I thought long and hard about posting this because it is shocking.. at least to me.
Easier to write about than talk about.
And I have recovered.
When I was about ..
.. seventeen years old I dragged my father and his wallet around the shops and tailors of Hammersmith looking for the overcoat I wanted.
In the end, we settled on the longest length – it was medium and therefore not long enough – navy blue cashmere overcoat that was fashionable in 1983.
I was grateful but it was not what I had in mind.
After corporate life ..
.. my brothers introduced me to shoes made by Jeffery West and I subsequently developed a taste for velvet jackets worn with jeans and winklepickers when I wanted to look “corporate”.
And then one day in the summer of 2017 I thought it would be nice to have the overcoat that I’d always wanted made for me by a tailor.
So I innocently took myself and my lovely wife, Karen, off to Saville Row to see what could be done.
The first tailor we made enquiries in was more of a dinner suits establishment – lots of velvet – and so he directed us to another tailor across the road – the Huntsman.
Now, other than a neoprene drysuit for diving, I have never before had anything made to measure for me in my life (and quite possibly never will again😁).
But I was enthusiastic and had a good mental picture of what I wanted in mind, fresh from 1983.
Stepping in to the Huntsman for the first time was like entering a rather opulent friends front living room and whilst Karen was settling in to the Chesterfield in front of a marble fireplace with a cup of Earl Grey – after taking photographs of all the signed pictures of international stars of film, music and politics (and their tailored accoutrements), over the years – I was attended to by David G.
After about 40 minutes we had selected the material and lining and David now had a good idea of what I wanted.
In a quick aside to Karen, after looking at some of the off the shelf price tags, I said:
“I reckon it’ll cost around £2,500; what do you think?”
She didn’t respond, other than to nod at me, as if to an idiot.
After another ten minutes or so – there was some discussion of the shoulder where we settled on the Raglan cut, allowing more freedom of movement (to swing a sword around apparently) and invented by Lord Raglan after he lost an arm in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 – the subject turned to the required deposit.
Now, I am at pains to point out here that at no time had I felt any pressure or obligation to enter into the transaction and I am quite sure that I could have balked at the price (which I in fact did), said something like, “No thank you; that’s a bit pricey for me. I’ll have a think about it” and walked away.
Instead, the colour drained from my face as my curious wife looked on in some amusement to see what my reaction would be when David said:
“That will be £6.675 pounds please Mr Morris, and we will need half of that today.”
I say I balked, but it was just for an instant, as I smoothly found another credit card – one that worked – after the first refused because some banking algorithm scratched its head and said £3,337.50. For a coat!”
A new paraglider will cost between £3,000 to £4,000. Furthermore, there are a lot more stitches in a paraglider but they are usually replaced within 2-5 years and the resale value in my experience has not been brilliant.
I’m on my 7th paraglider – just to put that into perspective.
So, any grief I felt was in the instant of passing my card over. I had found myself in the moment in my life where that 17 year old still in me was scratching his itch.
I have certain memories in my head that are etched in high resolution – such as when I nearly set myself on fire after I had crashed my TVR – and this is one of them.
In my opinion, everyone should strive for a few high resolution memories like this – to draw on in times as a source of amusement and happiness or when they need a reminder of how lucky they are. I think this is both.
I am very pleased with the overcoat. I think it turned out nice. It is very robust and I’m sure I can sleep in it outdoors if I ever become homeless.