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A Shout From The Attic: Being A Missionary - 5

...His only Nemesis, apart from wayward golf clubs, and errant children, has been a computer that set its cap against him and did the most extraordinary things for no apparent reason...

Ronnie Bray tells of his fellow missionary, "Suits McEwen''.

It is said that manners maketh the man. At the corner of Westgate and Station Street in Huddersfield, there used to be a men’s clothing shop, Manners, whose sign proclaimed “Clothes make the man'' It was an interesting twist, but if there is truth in the slogan, then one of the best I ever knew was Neil McEwen, who is also the best-dressed man I ever met.

Having served in the Royal Air Force in Hong Kong for the greater part of his two years National Service, Neil had taken advantage of the cheap tailors’ shops in the Colony to fill his wardrobe to bursting point. He had some great suits, well tailored, and stylish. With the penchant the missionaries in the Bristol District of the British Mission had in 1956, for nicknames, it is no wonder that Neil was tagged with the sobriquet, “Suits McEwen.” It suited him, for he was always smartly turned out.

Nor did his good taste stop at trousers and a jacket. His missionary hat, obligatory in those days, was a Mambo, such as was favoured by Frank Sinatra, a singer who was doing quite well for himself back then.

Another singer who was doing well, was Billy “Mr B’ Eckstein, who wore shirts with collars amazingly high known a the “Mr B Roll Collar.” Guess who bought one. It wasn’t me, but I had a companion who wore them when Neil and I were serving in Bristol’s “murder mile,” as Ringwood Crescent was known by those who knew it well.

Neil’s character has always been, upright. I have not always agreed with him in everything, but I have never known him to be anything but a straight dealer. His reputation in the British and European woodworking industry is unsullied, although some have taken advantage of his kindness and trust, and have dealt with him badly and dishonestly.

I have never seen him angry, although he does get angry, he says, but he has to tell you when he is angry. The only passion I have seen him in, apart from exultation at good news, or a faith promoting story, is when he has returned to the office from the golf course disgusted with himself for his inconsistencies and poor play, which, on occasions, he admits.

Neil is a highly intelligent man, with the capacity to have succeeded in anything he set his hand to. His only Nemesis, apart from wayward golf clubs, and errant children, has been a computer that set its cap against him and did the most extraordinary things for no apparent reason.

Neil McEwen knows lots of famous people, and some infamous ones too. In fact, he has given employment to lots of infamous folks – myself included – some appreciated him for it, and some didn’t.

When you get to heaven, look for the man in the immaculately tailored celestial suit with French seams down the trouser legs. That will be Neil. By his suit ye shall know him, but if you would know him better, take a peek within the suit and you will find that the seams of his soul are just as straight.

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