I entered a writing contest, but alas didn’t win this time. Here’s what I said:
In my travels about London I’ve noticed a return to Wodehousian sensibilities in gentlemen’s attire of which I am very much in favour. Do we not pine for that imagined past when all that stood between us and happiness was a properly mixed gin-and-tonic and the knowledge that our shirt studs were all in order? (Granted, the only reason they were so was because of the unstinting attentions of the labouring classes, who seemed remarkably satisfied with the utter lack of social mobility available to them. But let us not dwell upon such unpleasantries. Or, having dwelled upon them, soothe our spirits with talk of finer things.)
It all started in Lillywhites. There I was, running up and down the stairs, trying to find a sales assistant who actually knew where anything was and wouldn’t stare at me as a morose aquarium fish might stare at a somewhat over-interested member of the visiting public.
My eyes eventually lit upon a man musing thoughtfully over a display of golf gloves, clad genuinely and without apparent irony in a neckerchief and plus-fours. To be fair, the impression that this individual was girding himself for the next Drones Club golf tournament was largely due to our associated location. I suspect had I espied him at a more pedestrian outlet of sporting attire, my urge to greet him with a happy shout of “Hallo Bertie!” wouldn’t have needed suppressing with nearly as much assiduousness.
But my Wooster lookalike is not alone. Taking a turn through the Royal Festival Hall I witnessed with silent admiration a man attired in faultless morning dress, complete with pinstripe trousers, waistcoat, spats, and walking stick. There may also have been a monocle, but I was not close enough to observe with certainty on this point. This is perhaps a blessing, as I may have swooned from sheer delight at finding one even more devoted to the essence of Psmith than myself.
And then yesterday, I beheld the crowning glory: in dashing tweeds a man striding purposefully in the W1 postal district, his head graced with the finest blue bowler hat I have ever beheld. What vim, what boldness! A blue bowler hat. How many among us would have the nerve to attempt it? Naturally, such a move might offend the delicate sensibilities of some hidebound traditionalists who seek to wage war on the creativities of the modern man. But if you cannot appreciate the joy of a blue bowler hat, you are to be scorned mercilessly as far as I am concerned.
The number of waxed moustaches, impeccably formed into a fleet of groomed facial fashion, I have passed on the streets is beyond count. Perhaps these persons are being aided at one of the many old-timey men’s barber shops that have been springing up across London like a clutch of mushrooms after a heavy rain.
Do they all know one another, these throwbacks to a more genteel age that existed only in the mind’s eye? Or has there simply been a quietly heeded yearning for nattier dealings in daily life? Either way, may the fold of the thoughtfully groomed continue to gather momentum.