‘Sir, you are looking very bright today.’
‘It’s summer,’ I said, ‘I have switched to summer uniform.’
Linen jackets have been procured in various charity shops, they are part of a rotation that includes a jacket with particular memories
It was a jacket that was banned when I lived in Dublin before. ‘You look like a farmer heading to the mart.’
While this did not feel an uncomplimentary comment, it seemed a reason to bar the wearing of the checked-patterned fawn-coloured jacket with its bright yellow lining when going to the city centre. Out of favour, it disappeared from view for a number of years.
Setting out on a teaching career in England in 2019, in a school where business dress was the norm, the jacket came back into service. Accompanied by cream chinos, it was worn during the lockdown days when the school doors remained open for children who were vulnerable and those whose parents were needed for essential work. The jacket seemed a reassuring token of better times.
The jacket has many memories, perhaps its most poignant were those from 2009.
If the jacket could have recalled its experiences of June and July of that year, it would have remembered the Marcus Brody-like incompetence of its wearer. It would have remembered the confusion surrounding the date of the outward flight, resulting in its wearer arriving a day after the rest of the party. It would have remembered how both a mobile phone and an envelope with €300 in cash had been left lying back on a desk in Dublin. It would have remembered the stifling heat of Nairobi Airport and the greenness of the hills surrounding Kigali. It would have remembered poverty in Burundi that was so extreme it made Rwanda look a wealthy country. It would have remembered the food-poisoning suffered by its wearer that was so severe that a journey had to be made to a Kigali clinic for tests and medication. It would have remembered the wonderful hospitality and generosity of the Rwandan people.
The jacket would have remembered that there was no suggestion of looking like a farmer going to the mart, instead the jacket combined with a wide-brimmed Tilley hat, that was worn as a protection against the equatorial sun, brought the nickname ‘Ponsonby-Jones.’
Perhaps the jacket will have added the schools to its catalogue of memories – Pittville, Drimnagh, Athboy – who knows where it will go next year?