Nipping in between two closely-parked cars on Saturday to steal a march on a crowd of languid Parisians blocking rue du Roi de Sicile, I snagged the sleeve of my shirt off the rear-windscreen wiper of an SUV. The damage is irreparable and the shirt will soon tear more and be unwearable. And so, while hardly the heaviest thing troubling my mind these days, a little tear assumes more importance than it need. Gilbert Adair, when reviewing Jean Baudrillard's La Guerre de golfe n'a pas eu lieu (in which Baudrillard famously claimed that the (first) Gulf War did not take place because it was a media event), backed up the Frenchman's argument by claiming that the red wine he spilt on his white cardigan, while reading the book, caused an inordinate amount of worry to him, compared to the reality of the war.
While Adair and Baudrillard were more aiming at westerners' willingness and capacity for lining their priorities up in a questionable fashion, I am more put out by the shirt being no longer wearable. Because it was a nice shirt, you see, and I already have too many threadbare garments (though thankfully not always in noticeable positions). I think I can date the decline in quality of the fabric to the time I discovered H&M. Their trousers are really sub-standard and I will soon be going back to more traditional, better quality outlets for my breeches. When you subtract all the advertising campaigns, the intended Kate Moss endorsements etc., you realise that the Swedish haberdashers are little more than a global version of Dunnes Stores. Better value beats them all, as they used to tell us in the bleak 80s.