Dear Mum, I don’t know why I always reserve the tattiest-looking air letters for you, but I don’t really do it intentionally! Possibly by the time they get to you anyway, they’ve flattened themselves out again a bit.
I haven’t yet got back to doing my ‘study’ as I was before Christmas, but at least this week I’ve achieved some other things: notably, the restocking of my wardrobe. In a mad burst of enthusiasm I finally took those trousers up that I’ve had since I left home, and have never worn, and early this week set about getting a jacket to go with them ˗ apart from the fact that my present jacket is wearing badly round the cuffs, it so goes with the pants that they look like a suit ˗ not quite what was intended. I really didn’t have any idea of what I was looking for and since I couldn’t wear the trousers to the shops to compare, because of the aforementioned problem, it was a bit difficult. Fortunately the first place I went to suggested a corduroy jacket, but the only one they had was too big. Obviously a brown jacket of some shade would be the best thing to go with the trousers (which are a sort of slightly tweedy green, you may recall) and I’m now unlikely to get any more trendy than I am, and won’t be wearing red or purple or yellow with the trousers! The next shop was itself a very tweedy place, and I finished up there with them saying they’d get a jacket from their warehouse that seemed to be as close to what I wanted.
Next day, I went further down the road (this is all in Stoke Newington) and walked into a shop, and walked into a - perhaps - chocolaty-coloured corduroy jacket that was only a touch too big, but not worth letting slip out of my hands. It fits everywhere except around me middel (Jewish spelling) where it is built for someone who hasn’t lost quite as much weight as I have. But I think it’s fine otherwise. It doesn’t look awkward, you know.
Remember my other green trousers ˗ that I altered the crease line on? How long have I had those? At least eighteen months, I suppose, and do you know it was only this week that I discovered they do have a fob pocket in them! It’s built right into the top of the trouser, not just a little below as usual!
Anyway, I wore my new ‘outfit’ to the opera the other night and felt quite comfortable and at home in it.
Yesterday, quite by accident, I came through Oxford St on my way to Soho, and noticed a suit sale on For Heaven’s sake get on with it, Crowl, that I went in. (We’ve had snow and rain and sleet for days; each of them is attractive in their own way, but enough is enough is enough!) Anyway after much humming and hawing around (I no longer, at least, worry about whether the assistant is getting fed up with my indecision) I bought myself a suit (about £2-10 cheaper ˗ everyone has sales on just now); a neat-fitting, for-a-change-, brown-basically, but capable-of-looking-merely-dark-when-the-mood-takes-it, type of suit (!) ˗ and two ties! (These latter were going at one for 13/6 with a free one thrown in, which sounded a bit absurd until I realised it was possible only to choose one tie that you really liked from the selection on sale.)
|Mike, the well-dressed man,|
a couple of years after this
letter was written.
So I now have two sets of clothes that look as though they fit me and not me slightly bigger brother! When I got home yesterday the people who had arranged to order the jacket from the warehouse had phoned to say it was there and to have a look at it. So I’ve been down this morning, and while the one they’d got down was really too dark for my present taste, though a very nice jacket all the same, I finished up ordering another one! ˗ a sort of bluey-green tweedy type, which manages to look a nice bluey-grey from a distance ˗ I think! They have to get a size down that will actually fit me more exactly, (I nearly drove this poor young assistant up the wall, because if the sleeves fitted I thought the coat was too big, chest-wise, or too long, or if they didn’t fit, I couldn’t move my shoulders, even if it was the right length!) This will cost (aagh!) £8-9, I think, and probably doesn’t even go with anything I have (aagh, again) but will last for ages ˗ even if I leave it hanging in the cupboard until I can get some pants one day ˗ next year, perhaps.
So no money has been wasted, I feel. (Suit was £16-10, though I did start off at £12-10, and the other coat was just short of £6.) Still, I shouldn’t now have to buy anything more for a while. And I’m still the richest man in London (and certainly better off than you, I’m sure!), because I can’t be bothered letting money make trouble for me. I really went mad yesterday: I also bought six books! I’m sure you’re gasping for breath over there. But three were secondhand and the others were cheap-enough paperbacks. And I had me first decent hair-cut in ages ˗ I told the barber he’d have to put back anything he’d taken off that he oughtn’t! So I should feel a new man.
Will you thank the T Hannagans for their Postal Orders and, oh dear ˗ I think the Stokes sent me some too. And I got a card form the Leslies! [Neighbours who lived opposite my mother] And Jeff from the old flat wrote to say he will yet pay me the £20 he owes me ˗ obviously you should never prejudge anyone! Love, Mike