How tight can you get?

How tight can you get
It was only the other day when I stopped to chat to old Niccan Tillovit. He’s one of those I think of as ‘the old gang.’ They were the wild young things when I was just a child. They set a standard of debauchery, they were the group that an even older generation fulminated against. In spite of the lives they led, it’s surprising how many of them are still alive.

What has often intrigued me is the number of stories about their antics that somehow never leaked out, or were hastily brushed under the carpet. Yet some of these things happened in public, lots of people saw them, yet nobody remembers and nobody talks about it. It is if there is a conspiracy of silence which encompasses all parts of society, from the richest to the poorest. It is almost as if the frolics of these individuals so horrified people that collective amnesia was the only way society could cope.

But as I said, I was talking to old Niccan. I suppose I caught him at a low point. He was out of lichen for his pipe and the barrel he’d been drinking from was down to the lees. It’s grim when you end up chewing your wine rather than sipping it. Anyway I was inadvertently in funds, (or had been accidentally extended a line of credit which is much the same thing) so I suggested he accompany me to Mott’s Head where he’d get a drink on me.

I grabbed a glass of white wine and moved among the tables chatting to people, joking with them, improvising verses and generally ‘creating ambiance’ which is what the landlord had asked me to do. Old Niccan placed his empty tankard on the bar and gestured towards me. “I’m with him.”

The barman looked into his eyes, shuddered at the pain he saw there, and topped his tankard up with red wine from a new barrel.
Finally having spent a good half hour chatting to people I joined Niccan at a table. I brought the bread and cheese and a half bottle that the barman had given me. Niccan seemed lost in thought, and several times I thought he was about to tell me something, but each time he lapsed into silence. Finally he said, “I heard your tale about ‘Wearing the trousers’.


For those who don’t remember it, it is at


I asked him, “Did you enjoy it.”
“Oh a good enough tale, well enough told, but…..”
With that he tailed off, and I waited but it was obvious he felt he’d said enough. So I did the obvious thing, I filled his tankard.


He looked uncomfortable and shuffled in his seat. But he kept both hands on the tankard.

I continued, “So are you going to tell me the full story?”
He groaned. “It was horrible.”

I waited a little while as he gulped his wine. I gestured to the barman and he put a bottle of decent red on the bar. I wasn’t letting it get any nearer the table until I had a story.

“Horrible I tell you.”
“So what happened?”
“Nobody would believe it. Anyway there’s not enough to be a story.”

“Since when has that ever been a problem, there’s always more to add. So let me be the judge of that.”

“Well it wasn’t just britches you know.”

I was somewhat shocked but tried my best just to look interested.

“It was longer trousers as well. Some of the ladies decided to wear long trousers and I reckon it was Maljie who led them into it. She always said as how she wanted to be bifurcated.”
“What do you mean, long trousers.”

“Well apparently they tried wearing long trousers, but obviously you can only get men’s long trousers.”

Well obviously, what lady would want to wear anything so common?

“But somebody pointed out that the trousers could be shrunk.”

As an aside, again this is obvious. Most men will get them too large and wash them so they shrink to about the right size. No reasonable man ever expected trousers to ‘fit’. That’s what belts are for.

“So did they shrink them then?”

He was sobbing now. “They would sit in the bath wearing them so the trousers would shrink to fit.”

I suppose that was a sensible way to do it. So I said, “I suppose it means that they got something that wasn’t flapping around their legs as they walked.”

“No, no, you don’t understand.” With this he drained off the last of his tankard. “They fitted where they touched, and they touched everywhere. Everywhere.”

“You mean they were skin tight?”

“Tighter if possible. Tighter than a snake’s skin. I remember watching Maljie trying to put a pair on, writhing on the floor. Writhing and squirming. There are some things a man isn’t supposed to see.”

I went to the bar and fetched him the wine. He ignored the tankard and drank it straight from the bottle.

“They were so tight that they couldn’t bend their knees properly when they walked so they started having to slash the trousers at the knee to get round the problem.”

“So what happened?”
Niccan was sobbing now. “The Sinecurists stepped in, ‘in the interests of decency.’

They announced that anybody, lady or gentleman, wearing trousers that tight, would be forced to see themselves from behind in a mirror. Nobody ever talked about it ever again.”


If you want to read more of the antics of the good folk of Port Naain, try

When he is asked to oversee the performance of the celebrated ‘Ten Speeches’, Tallis Steelyard realises that his unique gifts as a poet have finally been recognised. He may now truly call himself the leading poet of his generation.
Then the past comes back to haunt him, and his immediate future involves too much time in the saddle, being asked to die in a blue silk dress, blackmail and the abuse of unregulated intoxicants. All this is set in delightful countryside as he is invited to be poet in residence at a lichen festival.


As a reviewer commented, “What’s a poet to do when one of his lady patrons is being blackmailed and his own life may be at risk due to his actions in defending another from attack some time in the past.
How are both these events connected?
Well – read this tale and find out – trust me, it’ll be time well spent”

20 thoughts on “How tight can you get?

      1. Perhaps the mirrors could be kept draped so that the elegant and stylish were not constantly bombarded with images of their own beauty, but the attendant would wish away the cover when somebody appeared who needed a dire warning?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I am left wondering if Port Naain has a branch of Primark, selling black leggings? When I was last in Norwich city centre, I am sure I spotted some of Maljie’s women friends in the Market Place.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Given the way Port Naain clamped down on it, it is not unlikely that the more recidivist offenders have moved on.
      Did you think to ask them if they had a source of Urlan plum brandy or mott bacon?

      Liked by 1 person

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