Handkerchiefs - in need of a come back.
My kids make fun of me for owning a handkerchief. I'm British - of course I own a handkerchief. Actually I have four, but really only three are usable, because there was that nose bleed incident at the Mall, but I can't bear to part with it - the fourth one. Maybe it's because the residual stain looks like a map of the West Country, including a particularly dark spot where Bodmin Moor would be.
So I have three usable ones and people think it's gross that I use them and essentially collect my nasal passage waste in my pocket. "That's a little something for later" I say, patting my pocket. I'm told to "Just part with it! - use a tissue!" But tissues are so final - there, part of me...gone. If I keep leaving part of me in trash cans throughout the world - there'll be nothing left of me.
I remember that my Father used to take a handkerchief and tie a small tight knot in each corner and then proudly place it snugly on his head over his Brylcreamed hair and pronounce himself ready to go out in the sun. What? The Brylcream didn't have enough reflective properties? No, none of those fancy sun-block lotions for him. As long as his painfully white skin was somehow protected by a cotton skull cap, he was safe.
You don't see that much nowadays - who am I kidding, you never see that nowadays, at least not in this part of the world. Looking back I seem to have overlooked the real details. Was that handkerchief actually clean? Given that mum did all the clothes washing by hand and tissues were far too frivolous to spend her house-keeping on, I'm guessing there were times that Dad paraded along the beach with a pile of bogeys on his head. Nice.
I'm also guessing that handkerchief sales are down world-wide. Hell, if I only own four (ok, three) and I'm an advocate what does that say for the nose-wiping industry. Things change - "Keep your nose clean" used to be a stock phrase passed from Father to son which meant everything from "don't steal" to "Man up boy and join the army" but you just don't hear it anymore. I rest my case - blowing your honker into a piece of once-white material and saving it for later has inexplicably gone out of favour with the instant gratification, molly-coddled tissues-will-save-the-world do-gooders of today.
But consider this: I've got heroics and history on my side. You didn't see Humphrey Bogart take out a box of aloe infused tissues to wipe his forehead while he was dragging that African Queen through the swamp, did you? No, he had his handkerchief tied around his neck ready for sweat swabbing at a leach-infested moment's notice!
And did Custer cry into his three ply tissue when he knew that it was indeed about to be his last stand - not his last-but-one stand? No, he grabbed his yellow handkerchief from his neck (yes, it used to be white) and despite trying to wave it desperately to surrender, ended up just attracting a final volley of arrows to his position.
Finally, did Mrs Custer weep tragically into a Kleenex upon hearing the news? I think not. No, she blew her sad nose, put her hanky in her pocket and defiantly said "There's a little something for later."