Sometime in the 80s, when I was working in North-east Scotland, an elderly friend who had once been celebrated as the smallest chaplain in the 8th Army, who had ridden crucifix, as you might say, in 1944/5 with Field Marshal Montgomery's armour into Caen, Paris, Brussels, Cologne, Hamburg and Berlin - this mini-chaplain gave me three suits. They were no use to him, he said. He was long retired, he'd never worn them and never would now and they were much too big for him anyway.
My job required that I should wear a suit and tie every day, so the gift of three unworn suits was not to be sneezed at. I accepted gratefully.
I took them home and tried them on. They were well tailored, although the material wasn't what I would have chosen, being mostly bright blue (which in parts of Scotland is code for being Protestant and a Glasgow Rangers supporter), and the fit was pretty button-bursting, making me walk like Frankenstein's monster after vasectomy.
But maybe a competent tailor could make alterations? Three free suits meant a saving of about £600 at mid-80s prices, also not to be sneezed at. I consulted a Mr Gordon Kelso, a tailor who worked in a Banffshire town called Keith. At the time my work took me to Keith occasionally, so with me and Mr Kelso it was but the work of a moment to fix up an appointment for 5pm on a certain day, after the meeting I was due to attend had finished. I would take the suits, he would measure me up and see what he could do.
With the suits done up in a parcel on the back seat, I drove to Keith on a perfect early summer morning, so sunny and warm that it was the keenest of pleasures in that often harsh climate to drive with the window right down and enjoy the onrush of the balmy Banffshire air, resting my left elbow on the sill and singing the while. In the best of moods I parked, greeted my colleagues cheerily and began the day's work.
About lunchtime a violent thunderstorm burst, with shattering claps of thunder and torrential, stair-rod rain. Street drains overflowed, municipal flower beds were washed away, the river Isla was full to bursting its banks.
Shortly before 5 the rain stopped and the meeting ended, having found solutions to every educational problem then current except the trifling matters of how to fund, staff and implement them, and I returned to my car. You've seen this coming, of course, because you're so much more intelligent and common-sensical than I am...
...I'd left the driver's window open. Fool. Imbecile. Cretin. And as there is no means of driving a conventional car except by sitting in the driver's seat and operating the controls, I had no choice but to plump my backside in the swamp, the morass that was the drivers' seat and work out how to explain convincingly to Mr Kelso, when he took my inside leg measurement, that...
...but enough of this. This tale of tailoring was brought on by a certain fascination with the adverts that Mr Raja M. Daswani puts in newspapers and magazines. He's often in Private Eye, for example, advertising Raja Fashions, a bespoke tailoring service in Hong Kong. The copy style is individual, to say the least, and somehow quite endearing. I looked for it on line, but could only find the Canadian version. Substitute British terms for Canadian ones and it's exactly the same as the UK version.
I wondered why there appeared to be, behind the figure of Mr Daswani measuring the shoulders of an elegant lady customer, a portrait bearing some resemblance to Col. Ghaddafi. Scroll up and have a look. Having nothing better to do I contacted Raja Fashions, whose Rita replied very courteously that the Ghaddafi-like figure, far from being the self-styled Colonel, had been included deliberately and was in fact Mr Daswani's spiritual teacher. My respect for Mr Daswani leapt upwards immediately. How many of us keep portraits of our spiritual teachers - not the same as religious ikons - on the wall while we work?
I know I don't. I couldn't answer for Mr Gordon Kelso.