Walking back to my hotel (read, the Workhouse) last night was a wet experience, for it was raining, I remember rain, it happened once in July when we did the bike ride.
Fortunately I was armed for summer rain with my summer raincoat, a lightweight affair that repels light summer rain for, oooh, five minutes before it starts to feel clingy, and wet – the walk back to the hotel is ten minutes, so I got wet.
And it got me thinking, I need a coat for the winter when the real rain starts, a coat that will not start to let the rain in after five minutes and a coat that will keep you warm as toast at the same time, a winter coat then.
And while I was still walking the wet streets of Digbeth back to the hotel the thought bubble on top of my head cast me back to the early 1970s and probably the best coat I have ever owned – a proper Parka.
When I say a “proper” Parka I mean a “proper Parka”, a proper ex-army issue Parka available in those times only from the Army & Navy stores, a proper Parka as worn by assorted mods and other fashionistas in the 1960s, in short a proper Parka like these ones available from fishtailparkas.com and I now covet one, an original M65 Parka with Wolf fur hood, mmmmmmm, it will be mine.
I bought my “proper Parka” in 1971 from the aforementioned Army & Navy Stores in Leeds, grey flecked fur hood trim, drab olive green outer and olive cotton quilted inner and of course the original fish tail arse. Everyone in our class at school had one, you were no-one if you didn’t have one so when I say everyone had one of course I mean that the nobody’s like Softie David England didn’t have one, he had a raincoat like his dads, soft git.
£150 for a Wolf fur one, hmmm, I might be able to talk my way into one of them if “SHE” doesn’t look at the bank account until its spent.
But there came a point in my days of youth when my father decided that I should have something a bit “smarter” than a Parka (he had no taste) and so handing me £10 sent me into town with instructions to hunt high and low for a winter coat that would enhance my 15 year old appearance to the point where I would be employable when I left school – he had in mind something like a Crombie or a nice dark raincoat that I could sling casually over my arm whilst strolling to work – I headed straight for the Army & Navy Stores again.
Upstairs in a room that looked like a whole Army regiment’s clothing stock had simply been dumped on the floor (because thats exactly what had happened), right in the corner on a coat rack that stank of mildew, for several of the coats were indeed covered in the white stuff, was the coat I was looking for – an ex-RAF grey Great Coat, still with its badges on and its previous owners name and serial number inked inside the collar, a little too big for me perhaps but it was the only non-mildewed one, smelled a bit foisty, and I bought it with his £10.
He went absolutely apeshit when I got home.
But even he could not dispute that it was an excellent winter coat as I often reminded him as I left the house on the coldest of winters days, gale, sleet and hail lashing the house and me in my Great Coat buttoned right down to my ankles and right up to my nose, with the collar turned up I disappeared inside it and looked like Smiffy off the Bash Street Kids – a walking tube of grey heavy cloth that grew heavier in the rain but surprisingly never felt wet inside, that coat was ace even though it smelled all the time that I owned it and had the added advantage that no-one would sit next to you on the bus when it was wet.
Still, an M65 Parka with Wolf fur hood – I reckon I’ve almost persuaded myself, hey who knows, if enough of you click those links they might have a look to see where they’re coming from and offer me a discount 🙂