Three Homages to Slacks with a Razor-sharp Crease

--by Stephanie, Sarah, and Anne


Readers of Donald Bain’s MSW series of books may have noticed that in almost every book there is at least one mention of a character (usually George Sutherland) wearing “slacks with a razor-sharp crease.” This description has been used by him so frequently that by now it’s quite funny, so in honor of this memorable phrase we’ve compiled three short stories about how George keeps his pants so perfectly pressed for every book.



I. (Stephanie)

“How would half past seven suit you?” George asked, contemplating the short list of errands that he was hoping to run before picking Jessica up at her hotel.  How bloody inconvenient it had been to be summoned to Aberdeen two days before her arrival in London, he thought, still slightly annoyed by the last minute trip north.

He could hardly blame her for opting to stay at the hotel instead of at his flat, what with him being out of town.  It had quite simply been the practical thing to do.  Why spend every morning and evening catching a cab to and fro when she could simply take the lift to the hotel’s main floor conference rooms, where most of her week’s activities would take place. 

What had made everything doubly irritating was that they hadn’t seen each other since his return to London, primarily because he had spent the past 48 hours scrambling to catch up with things on his home turf.        

“Half past seven,” Jessica agreed contemplatively.  That should give her plenty of time to prepare for an evening at the theatre.  Knowing how much she enjoyed Shakespeare, George had purchased tickets to Macbeth, she remembered with a smile - when he would probably have preferred seeing Monty Python’s Spamalot.  Not that he didn’t enjoy Shakespeare himself but when work was weighing heavily on him, as it had been in recent months, he preferred a bit of good, old, off-beat British humor.

“Aye,” George confirmed.  “I need to stop by the bank and the market before going home to clean up.”

“Why don’t you skip the market and pack a weekend bag instead,” Jessica suggested in a playful, enticing manner that immediately grabbed his attention.  A weekend away – even in London – was exactly what he needed, she decided as she laid out the dress that she would wear that evening. 

“Aye, a weekend bag,” George replied eagerly in response to her suggestion.  “Afraid I’ll have to make a stop at the cleaners as well, Love,” he apologized.  “I doubt I have more than one pair of clean trousers in my closet at the moment.”     

“The cleaners,” Jessica repeated softly.  “Well, that explains it,” she added with a chuckle. 

“Explains what?” George wondered curiously as he fished his car keys from his pocket. 

“Oh, nothing.  It’s just that I’ve forever wondered how you always manage to have a razor-sharp crease in your slacks.”

George laughed heartily as he angled his tall, lean body into the sleek Jaguar.  “You certainly didn’t think that I was responsible for that myself, did you?”

“Well, frankly, I’ve often wondered,” Jessica admitted as she picked out a pair of sapphire earring that George had recently given her, for not other reason than because “they suited her.”

“Afraid to disappoint you, Jess, but I quite happily surrendered that battle as soon as I discovered that it was more economical to pay someone else to do my ironing than to replace every pair of trousers that I managed to leave a scorch mark on.”

Jessica laughed at the mental image of George and a pair of smoldering khakis..

“Jess, I’ve got to ring off now if I’m going to pick you up in time for Macbeth,” he informed her as he turned over the engine.


“Yes, Love.”

“Would you mind terribly if we enjoyed a quiet dinner here at the hotel after the play?”

“Not at all,” he agreed pleasantly.  “Shall we make it room service?” he suggested.

“You read my mind perfectly.”



II. (Anne)

            Jessica’s glance slipped downward at her first opportunity to do so without attracting notice from her dinner companion.

            It’s perfect, just like always, she thought to herself, looking back up in time to smile innocently as George turned toward her again. The crease is straight as an arrow, and razor-sharp. How does he do it?

            George started to catch her up on one of the cases he had wrapped up since the last time she had been in London. Jessica listened attentively, but at the same time a detached part of her mind continued to puzzle over what she had fondly started to call (to herself at least) the Mystery of the Perfectly Pressed Slacks.

            It was only a trivial matter, really, hardly deserving of any attention at all, yet the more Jessica thought about it, the more determined she was to learn how George managed to keep his clothes as new and fresh as if they had just been delivered from the tailor.  It was not a talent that most bachelors were known for … but then, she reflected warmly, George was not exactly like most bachelors.

            “How fortunate for you that you managed to catch up with that witness before she left the country,” Jessica murmured in response as George finished his tale. She sipped her wine and went back to thinking about George’s clothes as he launched into another complicated case history.

She had decided that there were only three reasonable explanations for how George managed to pull off the remarkable feat of always having his trousers perfectly creased: he sent his laundry out to a cleaner of the highest caliber, he hired someone to come to his flat and take care of his wardrobe needs on a regular (and frequent) basis, or he handled the chore of cleaning and pressing his outfits himself.  This third theory seemed the least likely to her, but she had already done some snooping and thus far found no evidence to support either of the other two: no receipts or plastic garment bags to indicate that his clothes were sent out, and no signs that anyone unfamiliar had been in the flat to suggest that someone came in.

One way or the other, she thought as she finished her wine and George signaled for the check, I will get to the bottom of this, on this visit.


After leaving the little Mayfair restaurant they returned to George’s flat to settle in for a quiet evening of further conversation and cribbage. After Jessica had bested him to take two games out of three George pushed back his chair and glanced at the clock on the mantle.

“Well,” he said, “it’s getting late. I think I’ll turn in; I have an early day at the Yard tomorrow.”

“And I have an interview with the BBC first thing in the morning,” Jessica said, feigning sleepiness as she rose from her chair. “I’ll need an early start as well.”

They went to bed, where Jessica made a point of lying very still and keeping her breathing slow and regular, as if she had gone straight to sleep.  But every sense was alert as she listened to George move restlessly beside her until finally, once he seemed certain she was fast asleep, he got up and left the bedroom, quietly shutting the door behind him.

Jessica continued to lie very still, straining to hear what he was doing in the other room. She heard the sound of water running, and of George humming quietly to himself, and then the sound of …

Steam?It can’t be! Could it?

She could resist her curiosity no longer. As silently as she could she rose from bed, tiptoed to the door, and opened it just a crack, just enough for her to peek through. What she saw made her heart swell with love and admiration even as she put a hand to her mouth to keep herself from laughing out loud.

George Sutherland, Chief Inspector for New Scotland Yard, one of the top homicide investigators in the United Kingdom if not the entire European Union, was standing in a worn t-shirt and boxer shorts, wielding a steam iron with a practiced hand. Several pairs of his slacks were draped across the back of a chair awaiting their turn as he ironed a perfect, razor-sharp crease into the trousers on the makeshift ironing board in front of him.



III. (Sarah)

As I entered the Parc Ven Dome on West 57th Street, I nodded to Oscar, the night doorman.   Normally, I would take the stairs up to our fourth floor apartment, but I was exhausted from a long day of pointless meetings with other task force committee members at the United Nations.   I had already missed dinner with Jessica, so not only was I hungry, but I was in need of a soothing Scotch and the even more soothing  presence of the woman I loved.  When I entered the apartment, I set down my briefcase and keys and shed my coat.   The lights were all on and an Alison Kraus cd was playing on the stereo.   Jessica appeared to be in our bedroom, so I stopped in the kitchen where I poured myself that much needed single malt Scotch.   I carried the drink in my left hand and loosened my tie with my right hand.  I was about to call out her name when I was treated to a delightful scene.


Jessica had her back to me and was so engrossed in her task, she didn't hear me come in.  The ironing board was set up and there was a pile of my shirts and cotton Dockers on the end of it.   She was dressed in navy blue leggings and one of my white Oxford shirts,  with the sleeves rolled up and she was barefoot.  The sight was her was absolutely enchanting and very sexy.     Deciding to keep silent, I watched her for a while.  She finished a shirt and slipped it on to a hanger and immediately started on a pair of slacks.   She was humming along to the song playing in the other room.   She sprayed starch on the fabric and methodically ran the hot iron back and forth across the legs of the slacks.  


Finally, no longer able to resist taking her into my arms, I set down my drink on the dresser and approached her from behind.   I slid my hands around her waist and pulled her close to me, nuzzling nape of her neck.   She gasped in surprise.



"Sorry, love, didn't mean to startle you," I said quietly, in between an assault of kisses on her neck.

"Mmmmm, I'm glad you're home.  Rough day?"  Jessica said, turning in my arms to smile up at me.

"You could say that, but it's all better now."

She lifted her hands to my face and then wrapped her arms around my neck, pulling my head down so I could kiss her soft lips.

"Mmmmm, definitely all better now," I murmured.   I kissed her again, and then tilted my head back to look at her face.   "Love, you don't need to do my ironing."
"I like to do it.  Besides, who did you think would do your ironing?"
I looked at her with a puzzled look, "You mean, you've been doing it all these months?  Jessica!   You needn't do that.  I just assumed that you were dropping it at the cleaners with your things and my suits."

"I'd rather do it myself, George.  It's a good task for thinking."

"I'm rather embarrassed to say that I had no idea, love.  But thank you, Jessie.  Thank you, indeed."

"You're quite welcome," she said, giving me another kiss before continuing, "Anyway, I have to make sure your slacks have that perfect razor sharp crease in them."
"Er, razor sharp crease?"

She blushed just a little but answered, "Yes, it's actually one of the first things I ever noticed about you.  You looked so dapper and so neatly pressed with the razor sharp creases in your slacks."

"So, you were busy seeing how I looked in my pants?" I said with a chuckle, causing her to blush an even deeper and lovelier shade of pink.
"Okay, I admit it.  But I was also busy looking at all of you."

"Aye, and I was busy looking at you.  I rather liked what I saw."

"I did too."

I kissed her again, this time increasing the intensity and holding her even tighter.  Until, that is, I noticed the distinct smell of burning fabric.

When she saw the look on my face, she broke from my embrace and turned to find the slacks burned and smoldering, in danger of bursting in to flames.   "Oh no!" she exclaimed, as she snatched the iron off the fabric.

"Oh well, so much for a razor sharp crease on that pair, eh?"

She shook her head and quirked a smile at me, "Oh, George."

"Oh well, those pants aren't the only thing smoldering in this room tonight."

She couldn't stifle peals of laughter as I pulled her back into my arms.