I’m having a midlife crisis, which in one way is a good thing because as I’m 58 it means I’m going to live until I’m 116, but in another way is a bad thing because nobody likes a crisis. Let me explain how the crisis is manifesting itself: I’ve started wearing a suit. I know, amazing, isn’t it? I can hardly believe it myself. Ian McMillan in a suit. Is he going to a funeral? Is he playing a doctor in a play?
It began as the intermittent hot weather started, a few weeks ago. Normally I like to wear corduroy trousers but in hot weather wearing corduroy is like wearing Yorkshire Puddings straight from the oven whilst walking through the desert. So I bought some casual trousers but they still seemed warm, and not only that, they seemed long. I kept tripping over them and they made me grumpy. I needed some thinner trousers and then I thought about my suit: I’ve got one suit that I wear for any vaguely posh do’s and I’ve always worn it under sufferance but I remembered that the material was thin and that in hot weather they might be cool. In the temperature sense, of course.
I put them on. They were light and, I have to admit, summery. I had to go out to the shop and I slipped what I call my ‘suit jacket’ on; I call it that because it’s the jacket of my suit. It’s odd that I didn’t mind wearing the jacket of the suit but not the trousers, which is a bit like wearing a toupee but never wearing a wig. Now, suddenly and almost despite myself, I was wearing a suit. Let me repeat that line because it astonishes me as much as it astonishes you: I was wearing a suit.
In the shop, people were staring at me because they weren’t used to seeing me looking like this. ‘Have you got a court appearance?’ somebody asked. I shook my head. I felt, how can I put it, bohemian. I liked the suit. It seemed to like me. I smiled, then suddenly stopped smiling. I’m wearing a suit and enjoying it, I said to myself; this can’t be right!
In the past I’ve always seen the suit as the emblem of corporate oppression. I’ve got on trains and, unkindly, sneered at what in the past I’ve been known to refer to as ‘phalanxes of besuited toffs’. I referred to members of middle and senior management as ‘suits’ and I’ve made my lip curl into a banana-shaped sneer when I’ve said the word. And now I’m Ian the besuited toff. Ian the Suit.
I made my way to a meeting with my mate Philip the Composer, another corduroy wearer. As he shook my hand he stared at me and said, “You’re wearing… a suit,” and those three dots between the words spoke volumes. He was flabbergasted. But then his next few words cheered me up no end ‘You look…bohemian’ he gasped. Being a composer he often employed rests in his language. Then he brought out the percussion and thundered, “You’ll be wearing a tie next!” in a clash of conversational cymbals.
Me, in a tie? Never! This is a mid-life crisis not a meltdown. Mind you, I could wear it loosely-knotted, I could get a thin tie of the kind that hipsters wear. Now that’s a real midlife crisis!