It is a peculiar English affectation not to talk about one’s tailor. But I was very sad to hear from my brother the news of the death of mine, Leo White, who built my suits in London ever since the late 1970s. I guess that, now he is dead, we can share warm memories of him.
The first time I met him, I thought him somewhat alarming. He was kneeling between my legs, measuring my inside leg, when he looked up – as usual over the top of his glasses – and earnestly announced in his heavy Jewish accent: “What a lot of people don’t realise is that Israel is in a state of war”.
Leo would talk about a lot of things. The state of his marriage, which was not always steady. His relationship with the tax man, which was always decidedly unsteady. How many cuff buttons were appropriate for which sort of suit. What sort of lining was right for what sort of cloth.I got him once to make me a heavy, blue corduroy suit, and that provided him with a good deal to talk about for a long time (he complained bitterly about how many needles he broke building it). But he was always funny, honest, reliable and discrete. He never ever spoke about his other clients. Unless they were dead, in which case he would occasionally speak of them, always kindly. Many of his clients were lawyers, and he had droll stories to tell about them once the ones who had died.
He was also a very, very good tailor – his suits were always a pleasure to wear. I still have several of them.
A note about him, appears here