Style in a nutshell

Image of David Tang

Sir David Tang, entrepreneur and founder of ICorrect, offers advice on questions about property, interiors – and modern manners for globetrotters

Yes, the shaking of the head by Indians to mean yes or no can be very confusing ... especially in Kashmir, where I have offered $1m to buy walnuts and I’m not sure if they have accepted my deal.

Be careful with your deal. I suspect your suppliers are trying to be cunning with their prices as it is fairly well-known in the nut industry that in the past two or three years the price of walnuts in Kashmir has fluctuated by as much as 30-40 per cent. Also remember the embargo in 2008, when they were forbidden to export walnuts, which in turn created uncertainty. Why have you chosen Kashmir, of all places, to buy walnuts? You must be nuts! Capricious pricing and the shaking of the head of your potential business counterpart is a perfect recipe for you being taken for a ride, especially in their seductively flowery houseboats replete with intoxicating perfumed spliffs. No wonder you are in a daze.

I must question the mixed sartorial messages of your new picture. Should the shirt collar rest above or below the vest?

Have you ever noticed how tyrannical dictators around the world, especially from Africa, always dress meticulously? We can always tell that their suits are cut by expensive tailors from Milan or Savile Row. This makes me nervous of any sartorial ensemble for men that is perfectly put together with not a nano-inch out of place. It is also the preference and practice of spivs to dress impeccably. I don’t want to be a spiv nor a tyrant; instead I would happily be categorised with, say, the likes of the London mayor Boris Johnson, who despite being the second worst-dressed man in England, has a brain that is nakedly well cut. The only people who properly qualify to dress with perfection are monarchs or heirs to monarchs. The reason for this is that it is the paid job of their valets to get such things absolutely right. Otherwise, what is the point of them?

You used to wear a yellow hat, which changed to what appears to be colourless in black and white print. Now, today, no hat! Is this symbolic of something? Quitting yellow journalism, perhaps, and transgressing to say that you will not talk through your hat? Or is it to prove that underneath that hat there is copious hair and no baldness?

My wife has been nagging me about my last picture with my Australian akubra because she says it doesn’t look like me at all. Not surprising, as I don’t go round in the house wearing a hat. But I love hats. They are particularly useful against the rain and spousal loquaciousness. The new photograph could have had another hat because the photograph was taken on the day of Lady Thatcher’s funeral, when I had my top hat with me. But I thought I would look a bit over the top, given that it wasn’t Derby day or Royal Ascot. I like the present one because I am sporting my favourite Venetian tiepin; but much more to the point, the final product has pleased my wife, and I would do anything to avoid her nagging.

I was both disappointed and disillusioned to see that you did not recognise the origin of your correspondent’s claim that there are only three sports. The original quotation is from Ernest Hemingway, and states, “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” It will not have escaped your acute intelligence that the three sports in question all risk the death of the participant rather than his prey.

I am afraid you might be too clever by half as your quote, although invariably attributed to Hemingway, was never said by him, at least in none of his writings. In any case, Hemingway didn’t really regard bullfighting as a sport, as you would know if bothered to read his article “Bullfighting a Tragedy” or indeed in Death in the Afternoon. You obviously haven’t bothered, which rather implies that you are not really qualified to drop Hemingway’s name. The most absurd proposition is, however, your suggestion that the British could have developed their sense of sport in hunting, fishing and shooting after Mr Hemingway in the 20th century. That must be a paradigm of a chronological howler if ever there was one. Last of all, there are umpteen other activities that involve the possibility of death which are neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for a sport. Ergo, there seems to be quite a few reasons why your protest is a little limp, if not totally legless altogether.

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