A sheepskin coat is not just for Christmas – unless your paternal grandmother has given you one.
Each year I would receive a big present, bought off my Nan’s Grattan catalogue.
Fashion ideas, however, differ when there’s a sixty-year age gap.
I’d travelled on Boxing Day 1970 from our flat in Balham to my Nan’s flat in Marylebone, filled with great expectation as to what the ‘big’ gift might be? The year before I’d been given an identity bracelet with ‘Michael’ engraved on it (my full name, which meant you’re late for your tea, your room needs tidying and/or you’re never going to get any O-levels reading The Beano). The bracelet was so heavy my arm would hang like an Orangutan.
Would this year be different?
Once settled, I was presented with a package half the size of my torso (not another bracelet, then?). Upon removing The Clangers wrapping paper I discovered a sheepskin coat which, if you were fifty, a football manger, selling an old Cortina or all three, it was the ideal present; if you were fourteen, you almost wished for another bracelet (at least both shoulders would droop).
But there was always a second, smaller present. More unwrapping, this paper time adorned with Atom Ant, it became evident my Nan had succumbed to the sales skills of the local Avon lady; as I unravelled, I found a bottle of Windjammer; a fragrance which sounded like it should be a cure for flatulence and certainly smelled like it.
In years to come I had visions of sitting in a football dugout, 1600E log-book at the ready, knowing no insect would come within 100-yards of me!