A shorts story

Thighs chapped and sore by wet grey flannel flogging around them in the freezing Worcestershire winters of privileged prep school misery generated in me a longing for long trousers. The move to long from short was profound. To find an equivalent in the progress of a child of today is beyond me as I can’t find any parallels. Long trousers were an iPhone, were liberty, were privilege, were a new hopeful life. We were doomed to wear fucking awful clothes, to be seen and not heard or ideally not seen and not heard but to be put on trains and waved to as we disappeared down the line to be cared for by a mixture of recently demobbed pederasts, priests and brilliant teachers; during this time shorts were for sports. My father and his friends wore shorts that had little to do with that nomenclature as they were as wide as they were long and they were very long; far too long to be short. I have often thought that those responsible for designing uniforms for the British army worked for the enemy or someone very spiteful who had been turned down by the selection board as he made shorts that made tall men short and short men ridiculous….the long, the short and the tall all look short in shorts as they were long. And then I went to the South of France and saw people who wore shorts which didn’t make them look complete cunts. Around that moment I decided, at 7 years old, that I would live there one day.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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27 Responses to A shorts story

  1. jmcheney says:

    Were those shorts cut wide to catch any little tropical breeze & circulate air crotchways? I always noticed the British soldiers’ socks in the movies & newsreels. Not pulled straight up to just below the knee cap, like we did during our American teenager bermuda shorts craze, (which we were warned to nevair evair wear when we went to France, heaven forfend!). The Brits rolled theirs down with a big thick cuff right around the calf to emphasize its beefy shape. I would have liked to wear mine that way, having skinny legs with no noticeable calves back then. Were the British socks hot, itchy wool in the tropics? I’ll bet they were, keeping those Tommies tough for old Blighty.

  2. Linda Duffin says:

    This made me laugh so much. Thank you, Roger.

  3. Mad Dog says:

    I remember the cold streets of Finchley well, aged 7 wearing those bloody shorts. I’m quite sure it was a method of demeaning boys to make them subservient. Many of the masters and headmasters of that time were ex army officers from the second world war, who were determined to beat us into submission if the sorts didn’t work!

  4. catterel says:

    I remember being forcefully struck by how short French boys’ shorts were the first time I went to France – these boys also didn’t wear knee socks and actually had legs! (I think there’s a film of Le petit Nicolas …)

  5. Ha! I’ll read this to my husband later; he’s French and always going on about not being able to find decent shorts in the UK. 😂

  6. Gary says:

    I dress for comfort. I wear shorts for as long as I can until winter grips me and I can’t do it anymore.

  7. Eha says:

    My very true ‘shorts story! Still cringe !! Female shorts were very, very short when I was a New Australian late teenage girl really suffering from Sydney summer heat. My Polish girlfriend and I were eagerly watching HM the Queen and Prince Philip passing in their open landau after a Bondi Beach lifesaver parade on their first trip Down Under. Both in such shorts on a hot Sunday afternoon not noticing that the females in the then huge throngs were in their Sunday best. The landau passed slowly, Prince Philip’s eyes alighted on Christine and I, he turned around, got on one knee, looked us up-and-down rather noticeably, winked and gave us a full naval salute ! Was it noticed ? Oh yes – we were the best students in final year High but were nearly expelled for ‘conduct unbecoming’ ! It took my amused lawyer father a while to convince me His Highness was probably in a lot more trouble after . . . still remember . . .

  8. So many good reasons to live in France, but this one is truly unique.

  9. Thanks for the laugh – that post really cheered me up!! 🙂

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