Monday, 30 July 2007

Bring Back Cravats

The late Derek Nimmo introduced me to cravats and I’ve been a fan ever since. We often had him on the old Richard & Judy sofa, up there in Liverpool, and we’d would always take him to lunch afterwards, where he proved himself to be one of the most interesting and intelligent men around.

An expert on fashions that have now fallen sadly out of style, Derek changed the way I thought about bow ties, gaiters, and the simple straw boater. Even now, I try my best to live up to Derek’s ideals and I often wear cravats when I’m out and about. Yet I never wear them on the show and the reasons for this are straightforward: Judy won’t let me and you have to have the right audience to carry off a cravat.

Cravats challenge people on an intellectual level. Neither a scarf nor a tie, a cravat sits in an ambiguous area of neckwear. Are they casual or formal? Do they suggest affability or haughtiness? Derek carried them off because people never had him figured out and I think Derek liked that that way. Cravats are like hats, which offer similar challenges to the wearer. Hats attract the wrong sort of attention. People think you’re arrogant, egoistic, or eccentric, which of course I am, but there’s something more than that. A hat denotes difference. By wearing a hat or a cravat, or the two together, a man snubs the prevalent belief that we shouldn’t stand out from the crowd. Cravats are about non-conformity and they're about as politically incorrect as you can get these day. For that reason, I’m proud to admit that I bought myself a new cravat today. And if I can persuade Judy to let me, I’ll be wearing it on tomorrow’s show.

In anticipation of that, I have three cravat facts for you. Did you know that the traditional cravat is tied with the knot that shepherds used to tie the umbilical cords on newborn sheep? Cravats are usually made from silk but the earliest examples are made from wool, were four feet long, and worn with a loop around testicles. The cravat is still popular in Poland where it forms part of the ceremonial dress worn by the police at state funerals. The most famous cravat wearer was, of course, Terry Thomas but he only wore them to hide a terrible scar he had on his throat where he was mauled by one of Will Hay’s greyhounds.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

c'mon madeley...cravats?

Seriously, start by sorting out your barnet, then sort out the fashion then lastly sort out the wife. Surely, you must be getting sick of waking up to that?

I know we all were.

I Beatrice said...

Funny that - I introduced a cravat into my story recently, and was advised against it by all sorts of people, for all sorts of reasons...

Steer very clear of them Richard, is my advice. Judy's quite right - they can do your image no good at all! (And it's such a LOVELY image! I'm such a fan.)

My husband has just been given a genuine panama hat from Panama, by the way. Should he wear it in Tuscany next month - or do you think I could get away with it instead?

Bryan Appleyard said...

Cravats are all very well, but, if you continue to get any younger, it will be Babygros.

rilly super said...

I think you are wise to point out that a cravat come with a caveat Richard.

Flowerpot said...

Cravats aside, I was a great fan of Derek Nimmo. Those were the days..

The thinker said...

I think you should wear a cravat on air. I think you should wear a long one with it tied around your testicles - if you have the balls to do it. I imagine you would look a bit like that chap Borat in his swimming outfit.

Richard Madeley said...

Anonymous, you're cruel and I only wish I could help you to see the goodness in people.

Beatrice, yes my image is very lovely, isn't it? You should definately go with the Panama hat. My style tip: stick a large crocus in the band.

Bryan, I can't help it. I'm living my life backwards like Merlin.

Rilly, very witty. You should start a blog.

Flowerpot, I miss Derek. TV has gone downhil since he stopped playing comic monks.

Thinker, rest assured that my testicles could manage it but Judy won't let me. She's pretty strict about what I'm allowed to do on air.

Lizzie said...

Whoops....here come the asteroids -with cravats and caveats and momento mores and 'Just One Cornetto....s' and blimey, I'm just a little girl from Essex, Richard. Please hold my hand..

Lizzie

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