Ian Jack, a 67 year old journalist had an 'Gaurdian' newspaper last week entitled :
Ian's was entitled :
Whangee, crook or derby? I have entered the world of the walking stick
* never expected to have a stick, hopes he won't always need a stick and even now, often leaves home without a stick.
* nevertheless, when he bought a stick, decided to 'embrace stickness' and went to the world's most famous 'stick, cane and umbrella shop' James Smith & Sons in New Oxford Street which was founded in 1830 and whose clients have included prime ministers and viceroys of India.
* when in the shop and asked by a very well-mannered though decisive young man : what kind of stick he required : " A crook or a derby? And in acacia, hickory, cherry, maple, ash? ", chose an ash crook.
* was found one that seemed to him exactly the right length, but the young man decided that it was too long using the formula: to get the right length, divide the user's height in two and then add half an inch, or measure from the wrist to the floor.
* had the young man say ; "I'll just have it cut for you sir" but found it didn't feel right and so I eventually got another stick, a derby this time, with a sprightly flat handle rather than a droopy curve, and at a length that disobeys all the wisdom Smith Sons have acquired over nearly two centuries of stick production, but liked it.
* until he had a stick, didn't realise how ubiquitous they are, with especial densities at certain times in certain places – a London bus, say, at 11am – when a derby in maple can stand out as rather special.