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WARD'S WORLD: There's no need to get shirty...

It’s at this festive time of the year that many supposed bargains, real or otherwise (once you get them to prove differently) appear in great abundance.

I was shown such an artefact recently which was purchased online. Although this was perhaps an exception (until you get in touch to prove otherwise - I await your call in due course to further educate me) as to what was ordered but not what was delivered.

A friend had seen a shirt online as the price was right plus it included ‘free’ postage in the offer, so he ordered one based on the idea that if it fitted okay he would order more.

Columnist John Ward (43017543)
Columnist John Ward (43017543)

The order arrived in quite good time as he was not expecting it so soon - the dispatch date and delivery were weeks apart as it was coming from Shanghai, which believe it or not, was not on our local bus routes.

On opening the package up he found a note that said: “Many grate thank for your most wonderful order you have garnished us with and is enclosed for your comfort and wear” which was quite gratifying or then again, grating maybe.

The shirt looked wonderful as it laid there wrapped in the cellophane wrapper but on opening it proved to be rather different.

He had ordered a size 17 inch collar but in this case the collar was indeed 17 inches but oddly so was the chest size it seemed as what you saw on opening it was what you got.

To see a collar with about the same size shirt trailing on downwards was quite something. Once unfolded, the actual shirt was really, really narrow.

This would - or will - fit somebody who is unique in their appearance which makes them stand out as being, well, unique, who takes a size 17 collar but with a slenderish or narrow chest, finished (?) in a turquoise colour with short sleeves?

I am not suggesting this happens all the while but it gave us a laugh as its possibly a reject or ‘freak’ that somehow got through ‘quality control’ unhindered but as it was cheap, he won’t bother returning it but see below for Plan B.

A similar adventure of sorts happened years ago as together with friends from schooldays Reg and Rod (they were twins but not identical as Reg wore a different wristwatch with a leather strap) we decided we would get a cheap day return on the choo-choo (trains then belted out smoke) to go to London.

In our travels there we came across a street market of the then period with stalls, people with suitcases on legs with some selling assorted items that might not have looked out of place on the telly programme Crimewatch UK.

Among the bits and bobs we brought were the usual sort of things as the latest (read as in cheap and affordable) novelties to hit London but a few months before supplies came our way in ‘the sticks’ sort of thing.

Reg had always wanted, then quite expensive in its day, a ‘Pacamac’ raincoat for when he went angling.

The said ‘Pacamac’ was folded up in its own plastic case you carried in your pocket in case it rained but this was a 1950/60s idea that worked well.

However to us mere teenagers it was considered pricey plus not being an essential part of everyday needs.

While wandering around what seemed to us to be some sort of bazaar in many respects, he saw somebody selling Pacamacs from a suitcase on legs.

The price was a fraction of the usual price back home in local shops so Reg invested in one that he was told by the salesmen ‘would fit him like a glove’ based on his size given.

It must be stated that they looked and fitted alright or rather the one the salesman’s assistant /accomplice was wearing did.

I forget now how much he paid but the ‘salesman’ even put it in a brown paper carrier bag for him and told Reg as we left: “Once it starts to rain, you will be covered” he said with a cheeky grin and a wink.

The bag was handy as he put all the other bits he had also bought into it from his by then bulging jacket pockets.

Once on the train we had a compartment to ourselves and so about quarter of the way into the journey going home, Reg got the Pacamac out to try it on.

On unfolding the said garment out of its case one or two things became rather apparent as he held it up with perhaps the most significant one being the three sleeves - and that was just the left hand side.

The right hand side was restricted to just two sleeves but one short, one long it’s true.

A quick glance at the case said it was the ‘de-luxe’ model, which was not exactly reassuring as we wondered what the basic model had in store for its buyer - nine sleeves maybe?

Next up was the ‘de-luxe’ other features such as the seven pockets but all down the left hand side, in assorted shapes and sizes, but quite handy for putting things in.

There were only three pockets down the right hand side before you wonder.

The back held more wonders as it was an ‘open plan’ design as from the shoulders down, there was no back to it - nothing, zilch.

So in basic terms Reg was the proud owner of a ‘Pacamac’ that boasted two front sides, with a multitude of assorted sized pockets, five sleeves but no back.

The only thing that kept the two halves together was the collar with about six inches or so of the actual plastic material covering the shoulders.

We did laugh ourselves silly once ‘the penny had dropped’ as we learnt then ‘you only get what you pay for’.

Some time later I was talking to somebody in the plastics trade who explained that what Reg had bought was perhaps a ‘dummy run’ that was used to see if the plastic welding machine was working okay before starting a ‘run’ of products.

However this was the first time he had heard of anybody buying what was scrap or a reject ‘trial’.

Plan B then: this highly desirable/talking point size 17 collar/chest short sleeved shirt has been repackaged and is being left in his will for his brother-in-law who likes to give the impression he ‘has everything’ in the material sense as this will, certainly impress him no doubt.

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