Letter from Melbourne - In Praise of Purple

We have received a new letter from our dear friend Bertie of Melbourne, Australia. It needs no introduction, but I'm just popping my head around the door to mention that we're still looking for men on the ground in other 5 Eyes locations. What should we know about Auckland?

Bertie calls the purple-influenced outfit he describes below Bishop at a Sherry Party.

Carry on Bertie.

Letter from Melbourne

My dear Tweed

I very much enjoyed your post of 23 December with Sir John Betjeman’s poem Christmas. I particularly enjoyed Betjeman's image of the ‘hurrying clerks’ leaving the City to their pigeon-haunted towers. I don’t know if you got away over Christmas but I most certainly hope that Tweed Towers is not haunted by pigeons. (If so, I may have a solution to that problem but more on that later.)

I managed to tootle off for a few weeks, but I'm back now to putting my feet under my desk and under the aforesaid is my recent discovery of a pair of priceless purple socks (above).

The rib socks are made by Pantherella and I picked them up at Henry Bucks in Collins Street, Melbourne. I rather think they pass the Saki test and ‘compel one’s attention without losing one’s respect’.

But apparently, not everyone would agree with my appraisal of purple.

PG Wodehouse's short story Jeeves & the Chump Cyril [Amazon] revolves around a pair of purple socks that my namesake Bertram W wears against the wishes of Jeeves. The story ends badly for the socks with Jeeves lugging them out of a drawer 'as if he were a vegetarian fishing a caterpillar out of his salad' before giving them away to an hotel porter.

What Could Jeeves Have Against Wearing Purple?

Apparently quite a bit.

The wearing of purple has been regulated since before the time of the First Elizabeth. Good Queen Bess's Sumptuary Statutes dictated who got to eat what, drink what and wear what. And when it came to purple Kings (Emperors) and Bishops used to hold all the cards.

There may be some romantic-reactionaries out there wishing for the re-regulation of purple, but I suspect the readership of the Tweed Pig comprises the best parts of the Gentleman and Yeoman classes and would remain forever grateful that these laws no longer hold sway in the land. Thus I encourage you, dear Tweed, and your readership to rejoice in the freedom to wear all things purple, heliotrope and plum.

Personally, I rather fancy this John Smedley polo neck.

And I'm now on the hunt for for a few yards of Dugdale Brothers Saxony Tweed with a purple check to go with it:

But when it comes to purple socks, personally, I think they best hidden from compelling one's immediate attention, and this is achieved by wearing trousers that break correctly only showing the inner King-Emperor's besocked ankles when sitting down to a lunch of swan, goose and pigeon.

Bertie Davies, Melbourne


  1. 'Jeeves lugged my purple socks out of the drawer as if he were a vegetarian fishing a caterpillar out of his salad.'


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