Formal Tuesday: The Report



The idea was an adaption of another school’s one-off event, though our’s was of a distinctly different hue. Stromness Academy has no uniform. People come to school wearing as they please, so why opt for a dress code?

The concept is simple enough; “Come to school in a white shirt and tie next Tuesday, other finery welcomed but not compulsory.” This was the premise set out in the Facebook page created to deal with the organisation of the event. This was met with much intrigue and many pledged their support early in the week, they seemed strangely taken with the idea.

As the scattergun approach was adopted when it came to the target market, discussion was promoted across a diverse range of social groups and this was very encouraging. The big day drew closer but as I began to question my advocates in practical terms, their commitment seemed to waver. Perhaps in hindsight, though we had longer to prepare, the timescale meant people had time to doubt themselves.

Monday night was here. I frantically mined the social network, working tirelessly to sell the idea to people. Many promised their attendance. I personally almost doubted for a second, #getyourgladragson was not exactly trending, though it had been favourited. I lay in bed buzzing with excitement, the tie had been practiced, shirt ironed and alarm set ten minutes earlier than usual to allow for the sprucing.

My first disappointment came when my bus companion had failed to partake. Of all the people! He had witnessed the conception of the idea, endorsed it and nurtured it to this date – I had taken his word for the truth! So I stood by the radiator and shrugged off derogatory remarks for ten minutes until a beaming auburn headed talisman strode in sporting the colours of the movement, I called out, “You are my only true friend!”

Next to arrive after a significant succession of no-shows was another present at the event’s formative stages, he had truly embraced the theme and I was proud of this outwardly display of commitment. The newest member of our year, not yet acquainted enough to feel the judgement of his peers to the extent of the more established presences, wore a jumper over his shirt and tie; reflecting his slight insecurity about the lack of participation.

My last hopeful arrived predictably last minute in his usual outfit and was promptly scorned by the assembled trio until he revealed he had a shirt in his bag and would be back shortly to join in the festivities. So I sauntered into reg. a trifle dejected, all we had managed to muster surmounted only to a quintet. Alack, my spirit soared again for the presence of a blue-haired maiden clad in tights of a similar hue and a loosely hung tie over a crinkled white collar.

So, what conclusions can I draw from the unfoldings which presented themselves? We are not fascists, there was not a hint of militarism in our purpose. We do not exist to intimidate, we merely exist. The beauty of it is that the basic concept is so simple and broad that it can be interpreted by the individual how they choose. No one was coerced into doing it, participation was entirely voluntary. Sharing a common dress code is a step towards unity and common purpose without having to be oppressive. In fact everything about the organisation of the day was democratic. Formal Tuesday is about exercising our right to form societies and this gained respect from many observers. This was reflected in the sequential repetition in which 33.333…% more pupils took part.   

About alasdairflett

German & English Literature graduate. From Orkney. Interested in alternative and indie music, language, writing and politics.
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