In the war being waged between waistline and wardrobe, it is increasingly clear that there will only be one winner. I came to this stark realisation about a month before Montréal. In a rare episode of self organisation, I decided to check just how many of my trousers actually still fit me.
The sensible answer that question should of course be all of them. If they are in the wardrobe then, by definition, they should fit you, right. Unfortunately in my case, my reaction to increasing girth (and therefore decreasing available clothing) has always been to retain the clothes on the spurious grounds that I will, one day, slim down enough to wear them again.
Leaving aside the absurd overoptimism of this philosophy -- my weight increases as inexorably as the tides come in - there is the question of fashion. Anyone who's ever met me knows that I am not prey to the vagaries of fashion but, even if I were able to slim down sufficiently, there is little point in squeezing unwilling flesh into bell bottom jeans and flower power shirts. Unless of course I want to look like a pimp. Or audition for Starsky and Hutch.
There are garments here my mother made me.
And if I was too fat to fit into them in 1978, the chances of me achieving that objective in 2013 are approximately one divided by Avogadro's number. Unless I ever wish to mince down the street looking like the love child of Huggy Bear and Jabba the Hutt, the clothes have to go. And I'm amazed to discover that even charity shops draw the line somewhere. Oxfam have stopped returning my calls.
The last time I had a wardrobe clear out, I mistakenly asked my younger daughter Alice, sharp tongued fashionista that she is, for assistance. By the time she was finished, 90% of my clothing was in the bin. The rest was on Facebook. And my entire remaining wardrobe consisted of little more than a pair of Y fronts. It felt like a mugging.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I decided that I needed a couple of suits, for Montréal and beyond. And rather than risk seeing them appear at some future point on Alice's Facebook above acronyms like LOL and LMAO, I settled fleetinglu on classic English tailoring before a quick shuffle round Austin Reed and Marks & Spencer swiftly dispossessed me of that notion. Classical though their suits were, they appeared at first sight to be priced in Italian Lira.
And then I had a brainwave. Why not try eBay. After all, everybody on the planet seems to be selling stuff to everybody else on the planet. Somebody somewhere must be selling a suit or two that would fit the bill. Certainly Claire, my wife, seems to think so. New dresses arrive practically hourly. And many, I have to admit, look pretty good.
The key to eBay, I've learnt, is to bid and forget. Tap in the highest price you are prepared to pay, click 'send' and forget about it. If you start to monitor the price shifts, you will find yourself quickly paying more than you intended. It's human competitiveness in action. The same misplaced enthusiasm that annually plays havoc at the Harrods sale. Just click and go. Sometimes you will win, sometimes not. Shrug your shoulders.
I placed what I thought were relatively derisory bids on a few clothes items with short deadlines and, later that day, found myself the owner of a dark two piece Next suit for £10 and, best of all, a beige/cream linen suit for the princely sum of 99 pence. Both fit nicely and the linen suit especially works well -- very much the Englishman abroad. A sort of 'Our Man in Havana' look minus the panama. And the gin and tonic.
Buoyed by my success, I also picked up a pale duck egg blue linen jacket. Although it looks excellent, even on me, I'm not sure it will stay. Catherine said it looked "pretty fly" while Alex gave me a wink and said I looked like "a player". Alice has yet to pronounce judgement.
Should I be worried?