Richard Ord: Achtung! He wears the wrong trousers

Pastel power? Michael Portillo's colourful dress sense.
Pastel power? Michael Portillo's colourful dress sense.

“Like your new trousers dad,” my 17-year-old commented. The fact he was tearing his eyes away from Netflix suggested he must be impressed.

I say ‘tearing his eyes away,’ but that’s not strictly true. His head remained fixed forward and, Chameleon-like, only one eye followed me. The other didn’t leave the American tripe flickering away on the Box.

“Thanks son,” I said, acknowledging his acknowledgement (I’m sure there’s a shorter way of expressing the acknowledgement of acknowledgements, but I’m desperate to fill up the empty space in this column. The longer the words, the better when you’re short of ideas. When you run out of long words, it pays to pad out the chasm of blank space with prevarication and procrastination. I’ll explain this in further detail at the end of this column, if there’s still some blank space needs filling).

“At least there won’t be any colour clashes at work,” he continued. “No one else will be wearing the same, that’s for sure.”

Children can lack empathy and sympathy. The younger the are the less likely they are to soft soap any disapproval. A point immediately confirmed when my 14-year-old son, walked into the room five seconds later.

“My God dad,” his opening gambit suggested what was to follow was not going to be entirely complimentary. “You going to work in your pyjama bottoms today?”

I was about to counter with a defence of Next’s new range of pastel coloured casual trousers, when he delivered another unexpected verbal uppercut. “Yeah,” he snorted. “Pyjama bottoms and gingerbread shoes.”

An attack on the new trousers I could take, but my brown suede shoes! Is nothing sacred? That said, anything new has always be a source of derision for schoolboys. Derision and violence was the default setting of boys throughout my school days.

Getting your hair cut under the direction of your mother as a young lad was bad enough without the added insult to injury of being beaten over the head on arrival at school. “Fug crack” was the cry as you stepped into the schoolyard.

From memory, this was shortened version of “first crack,” and gave the first to shout it free rein to slap you over the head. Having bellowed “fug crack” it was also important to follow that up with the cry of “Nae revengies.” This meant the person being hit, couldn’t hit you back because, as the expression so clearly conveyed, ‘you were not allowed to seek revenge.’

It was the same with new shoes which fellow pupils would ‘christen’ by stamping on the wearer’s toes.

I guess I got off lightly with my kids. Still, I could always rely on work colleagues to show more respect. “You’re close to being dubbed the Echo’s Michael Portillo,” one quipped. But it was left to another to deliver the killer blow. After eyeing my pale blue trews, he shook his head and said: “Very German.”

Ouch!