With all this rain at the moment it is good to have a good waterproof jacket, as an angler it is essential along with a wide-brimmed hat (the only way you can keep the rain off, still be able the hear your surroundings and keep you hands free to cast a rod and line).
The Barbour jacket has been the standard outdoor jacket for generations, it’s a true waterproof, breathable and thorn-proof garment but it has one other added feature. Year after year a Barbour changes its personality normally reflecting on the previous seasons severity of weather, its a barometer of outdoor life.
My ‘regular’ Barbour is an International (that’s not me by the way) which I have owned for at least fifteen years, I have been flung off my motorbike in it, had the wettest Scottish days out in it and spent the hottest summer days lying on it. You can apply a revitalising dressing, Barbour supply a tin which reinstate the smell of a newly bought jacket but just like any beauty product, they never promise your youthful looks again, at best they may hold off the rigours of life…temporarilly. These dressings tend to trap any detritus in the preservation process and as these jackets can never be washed properly, years on year they get better as each page of weather is preserved literally into its fabric (this could be my imagination but I am sure they also get heavier?).
So as the years pass and your jacket gets patched and waxed there comes a time when the rain just can’t be held off anymore and a replacement is inevitable, so a new jacket comes on board but what of the old? Ebay, charity shop, no! My Barbour’s of past (also including a Hardy’s wading waxed jacket) remain hung up in the hallway like books all with stories to tell and all with tattered covers.
One such story was a shabby old Eskdale that I obtained after a close friend had died almost ten years ago now. Les worked for an architectural salvage company at St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch in the East end, when requested, reluctantly (like any good architectural salvage type) Les would put on the trusty old Barbour to protect his more dapper wear underneath (the jacket was ripped and three sizes too big) and go in search of old dirty cast iron radiators or sift through Victorian railings out in the rain. I sometimes wear it as an homage, its way to big for me too but it has memories and in the top left pocket is his business card.
Now one thing that I have noticed living in between the fashion hotspots of Dalston, Shoreditch, London Fields and dare I now say Lower Clapton, every skinny jean wearing wot-sit is kitted out in a Barbour International! Why? It seems a recent campaign has made everyone want to be Steve McQueen, well it could be worse but now I have the dilemma of looking like an East London fashionista, the other issue is the price and availability a good second-hand one is bloody expensive and as scarce as hens teeth…damm you McQueen!
So, for one more year, the needle and thread has come out, some more wax dressing applied and my International shall be embalmed in one more season and take on the new season, hopefully with a new chapter…and hopefully on the Lea.