I’m well known for my brightly coloured shirts, especially my wild Hawaiian and Caribbean numbers. I happily wear them to any occasion, whatever it may say on the dress code section of the invitation. People don’t seem to mind. In fact, I once turned up at a reception at the Mayor’s parlour in Bath in an ordinary plain smart-casual affair and received concerned enquiries as to why I was looking so subdued.
Opening my wardrobe door reveals a head-spinning row of multi-coloured psychedelia. And this after I got rid of fifty that no longer fitted me at a car boot sale! I don’t actually possess a plain shirt with long sleeves and button up collar. If I really must wear one then it’s a case of borrowing from my rail in the Natural Theatre costume store. But since I even wore an (admittedly fairly tasteful) array of turtles and palm trees to my brother’s funeral recently, this rarely happens.
A middle aged couple approached me in a supermarket. Mr Oswick, they asked, may we enquire as to where you get your beautiful shirts? They looked terribly disappointed when I told them the source of my ersatz exotica was the far from tropical Big Man Shop, which is situated in a warehouse on an industrial estate in sunny Chester.
But now, with the help of some friends who honeymooned in the Caribbean, I have found a manufacturer of the real thing. And boy, are they humdingers! Non-crease, drip-dry and in colours never before seen this side of the Atlantic. Squeezed into the tiniest of packets, they practically leap out of their wrappings when released. A burst of sunshine on a cold winter’s day! Expect bougainvillea, parrots, hummingbirds and hibiscus in profusion.
One has little Caribbean carnival figures cavorting around, would you believe, a flower-bedecked Morris Minor Traveller, the sort with the wooden beams attached to its coachwork. One of the figures can be seen to be crying ‘We be jammin!’ I wore it to a posh do and a lady guest looked at it very closely and imperiously enquired ‘What on earth is jammin?’ at which juncture her husband burst into a broad grin and began gyrating in quite an alarming fashion.
But that’s just the kind of effect I expect my shirts to have on people!