The Third Leader: Knot enough

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The Independent Online

More bad news for ties: only a minority of larger British companies now insist on them, while to turn up in one anywhere else is merely to encourage that always amusing speculation about a pressing court engagement.

Indeed, the one thing they appear to have going for them at present is that they are not associated with David Cameron. This is a melancholy fate for a piece of cloth that has served the unfair sex since at least the time of the Emperor Qin Shihuangdi. It's true: pop round to the British Museum and take a look at his terracotta chaps.

Down here, we are choked. For a tie is not just a tie; it has many other uses. Several Victorian explorers, I am assured, owed their lives to its instant availability as a tourniquet. It also comes in handy as an emergency dog lead.

How many shirts have been saved from possibly permanent stain, how many trousers held up in an emergency, how many great thoughts aided by a pensive chew of the end? Those wishing to advise discreetly a dress correction below are no longer able to mutter, "There's egg on your tie." Justice Secretary Straw's new have-a-go campaign would surely be assisted by instant access to restraining material. And whither, pray, the motorised, illuminated rotating tie rack, allowing you to scan 72 ties in just seconds, £38.99?

The Windsor knot was an infallible way to detect a wrong'un. The stripe of a tie gave invaluable early warning. As did a bow tie, always good for a smile, even when it didn't go round or light up. Farewell, all. Next, I suppose, it will be sock suspenders.