A Second-Hand Suit (Pinstriped)
by Beauchamp Art
Around thirty or forty years ago, when my grandfather was a young man and working for a time as a patent officer, I am told he visited Norwich on a few occasions, and when he had time away from his duties, enjoyed walking around the twisting streets, and was particularly fond of St. Giles Street, just off which I lived for a while not too long ago. He was generally a reasonably dressed man, and though not overly well to do, always presented himself well, and would take up his suit, briefcase and stick, and stroll the pavements proudly and with upright posture.
He was a good grandfather to a number of us, but always especially so to my brother and I, and though weary of the difference in how one acts as a parent first hand and the behaviour of a secondary guardian, what faults he had and had been given to him where rarely reflected in how he conducted himself and how he was seen.
Now I sometimes take up his old suits and ties, and crack cobbles with his old leather soled shoes, but old umbrella, which seconded as a stick, is now somewhat broken, though still keeps the rain off, and the jacket and trousers a baggy on me and hang off me revealing our different frames, they still fit well enough to warrant an occasional airing, and though I stumble in the shoes from time to time on those occasions when they have been pulled out of the cupboard and had the dust blown off them, they will still carry me were I need to go smartly, and with some vague sense of inherited dignity that often escapes me.
It its strange, wearing these old man’s clothes in a city that may have seen them a life time ago, when another walked in them, both familiar and unfamiliar; a second-hand suit that skipped a generation, with all those changes and all those things that remain the same somehow subtly woven into the fabric, old glossy buttons ripe with reflections from half a century ago flickering alongside today’s shimmering light, caught for a moment in the fold of a jacket, still strong and dark in navy blue, pin-stripped with pale grey like wisps of his whitening hair clinging still from his silver crown, with a beard like a king’s below; where my hair, still brown, has just begun to be brushed over with stitches of white threads, weaving with every growing abundance amongst my own head, propped up but the stiff collar of a fresh shirt, somehow out of place amongst all this old material.
I walk in echoes in a second-hand suit.
Upper St Giles.