Comfort zones

Tuesday 15th May 2012

PINE, I realise – having just attained what is, for me, a notable practical achievement: by replacing the hinge-snapped loo-seat in the bathroom – is more comfortable than laminated, medium-density fibreboard.

Comfort is, pardon the pun, something of a bottom line.

I can sleep anywhere, at any time of day, but would feel restricted by nightwear and need to have the window open; a bathrobe is worth a dozen towels; slippers are a must, except when it’s really hot and I go barefoot; the jade pillow (from China: a gift from my son and daughter-in-law) is so totally cool I’d recommend you all getting one.

Most items of smart clothing I find as irritable and stifling as the trappings they symbolize: ties, collars, suits. Er….why, exactly?

I share with Jack Russell, the former England cricketer and a good friend, not only a birthday but also certain characteristics others would regard as eccentric. His autobiography talks of ‘a grubby-haired little kid… always been stubborn’.

His floppy wicket-keeper’s hat, for example: ancient, battered, held together by goodwill and endless darning.

“It’s under a pile of stuff on the back seat. If I couldn’t see the car from here, Marcus, I’d have had to bring it into the house. Think I’m mad?”


When a new manager insisted that the only head-gear the team could wear on the field was the England cap, Jack came close to walking out. To avoid embarrassment, they reluctantly let him sew the hat inside the cap.

When he became a regular in the Test team, others saw him as a sort of standard-bearer. Consequently, when somebody came into the dressing-room carrying a bundle of new vests – to be worn under shirts and therefore never visible to crowd or camera – and announced…

“Here we are, lads. Courtesy of the sponsors. You’ve got to wear them.”

…everyone looked at Jack.

He accepted the plastic-wrapped offering, stood up, walked across the room, and deposited it straight into a bin.

I never found out how many other players followed, er… suit.







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