Outdoors: Shooting and fishing

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WHAT I really want for Christmas, although by the time anyone in the family reads it, it will be too late, is several yards of dogs tooth check Harris Tweed.

The time has come to replace my late father-in-law’s voluminous plus eights (certainly plus sixes). I don’t know how long he had them, but from the label in the equally huge and baggy jacket with large poacher’s pocket, he had them made at Burton’s, but the date label has disintegrated.

This was in the days when Burton’s were still tailors and outfitters to the working man. Estates would send their keepers off to Burton’s to be measured up for their annual plus four suits. As a schoolmaster my father-in-law wasn’t up to smart tailoring, even if his pals were, but I doubt anyone would have noticed whether he got his plus fours at Burton’s or the lairds’ favourite Meyer & Mortimer.

Burton’s did not make suits on the spot; they sent the measurements to their factory in Leeds. A three piece suit, shirt and underwear from Montague Burton were known as The Full Monty, hence the expression, it is said.

Anyway, although there is life left in the breeks yet, it’s time they were put on light duties. There is a hole wearing through on the side of one knee and something odd has happened to the fly buttons, in that they keep coming undone for no obvious reason. And trying to shoot something with one hand and do up your flies with the other isn’t easy or wise.

Added to that, crawling through peat and falling into drainage ditches has over the years imparted an uneven staining all down one leg and half the other. So in an entirely unimaginative way I just want to repeat the tweed and the style, although I am not sure style is quite the word.

I have already horrified one arbiter of country fashion by admitting that if and when my new plus eights are constructed I shall insist on Velcro fastening at the knees rather than those tiresome buckles with spikes in them. I could go for buttons but it’s just something else to be stitched back on.

So Velcro is the answer but quite why it should be considered infra dig I am unsure. Perhaps it is just too modern for traditionalists, even though it has been with us since the middle of the last century.

On the other hand I have been toying with getting a pair of the new fangled tweed trousers which we are told are all the rage for shooting. You simply tuck them into your boots and they look like plus fours anyway, with the added advantage they turn back into ordinary trousers when you take the wellies off.