Monday, 10 August 2009

You will abide by the grooming standard

I wear a suit and tie to work every day. It's a kick back to the nationals.
Shoes clean. Shirt ironed. Conservative tie. Suit not covered in sick. Any less and you could be sent home.
In many respects it makes sense. In the mind of many, a suit and tie still gives an air of authority to the wearer. Even more so, in this casual age.
I remember one particularly scary death knock on a very, very hard council estate outside Glasgow.
I was pure shiteing it - to use the vernacular. There were neds (non-educated-delinquents) hanging from the door frame - beady eyes, baseballs caps, missing teeth and shiny shell suits everywhere - and I was convinced I was about to feel cold steel or a broken bottle this night.
As I left my car I noticed another of my trade - also white faced - leaving his car. A quick nod and we strode purposefully to the door - game faces firmly on. Through the neds, who parted for us, and up the stairs (lift was predictably fucked) and to the 17th floor flat.
We were in and out, quotes and collects in hand, within 20 minutes with the wee wifey considering us to be the polis - to continue the Irvine Welsh effect.
Not once did we say we were anything other than two guys in suits working for the papers but people assumed we were something we weren't.
And we were smart enough to allow them to think what they like.
Now imagine that scenario with you wearing a t-shirt, jeans and trainers. You ain't getting in the door without a chib in the guts
Since that day I use my clothes like a suit of armour.
Dress smart, act smart, work smart. From the moment I put my suit on, the outside world can not affect me.
I am important. I am professional. I will be taken seriously.
Also, dressing smart every day should be a necessity.
How can you know whether you will be sent to court or to a death knock, an inquest or a funeral?
Respect is not just given by how you act but also how you show up to someone's place.
Not everyone gets it.
My favourite fuck-off and get changed moment came when a new boy had his first day on a national's London desk - run at this time by an indomitably nasty news ed.
Our new recruit was dressed in yellow corduroy slacks, a mostly unbuttoned, unironed casual shirt and - the piece de resistance - sockless brown loafers.
Fuck me, if you wore a grey suit in that office or unbuttoned your collar you were deemed a dangerous rebel.
I have never seen someone so utterly humiliated in front of 50 plus hacks when the news ed bawled him out before sending him home for the day.
The new recruit went on to become a very successful foreign corr in a country where flip flops are the national costume.
The other evil cunt is still very much alive and still working on one of Britain's great (smartly dressed) national papers.
Maybe casual ain't so bad, after all.


  1. I've been reading your site for some time now and can't help but agree with everything you say.

    I've not been in the industry long, but can see how fucked it is.

    I'm one of those subs you mentioned in a post a while back. One of the poor fuckers who was forced to up sticks and move to a centralised subbing operation where content and production are forcibly separated giving us no say whatsoever in how shit a story is.

    It's just a case of do the page and keep yer gob shut!

    Anyway, just thought I'd drop in and let you know you make a lot of sense to a lot of people (the rest of the office share my admiration for this blog)


    Pissed of sub/'Production Journalist' (what the fuck?)

  2. Being sent to the gulag aka Centralised Production Hub appears to have dragged down the above poster.
    It's pissed off, not of..... although you might be pissed..... so this time I will make allowances.
    After all, you could well be one of the poor sods who worked for me until I chose to clear my desk and stroke a redundo cheque - THE EDITOR

  3. I am a senior reporter on a free newspaper. My news editor frequently comes in to work wearing polo shirts. If he ever does wear a dress shirt, it is never with a tie, and always untucked.

    One of our (albeit hardworking) subs dresses like a member of the long-term unemployed.

    I wear a suit and tie, even when it's really hot. I don't make much money (quelle surprise!) and I spend a fuckload on dry cleaning.

    This fucks me off royally.