The creases in the king’s trousers

I was very much amused by this “brilliant cameo biographical footnote” from a book by the historian A.J.P. Taylor, quoted in a recent review in the Times Literary Supplement:

“George V (1865–1936), second son of Edward VII: married Princess Mary of Teck, 1893; King, 1910–36; changed name of royal family from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor, 1917; his trousers were creased at the sides not front and back”.

This must be the funniest footnote in the history of footnotes, and I’d like to thank the reviewer, Peter Hennessy, and Brian Harrison, author of Seeking A Role, The United Kingdom 1951–1970 as well as the late A.J.P. for bringing this my attention.

It’s an intriguing sounding book all round, in fact. As Hennessy puts it:

“From a journal to which I was hitherto a stranger, Heating and Ventilating Engineer, [Harrison] has gleaned that in the UK, the ‘average living room was over 5° Fahrenheit warmer in 1970 than in 1950’. In terms of what one might call the softening of Britain, this is hugely significant. Those of us on the rim of middle and old age can vividly remember living in homes with but one warm room enlivened by a coal fire and, on winter nights, leaping into bed and hoping to fall asleep before the chill bit, and waking up to patterns of frozen condensation on the window panes in the morning.”

Not many Oxford historians read Heating and Ventilating Engineer, I’ll be bound.

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2 thoughts on “The creases in the king’s trousers

  1. Thank you for pointing me to AJPTaylor’s footnote. I was just watching a Stephen Poliakoff film in which George V was clad in laterally creased trousers, which I thought dated from Pr. of Wales David, later Duke of W. I thought it was an anachronism, but if Taylor dates it to 1917 and George V, Poliakoff was perfectly correct. I have a friend who’s a world authority on anachronistic typefaces in period films, but this was just a casual observation of mine. (It always bothers me when I try on trousers in a GAP store that they have a Windsor crease. I blame the Duke of W. for this.)

  2. Pingback: Yet More Joy of Footnotes | John Rentoul | Independent Eagle Eye Blogs

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