Living and working in the green boskyness of Wiltshire doesn't demand sartorial elegance; it encourages old cords and yesterday's shirt. So The Suit hardly comes off its hanger. A trip to London, however (see blog below) is a very different matter. It calls for something rather sharper.
Consequently, the little number that I bought some years ago in Cairo when I was researching "The Guns of El Kebir" was brought out to grace the 10.02 to Waterloo, then a lunch with old journalistic chums under the glass canopy at the Wallace Collection (Monty Court, once editor of Sporting Life, looked round our table and called us "The Wallies Collection"), and later the visit to Goldsboro Books in the evening.
It now has a little trouble meeting in the midriff but no matter, for I feel it still retains its rakish charm if I leave it carelessly unbuttoned. Drinking a drop of the dry white just off Shaftesbury Avenue and chatting to the delicious Chiara Priorelli from my publishers, The Suit and I, then, felt quite at ease, even, perhaps, a touch of the Noel Cowards coming on. I even met a couple of fellow authors who had read my books.
So it was that, after leaving the party and sauntering down Jermyn Street, I felt that it was far too early for us to retire. Perhaps a dry martini to two at the Ritz? Dammit, why not? Now I hasten to add that I am no stranger to the place. Years and years ago, when The Suit was certainly little more than a wrinkle on the back of a sweet young Merino ewe in New South Wales, I kept an account at the Ritz. These were in the days when I was a Captain of Industry (oh, all right then, a lance corporal) and I very occasionally entertained the top men of Britain's textile and clothing industries.
You will see, then, that the two of us were not over-awed as we swept into the Rivoli Bar. Two stonking vodkatinies later we decided that the only way to finish an interesting, if slightly self-indulgent day was to dine round the corner at Wilton's. I remembered it (after just one visit at roughly the time when Shirley Bassey was beginning her career) as a splendidly traditional restaurant. It would now ideally suit our mood.
The top hatted doorman outside was looking in disdain at two grockles who were studying the menu outside - what did they think the joint was, a cheap Italian? - but, of course, he lifted his hat and opened the door for the Suit and I as we tottered slightly mounting the steps. Inside, the blonde receptionist insisted that it didn't matter that we had made no reservation and we followed her swinging hips as she led us to a table for two right at the end of the restaurant, ideally situated where we could see the comings and goings.
And what comings and what goings! The world, it seemed, had brought in his trophy wife, each looking alike with long, blonde streaked hair snaking down her back and legs stretching for ever down from a waist that you could encircle with one hand. Not one of them, of course, would ever have cleaned behind the back of a fridge.
To our delight, one couple took the table next to us. They leaned to kiss each other, so proving of course that they were not married. "Champagne cocktail, darling?' he enquired. 'Of course, darling.'
I sipped my Chablis, not meaning to share it with The Suit but a little, I'm afraid, did manage to find its way down the left lapel. We consumed, since you ask, a scrumptious lobster soup, a melt-in-your-mouth smoked salmon omelette and, naturally, another glass of the golden nectar, before summoning the bill. Together with the aforementioned dry martinis, it totalled roughly what Betty and I had paid for our first house.
Only slightly daunted, the two of us wound our way back to where I was staying at me club, for, bien sur, one last Armagnac for the lift.
On the train home the next morning, one side of The Suit was certainly not talking to the other and I sat whimpering, staring out of the window and wishing that God had never invented credit cards. Once home, of course, I found that my trophy wife had not cleaned behind the fridge. It will be the old Harris tweed and jeans the next time I go to town.