Worsted S-system

Wool-based tailoring fabrics may be marked ‘Super 110’ for example. This ‘S-system’ is derived from the 18th century ‘worsted count’ (worsted yarn is spun from fine, smooth and hard combed long-staple wool) which indicates how many 560 yard-long ‘hanks’ can be spun from 1 lb of wool. As finer wool goes further, the S-system therefore indicates how fine the wool is.

Today, materials categorised as S100 – 130 are considered ‘durable’, S140+ as delicate, and S200 as very luxurious. Typically in the USA, a two-piece man’s suit in a S110 fabric might costs $500, whilst the same garments in a S130 fabric might cost $700 – $800.

Any buyer should also be aware that the ‘S’ prefix (as above) indicates that the material may be a wool blend. Only the word ‘Super’ indicates that the material is ‘pure new wool’, or a blend of wool with a rare fabric such as cashmere.

The weight of a fabric is also important for durability and comfort. Typically, a ‘classic’ European worsted weighs in at around 380 g (per square metre) or 13-14 oz (per square yard), whilst a ‘lighweight’ worsted weighs in at around 280 g or 9 oz. Herringbone fabric is stronger, and all good fabric should ‘rebound’ when crushed.

With a usable minimum width of 150 cm between the selvedge, averaged sized items require the following:
Trousers – 1.5 metres
Jacket – 2.5 metres
2 piece – 3.5 metres
3 piece – 4.5 metres.
Therefore 4 metres of suiting will cover most needs.

Again with a minimum width of 150 cm, the following is also required:
2.5 metres of lining
1.5 metres of cotton twill for pockets
3 metres of interfacing.

Insincere language

‘The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.’
George Orwell, Politics and the English Language (1946)

Medically unexplained symptoms

The right diagnosis is clearly critical, but around half of all symptoms are ‘medically unexplained’ and don’t easily fit into a diagnostic box. Some hospitals spend so much on expensive investigations for chest pain, abdominal pain and headaches with ‘normal’ results that they’ve set up ‘Medically Unexplained Symptoms’ clinics. If you do get an initial diagnosis, it is likely to be wrong 15 percent of the time. That’s not usually negligence, just the way informed guesswork goes. Always ask ‘what else could it be?’ and ‘how would I know?’
The right care also needs the right treatment; but for most diagnoses, there are now a lot of options to choose from. Doctors try to go through all of them – what’s right for one patient may be wrong for another – but sharing complex decisions in a ten-minute consultation is near impossible. Fortunately, most decisions don’t need to be made immediately, many symptoms improve in time and many treatments and screening programmes are surprisingly ineffective. If you just ask: ‘What’s most likely to happen if I just watch and wait?’, the answer is often that you’d live just as long as if you have your life expensively and inconveniently medicalised.

MD Private Eye 1397 24 July 2015

A world ruled by fiction

In his Introduction to the 1995 reissue of 1973 masterpiece Crash, J.G.Ballard writes:

‘We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind – mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre-empting of any original response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent the reality.’

Tom McCarthy continues…

‘Reality isn’t there. It has to be brought forth or produced. This is the duty and stake of writing.’

LRB, 18 Dec 2014 – ‘Writing Machines’.