I have a dilemma. The funny little blog that I’ve been writing for a few months has, much to my eternal surprise, been growing in popularity. Of course, I never meant to journalise per se, and I certainly didn’t want it to be one of those crass and conceited spaces where bored individuals talk endlessly about themselves to no apparent end. Look at me! This was not the kind of attention I desired. No, I meant to create an outlet for some serious thoughts that might nevertheless be cut loose from academic apparatuses: the stifling structures and strictures of my ‘day job’. But then, you know about all that. Of course, one must entertain; such an endeavour is nothing without an audience. Hopefully, they’ll stick with me when we have to go over the hard yards. Anyway, those times are still some way off. To the matter at hand.
I don’t want to dwell on me. This blog is not a diary, after all. I’ve got you for that. But then strange things keep happening to me, and I do wonder what to do. The good people out there in the ether will probably be interested in my stories, but I can’t be seen to preach disapprobation of self-interest and wanton egotism on the one hand – it’s so terribly unmanly – and wax on and on about yours truly on the other. So, I shall commit my story to these pages, and hope in that magical way that you will provide me with the guidance I seek.
I’ve talked on the blog about compliments before, but nothing like this. Today I left my regular seat in the library and went for lunch. On my return I found a hand-written note, tucked under my book. It was from a fellow British historian, unknown to me (and me to him). He’s from a rather nice college in the northern Midwest. Harvard is something of collecting ground, it seems. He can’t have known that we had a research specialism in common. Anyway, the note read:
I love the outfit today. Great hat. Great jacket. And have picked up on you as one of Cambridge’s best-dressed men before today. Would you consider being photographed for an article on this subject?The note raised a smile, and perhaps a blush. Just for the record, I was wearing the linen blue boating blazer with the confident white stripe, a mid-blue Valentino tie with white collar, and those new 514s I bought the other week. The trusty panama was on the desk. It’s an outfit not unlike the picture of me I have on the blog – you know the one? – only I went with the four-in-hand knot today, and an altogether more summery colour palate.
Now, how does one react to such a note. Of course, I wrote to the email address he left and asked for further details, offering thanks and suchlike. But this is such an unusual turn of events in the ordinary course of a humble man’s life, and I very much doubt that the etiquette guides would have anything to say on the matter. I’d like to ask my public for their opinion, but I loathe attracting attention to me, me, me. So, there it is. I leave it with you, dear Diary, and trust that the answer will somehow emerge.
Thunderstorms forecast for this afternoon. Till tomorrow, then.”