The pile of washing after our three day clergy conference in Co Waterford seems quite small, perhaps that was because the good lady was present to keep an eye on things. Three years ago, attending a ten day clergy conference in Windsor, England, the accumulation of laundry was massive.
The nadir was reached with a feeling of dampness soaking through my shirt: I looked and realized that I must have spilled vegetable soup down my front.
I got hold of my serviette and tried to wipe it off, but then noticed that the soup had migrated to my trousers. I wasn’t sure how this could be, I wasn’t aware of having spilled any soup, let alone spilling it twice. Taking hold of my tie to move it out of the way, it became clear that I had managed to get my tie in the soup and that it had spread soup across my shirt and the waist of my trousers.
This caused general hilarity at the table.
Sheepishly, I admitted that to come away for ten days I had brought twelve shirts, five pairs of trousers and three jackets When the good lady of the house had challenged me about the volume of my luggage, I pointed out that I had a tendency to spill things. The entire supply of shirts was exhausted by the end of the conference.
Once when heading out for a ski holiday, I had got no further than Dublin airport in my fresh white sweater and ski jacket when the top came off a cup of hot chocolate and the contents had poured down my front. A friend suggested that I took the jacket off, put the sweater on back to front, and then put my jacket back on, and no-one would notice. No-one did notice, until I got on the plane and took my jacket off to put it in the overhead locker.
If herself had been in Windsor, the embarrassment would have been avoided. “Ian”, she would have said, reprovingly, “you’re about to get that tie in your soup”.
The relative dearth of washing is illustrative of two principles. One, that having worn an open necked shirt for three days in Dungarvan, it is clear that wearing a tie can be detrimental to one’s appearance. Two, that the Bible is right when it says that it is not good for man to be alone.