The great majority of the pieces that are submitted for inclusion in these pages reach me anonymously. I have no way of telling where an author is reporting fact or using their imagination, and I have to leave it to the reader to make up their own minds (if they wish to). (LE)
May I suggest some films for the list?
An admirer of double texture riding mackintoshes alerts me to The Clouded Yellow, featuring Trevor Howard wearing a well-built, good specimen of this type - for much of the action. Sadly his co-player, the exquisite Joan Simmons, wore nothing rubberised.
Another excellent example was of an Army Officer's rubberised mackintosh (authentic for the war years depicted), worn by the hero Simon Ward in the TV series UXB. He arrives so attired with girl-friend in a hotel bedroom, but collapses from exhaustion on the bed (in the mac) before anything can happen.
'His-and-hers' matching rubberised mackintoshes were worn in the James Herriot vet series, by himself and wife played by Linda Bellingham (a strong, sensible-looking sort of woman who would almost certainly have owned such a mac in real life at that time).
George Formby wears a pristinely new, and brilliantly white riding mac in a film involving racehorses.
A year ago, the detective in a Ruth Rendell TV crime series wore his white rubberised mackintosh throughout the episode, except when he was being helped into it, and out of it.
I think you mentioned Genevieve as containing a shot of silky single texture raincoat but my close watching revealed only Dinah Sheridan in (yet another) well worn off-white riding mac. She too flops in her mac on the bed in the hotel room. (My own visits over the years to the start of the Brighton run, incidentally, were rewarded with the sight of many lady passengers in similar coats, invariably so brand new as to make me wonder if they were inspired by Dinah Sheridan).
Another film that disappointed me on a recent viewing was It Always Rains on Sundays, that is in your list. After lingering memories of a girl in a hooded, belted ST cotton coat, there was not one to be seen in the version I saw. This proves, Ithink, that re-runs of films, and especially when they are video-taped, are usually edited.
One I mentioned in an earlier message was The Stars Look Down. Margaret Lockwood is seen first through a rain-spattered window, in the lightweight single-texture cotton coat whose surface is simply saturated with the rain cascading down it. She wears a headscarf and has hands thrust deep into her mac pockets. Emlyn Williams invites her inside, saying "Here, let me take your mac off', and it is off her shoulders in a flash, because the belt was tied only in a loose knot, and it must also have been unbuttoned, to come off so quickly. That seemed a little odd, considering how the poor girl must have endured soaking from a hose-pipe to get her in that drenched state. Although the moment is brief, the wet coat slithers deliciously, showing at the same time its lighter coloured rubber backing. Over the chair it goes, to be thereafter forgotten.
Now here's an obscure one, that may be new to you. The Danish film Seventeen was made from a delightful book of the same name, which includes many wearings of, and references to, waterproof rain capes. At one point in the film, the heroine's mother is seen inside the summerhouse on a very wet afternoon, through a window, in flagrante delicto. The clothes which have been pushed up to expose her open legs are topped with a large, silky, pale blue rubberised cape.
Whilst in Denmark, did you know that Percy Grainger, the Australian composer and eccentric, had a Danish girlfriend with whom he played some very bizarre sexual games? This I discovered from research into his published letters (what were the unpublished ones like, I hear you ask). Amongst references to rope and other things he wanted her to procure for the games, are some to the "black waterproof capes" he had bought for them both, and "the one with the hole in it'! (My italics).
Now to shiny black rubber. Mai Zetterling, it seems, has worn it quite a bit, appearing in it in another Swedish film (sadly its name does not come to mind), as well as throughout a performance of Anna Christie (on the stage). A man's shiny black rubber mac is worn in How Green Was My Valley. I know there are others, but again the names don't come to mind immediately, and will have to wait.
Yes, the loose blue silky mac worn in The Man Who Never Was (rubbered moss crepe rayon, perhaps?) is indeed moving. After a chance viewing recently on the TV, found by sheer good fortune, my heart pounded at the glorious sight, and it behaved in the same way for days after, whenever I recalled it. I believe the effect on me was far greater than it would have been in the days when such macs were common, something I have been noticing as the years roll by. It seems the less one sees macs, the more powerful is their magic. I shall look for a video of this film, and have to take the chance that the mac scenes have been edited out or shortened.
Then there were the countless films whose titles 1 shall never remember. An absolutely outstanding one from 1954 was put out, if I remember correctly, by the Gas Board, of all people. It was a short magazine type of film, intended as a series, though I saw only this one. It presented a few items of general interest, of which one was a "rainwear fashion" feature. The theme was the usual "macs are no longer dreary" one, illustrated by at least a dozen single-texture rubberised macs in a range of fabrics, modelled by jolly, smiling girls.
I will keep this stroll down Memory Lane fairly short, because I am now in the realm of films whose titles I shall probably never remember, and that is very frustrating for the reader. However I must just mention one more, because it was so unusual, and being viewed within about the last 3 years, it can probably be re-located. It is an episode of a detective series featuring Charles Bronson as the private agent. There are several female characters, all of whom wear, all of the time, coats that are unmistakably waterproof, most in a shiny material. The preponderance of shiny macs is in itself unusual, but what makes it even more so is the fact that the action appears to be set in a sunny, semi-tropical location, that could easily be Hawaii! I would bet my bottom dollar that someone connected with the making of this tele-drama, most likely in Wardrobe, shared our passion.
I do hope these recollections have been of interest.
With best regards
Editor's Note: - Dear John - Thankyou so much for all these
ideas! Maybe others will be able to help identify the difficult
I have seen your wonderful website. My issue is that I am totally obsessed by wearing capes myself - its not enough simply to watch pics of girls dressed in fashionable capes. This is not always easy for a man to do! - but I have managed to overcome my "feel of shame" and am able to wear a cape now in public.
I have a nice collection. One thing in my experience which may be unusual is that it is not the material (rubber, plastic etc.) the garment is made from that fascinates me but the cape as such ....
Also, the feeling I have is intensified when I am accompanied by my wife wearing macs or leather coats. The thing is, I get specially excited on these occasions because of the contrast between what I am wearing and my partner's more masculine look. The more feminine a cape looks (hooded , open-colour capes or ones made of plastic or light cloth), the greater the delight. Of course it takes guts - and support - to do go out in public like this!
Are there other characters like me around? I have so far met only a few who have managed to bring their capes out of hiding.
I was 16 and I thought I had out grown my raincoat and boots.
But my mum insisted that I needed a new coat and boots and so she brought me into town on a wet Wednesday in late August. I did not want to have to wear bright yellow raincoats and tie-top wellington boots. They were for girls. What would all my friends say when they saw me having to wear them, I asked myself as we walked into the department store.
A young assistant , not more then 20, asked if she could be of help to us. Mum said she wanted a yellow, reversible raincoat for me. The assistant smiled and guessed medium. I protested in vain that the coat was too bright, that I was too old to wear one and they were for girls. The assistant heard my comments and said to Mum: " They are lovely raincoats. Boys his age always feel more grown up than they are. But many of them are now wearing the reversibles. I even have one myself. I wear it everyday, even when it is not raining. Come now," she insisted., "try this on."
I put it on. The assistant quickly zipped up the front and then pulled up my hood. I immediately got a very familiar erotic feeling. Mum told me to walk towards the mirror to have a good look at me. " Yes, that suits just fine. The sleeves are slightly too long so you can turn them up."
The assistant smiled in agreement and helped turn up the cuffs. She also turned back the front of the hood.
Having paid the girl, Mum told me to wear the jacket as it would help make up her mind about the colour of the wellingtons she was now going to buy for me.
We entered a shoe shop nearby and another young assistant was quickly dispatched for a size 7 in wellies. Mum wanted them to match my jacket!!
The girl returned with a red pair, navy pair and a yellow pair. All were tie-tops and very girlie. I tried on the three colours one after the other before the assistant and mum agreed that the yellow pair were the best, the safest and the nicest.
I was defeated, dejected and in despair. I had to wear them to school, to the shops, to church even when taking the dog for a walk. The merest hint of bad weather and Mum had them out for me. She loved to see me wearing them.
My friends laughed and called me welly boy, my girlfriend thought I looked very fetching. She used tease me about being dressed as a teenage girl instead of a boy.
I had to wear my yellow oilskin and wellies for the next two years. Then when I went on to college, Mum bought me "a fresh" yellow raincoat. But I had a choice of boots and picked navy.
Reading "Bramac down under" took me back to even earlier times when most school students in Australia wore shiny black rubber reversible raincoats mainly made by Dunlop. I hope you can cope with another raincoat story from Australia.
When I was about fourteen, I started to experience some unusual feelings that only in later years made sense to me. Many of the stories I have read here and in quantumleap have such parallels to my experiences that I have just had to write them and contribute to the rainwear saga.
My best friend at the time (and still, because I married him) had started school on the same day and we had grown up together. His name is Geoffrey and he lived a few streets away. Our parents were also good friends - we sometimes went on holidays together. I had a brother, Ken, two years younger and Geoff had a brother, Phil, two years older.
When we were in the second year of high school both of us were in the school tennis team and we often practised on the school tennis court after school before walking home together with other friends. One day it was raining quite heavily in the morning but we were hopeful of it clearing enough for practice after school so I packed my tennis shoes and things in my sports bag and put on my wellies (we called them gumboots) and put on my raincoat which was now far too small and tight over my growing boobies. It was a Bramac navy cotton raincoat with a rubberised inside with a belt and a hood. I had had it since primary school.
The last few times I had worn it I noticed that when I put it on, particularly over my sports tunic that I was wearing that day, just how smooth the rubber felt against my bare arms and legs and even though it was too small I somehow enjoyed the feeling.
Ken had grown out of his rubber raincoat and when Mum suggested that he had my navy old raincoat (without the hood) he freaked out and said that he refused to wear it and wouldn't be seen dead in his sister's raincoat. He wanted a new shiny black rubber raincoat like most of the other boys at school wore and like his old one. But he insisted it had to be a Dunlop because they were the shiniest - his old one was a Hardie and the rubber was starting to look dull. Mum gave in and suggested that I take him to the shop the next morning to get a new Dunlop black one for him.
I then had the idea that this would be perfect opportunity for me to get a new one as well and that it would make sense for me to get a black rubber reversible one like his, as he could then not later object to having it when I grew out of it. Quite a few other girls at school had them and wore them either reversed or rubber side out. I always loved the look of them and the feel of the soft rubber - Geoff had one that had been handed down from Phil and one of my girlfriends had one and sometimes I wore it.
Mum agreed with my logic and said I could get one. I felt an incredible excitement at the prospect but didn't understand why or the significance of my attraction to coats like this. With Ken all done up in his old Hardie, I paddled around in my wellies and old raincoat with the hood up to Geoff's house where he was waiting for me. My excitement swelled as he was wearing a new Dunlop black rubber coat like my little brother wanted. He had also grown out of his old coat and had complained it was far too small for him even though it still looked new and shiny and had already been well worn by Phil. His mother had bought him a new raincoat the day before and there he was all dressed up, all smiles in his new shiny black rubber with his wellies on and a new black sou'wester with the rain glistening in little rivers on the wet rubber. He looked absolutely gorgeous and I felt compelled to hug him and feel the soft black rubber which I did. It was so new it still had creases from the! packing.
Then I knew I had to have one just like it!! I told him how beautiful he looked in it and that I was going to get two just like it for Ken and me the next day. He said he would come with us because he knew which shop sold Dunlop. We walked off to school together with our arms around each other and I couldn't resist holding him tighter as the rain pelted down. When we got to school we hung up our raincoats and changed out of our rubber boots and both put our white sandshoes (tennis shoes) on.
That afternoon it cleared up enough to practice, but before we had finished it started to rain heavily again. We hurried back to the school to get our coats and boots and everyone had gone home. Geoff found his raincoat and put it on and started to change from his sandshoes to his boots, when I saw my raincoat had gone. My boots were there but someone had taken the coat. This was not unusual as when we got caught in the rain we often 'borrowed' someone else's coat if they had gone home and took it back the next morning. As we were not about another girl probably thought we had gone.
All that was there were a couple of old black rubber raincoats that had been left behind by older boys who had since left school and had been there for a while. Geoff then said gallantly. 'You wear my new one and I will take one of the old ones even though they are far too big, they will keep my dry.' He took his off and then helped me into it and it felt just wonderful and rubbery still warm from his body. We were about the same size so it fitted me perfectly. He still had his boots and sou'wester and the old raincoat came halfway down his boots and his hands disappeared in the long sleeves but as the rain was very heavy now he didn't mind how strange he looked.
I did up the belt on my borrowed raincoat and did the buttons up to the neck and we walked home together splashing though the gutters and having enormous fun. We stopped for while in a bus shelter and I snuggled up close to him and nestled my face into the wet rubber of the old raincoat. He held me tight and then we kissed in a way very different from the birthday and Christmas pecks we usually shared. I started breathing more heavily and I noticed he was too. When we got to his place, I found it harder to let go his hand and then I trudged off in the rain alone enjoying the exhilarating feeling and sound of the heavy rain hitting the shiny rubber. I got home and took my wellies off but I kept his coat on as I just didn't want to take it off. It didn't take long for the rubber to dry - much less time than the cotton outside or my old raincoat. I then hung it behind my bedroom door where I could look at it and reach out and feel it from my bed.
During the night when everyone was asleep, I got up and put it on again, first with the rubber side out . Then I took my pyjamas off and put it on with the rubber side next to my skin and experienced extraordinary new feelings I could not describe or understand. Then I took it off and put it on a pillow and cuddled into it for the rest of the night against with the rubber side against my bare body, being very careful not to let anyone else hear the rustle of the rubber. I felt somehow both naughty and exhilarated. I woke up early and put my jammies on and hung Geoff's coat behind the door, knowing that today I would have my very own.
Geoff called around to pick us up to go shopping and to collect his raincoat . He and I were going on to play tennis after shopping so we were both wearing our tennis clothes and he put on his raincoat and left it open rather than carry it. We took Ken to the shop and got his coat and it was very shiny - he was beaming from ear to ear. He even looked lovely in his - his angelic face contrasting with the shiny black rubber. Geoff helped me find one just the right size with a bit of room to grow - but not so big to need the sleeves turned up. I also put it on over my tennis clothes and left it open like Geoff and we went off to play with our arms around each others waist. On the way I told Geoff what I had done and felt the night before and he laughed and told me that when his mother had brought it home he wore it until he went to bed and actually wore it in bed. He understood!! It was a day to remember.
From then I have just loved shiny black rubber and would love to have a new one now, but they have disappeared from the scene in Australia. The last ones we had for school Geoff and I got when we were sixteen and we wore them until we left school. We had many exiting teenage cuddles in them as we got to understand more about his and my reactions to them. We have kept them and even after twenty years they are still in pretty good order. We are now close to forty and have been married twenty years. Our children now make do with plastic or PVC raincoats, while very practical just lack the wonderful feel and look of shiny black rubber and the way it hangs and the way it smells. Seeing SBR Girl Sue in her rubber raincoat over her school uniform and those two wearing shiny black rubber in Thomas's newest pictures in page 9 image 7 in Raincoat and Rubber was just too much for me - I had to write.... Geoff says thanks also for the opportunity to tell.
Love to all
A memory for you.
I recall my neigbour - a good lady - who always dressed in her luscious gabardine hooded long coat, with a deep back vent. She was 60 ish - and I was about 16.
She would walk her dog at nght and she would ask me as she put on her raincoat to help her pull her hood on and fix the storm tabs and back vent.. I loved doing it..it made me feel so good...
Her coat was bigger than her elegant frame but she explained that she wanted a bigger more comfortable hood to keep her dry and warm in the rain. She loved the rain and the cold.
One day she asked me to go to the city with her and I so much enjoyed it.
I still have her coat! It is hung up in my closet. She died some years ago, but she wanted me to have it.
Even today at times I take a special walk in nasty weather.
I get all snuggled up. The hood is a bit big but I fold the edge back a touch and feel great: dry, and warm with memories from the past.
Most of your readers refer to rubberised school macs but when I attended school in the late 60's and 70's it was more common to wear a nylon pakamac.
Those of you who have experienced wearing a nylon mac will understand that nylon has properties all of its own, smooth to touch and making it impossible to walk quietly for the continuous swishing noise ...
All through my childhood I had a nylon mac which I was obliged to wear whenever it rained - and also on days when it looked like it might rain.
Up to the age of about 11 or 12, although I would put the nylon mac on when I was told, I was unsure of the strange effect it seemed to have on me. It was not until around the age of 14, when I had grown out of the mac I had - and at a time when I had also started to become more fashion-conscious - that I had my biggest shock.
I can recall one drizzly Saturday morning when I was going shopping with my mother. She noticed the weather - and I was instructed to slip my nylon mac on. I dutifully did as requested. But it was getting small for me and my mother became concerned that I had started to outgrow it. I thought that it would be the end of nylon macs. But how wrong I was! Little did I know then that I would be wearing a nylon mac a good deal more in the future.
Anyway, on realising that my mac was now too small my mother told me she would see if she could get another one whilst we were out! Before I had chance to object I was in a shop selling macs with a very fussy shop assistant asking if she could help. My mother explained that the mac I was wearing was a little small and that I need one which would see me through school! What!? I was horror struck. Through school, up to sixteen and still wearing a nylon mac?!!
At that point I raised my concerns and made the suggestion that perhaps a cagoul might be more suitable. My mother was having none of it! A nylon mac was what I was getting, and a nylon mac would be what I would wear. For school.
The mac was bought and taken home and although by this time I secretly enjoyed the feel of the nylon material I was acutely conscious of what my friends would think. They all had more fashionable coats of course. As a result, I would often take my nylon mac off half-way to school and put it back on just before I got home.
As you would imagine it wasn't long before I was caught out. My school blazer would sometimes be wet under my mac! My mother became more and more adamant that I should and would wear my mac. From then on, whenever I was caught not wearing my mac when I should have been, or putting up a fight when I had been told to 'slip it on', I would get a punishment: I would be forced to wear the mac whenever I went out for the next couple of days, regardless of where I was going or how hot the sun was!
I am now 35. Today I wear the same type of nylon mac which I was obliged to wear for school - and am very happy to do so.
Looking back, I can't see what all the fuss was about!
I should have been made to wear it everyday right through school ...
BRAMAC factory at Geelong Rd., West Footscray, Victoria, Australia. Dated 1957.
Thanks to Keith for the link.
I am very excited to see you have finally put your wonderful collection of Macs onto the net for all to see.
I have been facinated by raincoats ever since I can remember, even before I went to school, so it must be some sort of genetic fantasy...(!) Even from first grade at school there were wonderful sights for a young impressionable lad like me. The standard macs in our part of the world were made by a company (now out of business) called BRAMAC. They made hooded coats and capes from rubberised cotton in several colours (my favourite at the time was green) and also out of a shiny rubber coated satin. The capes were full length with a single button across the neck and came complete with an attached pixie-type hood. To don these type of capes required the girls to climb in from the bottom.
Right through primary school these were the standard, although at high school the rubberised-cotton was the norm. In the early seventies PVC came along. But I still favour the rubberised cotton (and satin).
All the best
Your web-site is first class, and of great support to me.
My first mac experience happened when I must have been no more than about two. We were visiting a family friend, a very pretty lady. During our visit, she fetched an old mackintosh from a cupboard, and placed it on the chair or settee, rubber side up. Then she placed me on it (cold!) whilst changing my wet nappy.
Subsequently she took me on a stroll in the garden, holding me over her shoulder with one arm, and holding the bunched-up mac in her free hand. At the bottom of the garden was an incinerator burning garden waste, and as we passed it, she made a face of mock disgust and threw the mackintosh into the fire.
I remember this as being an extremely erotic experience, even at that age, and some twenty years later I experienced a "deja-vu" as a visitor in a hospital. An attractive young nurse came down the hall with a torn brown mackintosh sheet which she screwed up and threw into a rubbish bin. This similarly was an erotic experience for me, as women in macs have always been, and I am sure that my childhood experience was the start of it all.
I think the friend's grimace of disgust as she burned the mac caused me to link arousal with "mackintosh abuse" (!) - if I can coin a phrase. My wife has several rubber macs and is perfectly attuned to my mack-arousal, but on one occasion she herself threw out a mack of hers which was old and torn, and that act of her throwing it in the trash was extremely erotic to me. For obvious reasons, I also have several mackintosh sheets, and her handling of them I find erotic as well.
I didn't remember until I read your clippings that I used to have an old pink double-textured mac just like the one at the top of the page. I must have bought it soon after starting work. They were quite fashionable then, and I can remember seeing other ladies in green and brown colours. I even saw a maxi-length pink mac on a TV programme! At the time, I had no interest in the mac, unlike now, other than a practical means to keep me dry. Of course, being pink wasn't the most practical colour and it used to get quite grubby - I seemed to be forever sponging it clean. Mind you, I virtually lived in the thing at the time.
I was going out at the time with a man who had an old car which kept breaking down, particularly in the rain. I would get out and hold the mac above our heads to keep us dry while he fiddled around under the bonnet. I think that it was his car that finished off that mac. I used to leave it on the back seat in the sun, and after a while it started to crack, I think, and get very stiff - I could almost leave it stood up on its own!
May I congratulate you on your web site. It is just what people like myself need.
I'm sorry that you don't have childhood experiences to look back on but if you are like me, you do enjoy reading about other's experiences. I hope you might be interested in some of my own.
I can't remember how old I was but I couldn't have been that old as Iclimbed into my pram, in search of the smell and the cool feel of theplastic fabric which lined the pram interior. I did remember the pramtoppling over and me falling out of it.
The next encounter with a similar material came two or three years later when I discovered my sister's red tartan rubberised mackintosh in her wardrobe. I took it out and put it on.It was much too big for me of course but that did not seem to matter. In fact it added to the pleasure I felt as I held the soft rubberised-cotton against me. Both my mother and my sister discovered me trying on the mac and to my surprise they both laughed and I got a big hug from my sister. I remember my mother also had a rubberised-mackintosh in an iridescent green colour. Sometimes I would go to my Mother's wardrobe and just feel the soft rubberised material, holding it close to my face so I could smell the rubber.
During each summer holiday I would go to my Aunt's house in Preston with my Father and Mother. My Aunt had a black rubberised-cotton mackintosh whichalways hung on the coathooks on the bottom of the stairs. I spent many a pleasurable hour on those stairs, brushing against that mac and standing next to the wall so I could pull it round me. In later summers the black mac got relegated to a draw in the small greenhouse, which was attached to the back of the house. Sometimes, when everyone else had gone out, I would take the mac out of the draw and put it on, smelling the rubberised material and wrapping it around myself.
Then when I was about eight or nine, a younger girl who used to live in our street, (we lived in a series of terraces) came out to play in a red tartan rubberised-cotton mac. I invented a game where myself and my friends would take turns in trying on her mac, in our wash-house under the stairs. They had no idea what this was in aid of - and of course they wouldn't. It was only me that was deriving immense pleasure in the clandestine wearing of Susie's rubber mac. At this stage I was too young to realise the nature of these intense feelings and as yet I had no outlet for them. Once when I was at school it had started to rain hard during the afternoon. When we were getting ready to go home one of the boy's Mothers had brought him a rubberised mac to go home in so that he wouldn't get wet. It was obviously his sister's mac and he protested loudly about having to wear it. I watched this scene with such a longing. There he was protesting about wearing such a sensuous garment whereas I would have killed to wear it. Luckily he lived quite close to me and I walked most of the way home with them - so near yet so far.
Although I didn't realise it at the time, these feelings were manifesting themselves more intensely. I remember one New Year's Eve when I stayed with my cousin Pat. We were both sleeping in the same bed and when our parents came back after their night at the pub, we were allowed up to see them. Pat had her dressing gown, which she put on. I did not have one with me but Igot my eye on her red rubberised-cotton mac which was hanging on the back of the bedroom door. I suggested that I wear her mac. Pat said it would be cold but I said that didn't matter. Little did she know the amount of sheer pleasure I would have in wearing that beautiful rubberised-cotton mackintosh in full view of everyone. When we eventually got back into bed I kept her mac on for a while. I remember trying to get Pat, who was several years older than I was, to kiss me. She just laughed but it was obvious that the feelings aroused by the mac were beginning to manifest themselves in a new way.
When I was fifteen a shop not far from my school was selling off its surplus stock, which included a number of girls' rubberised-cotton mackintoshes, with hoods. As you can probably guess the very next day I was there after school, without my friends of course. I bought the largest size they had, supposedly for my sister. I paid seven shillings and sixpence for a red rubberised-cotton mac with a hood which was edged in tartan. I spent many an exciting night wearing my mac in bed and falling asleep in it.
This is the beginning of course and not the end, but I must hold over other experiences for another time!
Very best regards...and keep up the good work.
Thank you for your site, Lorraine, and for your invitation to contribute. I hope you will find some interest in these experiences of mine. Please feel free to put them up if you like.
I first wore a mackintosh when training to be a nurse. We had to do a lot of visits to homes, in all weathers, and the navy mackintosh we had to wear over our indoor uniform was quite a practical garment. It was always raining, and usually freezing I seem to remember, and I had to do most visits on a bike with a motor on the back!
Our mackintoshes weren't designed for fashion, but with their long skirts and buckled belts and the wrist straps and epaulettes I think they looked good on most of us - particularly, as usual, on those of us who were reasonably slim!
I remember feeling wonderfully warm and protected anyway by the time I had done up the flap that closed inside the front of the skirt, and the buttons all the way up to the collar, which I usually pulled up, and the belt, pulling it tightly in before doing up the buckle properly and 'stowing the end neatly away'.
Of course, it sometimes got very hot in there! But I never minded that (though I think some girls did). The warmth just added to the sense of protection and security. Often when I took it off after a fight of a bike ride across the city my mac was wet through - on the inside - and my uniform quite soggy under the arms and at the waist where the belt had held the mac tight in. I don't know why - its a complete mystery this - but these things gave me what I can only describe as a feeling of achievement! I somehow felt pleased with myself that my exertions had had this tangible effect!
I remember when my first mac arrived. It was only just in time for when I had to start. They had given us a list of requirements and my mother had seen to it that everything was ordered promptly. But it took five weeks for the mac to arrive, and that was only after a panicky postcard at the end of week three.
(This elicited a superior note from a matron-like figure implying that only disgraceful ignorance on my part could have led me to believe mackintoshes could be supplied within a mere matter of weeks and that I would be really lucky now if it arrived at all! But arrive it did, with a day or two to spare, in a stout cardboard box, bearing the label of 'The Nurses Outfitting Association Ltd,' and addressed to Nurse R.K. Jones.)
'Oh do open it,' my mother pleaded, as I went to put it coolly on one side until I'd finished breakfast. (I was only trying to annoy, anyway. My uniform was all complete now and I was dying to try it all on.) But I tried to take my time opening the box. Inside, leaves of pristine tissue paper suggested a thing of great value lay before us. And so it did in a way. It was lovely just to look at as it lay there in the box, nested in the tissue. But then as I lifted it out it slipped out of its folds in a long, graceful slither and just felt seriously smart and very special as I held it up for mother and I to see.
'You must change, dear!', she said. 'You must put everything on and show me! Quick! Your shoes are in the box still in the bottom of the wardrobe.'
I thought about being cool, saying I would try it all on later, but actually I couldn't. I folded the new me over my arm and went upstairs in as decorous a manner as I could manage. 'Oh, all right then' I said, resigned and long-suffering.
I had tried on the other things before - several times - and it didn't take me long before I was ready for the pièce de résistance. In front of the wardrobe mirror, ready in my new shoes, my style 3054 'Dorothy' light blue short-sleeved dress (in Danco Super Poplin), with white apron, I held the mackintosh up by the collar and slid my arm into a sleeve. It felt so nice, and when I had done up the buttons and pulled the belt tight it looked so smart I really felt quite faint.
I took it off again before going downstairs - so I could put it on again.
'Put it on dear, do put it on!' my mother cooed, admiring the other things once more.
I did as I was told, leaving it open this time and slipping my hands casually into the pockets (which were smooth and cool, of course, like the inside of the sleeves).
Mother was outraged at this. 'Oh no, dear, you can't go about like that! Not now you're a nurse! You must wear your uniform properly. Come here!' And she buttoned me up herself, and then drew the belt tight did up the buckle and tucked the loose end in at the back.
Then she stood back and I had to turn and pirouette almost, this way and that, as she looked at what had become of her darling daughter. My lovely new mackintosh rustled wonderfully as I twirled about, and in between turns Mum hugged me and said how marvellous I looked, and how I must keep it nice, and always wear the belt properly, and not get it dirty - and so on. At one point, before she caught up with herself, she was beginning to tell me I must be very careful not to get it wet!
In the evening I had to repeat the whole business for my Dad. And the following day for my Aunty. But I didn't mind a bit! They all loved me in my new uniform, and especially (I think) in my brilliant new mac.
Wearing my mackintosh wasn't always fun. I discovered one day that Matron shared my mother's sense of outrage when buttons and belts were left undone. She saw me in town with my mac undone and hauled me up before her for a real telling off! It wasn't just a telling off either - she had no alternative but to give me a punishment, she said, and it would be a punishment that fitted crime, to bring home to me how girls under her authority were expected to comport themselves.
'You chose to lower the good name of St Agnes by lounging about in public with your mackintosh undone,' she intoned, (something like that) and then made me wear my mackintosh, 'done up properly', all the while (when I was not on duty) for a week!
But that's another story, really. The funny punishment was certainly as humiliating as Matron meant it to be, and now I'm always careful to 'do up my mac' and 'stow the belt end neatly away'. But it didn't put me off my lovely uniform mackintosh, and it didn't stop me enjoying others later: or you wouldn't be getting this letter!
Thank you for your efforts, Lorraine. Keep up the good work!
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