June 18, 2019
News Opinion

MICHAEL WOLSEY: Why I give short shrift to men in shorts

LAST Monday, the sun put in a guest appearance and shone brightly. The sky was blue and the few clouds were white and fluffy. It was beginning to look a lot like summer.

But looks can be deceptive. Despite the sun, the temperature was low and a chill little breeze made the day quite cold.

Still, it was tempting enough to get me out for a decent walk. As I walked I became aware of a powerful change that has swept the land: either the men of Ireland have become immune to the cold or they have taken leave of their senses. With the exception of a few aul fellas like myself, they were all wearing shorts.

A young man pushing a baby-buggy was wearing a well-tailored dark blue pair, that could have been part of a suit if they had stretched down to his ankles, instead of stopping just above his knobbly knees.

An older man, working in his garden, wore a white, shiny pair that may have been designed for football.

The postman was dressed from the waist up in whatever the regulation dress is for postmen nowadays. From the waist down he wore those not-really- short-at-all shorts that stop midway down the calf, an abomination that should be outlawed from decent society.

The lollipop man escorting children to the national school outdid them all. He wore a yellow visibility jacket over a Glasgow Celtic shirt, green shorts of a type more usually seen in a swimming pool, pink runners and a red cap which declared his intention to Make America Great.

I needed to recover from the shock, so I undid the calorie-melting value of my walk by stopping for a pint at the local pub. I took my drink to a sheltered corner of the beer garden and, as I sipped, turned the pages of a newspaper that had been left on the table, to be confronted with – horror of horrors – a feature on men’s shorts; the styles for summer, how and where to wear them.

Where to wear them? There are only two places Irishmen should be permitted to wear shorts – at the beach or on the sports pitch. Otherwise I am in agreement with the British actor Bill Nighy who, when told that a particular role required him to wear shorts, replied: “There are only three men in the world who are licensed to wear shorts: Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise.”

And none of them are Irish.

The women of Ireland do not appear to have embraced this craze for shorts. All those I passed on my walk were wearing jeans or some other form of full-length trousers.

None were wearing skirts. That was sensible on a chilly day but, in general, I get the impression that skirts, once the most popular female attire, have largely vanished from the day-time wardrobe, unless part of a workplace uniform.

It’s not that they have been totally abandoned. In any bar on a Friday or Saturday evening, there will be lots of women in dresses and skirts, some long and flowing, some slit to the thigh, others almost short enough to be mistaken for belts.

These are glamour items and, like the Count Dracula, they only come out at night. By day, the women of Ireland are choosing to keep their legs under cover. If only they could persuade their men to follow suit.

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