I must have inherited a mending gene, these pictures have just been mailed to me by my niece, Jo Haigh and they are of my father’s old patched and mended Barbour fishing jacket. Jo had been given it for riding in when a teenager by my brother, Alan, who had inherited on my father’s death.
Now my brother says he can remember buying the coat with my father – they were both serious anglers – and he even helped to sew the patches on it, I doubt this bit, but it might explain the distressing zig – zag stitched leather patch below.
I can also clearly remember stitching this coat; under my Father’s precise instructions and measurements, I inserted large plastic poachers’ pockets to the inside – each just big enough to hold a trout.
At the time she received the coat, Jo says she just loved wearing it because it wasn’t all shiny and new like everyone elses’ riding gear and it was so patched she felt like a pirate…always a fanciful girl. Later, intrigued by the coat she looked it up on the internet and the label showed it was made and bought around 1960, which makes sense as I can remember sewing those pockets when I was a student in the late ’60’s.
The patches were definitely made to last, not only are they all machine stitched on the outside in carefully toning thread (you don’t want to draw any attention to yourself with an odd bright colour when out fishing – in fact my father’s entire wardrobe was in muted tones of what we called “lovat green” with the occasional grey or rust woven in) but inside, these are reinforced with leather patches – definitely a belt and braces job.
The last time I saw the coat must have been in the 1970’s when my father was still out and about wearing it, by which time I had left home to study and work in London.
But as soon as I saw these pictures I could smell the coat, a sort of mixture of wet grass and fresh river fish combined with that strange sinus clearing smell of waterproofed cloth. Immediately I was back at home on the Wirral, and for an instant my father was before me…how weird – but as Jo remarks “the things you hang onto always seem to have a story behind them”
This is the first story of the Darning Archive, there are more to follow – so if you have a mending tale just send me a message below.