Friday 1 December 2017

"What's it made from?"

our neighbour asked. He was looking suspiciously at something his wife had just bought for him.
      "Cotton and something," she told him, "There's a label in there. It's 65% cotton. I couldn't get pure cotton."
He heaved a sigh and went off to try the item on. She looked at me and said, "He's back in the Dark Ages. He thinks you can still buy pure cotton shirts without paying the earth for them."
I remember those shirts. My grandfathers wore them. My father wore them. 
They were always white because their occupations dictated they wore white shirts. My paternal grandfather wore a suit  he had made himself. My father wore a suit his father had made. In extremely hot weather they might remove the suit jacket. My grandfather wore a waist coat as well - and a watch on a chain.
And  the shirts were white.
They had detachable collars. 
My paternal grandmother starched those collars to within an inch of their lives. It was one of the many things she taught me to do too.
Grandpa had other shirts of course...the gardening, fishing, and cleaning the car sorts of shirts. I really don't remember them well apart from the fact that I think they were blue and had stripes. He never wore those with his suits. The Senior Cat didn't either.
These days the Senior Cat still prefers white shirts - "So I know what goes with what." But, he has other shirts. They are mostly in a disgraceful state but he keeps telling me "there's a bit of wear in them yet" - along with the "bit of wear" in the "gardening" garments my mother made him more than twenty (or even thirty) years ago.
His shirts do tend to be a mixture of polyester and cotton. I know he would like pure cotton too. I wouldn't even mind ironing them for him but he agrees it wouldn't be worth five times the price - even if I could find them. 
My neighbour feels differently. She detests ironing to the point where her husband irons his own shirts. He claims to like doing it.
But I do wonder what they would both make of the other shirt I remember my grandfather having.
It was very fine linen. It had fuller sleeves and it was worn with a jabot. Grandpa only wore it very, very occasionally. He wore it with a kilt of course - a kilt in the family tartan which had been hand sewn by his grandmother.
I never had to deal with that. I am thankful about that too. My grandmother found ironing that linen one a real trial. 
But I could still starch a detachable collar if asked to do so.

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