The Edmondson Blog

Old School Tie

Editor’s true story.

When I was in the fifth form at school, narrow ties were all the fashion. One or two boys had altered their school tie to conform to this fashion and a strict edict was sent out that everybody must wear the standard width school uniform tie, as bought from Gorringe’s, the department store in Holborn that stocked the uniform. Being a dedicated follower of fashion (the Kinks were in the hit parade with Dedicated Follower Of Fashion) I pondered the iniquity of it all. At the time, the fashion for tying ties was to have the narrow, back end quite short and tucked into your shirt between the top and next buttons, and then the front end long and tucked into the trouser top. Very fashionable.

After some experimentation, I discovered that by reversing the tie and wearing it back to front (or more accurately, up-side-down), fashion could be followed by having the narrow end at the front. It became clear that the wide end would not knot properly if the tie was reversed in this way, but by folding the wide end over lengthwise (and ironing it so it would stay put) the knotting difficulty could be overcome. Best of all, I could claim with complete truth that no alterations hade been made to the tie — it was still the standard width school uniform tie as bought from Gorringe’s.

I realised, of course, that I would quickly be challenged about the tie and I had resolved to act innocently to any enquiry while keeping the actual explanation back as long as possible.

Almost immediately, my form-master spotted my narrow tie.

“Edmondson, you know you have to wear a standard tie.”

“I am, sir.”

“Bought from Gorringe’s?”

“Yes, sir.”


Off he went and I thought the conversation closed. However, the next day he sought me out, “I have spoken to Gorringe’s on the telephone and they assure me they only sell standard width school uniform ties.”

“It is a standard width school uniform tie, sir.”

“You know you must not alter them.”

“I haven’t, sir.”

“Then can you explain why your tie is narrower than everybody else’s?”

“It’s the way I tie it, sir.”

“The way you tie it?” he asked in exasperation, “What knot are you using?”

“A Windsor knot, sir.”

“Don’t be stupid, boy, how does a Windsor knot make it narrower?”

“It doesn’t, sir.”

“Don’t mess me about, Edmondson, why is your tie narrower than everybody else’s?”

The game was up.

“I have it on back to front, sir,” I replied showing the folded over wide end tucked into my shirt.

The poor old boy nearly exploded, “You can’t wear your tie that way!”

“Sorry, sir, I didn’t realise.”

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