Miles Kington Remembered: A good explanation for those mystery stains on trousers

28 september 1998
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Today I want to address my male readers. That's right, the men among you. This column has always prided itself on being equal opportunity, but today, just for once, it is going to be male-oriented. Not for women. For women, I have this message. Buzz off. Pay no attention. Come back tomorrow, ladies. Sorry, but you're not wanted here.

Well, that should have secured the men's attention – and the women's too, if I know anything about human nature – so let us proceed to a subject so delicate that it is barely mentioned in any society: stains on trousers.

We all get dirty marks on our trousers from time to time, and despite the fact that 90 per cent of them are caused innocently, they always look as if they follow from incontinence or worse. Do you know what I mean? I think you know what I mean.

What we need is a good explanation, a good cover story for mystery stains, and I think by accident I have discovered one.

Yes, I have discovered a cast-iron excuse for any mysterious stain of almost any colour on your trousers. What makes it so good is that it is based on a true-life experience which happened to me in the Wiltshire town of Chippenham about two months ago when my bicycle chain came off. It is quite easy to get a bike chain back on, but it is hard to do it without getting your hands oily, so there I was in mid-Chippenham with very greasy hands and no way of getting it off.

Soap and water is never enough. You need something like Swarfega. So I searched Chippenham until I found a shop that sold Swarfega, and bought a pot. Unfortunately, they were out of small pots and I had to buy a large canister of the stuff.

You do know what I'm talking about, don't you? The globby, emerald-green jelly stuff called Swarfega? God knows why it's called Swarfega and God knows how it works, but it does, and all you have to do is put some on your hands, rub mightily, and lo and behold all the irremovable oil comes off, and then you wash the lot off, and all you have left on your hands is the smell of Swarfega for days and days and days.

But first you have to find somewhere to do this operation, so I made my way to the public gents in Chippenham and opened up the Swarfega, covered my hands in the stuff and looked for a basin in which to knead my hands.

There was, however, no basin. There was only one of those metal cabinets in which you insert your hand after pressing knobs called soap or air or water, whereafter, dimly in the interior you can see your hands being soaped, or sprayed, or blown.

I cannot quite remember what happened next, but instead of the expected pitter patter of water, there was a tremendous blast of air. The machine obviously thought it was drying my hands. What it was actually doing was blowing Swarfega off them. Suddenly a whoosh of green blobs, like a shower of asteroids, came hurtling out of the cabinet on a jetstream of air and landed all over my trousers and the bottom half of my shirt, and it wouldn't stop. On and on it went like Hurricane Swarfega, bombarding me with gloopy green globules.

You'd think that a cleaning agent would vanish, wouldn't you? Not a bit of it. The Swarfega immediately settled into my trousers in a series of large, grey-green, greasy-looking spots which were obviously going to stay put.

Well, they almost certainly were greasy, come to think of it. They contained all the oil recently removed from my hands. By putting my hands into a high speed blower, I had successfully transferred the grease from my hands on to my clothes, using Swarfega as the transferring agent.

Never mind the rest of the day. Never mind how I walked around with my jersey stretched down to my knees to cover my trousers. Never mind how I occasionally forgot about my disfigurement and let go of my jersey until I saw people in Chippenham gape as their eyes lit on my mottled trousers. Never mind how I went home and thrust my trousers in to the washing machine to get rid of a cleaning agent. Never mind.

What matters is that I have come up with a bona fide – and in my case absolutely genuine – reason for having strangely mottled trousers. Or, I suppose, ladies, a strangely mottled skirt.

Comments