HE stood on the top step of the Clarendon Building, an imposing if somewhat tubby figure. Probably in his late 60s, immaculately dressed in a suit and sporting a regimental tie, a satisfied expression spanned his ruddy face.

Like a latter-day Roman emperor, he surveyed a busy Broad Street. The only blot on this otherwise perfect picture was that his flies were undone. Should I tell him? While I dithered, he was approached by a man of about the same age. The ruddy face turned ruddier.

“I detest zips,” he declared loud enough for anyone to hear within a 25-yard radius.

“They slip down without warning. Buttons are far better, but where do you get a suit with buttons these day?”

The other man said buttons had their virtues, but he had embraced the zip culture as soon as it became the norm. He’d never had problems.

“You’re lucky,” said the zip hater, who went on to recount another embarrassing situation in his recent past, the other nodding sympathetically.

Eventually – it seemed an age – he applied the zip and they both strode off. A woman, who had listened throughout, caught my eye. “And they say women can talk a load of nothing,” she said.

* THE New Theatre was only half full for Helen and Douglas House’s first music-only Childish Things event.

But I reckon the artists – Jamie Cullum, KT Tunstall, Eliza Doolittle and a host of other talented musicians, made sure that next year, tickets will be like gold dust.

Childish Things, dominated by top-line comedians, has been a fixture on the city’s theatrical calendar for eight years, with the demand for tickets increasing.

This year the comedy show was performed on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the music-only element launching the event on Monday.

“Wasn’t it brilliant? ” announced one tall young man to whoever would reply as we made our way out.

“It was far better than I expected,” said one, sheer delight bursting through the barricade of a bushy full beard.

“Next year we could have Elvis Presley in the line-up.” Excitement had clouded indisputable facts.

The first man didn't contradict. “If anyone can book Elvis it will be Sister Frances. She has the contacts,” he said solemnly. Knowing this remarkable lady, who founded those wonderful respite centres, I wouldn’t bet against her.

* IT can be a tough old world. Ask the Chinese and the Indian male visitors, each with no command of the other’s language – and even less English – as one sought directions to the railway station.

Two French horn buskers, loudly performing only feet away, didn’t help matters. Helping proved ‘interesting’.