Time to go tie-less?
- 6 Jul 07, 11:29 AM
Is it time for Newsnight men to stop wearing ties? It has always been an utterly useless part of the male wardrobe. But now, it seems to me, the only people who wear the things daily are male politicians, the male reporters who interview them - and dodgy estate agents.
Of course, there are things to be said in their favour. I was talking to a psychiatrist the other day. He was wearing a tie. I wasn’t. I asked him why he still trussed himself up. He said that there were lots of patients who expected doctors to have something round their necks. It made them think he knew what he was talking about.
Well, we all need help in that department.
I suppose you could also argue that the tie is almost the only part of what the Americans quaintly call “business attire” which allows the wearer a little freedom. Or in Jon Snow’s case, too much freedom.
But that’s not the point. The main reason we remain trussed up is simply the dead hand of convention. House of Commons rules say that men must not appear open-necked. But then the rules also say there are no liars in the House.
Increasingly, ties are simply bits of cloth which we hang around our necks when getting married, attending a funeral, or when called for a job interview. In the days when I used to be sent to report gory murder cases it was always easy to spot the defendant. He was the one picking at the unfamiliar constriction on his neck, in the belief that the judge would think a borrowed outfit made him incapable of malice aforethought.
It will come as no surprise, I imagine, to learn that the Newsnight production team – some of whom are allowed into pubs without having to show proof of age – do not wear ties. Not even the women.
And on air Newsnight’s business correspondent, Paul Mason, never wears one, and it doesn’t seem to affect his “authority”. He probably thinks he can get away with it because of his work on the Poshometer.
All sorts of possibilities present themselves. The bow tie is out, obviously, since it would invite all sorts of jibes about Robin Day, and anyway, the only people who wear them nowadays are doctors who worry about trailing their clothing in their patient’s insides or the sort of boobies who turn up at school sports days wearing MCC boaters and spats.
I was vaguely thinking that perhaps we might have a Newsnight team strip, but I can’t see Michael Crick getting into the lobby briefings in a T shirt. Maybe the answer is to follow the style guidance of the ayatollahs, who consider the tie a sign of western decadence, and to invest in some of those rather smart Iranian high-collared shirts.
The difficulty is that once you’ve started wearing a tie, not doing so becomes a charged statement in itself. So we’re condemned to do what we’ve always done, because we’ve always done it.
I was thinking of suggesting a viewers’ poll on the subject. But the last time we had one of those we ended up discarding the weather forecast to reinstate the tedium of the nightly market numbers. Inertia rules, I suppose.