THE LAST OF THE GREAT HABERDASHERS
Herbert paused by the shop door for the last time. He remembered some of the
wonderful, eccentric and heroically impossible customers he had known over the
years at "Climbury and Son Gents' Outfitters and Specialist Haberdashers". One in
particular was old Popkiss, the professor of mathematics who had been coming in for
30 years with his hopelessly incorrect measurements carefully written out to order his
suits, but Herbert Climbury was a master of his art. One glance at a person coming
through the revolving brass doors and he could tell all their measurements before
they reached the counter, the professor's suits fitted perfectly. He thought about his
dad who had taught him all he knew.
Herbert Senior had ended up in India after World War 1 and there
he met a mysterious Englishman called Cyril who was a tailor, he gave Herbert the
idea to start the business which he did when he returned home in the Twenties.
Apparently this chap Cyril was part of a secret society, which, unlikely as it sounds,
involved tailoring and certain martial arts.' "The Guild of Master Folders and
Haberdashers", they'd never believe it these days', he mused. But this was how
Herbert junior had learned how to size up people with such uncanny accuracy.
He locked the door for the last time, tomorrow he and Sarah would be on
their way to their cottage in Wiltshire where they would spend their retirement. Still,
he was a little sad as he walked up the High St.
He popped into Marks and Spencer's, "just one last time", he
thought. He wandered over to the sweater displays and picking up something he
rather liked went over to the mirror and stood posing with it. He put the sweater back
neatly as only he could, and bid a cheery goodnight to the two assistants whom he
hadn't noticed before. Herbert chuckled as he walked home, "The Guild of Master
Folders, they'd never believe it these days"
Back at Marks, Dierdre and Sharon stared at each other, their mouths still
open in amazement; they had just witnessed Herbert Climbury throw a green argyle
pattern sweater through the air, its sleeves waving wildly, then folding themselves
with the front and back into the neatest of squares as if manipulated by invisible
hands it inserted itself perfectly into the display pile. They couldn't believe it.
WILF Jan 2017