Tuesday, April 3, 2012


... there won't be any problem looking the part.

I already have old clothes. Really, really old clothes. Some of them qualify as heirlooms, especially the coats. A lilac-and-white knitted jacket has been in my cupboard for fifty-four years. Fifty four years! It is of very good quality. It will last fifty four more years if I could find someone to give it to. But not yet – winter is on its way.

I once had a black and blue, gender unspecific, Canadian lumber-jacket type of coat. This, you will not believe, had been in my family for generations. It had belonged to my aunt. She gave it to my mother, who eventually gave it to me. I lent it to my brother, who wore it for a while, got tired of it and gave it back. I let my son wear it for years until he grew too big and gave it back. I wore it for a few more years, until AJ made me throw it out. And there was nothing wrong with it.

The family teddy-bear coat is still going strong. It is the colour of an old camel with the same feel about it – rough and furry. My mother was wearing it when she visited us half a century ago. Next time she came she had cut it down to hip-length, left it with me when she went home, and it is still in my cupboard. This will do quite well when I'm a baglady because it is toasty and enveloping.

This sartorial preservation has nothing to do with penny-pinching. I come from generations of make-do-and-menders. But even I throw things out sometimes. When my mother handed on her mink coat, saying it was too hot in Oz to wear it, I put it away, even tried to give it away. Eventually I dropped it off at the Salvation Army shop and walked off without a second thought. I didn't like it, wouldn't be seen dead in it, and believe that fur looks a whole lot better on the animal it came from.

Perhaps I should have kept it. It would have been great as padding on a park bench. And on second thoughts I'd better keep the knitted jacket too. Bagladies have to keep warm.

The painting was inspired by Lake Brunner, 2009


  1. Lake Brunner's splendidly dramatic. I've printed it out to make a bookmark. I understand attachments to clothes that that have been loyal friends.Yes, our mothers felt differently about fur. Mine gave me a piece - maybe of some distinction - but I made it into a sort of bear for the children. They were appreciative - said they'd never seen an animal like it. I only wore mink once - crossing the French Alps in a Fiat Bambina with a wealthy American. She didn't like leaving her mink cape in the car when we stopped to buy icecreams, so she let me wear it into the shops; it must have looked classy with my shorts and tee shirt.

  2. Ah the Fiat Bambina! I roared around Rangoon in one - well "roared" may not be the word. Chugged perhaps.