We lay our railway lines on sleepers; over there they lay their railroad tracks on ties, while our ties are neckties to them.
But all this is now of no interest, if indeed it ever was, for at last the utter pointlessness of the bits of cloth we (and they) used to put round our necks has been realised, and the things are going the way of spats, turnups and shirts with tails.
During half a century of working life I put a tie on nearly every day (say, three hundred times a year) and until recently I somehow believed that I should keep them all, because occasions might arise when I needed to wear one again. However, I now see that my collection of a couple of hundred of them is a waste of space and two or three would be plenty, so a major cull is in hand.
Throwing away the wine- or gravy-stained ones was easy and I am left with those shown here. Sorting them out would have been a pleasant trip down Memory Lane, except that most of them carry no memories for me and with some exceptions they are an unappealing lot. I do not need to apologise for my taste, for few of them were actually bought by me. There are some lovely ones from my N & Ds, but most were gifts from sporting or business friends and colleagues. [A few nice Hermès ones came from Japanese contacts; as anyone who has visited Japan knows, gift-giving plays an important role in social intercourse there; apart from ties, there were watches and cameras, long since gone, and we have stored a great number of beautifully packaged knick-knacks in what we rather ungraciously call our Japcrap drawer.]
But back to ties. The sporting ones, Olympics apart, mostly commemorate transitory contacts with associations or visits to obscure events. I expect I had a good time at Asztalitenisz Budapest 1982, but I cannot recall the details; and how I acquired the ties of sports in which I never had any interest—Volleyball, Badminton, Pelota Vasca—I cannot imagine.
The business ties with their sad logos are the ones I am least likely ever to wear; the most outstandingly repellent is for an unidentifiable multinational and has motifs looking like festering sores on a background of pus. Others are subfusc and drearily discreet.
I have one tie which puzzles me. It has a picture of the door of No 10 on it and a facsimile signature of Margaret Thatcher. I have no recollection of the occasion when I received it; perhaps the whole shameful episode, whatever it was, has been mercifully blotted from my mind.
As I said, I shall keep just a few of the nicest ties and the rest can go to a boot sale, 3p each or 50p the lot. There is only one in the collection which I am likely to wear regularly in the future: it is the dark one lying across the middle of the picture,