should bump into each other.  Well, not literally the same dress of course, but a dress of the same design.  Fur has been known to fly on such occasions. 

Not any more, though, because wearing fur is now rather frowned upon.

My wife, incidentally, owns not one but two mink coats.  Owning one used to be the dream of every woman alive, or so men were led to believe, so owning two ought to be a cause for delirium.  My wife may or not be deliriously happy, but whichever it is the cause is not the ownership of two fur coats or lack of either.  The circumstances that led to her acquiring a second coat are too complicated to relate, I might add, but that is beside the point anyway. 

The real point is that she never wears either of them.  They have spent this past summer, as in summers past, in temperature-controlled storage, somewhere in the northern extremities of London.  And there they will probably remain for the winter too, the trip north of the Thames for us south-of-the-river plebeians being far too long and arduous to undertake lightly.

Anyway, wearing mink is itself hazardous.  The last time my wife wore one of hers a woman came up to her to ask if she was ashamed of herself.  My wife averred that she was not, and there the confrontation ended, but it could have been much worse.  Animal rights activists have been know to spray fur coats with paint, along with the owners, who happened to be wearing them at the time.

I am all in favour of animal rights, but there are limits.  If breeding mink – very unpleasant creatures they are indeed, by the way, and with a taste for gratuitous killing – for the sole purpose of making coats seems cruel, then why is it any more acceptable to keep cows, not to mention sheep, for the sole purpose of eating them – and the younger the better.  Still, that is a discussion for another time, or no other time since the argument has been done to death.

Unlike women, most men hate dressing up for any occasion, even if the only concession to it is a simple black suit.  For those of you who attend only one or two black-tie affairs a year there is the tiresome business of trying the suit on to make sure that it still fits – and all too often it does not.  And then there is the complexity of tying the bow tie, which seems to object to being worn and makes the point by never behaving the same way twice in a row when being tried on.  The patent-leather shoes join the rebellion, too, reducing the wearer to a hobble by the end of the evening and a limp for two days afterwards. 

My wife has not on this occasion bothered me about what she is wearing, which is a little strange.  Normally, I have to watch an interminable mannequin parade in the bedroom, as she mutters “I just don’t know which one to wear; what do you think?” while I sit morosely and mumble “You know, the rugby starts in ten minutes”.

I have no idea what she is wearing tonight; whether she has bought something new or is having an old dress altered or somehow brought up to date.  She has not told me.

I will say this, however, to end on an uplifting note: whatever she wears, old of new, I have not a scintilla of doubt that she will look, as she always does, more elegant and lovely than any other woman in the room.

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