Ian McMillan: Up to my neck in the latest literary fashions

Well, here we are in that trough between Christmas and the New Year, when you’re scrabbling behind the settee to find something to eat that doesn’t taste of turkey and your thoughts start to turn to New Year’s Resolutions. Well, I’ve made mine. Resolutions, that is, not anti-turkey dinners.

I’m going to take up the cravat. Or the neckerchief. Or the tie. Or the thin scarf that hangs round the neck. Or the gentleman’s necklace. Yep: I’m going to sport throat-furniture in 2013, and I’ll be a chap transformed. Part of my problem as a literary and bohemian man-about-town (or, as it’s Barnsley, man-abaht-tarn) is that I don’t look literary and bohemian enough. I just look like a chap who’s got dressed in the dark or won a trolley dash round the last half hour of a jumble sale. Well, once I’ve got my cravat/tie/neckerchief/scarf/necklace I’ll look like the arty boy I am.

The question is, which one shall I go for first? If I wear a tie, people will think I’m going to a wedding or a funeral. If I wear a neckerchief, people will be under the mistaken impression that I’m about to give them the first 63 verses of a sea shanty. If I wear a thin scarf, I’ll look like I’m trying to hide an embarrassing tattoo. If I wear a necklace, it will seem as though I’ve become the Lord Mayor of Darfield, when as most people know, I’m not even the Lord Mayor of My House. It’ll have to be a cravat.

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I stand in front of the mirror with a nude neck and try to picture myself as Ian McCravat. What colour? Something plain? Something coloured? Something bright ’n’ breezy? I never knew that choosing the colour of your cravat could be so difficult. In the end I decided it would have to be tartan; the McMillan tartan of course, which involves a big yellow streak down the middle, which I hope to invoke if I’m ever asked to go to war. For some people 2013 will be the year of the diet, for some people it will be the year they finally get round to learning Spanish, but for me it will be The Year of the Cravat.

Many questions remain, though. Will I loosely knot the cravat or will I employ a cravat ring to keep it in place? Will I wear it every day or just for special occasions? Will I have to buy new shirts to go with my cravat, because when I think about the shirts I’ve got at the moment, they aren’t what you’d call cravat-friendly?

I strut about in front of the mirror, trying to imagine myself walking out of the house for the first time in my tartan cravat. I’ll cut a dash. People will stop and smile. People will shout from passing cars “I like your tartan cravat!” which will make a change from what they normally shout at me from passing cars. The only potential problem I can foresee, once I’ve sorted out the knots and the ring and the shirts, is the fact that my neck just isn’t used to having anything on it. I might suffer from chafing or rubbing or that involuntary kinking known as Cravat Neck.

I’ll have to introduce the cravat gradually. One day a week, then every other day, then all day every day and then eventually I’ll never take it off. In fact I might even sleep in it.

Maybe I should just learn Spanish.

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