The Chap has received an urgent missive from a staff member at The Royal Opera House. The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, writes: “On February 1st my esteemed employer, The Royal Opera House, will adopt a new uniform for its front-of-house staff. This entirely vile uniform is composed of a grey M&S suit (lightweight polyester, £39), a white polyester cotton mix shirt (£9) and two utterly hideous ‘bespoke – designer’ polyester ties (0.4p).”
Condemning its staff to further humiliation, the ties feature what can only be described as a tie dye floral pattern, while the standard M&S sizing of the uniforms leaves staff, in his opinion, “looking like clowns”.
So distressed is this employee that he is already plotting how to destroy his uniform: “If one stands near a flame in our new uniform, then one is likely to immolate oneself and die horribly in front of all one’s chums in screaming agony, thus triggering the sprinkler system and soaking customers. A very poetic finale. However, the ties are at least proper ‘tie your own’ ties to replace the black clip-on numbers we now have, so any customer that assaults us has a good chance of strangling us to death.”
There was less emotion, and more balderdash, in a dictat released by the Royal Opera House itself: “The look for the uniforms was inspired by the Royal Opera House’s architecture and unique surroundings – in particular the glass and iron Paul Hamlyn Hall. Female employees can look forward to wearing a classic, elegantly tailored suit. Male employees will be wearing a two-piece suit with a crisp white or grey shirt and a specially designed tie. There are also T-shirts for less formal occasions.”
Less formal occasions than the Opera? Surely the ROH has got itself mixed up with the local branch of Pizza Hut. But no, a little research into the official ROH line on audience dress codes makes shocking reading: “The Royal Opera House doesn’t have a dress code. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in, whether that’s your best clothes or something casual.”
The Royal Opera House’s grammar is nearly as appalling as its lack of sartorial standards.