Tuesday 16 July 2013

what chance have you got against a tie and a crest?

I left the office today for a couple of hours to present an award on behalf of my company.  I mentioned this the other day to the colleague who sits just next to me.  I've known this lady for several years now, and on hearing this news, she looked at me for a moment or two, chewed it over and said, "Look, I'm not being funny or anything, but who the hell are you?"

She has a point.  Who the hell am I?

The event was a prize-giving that immediately followed the graduation of some students from Nottingham Trent university.  These guys have just finished one of those degrees where they juggle their coursework with a full-time job in placement with a company.  Over the years, we've had many of these guys working in our department, and for the last few years, I've been their mentor.  My company sponsors one of the awards - best performance in the final year - and they were good enough to ask me if I would hand out the prize - a cheque for £250 - on behalf of the company to the lucky winner.

I was delighted.

Neither of my two guys were the winners, but they've worked so hard over the last couple of years and it has been a real pleasure watching them develop and now to watch them graduate.  It was also a slightly bittersweet moment as my company isn't taking in any more of these students as they have decided to focus on apprenticeships and Year in Industry placements instead.  I'm involved with those too, but it was this scheme that first got me involved with what HR like to call our "Talent Pipelines" and that showed me how much more rewarding this sort of stuff is than my day job.

I had to get dressed up, of course.  It was a pretty hot day to be in a suit and tie, but I managed.  I had a slight dilemma this morning when I realised that my chosen shirt was rather limiting my tie choices.  I don't like to wear ties and most days I don't bother, so not surprisingly my choices are a little limited.  In the end, I plumped for my old school tie..... never something I do lightly as I don't remember my school days all that fondly and would not want anyone to see my choice of tie as signalling my approval for my school or for anything it represents.  Nor do I want to be seen as the kind of person who wears an old school tie.  I take a lot of pride that most people don't see me as privately educated and are surprised when they find out that I was.  Advertising my education through my choice of tie seems to go against the grain.....although you will notice that, for all my high principles, I still have my old school tie in my wardrobe.

Anyway.  I wore it.

As I feared, it was commented upon almost immediately after my arrival in the office.

"Oh, that's a nice tie.  Next, isn't it?"
My old school was founded in 1567.  The first Next shops opened in 1982.  I'm pretty sure this isn't what the school were going for when they chose these colours.  I was horrified to find that, although I was amused by the remark, I was also slightly insulted.  Maybe I am a snob?
That wasn't the last comment either:
"Oh, have you been at Wimbledon?  Were you a match referee or something?"
Someone else wondered if it was a Nottinghamshire CCC tie that I'd picked up at Trent Bridge last week.  Well, I am a member, after all.

Not a single person picked it out as my old school tie.  Nobody offered me a job in the City or anything, not even at one of the smaller investment banks.  Perhaps I'll wear it tomorrow and see if I get asked to become a special advisor at Downing Street or to the Treasury or something.  I feel more powerful wearing it, so surely it's only a matter of time before someone recognises it for what it represents and accords me the appropriate respect immediately.

Not wearing this tie has clearly set my career back immeasurably.  I see that now.


  1. That tie has "Cunt" written all over it. Rugby, right?

  2. right... so what on earth are Next thinking?

  3. Oh, and superb old school tie recognition skills. Do you devote much energy to it?

  4. My wife went to East Texas State University, which became Texas A&M Commerce after she left, but before she got her degree, so her degree says she got it at Texas A&M Commerce. She's been on job interviews and the interviewer will see where she got her degree, and say, "So, you're an Aggie, great school." Aggies are students at the main campus of Texas A&M, the Texas A&M Commerce students are Lions. She once corrected the guy by saying, "No, I went to A&M Commerce, I'm a Lion." His reply was that it doesn't matter which A&M campus she attended, she's still an Aggie. Her thought was, if it helps me get the job, Gig 'Em! (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gig%20em)

  5. Dan - I liked you before, but not calling me a c*nt in your comment has just endeared you to me a little bit more.

  6. It's a nice tie, it appeals to my mod aesthetic in much the same way as striped blazers and college scarves. But I don't like wearing ties and even if I did I doubt I'd ever knowingly wear it or any other old school tie for fear of any awkwardness should a complete stranger start quizzing me about a school I didn't go to. Even though, in theory, I shouldn't give a fuck for the feelings of anybody who'd get upset over such supposed impropriety. (Which reminds me, there's a good bit in Joe Orton's diaries where Kenneth Halliwell is going to go to a party in an Etonian tie.)

    I'd never given it any thought before but I realise now that I haven't got a clue what any of these famous old school ties look like, despite it being the kind of trivia I usually pick up, especially in the case of Rugby, featuring as it does in the backgrounds of several of my figures of interest (Wyndham Lewis, Pete Kember, and, er..Flashman). Like your colleague I'm pretty sure I'd have plumped for Wimbledon if forced to make a guess.

  7. Funnily enough, I have no idea what any other school tie looks like in the slightest. Why would I? To my mind, Anon above seems unusually well versed on the subject. The most famous person I can think of from my particular house was Neville Chamberlain....
    The tie itself is fine, but it clearly carries baggage. For me and for others, it seems.

  8. other famous old boys. Um. Salman Rushdie. Now I'm struggling.
    Tom Brown and Matthew Arnold, obvs.
    Rupert Brooke.

  9. I also absolutely love the idea that Next do a tie in this pattern.

  10. Wasn't Neville Chamberlain the Hogwarts student who helped to defeat Voldemort?

  11. Ha! He'd probably have loved to be famous for that instead. Poor old Neville. Oh, how quickly hindsight stained his legacy.

  12. I think the spell he used was placamina nazi.