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I had arranged for my colleague to pick me up from my home and I smiled when I saw what he was wearing. David looked very smart in his navy blazer and grey slacks and his outfit on that summer morning was completed by a white shirt with a navy blue tie. We had travelled less than a mile when he commented on my clothes. He asked how long I had owned my navy blazer, grey slacks, white shirt and navy blue tie. I told him I had purchased them the week before. I suspected the fact that we were wearing almost identical outfits irritated him and he confirmed it when he said, "We're going to look bloody stupid turning up dressed the same." I disagreed, stating we were simply going for a tour of a suppliers footwear factory, so its no big deal. I told him to lighten up and enjoy the ride, enjoy the day and enjoy whatever restaurant they take us to for lunch. "Where did you buy that blazer"? he enquired, still aggravated, I informed him, "Kinch and Lacks". He told me his came from "Harrods", we had taken off both our blazers and he glanced at the back seat where they both lay. "They look Identical, how much did yours cost?" he asked, I didn't answer, for this type of pettiness had become typical of the few days we now spent together. When I failed to reply to his question he informed me he wouldn't be wearing his. That was fine by me, but I remember thinking how daft he was to get so upset about something so trivial.
We had arrived at our destination near the town of Northhampton by mid morning and we were greeted by their boss, a man called John Sage, who I got on well with. I put my blazer on but David left his on the back seat of the car. We then commenced with our tour of the factory with John Sage and I negotiating on a wide range of various subjects as I put a particular sales idea to him. David's only contribution was to inform me that my blazer was a bad fit. Sometimes my co-director exasperated me but it mattered not, for I succeeded in my objectives and got the terms I wanted from John Sage! The lunch we had was excellent and I must admit that David played his part for he could be dammed good company and we all enjoyed ourselves. As we drove back late that afternoon I had the satisfying feeling of a job well done.
It was a couple of days later that I found out about the buttons on my blazer and the story goes thus. As we walked around the factory David noticed that even the buttons on my blazer were the same as his. He had, however, lost a button and his wife had been unable to obtain a matching one. He'd decided, therefore, that if the opportunity arose on the return journey from Northampton he would steal a couple of my buttons. The opportunity came and whilst I was in the loo my long term colleague actually took advantage of my absence and, leaning over to the back seat of the car, cut off two of my buttons, he stole them and never said a word. How did I find out, his wife told me, she found the whole episode hilarious.
When David got home that evening he told his wife about the identical blazers, and he handed her the two spare buttons, he then described how my blazer was a terrible fit. He stated that it was too tight and too long for me, he was apparently laughing as he explained how ridiculously long the sleeves were, "Half way down Kens bloody hands," he declared! Maureen, his wife, a beautiful and intelligent woman, pictured us both. Her husband was much taller than me, and slimmer, and she worked out what must have happened. "Ken wasn't wearing his blazer", she informed him, "for the entire time you were at the factory his blazer was in the car." She added, "Of course it didn't fit Ken, he was wearing your bloody blazer!" She described us as two complete idiots and when she discovered that David had cut off two of his own blazer buttons she admitted to laughing hysterically. I'm grateful she told me, for its become a favourite memory of my sartorial past.
The next time I met John Sage, I told him that story, and he admitted he had said to his staff that he liked me, but thought I was a lousy bloody dresser!
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