Black Tie

What do you think of, when you see the words, ‘Black Tie’?

Perhaps a formal dinner, a special occasion, or a well-dressed wedding? When I was younger, I used to dread seeing those words. They meant that I would have to hire a dinner suit, and either struggle with tying a bow tie, or wearing one already attached to a strap. Then finding cufflinks to use with those formal shirts with the pleats and darts, shirts with no other practical use. But that was decades ago, and I have had no need nor reason to wear such things for almost forty years.

But Black Tie has come to mean something else to me. It is the colour of the tie that I wear most frequently these days. In fact, other than a couple of weddings I have attended in the last five years, it is the only colour tie I have occasion to wear. Because I now attend a lot of funerals, so my old tie is getting a lot of use. Use that I wish there was no need for, but at my age, inevitable.

I have attended two funerals already this year. The first was that of my beloved Aunt, on the 19th of January. This was a family affair, and no less sad because she had lived to a great age. Seeing relatives who you hadn’t heard from since the last funeral we all attended. Young children of cousins, now adults, seemingly grown overnight into different people. Older relatives; familiar, looking tired, reflecting your own passing years in their faces like a mirror. Food and drink and catching up, back at the house.

Fond reminiscences, followed by fond farewells.

Then yesterday, the funeral of my great friend, Billy. A long drive to another sad day, with mist and rain providing a suitable backdrop. This was a funeral where not only his family and friends gathered, but also many former colleagues. The attendance was the largest I can recall at a funeral, indicating how well Billy was thought of, and how much everyone wanted to be there to say goodbye. A Humanist service, some wonderful music, and the poignant scene of his Boxer dog, Bruno, sitting patiently in the front row. Chatting to people remembered after twenty years or more. Hearing stories of others who had passed away, and hoping to meet some again before too long.

Sadness tinged with happy memories indeed.

On the way home, we were unlucky to get a punctured tyre on a busy motorway. In driving rain, and stopped on the pitch-black hard shoulder, it was too dangerous to investigate. We had to call out the breakdown company, and wait for seventy minutes in this precarious spot. The mechanic told us that the tyre was shredded, and the car had to be loaded onto his truck to be brought home, with us riding inside his vehicle. We got back at 11:30 pm, more than thirteen hours after leaving home that morning.

I put my black tie back on the rack in the wardrobe, hoping never to need it again.

Staying positive, in 2017.


47 thoughts on “Black Tie

  1. Pete, I knew from your previous post that this day was coming when you wrote about you dear friends passing. That’s is what my gram use to say, when she brought out her little black dress and shoes. She told me it use to be seen as a fancy dinner dress back in the day, but holds a different feeling now. She began to hate the color black as it recalled so many of her brothers and sisters passing before her. They were a family of 14 including mother and father. A beautiful and heartbreaking post, but you did it justice. One day at a time my friend, one day at a time.. I feel a need to read your socks post, once again…



  2. Well Pete, it was certainly great meeting up with you and everyone at such a truly moving occasion. Seeing a very well behaved dog sitting observing his masters funeral was certainly memorable. I hope you were able to have your meal on route before disaster struck leaving you both stuck in the cold wet foggy motorway wearing The Black Tie we spoke about during the day. Stay safe.


    1. We did manage to stop on the way home so that Julie could eat, as she has Diabetes. I didn’t eat then, so had to have a ‘Midnight Snack’!
      It was a very good day, if a funeral can be thought of in that way. Lovely to see everyone after so long, even if we were all not able to chat long enough to each person.
      I think Bill would have loved it, which is the main thing, after all.
      Love to you both. Pete and Julie. x


    1. Thanks for the thought, Andrew. I wore a tie from my schooldays, through most jobs, and to all social occasions. From 1963 until 2001, I had one on almost every day, without fail. I doubt I could ever attend something like a funeral or wedding without wearing one. It just wouldn’t feel right. Perhaps it is simply an unnecessary social thing, based on age and generation, but I reckon I am stuck with it.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  3. Sorry for your loss’s always seems to happen in 3’s , at least in our family. Some years seem to take more if s toll than others 😦 but just the same it’s hard to recover, hope your on the mend and have lots of great memories 💔❣


    1. I hit send too soon! Wanted to say it is good to see you writing again. I find writing to be very therapeutic. Here’s to a wonderful sunny spring just around the corner!


  4. This is one of the best pieces of writing I have read in at least a month. While sad, it is tender and I feel alongside you. I’m so sorry for the loss of your good friend Billy. The tire episode seems to justify ‘could it get any worse?’. Best to you, Pete. Thank you for this beautiful post.


      1. I used to pick E!’s “Celebrity Of The Year.” Gave Tom Hanks the statue (may post that story one day) – and he told me that you can’t get too “up” so you don’t get too “down.” He had been virtually out of the business just two years earlier, due to bad movie choices and over exposure…he told me you have to stay “even” and not let the good and bad things deter you…they happen, you can’t avoid them, so stay “even”…hard advice to take, but hey, he’s a great Actor so I try!


  5. What a dreadful incident to have happened while mourning your friend. Your external environment, the dark, the rain, the shredding of tire matched your internal suffering. Very poignant. My heart goes out to you during this trying time. The sun will shine soon and I hope it chases away external and internal gloomy clouds.


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