Earlier this week, the federal government brought down its budget for this election year. We watched the treasurer's speech on TV and, although I did listen, my lasting impression was a visual one. Every man present, whether on the government or opposition benches, seemed to be wearing a navy blue suit. Most were plain cloth, though a few members were daring enough to choose a pinstriped version. With the suit, all had chosen a diagonally striped tie. The biggest diversion from this uniform lay in the colour of the stripes.
Now, I've always maintained that a man's tie fulfils the same function for him as a woman's jewellery does for her: it reveals something of the personality of the wearer. Think chunky brass and and copper versus a sedate string of pearls. I personally have a penchant for earrings in leaf shapes. But, clearly, these Australian politicians are playing their cards close to their conservative chests. Where are the cartoon character ties, the little aeroplanes, golf clubs or palm trees? I know they are available in the shops as our daughter has bought Michael a selection of interesting designs over the years. One of her inspired choices even looks at first glance like the standard diagonal, but on closer inspection the stripes turn out to be parallel rows of tiny snails.
Having noted this peculiar symptom among politicians, I'm now seeing it in other professions. Television newsreaders also wear the predictable diagonal, although one at least has a model in irridescent purple stripes on a dark blue background. (By contrast, the women newsreaders wear the most bizarre fashions, often with assertive lapels or an assortment of net and frills around the neckline.) A panel of five sportscasters included three diagonal tie wearers. The remaining two, bucking the trend, had opted for circles instead, one of which might just possibly have been little soccer balls, but the camera never provided a close-up, so I can only hope.