Sunday, 8 January 2017

A Fur Coat

January is an odd month. At the start the festive season isn't quite over and thereafter there is a brief period of optimistic renewal until towards the end of the month, in Scotland at least, there dawns the slow realisation that the Spring is still a good three months away. If we're lucky.

But in that brief period of renewal there are inclined to be certain traditions and in this house at least this includes a purge of the wardrobes. Clothes are gone through and those beyond further use: whether by reason of, long should have been appreciated, wear and tear; or a realisation that, if they've not been worn in the previous twelve months, it's unlikely they'll be worn again; or a recognition that a particular item has long been replaced without being discarded; or, most mysterious of all, the discovery that the clothes appear to have succumbed to the phenomenon of shrinking, while hanging on a rail and not being worn at all.

That has been my task this weekend.

Since Maureen has been ill, I  have applied myself to our collective wardrobe, and, since that time at least, I have faced the dilemma of the fur coat.

It's not even Maureen's fur coat, or even one she ever wore. It belonged to my mother, who has been dead for nearly thirty nine years. And, to the best of my knowledge, no one has so much as tried it on since.

I must have taken it with me when we cleared the family home after my mother's death and then again when Maureen and I first moved in together. I have no recollection of that, or even as to how it then came to this house. Let alone of it being placed into the little used part of the wardrobe within which I make my annual encounter with it each January.

I don't know why I keep it. I'm not a particularly sentimental person and even if I were I have other mementos of my mother somewhat more significant, never mind more easily retained.

I'll never have anybody to give it to. I have no daughters, and all my nieces would probably be horrified that I even possess  a fur coat, let alone be willing to accept it off me.

I'm kind of conscious that if I simply hang on to it forever then no-one lives forever and that, some day, somebody will do what I should have long since have done and dispose of it. If not to the bin then at least to a charity shop where it might raise a few quid for a worthy cause.

Every year that rational part of my brain says that's precisely what I should do but, strangely, every year I am ever less inclined to do so. Not least as it would constitute an admission that it is something I should have done long ago.

Why am I writing this? Partly it's because it's New Year and you are meant to be miserably reflective. Again perhaps particularly in Scotland.

But it's also perhaps because the place this fur coat holds in my life increasingly parallels my relationship with the Labour Party. There is a bit of me that is conscious that the Labour Party was once as fashionable as no doubt was the fur coat but that fashions, and mores, change. Increasingly it looks as if no one will ever wear it again. Be clear, Corbynism may be a by product of this unfashionability but it is not its cause. If no-one wants to wear you anyway, what matters the length at the knee, or the width of lapel?

They say that if you wait long enough all fashion comes round again. But the codpiece won't. Or the bustle. Or, I strongly suspect, the fur coat.

Yet I cannot quite bring myself to throw it away.

Happy New Year.





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