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Toby Neal: My foray into trying on my wife’s clothing

I used to wear women’s clothing. And not just at weekends.

Looking great in a fabulous dress – Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst
Looking great in a fabulous dress – Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking what a right-on and with-it person I am.

You are thinking that I’m in tune with progressive 21st Century mores and fully rehabilitated from an upbringing in the shameful and unenlightened 1970s, at last adopting the creed of contemporary poet Ray Davies, who famously said “girls will be boys and boys will be girls” although he went on to ruin it by adding “it’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world”.

I think the lightbulb moment was when there was that Eurovision winner with a beard, looking fabulous in a magnificent dress and wowing a whole continent.

As far as I am aware not an eyebrow was raised on Tipton High Street. And what’s okay on Tipton High Street is okay by me.

But before I smugly embrace myself, wallow in your admiration, and congratulate myself on my superiority over those dinosaur reactionaries who find such things unusual and even downright odd, I have a confession.

In wearing women’s clothing I was not on a personal journey of self understanding and liberation, or whatever. I was making a mistake.

Either my legs are short for my height, or my wife’s legs are long for her height, I’m not sure what.

But by some strange synergy, if that’s the right word, my wife’s jeans turn out to be a perfect fit for myself.

So when they all get jumbled up in the wash, and especially in the winter and it’s a bit dark, there have been occasions when I have reached for the wrong jeans. When I say wrong I mean the jeans that do not belong to me, not making any moral or sexist judgment or anything like that.

I thought I had cracked it with the belief that men’s jeans button up left over right, and women’s right over left, but this rule of thumb turned out to be not completely reliable.

The solution has come through me being at the cutting edge of fashion. For instance, I realise that flares, which my wife still wears, doh!, are not the thing any more – been there, done that, long ago – so avoid flares. Avoid anything with flowers on as well.

Then there’s the label. I look to see who has made the jeans.

“If it’s Wallis, they are my jeans,” my wife helpfully tells me.

“So there is a range of so-called designer labels which are a signpost to a potential wardrobe error on my part.

Yes, I once used to wear women’s clothing. No longer.

Talking of people wearing a different set of clothing, let’s move to Rishi Sunak.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

The high tax, high spending Chancellor who endeared himself to the nation with his fraud-friendly furlough scheme and lots of other things that made him popular, like chipping in for us to go out for meals, is reaching that awkward period in which he has to find ways of getting some of his money back.

In the background is the question of whether he is lining himself up to be the next Prime Minister. But do you want as Prime Minister somebody who doesn’t even get invited to parties by the neighbours?

The spring statement will affect the living standards of Britons.

But what has been happening in the Ukraine is a sobering backdrop.

While we talk of a cost of living crisis, household heating bills, and so on, people in the Ukraine have a living crisis, being huddled in freezing shelters while their homes are smashed by artillery and missiles.

Boris Johnson got into trouble this week by comparing the Ukrainians’ fight for freedom from the Russian yoke with Brexit. He was accused of insulting and offending the Ukrainians by crassly comparing their life or death struggle to the domestic EU debate.

Whether that is true, only the Ukrainians can answer. As it happens, if the Prime Minister had said that the embattled Ukrainians’ aspiration to join the EU was an indication of what a wonderful thing the EU is, being a force for good and European unity, I think he would have got away with it and, put that way, the same critics would have had no objection.

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