Taking on the tyranny of the tie

Opinion: It is, for a chap, now fantastically easy to demonstrate that you are ‘making an effort’

Sat, Aug 2, 2014, 00:01

Novelty ties depicting cartoon characters should only ever be worn in the presence of the child who gave it to the owner for Christmas.

It is more difficult to assess what circumstances, away from funerals and criminal trials, now require the wearing of this strip of cloth.

Even within journalism, the rules are slippery. Financial reporters, eager to appear responsible and trustworthy, tend to button up when appearing on telly or sitting for a byline photograph. Arts journalists would seem absurdly affected if they dressed in that fashion.

The late Christopher Hitchens was a master of ironic tie usage. His crumpled garment was invariably loosened about an open-necked shirt to demonstrate eagerness for combat and disdain for barely honoured convention.

General practitioners still tend to wear ties. Psychiatrists often do not. And television presenters? Well, here, the BBC’s economics editor finds himself in a tricky position. Male newsreaders are definitely expected to wear the fabric on grown-up channels.

Presenters of late-night current affairs analysis are in a significantly less formal place. Mr Peston is, nonetheless, to be congratulated for taking the courageous step into sartorially unexplored territory. This is what happens in August.

Sexist pigs in cyberspac

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In The Irish Times letters page, there has, of late, been some kerfuffle about the ill-tempered fights that, apparently, go on anonymously between the likes of Fester McSmallbone and Splendido Horsedung beneath the online versions of articles such as this.

It seems that decent folk with reasonable comments find it hard to be heard over the virtual barroom brawls.

Oh well. Better that than the rampant abuse that so many female writers suffer in the digital sphere. Last week, Stephanie Zacharek, distinguished film critic at the Village Voice, dared to file an unimpressed review of the tolerable space opera Guardians of the Galaxy.

Hell hath no fury like an aggrieved nerd (who hasn’t seen the film yet). “Her opinion is 100% worthless, as is any woman’s for that matter,” a typical comment read. “Go kill yourself,” somebody else suggested.

There are reams more of this stuff. And this is at the perennially radical, reliably inclusive Village Voice. Who’d be a woman in the digital bear-pit?

@DonaldClarke63

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