“Why are you wandering around in your underpants, Dad?”
“Actually, Dad, you are.”
“Well, technically, yes.”
“That’s worrying, Dad. When Mum’s assessing patients ‘not knowing you’re wandering around in underpants’ will be right at the top of the list.”
I carefully explained to my youngest son that whilst at that moment I might – technically – only be wearing underpants and socks (sorry if you’re having breakfast) I was actually trying clothes on.
Lots of them…
It’s all down to my training for the Pennine Way. ‘Dramatic effect’ is an understatement. On my wardrobe as well as my waistline. Since Jane handed over my Fitbit on Christmas Day I’ve lost 17.5kg. I’ve moved from belt hole no. 2 (if I breathed in) to belt hole no. 5 (comfortably).
So I have a whole new wardrobe. Total cost, nil. Obviously thanks to my policy of never throwing anything away. “It’ll fit one day, darling. I’ll just push it to the back of the wardrobe for now.”
And now – miraculously – it does fit. They all fit. My clothes are re-born. They can emerge – blinking – into the sunlight.
Unless I listen to son’s advice. Which I’m going to hear whether I want it or not.
“What is that shirt, Dad?”
“In a word, stylish. I bought it when we went to Scotland.”
“What? I was seven. That’s ten years ago. How can you have a shirt for ten years and never wear it?”
As all middle-aged men will testify, very easily.
Ben stared into my wardrobe with increasing horror. “And that one. Did you forget to take your guide dog with you?”
“Your Mother bought it for me.”
“Oh. Bad luck. You’ll have to wear it then.” For 17, he has a remarkable grasp of the realities of married life. “Are you going to try all those clothes on?”
“Yes, I am. And ‘no’ is the answer to your follow-up question. Dinner won’t be late.”
“But why? You’re just going to put them all in the recycling aren’t you?”
I wasn’t, but clearly I needed to keep that to myself. Especially as my son seemed to be making a plea for my mental health as much as giving me fashion advice…
“Just go online, Dad,” Tom said over dinner – after his younger brother had described the trauma in vivid detail.
“I like to try things on…” I started to say. But actually, I don’t. The memory of a 360 degree view of my body in an M&S changing room still haunts me.
“What do you need?”
“He needs shirts,” my wife said before I had time to open my mouth. “And tops. Ideally tops that didn’t go out of fashion shortly after England won the World Cup.”
“I can’t wear hoops. They make me look fat.”
“Made you look fat,” my lovely wife said. “Remember you now have the body of a male model, darling.”
The woman should be a politician. She’d have Brexit sorted in half an hour. Or was that a hint of sarcasm?
A few more clicks and I was nailed on for the cover of GQ.
“See, that wasn’t so difficult was it, Dad?” Ben smiled approvingly.
“Thanks for your help…”
“No problem. And while you’re online there are a few things I need.”
What? He’d stitched me up. I’d been the victim of a sophisticated sting operation. By my own son…