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I HAVE to confess to having worn garments including a shell suit (orange and black), a waistcoat (blue and white checked) and a T-shirt that changes colour depending on the temperature (varying tones) over the years.

But the crucial point here is, I have donned all such garments at the correct point in time. In other words, when they were fashionable.

Now, I'm not claiming to be Jeff Banks here, but I like to think I've managed to keep up to date with the latest trends over the years, while not by any stretch of the imagination setting them. However, one fashion/moral dilemma hit me this week.

One of my hobby horses since starting in this line of work has been exploding stereotypes of the way reporters look and behave.

All too often over the years have we seen soap operas portray us lot as scruffy individuals, with our ties loosened round our necks, unshaven and with a fag hanging out of our mouths.

So, I have always tried to instill in my colleagues a need to dress smartly and appear professional at all times (he says as a red beach ball, hurled by a co-worker, lands on his desk and knocks the darts off his novelty dart board).

And that has meant suit, shirt and tie every day, with no accessories, no nowt.

But over the last year, I have seen pullovers creep into the wardrobe of a number of inhabitants of Chronicle HQ, typically worn over shirt but under jacket, until the jacket is shed and placed on the back of the chair.

Having banged on about office dress codes like a cheap drum, I had to take a stand against this, whether I had strong views or not. And I was not happy about such sweaters being used as an excuse to have one's tie undone a little, with the shirt collar open, let alone the fact they can be used as a way of masking an unironed garment.

Having said all that, I am rather partial to a smart sweater outside of work, which can be pulled-off with a degree of sophistication if done right. More to the point, it isn't half cold at the moment, especially at the unsaintly hour I have to drag myself into this place every day.

So, when the unnamed colleague sitting opposite me swaggered in with his sweater on for the first time this year, it was with a degree of guilt that I looked longingly at it. After much soulsearching, I decided I was going to be the bigger man and relax my pullover policy, so spent the evening weighing up which ones in my wardrobe would be suitable for a professional environment.

But, knowing the song and dance I had made about this in the past, I couldn't bring myself to actually drag it on in the morning, so rather pathetically carried it under my arm and placed it on the desk, going out of my way to explain (lie) to co-workers that I felt ill and needed to keep warm, so I had brought it in for emergencies only.

Then, a couple of hours later and thinking I had got away with it, I slipped it over my head while noone else was at our horseshoe of desks.

At first, I was glued to my desk, hoping my additional garment wouldn't get noticed, but after a while, I plucked up the confidence to walk around and felt liberated.

That was until I heard an unknown voice bellow across the room: "Oooooooooooh, nice jumper Jupp." And that was the end of that.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 19, 2009
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