Thursday, November 8, 2012

pea coat

This coat just reminded me of something.

Long, long ago, two decades ago, I started to wear my father's pea coat. It was a real navy coat, that had bizarrely belonged to my mother's first husband's brother, who'd been in the Navy. So it was a real one, made of, I imagine, densely boiled wool with a silky lining. It was extremely heavy. It had anchors on the round navy buttons.

My father used to wear it a lot - it's one of the images I have of him, typified by the dark, misty morning my teacher looked out the window and said, 'ohhhhh... who's that??' It was my father, bearded and in a cap, probably with a pipe in his teeth, wearing the coat, coming up the slope to the school to bring me forgotten lunch. 'That's my father', I said, and she said, 'Really??'

He did the seafaring adventurer look well, it has to be said.

But he discarded it, and it hung in the cupboard in the spare room until I came across it and slipped it on. It was too big for me, but the weight of it and the wraparound, was wonderful. It spoke to all my girlhood fantasies of Robin Hood and outdoor, outlaw adventuring. It made me stride, feel strong, feel impeccably safe. I loved it with jeans, I loved the heavy swish of a floor length, full skirt underneath it. Boots and that coat, and I was bullet proof.

It was really, really warm too. Made for standing on deck in the dark in the midst of Atlantic gales, as my mother impressed on me. I needed it - the social life of an Irish teenager is conducted outside, by and large. Pre-pub days, meant fields and beaches, hanging around, hanging around in the freezing cold and the rain. Walking up Bray seafront in the winter is possibly the coldest I've ever been. The night I met my husband I actually went home with his best friend. It was Halloween, he was  in a dress... in a beautiful bit of  gender reversal, he was wearing a green silk dress, and I gave him my coat to wear as we walked up the seafront from the club to his house.

I miss that coat, I've just realised. I miss being young enough to wear something like that. I suppose soon I'll be old enough to do so again, and hopefully not look like a bag lady, but I don't know if you can cross that river twice. I wonder if I'll ever feel that again? That coats'n'boots and off into the night on an adventure feeling. Untouchable.


laughykate said...

What a beautiful post, Jo.

Jo said...

Oo, thank you Kate! Can you relate?

Annah said...

Oh, I can relate to the coat and boots...You have evoked such memories for me...thanks Jo!

laughykate said...

I am hearing you !