Pretty much every year around about this time, and also just after the summer, we get the same old article in the newspapers or on TV
Some kid, at a posh school somewhere, has been sent home. Usually because his/her hair is too short but also for any reason from skirt is the wrong shade of blue, were wearing trainers to had left their tie at home.
And it's a big thing because the mother of said urchin is bemoaning that until such time as the hair has grown back or the remains of the missing tie has been retrieved from the cat litter tray their child has been sent home from school.
And they are, of course, indignant: their child is being excluded from blah blah this and will miss out on blah blah that...
As you can tell: by this time in the article I've usually lost interest - because all of these articles have one thing in common: the school/institute had a clearly publicized dress code and set of rules for appearance.
I have to be honest here and say that I don't really hold with the whole idea of uniforms working, as I do, in the IT world where for the past 10 years or so my ability to perform my job has in no way hinged on the presence, or lack thereof, of a tie around my neck - but I do understand that part of the point of wearing a uniform at school is to teach us that there are certain areas of life where having a smart appearance and conforming are still expected and necessary.
Not that this stopped anyone at our school: where boys wore their ties with the thin end showing and girls wore their underskirts so that the hem of the lace would show in line with the Fashion
But then there was an article in the news yesterday about a woman who had been sent home from a temping agency without pay because she had not been wearing high heeled shoes.
This may seem archaic and immensely sexist (and yes, actually, it is) but again the woman had signed an agreement that included a dress code that stipulated women wear heels - so part of me thinks that the time to mention that this requirement was out-moded was at the point she signed the agreement.
Now it seems that there is a move to make it unlawful to enforce a particular form of footwear that may affect a particular sex - but part of me wonders if we shouldn't just be applying common sense.
In the case of the child removed from school: ok so their hair is a bit short, but unless it looks like they are doing it to make a point or that it's somehow going to undermine their moral code then surely the teachers should consider the child's personality first and think "well it will grow back" if they're otherwise well behaved
And in the case of the woman surely all that needs to happen is for the company to admit they've been a bit over the top and to amend the wording to "smart shoes" rather than stipulate a particular pythagorean angle of tilt?
But then what is smart? Ask the average man if what they are wearing is smart and they will probably shrug and say "it'll do" as long as it hasn't been worn for so long that it can actually stand up unaided
Having said all of the above I find myself thinking back to just over twelve months ago and the area I used to live, where people would regularly pop to the local corner shop wearing their Panda Onesie and can't help but feel that those people might have benefited from a lesson somewhere about social acceptability and self control
I mean come on man, it's simply not British!