john barbour and sons began as substantially less of a luxury brand than it has subsequently become. barbour, a scotsman from galloway, founded his company in 1894 as an importer of oil cloth, based in south shields, england. his grandson duncan, apparently a keen motorcyclist bears much of the responsibility for taking the company into waxed cotton attire, when it became the originator of motorcycling jackets and suits.
through both fortuitousness and clever marketing, the barbour jacket has become synonymous with the same section of society that favours the range rover and frequenting scottish shooting estates. this image is no doubt bolstered by the company having received royal warrants from the queen, the duke of edinburgh and the prince of wales, leading almost inevitably to a me too sensibility, that finds many of lower social and financial classes dressing in similar fashion.
some of the latter, however, can also be a means of fitting in with rural society in the often mistaken belief that dressing in such a manner may foist an unspoken acceptance upon the incumbent. i know this to be true, since only a matter of months after moving to the hallowed isle, i figured the wearing of a (non barbour) waxed cotton jacket and flat cap would make me less conspicuous as i roamed the cliffs at sanaigmore in search of suitable subject matter for sketching.
i can laugh about it now, but the mental picture of a long-haired cyclist pedalling past sheep filled fields clad in a dark green, heavy cotton jacket simply not cut for velocipedinal activity must surely have made me stand out even more than the simple act of cycling around a demonstrably non-cycling island in the first place.
it would, however, be foolish to ignore the benefits of cotton fabric imbued with the waterproofing and windproofing qualities of wax. in fact, so practical is such a material in regions such as the west of scotland, that i may have been ever so slightly erroneous in my castigation of the range rover set. i tell you this because i have, once again, been drawn to the benefits of the fabric, though as yet not accompanied by any form of vehicle from rover.
despite a predilection of andrew and daphne at this is cambridge for taking seemingly frequent trips to the french alps while indulging their passion for cycling, there is a connection to one of the scottish islands a tad more inboard of the west coast than my home. you may recall several months ago, i reviewed arran emblazoned cycling kit from the very same persons. the isle of arran hides on the other side of the kintyre peninsula, even having the existence of a single malt whisky distillery on its north west coast at lochranza.
it's an island not quite so susceptible to the gales that ravage islay, but i'd be surprised if its annual rainfall was considerably less than our own. this would make the tic waxed cotton cap every bit as beneficial to cyclists on arran as to those of us on islay. by way of validation, i have worn the cap in the worst that an early november weekend can provide; substantial torrential rainfall and winds gusting to around 45mph. the latter resulted in my domestique and i riding up uiskentuie strand with an angle of lean to the right that would be most unseemly in polite circles.
while pretty much everything else had succumbed to a good soaking on reaching the coffee house, including, unfortunately, the spare gloves stashed in a rear pocket for the journey home. happily, while we huddled about the faux coal effect electric fire in the corner, the top of my head had been saved the ignominy of inheriting the wet look that coloured the rest of my demeanour. to add to its hefty degree of pragmatism, the cap features one of those peaks that can be angled downwards to cover the top of the nose when skulking in a café corner, lingering over a cappuccino and a piece of carrot cake.
i'm sure you know precisely of which i speak.
this is cambridge waxed cotton cap is available in sizes ranging from xs to xl and in blue green or red at a cost of £30. if you own a range rover, or want folks to think you might, go for the green.
wednesday 11 november 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................