Thursday 18 July 2019

Liam Collins: 'Why I insist on my constitutional right to wear shorts'

Maybe a psychologist would see some connection with youth and age and that by wearing short trousers, I'm just reverting to type (stock photo)
Maybe a psychologist would see some connection with youth and age and that by wearing short trousers, I'm just reverting to type (stock photo)
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

I mowed the lawn recently. Yesterday, I put on shorts for the first time this year.

Now, men of a certain age in shorts evoke disdain at any time of the year, but February does seem to be what one of our old school teachers used to call "a bit previous".

One sartorially elegant neighbour greeted me with derision as he glided down the avenue in his Mercedes, while another, a woman, clearly believes that men over 60 wearing shorts show a distinct lack of self-awareness.

But my own attitude is, to hell with it.

I'm in the happy position that I have reached an age where I don't have to wear a work uniform and I take pleasure in the freedom that it confers on me. And if some people think the shape of my calves (from years of running and playing football) is odd, that's their problem, not mine.

After all, men and women come in all shapes and sizes and they can always avert their eyes.

Shorts are comfortable, they keep you cool and they are less cumbersome than trousers, so why not, with the incredible weather we've been having?

After all, those of us who still have traces of Celtic blood come from a tribe that grew up wearing kilts, so like the Scots, we are genetically disposed to baring our legs. And for those my age, shorts evoke memories of our youth, when boys wore short trousers and girls wore skirts and dresses.

Short trousers were more practical in those frugal times, when boys were boys and came home with bloody knees and other various cuts and bruises that we managed to acquire without tearing our clothes, which was regarded as unforgivable when you had one set of clothes for the week and a second set to wear to church on Sunday.

Years ago, I remember meeting the television magician Paul Daniels in the old Jury's Hotel, where he was doing some sort of event. A group of us got talking to him about the "tricks of the trade" and he told us that a lot of his act was based on observation and deduction.

How so, someone asked.

"Look at this guy," he said, picking on me. "He has a large scar on his left knee."

Everybody looked in my direction and I had to pull up my left trouser leg to reveal, as he had said, a very large scar which I had acquired when my grandfather's terrier dog Jack ran in front of my bicycle, and I ended up falling and scarring my knee on the gravelled country lane.

Steri-strips hadn't been invented, and I'd already been stitched up by the local "horse doctor", so it went untended.

"I knew you'd have a scar, but that's impressive," said Daniels, explaining that he deduced from looking at me that I would have worn short trousers and got into a few scrapes in my day, hence the likely scar on the left knee.

Like all boys of my era, I didn't wear "long" trousers until I went to secondary school. That was our rite of passage.

Maybe a psychologist would see some connection with youth and age and that by wearing short trousers, I'm just reverting to type.

But the fact is, I just find shorts comfortable, whether I'm on holidays or at home.

And if climate change is upon us, and given that we have transitioned from autumn to spring without a winter this year, then it makes good sense to take every advantage of the good weather and get a little bit of vitamin D on a part of the body that has been wrapped up since October.

By the way, the reason I mowed the lawn so early in the year is that another neighbour passed on her push-mower when she decided that the time had come to get a gardening service to do the work for her.

It's old but efficient, and without the power of a petrol engine or electricity, you have to mow the grass regularly to avoid being overwhelmed.

So along with the bicycle and the push-mower, I'm now almost completely self-propelled.

Even if I am slightly sceptical about climate change, at least I have almost eliminated my carbon footprint.

Irish Independent

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