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Bonzer Words!: Maybe Clothes Do Maketh the Man

Gehan Wijesinha introduces to to Bartholomew Browne, aman who adopted brown shoes and white suits as a uniform.

He eyed the fading sepia picture on the mantelpiece. A plump boy in a school uniform looked back at him. The cap sat haphazardly on top his head enhancing the bland, but pleasant chubby face. The remaining clothes were in obvious disarray. It might have been the result of a wrestling bout or an impromptu game of football just before sitting for the photographer. It was so long ago that the details had been smudged and forgotten with time. He knew however, that like most boys his age, the unseen shoes were badly scuffed, with scrapes, scratches and abrasions worn like badges of honour. No doubt the socks had fallen down too and if they were available in anything but standard sizes and colours, they would have been mismatched.

The sight of the photograph sent his mind racing back to vague memories of school, of his teachers and exams. He shuddered involuntarily recalling the horrible exams. The impending poor grades had produced many anxiety attacks. Invariably, these unfortunate results led to a meeting with the head master, followed by a caning. A further thrashing from his father ensued, when he brought the dismal report card home. He never quite understood why grown men had presumed that beating a child would produce academic excellence. Eventually he muddled his way through, passing out of school with mediocre grades.

After leaving school, Bartholomew Browne spent his working life as an accounts clerk, spending years toiling at his desk. Reading invoices and filling out forms that filtered in through his in-tray and out through his out-tray was what he did all day. This routine had assisted his innate poor posture in a detrimental way, twisting and permanently hunching his back. It was now in a definitely unnatural setting.

Bartholomew adopted brown suits and white shirts as a uniform. Other clerks in the office were decked in exactly the same attire as he. It was a defacto uniform. However, to maintain his individuality, Bart wore a range of ties. All of them were in varying shades and textures of brown.

His suits had always been tailor-made for him. More recently, the dimensions of the new suits were made slightly larger than those of the previous models. Bart put down his rotund and expanding girth to the combined effect of a sedentary lifestyle and less than healthy diet of fruit cake and copious volumes of highly sugared tea that he consumed daily. He also had all of his old suits let out a bit, for the sake of a bit of comfort.

Bart had leather patches sewn onto the elbows of his jackets to extend their lives. In fact, it was a threadbare jacket elbow with its lining and shirt jutting through a gaping hole that prompted him to have the patches sewn on in the first place. Yet the constant movement of his arms against the desk top and his torso had polished both the desk top and his suit. The suits and the desk now had a shiny finish. An observant eye could easily catch various reflections of light and shapes in them.

One day, while waiting his turn at the barber shop he flicked through the pages of a fashion magazine for men, lying on the table, noticing the new colours and styles. The models looked good in the poses they struck. Bart made up his mind. It was time for change. After all, even if you are on the right track, if you don't keep moving you will get run down. He noticed his reflected image. It told him that what remained of his hair had turned to silver. He was not unduly concerned. A new look would upset the status quo, but change was not only good, but necessary. The barber suggested a buzz cut. It was the fashion of the day and it did make him look younger.

Rejuvenated, he walked into Luigi's Tailors of Distinction with an air of expectancy: 'I want suits made for me and not the usual style, Luigi. I want them in white, vermilion and eggplant like the suits this model is wearing!' Bart opened the magazine to the page on which a young underwear model wore the latest trends in menswear.

'On him it looks good, Mister Browne,' Luigi stuttered, shaking his head in disbelief. 'But trust me, brown really does suit you better.'

Gehan Wijesinha

**

Gehan writes for Bonzer! magazine. Please visit www.bonzer.org.au

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