The versatile garter is very much missed

IF there is one thing I miss more than another it a good pair of reliable, elastic garters.

IF there is one thing I miss more than another it a good pair of reliable, elastic garters.

These socks of mine after a few initial outings during which they showed great promise are now inclined to fall down shamelessly around my ankles.

After three wears most of my socks turn into defeatists and the calves of my legs bare themselves in vulgar triumph over the corpses of my bedraggled hose.

Fair enough you will say, but all a man has to do is get suspenders. There are no finer sock-correctives to be found anywhere and they are inexpensive as well as never being visible to the general public.

Suspenders be damned. I was never a suspenders man and I never will be a suspenders man even if my socks were to fall down under the soles of my shoes.

When I was a younger man I turned totally against suspenders. You may ask why. I’ll tell you. One of the most revolting sights I can remember is the sight of a pair of suspenders on the knobbly blue-white legs of a thoroughly inadequate junior footballer.

I cannot remember where he was playing but he used the suspenders to support a pair of low socks.

I was completely put off and resolved there and then to never wear suspenders. Since that time I have seen many footballers wear suspenders but were they to be worn by the mighty Mick O’Connell himself I still would not approve of them.

I daresay there are some readers who will think I am prejudiced but had you seen, as I had, those knobbly white legs encased in those long-ago suspenders you might be prejudiced, too.

As a youth I was a garter man and when I played football, my football socks were supported by garters.

Other men tied up their socks with giobals but we who were made of sterner stuff held and still hold that giobals should only be used for the holding up of the stockings of old women.

In an age when it is fashionable for young ladies to wear skirts a foot long it is well to remember that were a young lady inadvertently to reveal a garter when I was a gorsoon she would be the talk of the countryside until someone died or went to America.

On top of that it is also well to remember that the garter was situated but barely above the knee.

Times change, however, and there has been many a new moon and spring tide since I was last sent for a yard and a half of black elastic.

I remember the shop well and the long wooden counter with the brass rule affixed to its surface for the purpose of measuring calico, ribbon lengths, material for curtains and yards of white and black elastic.

There was an elderly lady behind the counter who had a scissors hanging from her side.

“A yard and a half of black elastic, Miss.”

“How wide does she want it?”

“Half and inch and she wants it heavy.”

“‘Tis for garters she wants it so.”

“Yes Wiss.”

That was all there was to it except to watch and envy the expertise with which the assistant unrolled, cut and measured, without stretching in the least at any stage, the shining black elastic.

Home then for the making of the garters. This was a tricky enough business, too, as we discovered to our cost when we went about making them ourselves.

Our legs had to be measured because if the garters were too tight they would leave circular red furrows around the legs for a day or two and often longer.

Most intelligent young lads always carried a spare garter. It was as negotiable as a halfpenny stamp and apart from that you never knew when you’d want it. I have seen good catapults made from them.

I have been present when they were brought into service for the splicing of fishing rods. They were second to none for holding together the broken uppers of football weary boots and priceless at the end of school terms when one wanted to safely transport home one’s books.

I hold no brief for garters but I would ask that men’s socks be lengthened so that garters may be called into use again.

It should be obvious to sock manufacturers that short socks do not lend themselves to garter-wearing. In fact they militate against the whole idea of garters.

It must be forgotten, too, that in the race of life those who wear garters will not have to stop now and then to pull up their socks.

More News

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.