I wear my new braces, allegedly used on the Black and White Minstrel Show.

“What do you think?” I ask the LTLP. “I have never worn braces before.”

From her expression, I can see that she is awe-struck. My new birthday braces were allegedly used on TV’s Black and White Minstrel Show; they have graphics of musical notes up them and are incredibly snazzy.

“What the fucking hell have you got on?” she replies.

I blink at her, puzzled, before cheerfully ‘pinging’ them, like people with braces do all the time.

“Can’t you adjust them or something? Your trousers are pulled up so high and tight – oh God, I can see the outline of your…”

I fiddle with the adjusty things. I will get the hang of it in a minute. “I have to say that I quite like them,” I report. “They seem ever so fashionable.”

“What’s that stain on them?” demands the LTLP, scrutinising the rust marks from where the clips have aged. “Ugh. They smell.”

That is the trouble with the LTLP. She is so conservative in her fashion sense. I stare at myself in the mirror, for ages. This could be a completely new look for me.

A small doubt crosses my mind. “Do you think if I go out in public wearing braces from the Black and White Minstrel Show then people will think that I am racist?” I ask.

“Well ARE they from the Black and White Minstrel Show?”

I consider this. They were a present from Glenn, who played bass on the song ‘Toast’, so he is a pretty central figure in the world of showbiz and light entertainment. There would seem to be no reason why he would claim to be giving me braces from the Black and White Minstrel Show if they were not, in fact, from such an origin. It would be a bizarre thing to make up.

I am still a little worried about the racist thing. I sit down and strum my banjo for a bit to help me think. Probably the best thing to do would be to establish their authenticity beyond all doubt. I am just about to fire up the YouTube to look for episodes of the Black and White Minstrel Show when it occurs to me that if I wear the braces out of the house and it incites some sort of public disorder and I am interviewed by police on suspicion of being a racist, and I claim not to be, they will probably examine my laptop for evidence and say ‘aha he has been downloading episodes of the Black and White Minstrel Show to view in his own home, throw the book at him.’

It is one of those common dilemmas of modern life.

I remove my braces after a few more minutes. They seem a little formal to be wearing about the house, and besides, my crotch is chafing. I hang them up carefully in the wardrobe. I will have to consider this further before venturing out into the Village.

9 Comments

  1. I had thought that dwile flonking was more popular in your part of Norfolk than book throwing until now.

    I strongly recommend that you do not “black up,” as I believe it used to be called. And I think that striped waistcoats were a feature of the Black and White Minstrel Show. Without these key elements, I think that you can just wear oversized shoes and a comical red nose and be taken for a clown.

  2. It is always sad when something which one first did to look cool overshadows any real personal achievement and becomes the only thing history will remember.
    Glamour models (implants), Martin Bell (white suit), Les Dennis (Amanda Holden), Amanda Holden (Les Dennis) and Midge Ure (that charity record thing)will all come to realise this.
    Bobby Ball already owns the braces memory, and “Rock on, Tony” is not a phrase I ever wish to hear from you.

  3. Do you have a verandah? And a rocking chair on said verandah?
    Do you ever compete wih passing guitarists in melodic parries and thrusts?
    I’m sure I’ve seen you in a film some years ago….

  4. I think you’re quite racially integrated…black, white, and some brown from the rust marks.

    All you need now is a piece of grass to chew on and you’ll look like a racially integrated red-neck.

    That should impress the LTLP.

  5. And I suppose a Nehru jacket is taboo as well as any songs about Kung-fu fighting. (There is so much racism in that sentence that I denounce myself.)

    Meanwhile, I love the momentary cultural lag that allows me to be ever so amused, halfway through your essay, to realise we’re talking about suspenders over the shoulder and not the teeth-training retainers employed by the orthodontist.

  6. Haven’t you heard, Jonny? Racism is the in thing just now and quite ok in fashionable circles. I give you the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza, exempli gratia.

    In fact, one might say that racism is (to coin a phrase) the new black…

  7. I want to hear the LTLP’s reaction to Jonny wearing suspenders over his shoulder.

  8. Well, if it weren’t for the moose knuckle you could have gone all culturally aware and coolly replied, ‘they’re braces. Braces are cool,’ but if you’ve got a distinct outline of your ooh-er I think that defence is out of the question.

  9. ltlp doesn’t mince her words.
    u wear em if u like em

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