Style | Swellboy

Swellboy on… becoming older

Passing from youth to ‘experience’ in the blink of an eye

Swellboy on… becoming older

Image: Brijesh Patel

January 25 2011
Nick Foulkes

Another Rubicon has been crossed, a momentous milestone passed, an important rite has been passaged (or do I mean passage righted?). Anyway, the gist of it is that I was presented with compelling evidence of my increasing antiquity when I received a call from someone claiming to be the daughter of an old college friend.

I say claiming because I can still recall with alarming clarity the sight of my friend, having finished his finals, wearing the traditional dark suit, white bow tie, gown and mortar board (wittily accessorised with a bottle of champagne) in which we used to present ourselves in the examination schools. Of course this impressionistic word-picture dates me terribly: I am sure that today it is all done online, whereas we used to actually write things on paper rather than copy and paste pages from Wikipedia. And here was a young woman on the end of the line presenting herself as his daughter and asking me to help her out with a student project.

She has taken the commendable step of studying fashion journalism – I do so admire the optimism of the young – and she was trying to complete a project about how men are going back to classic old-fashioned tailoring. I told her that I was completely the wrong person to talk to as when her father and I had been her age, I was already wearing old suits and that the intervening three decades had presented me with nothing that had caused me to change my wardrobe. However I did pass on a few telephone numbers of people who would be happy to give weight to her argument (mostly purveyors of tweed suits) and then I sank into a hot bath and a pit of morose introspection.

Just what happened? One minute there I was, a carefree youngster with a wardrobe of old clothes, and the next I am a careworn middle-aged man with a wardrobe of old clothes being asked for help by the adult child of an old friend – which clearly means that I have passed straight from youth to “experience” without even having had the compensation of a midlife crisis. It put me in mind of Colin Firth’s observation that his Golden Globe was all that stood between him and the purchase of a Harley-Davidson… well, all I can say is lucky him. The only trophy I’ve got is my Havana Man of the Year Award, on which my name is engraved with only a couple of slight spelling mistakes. If I were to sell it for the scrap value of the silver I might just have enough for a down payment on a 50cc moped.

See also

People, Suits