Cormac MacConnell: Tie yourself in knots and you’ll die sooner

If you happen to be wearing a collar and tie as you commence reading this epistle, I sincerely suggest that you stop here and now for your own peace of mind, and head towards any other story at all, either in this splendid supplement or in any other zone of the Irish Examiner today.

It is never my wish to cause health concerns to any of you, and this could easily occur if your neck is constricted by a collar and tie, and you choose to read on.

I disclaim all responsibility for any amongst you who do not heed this good and wise advice.

What may happen to you subsequently is totally your own fault.

And that is the pure truth, once more.

I have had to attend two funerals this year already. Though both were for lovely citizens who had reached a very advanced and peaceful old age, and who were well-prepared and happy to take the highway to paradise, my remaining lifetime has been shortened by about a fortnight because of my attendance at their funerals.

This is not caused by grief or loss, but by the fact that I had to wear a collar and black tie at the obsequies. Believe me when I say we all pay dearly for every hour and day that we don accursed collars and ties.

Those of you who are guffawing and sneering at me now should ask themselves, from their life experience and commonsense: ‘what are the first actions of our paramedics when they rush to the aid of our daily fallen’?

The first action of all paramedics is to remove the victim’s tie, and rip open the constricting shirt collar, so that, probably for the first time that day, the victim’s airway is totally cleared, and there is a chance they can be assisted to breathe properly again.

Is that true or false? Are you still laughing now?

As always, I have thoroughly researched the dangers of wearing tight collars and bloody ties. The findings are quite shocking for men, who have been forced to wear various species of ties for centuries and, increasingly today, for the working womenfolk who often have to wear ties as an element of their daily uniforms.

The health conditions that can be triggered by a length of fabric knotted tightly around the windpipe range through the obvious respiratory risks, all the way up to ailments like glaucoma and worse.

Check out the frightening range for yourself, if so inclined.

Nowadays, being older and wiser, I only wear a collar and tie on the ritual occasions, like funerals, when they are absolutely necessary.

I tie my Windsor knot and close the collar at the last minute, and remove the tie as soon as possible afterwards.

I greatly pity the many, many thousands of workers amongst us who, because of their occupations and professions, have to wear collars and ties all their working lives.

There was a report last week about our increased longevity in recent decades.

The figures would be much more impressive if some thoughtful government banned tight collars and ties altogether, in the way in which Arabian headgear — although not nearly so unhealthy to wearers — is banned in several countries.

It is appropriate, somehow, that the wearing of ties was popularised way back in the 17th century, in France, by a King Louis, who very soon afterwards lost not just his throne and life, but also his head, to an enraged citizenry who could not afford a feed of spuds, never mind collars and ties.

It is a fact, too, that the huge Arizona Sunset ties worn in the 1950s and 1960s by our visiting American relatives were a consequence of a fashion begun by demobbed GIs.

They celebrated their release from uniforms by donning wide strips garnished with every colour under the rainbow.

It is a historic fact, furthermore, that when the French tradition began to falter, way back in the 1880s, that the English revived it (who else?), especially through Oxford University and the issuing of army regimental ties.

They strongly pushed the fashion amongst their then subject Irish. Sure, what better way to keep us in bondage?

We are forced to wear tight collars and ties when we are being hired, when we are being fired, when we are seeking promotions, when we are trying to get visas to escape, when we are getting married, when we appear before a judge and jury, and when we are attempting to get medical treatment.

Finally, more and more of us, on our very deathbeds, when we can resist no more, are equipped with a collar and tie, instead of the old, decent habit.

And the worst of that final appearance is that the tie is knotted by some family female who has no idea at all how to properly create a Windsor knot.

And there again is the pure truth.

My final advice is never to wear a collar and tie unless you absolutely have no choice. When you cannot avoid the constriction and health risk, equip yourself with a shirt collar at least one size too large, and never close the top button. That way, you are likely to survive in this mad world maybe a month or two longer.


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