Monday, August 27, 2007

Urban welly wearing

In twelve years of London life it never once occurred to me (or anyone else, as far as I know) to wear wellies in town. When I arrived in Manhattan in February it was -10C, & I found it difficult to function outdoors. The wind chill had me diving into taxis: I didn't make it onto the subway once, for fear of frostbite striking before I had walked a hundred yards towards the station. Of course, the Stoic New Yorker just wraps up in an impressive range of woolly garments, down jackets and various furry accoutrements and laughs at wusses like me. But what really, really surprised me wasn't the diverse range of cold weather gear, but the wearing of Wellington boots not just to get to work but as day long footwear. And it turns out that this phenomenon wasn't just restricted to winter. I've seen women walking around in wellies as though they were normal footwear all summer. Have these women not heard of trench foot?

In London, muddy wellies lived in the boot of my car with leads & tennis balls for walking the dog on Hampstead Heath & going away at weekends. Still, given the number of rainstorms that have hit Manhattan this summer, I have decided that it's worth joining in, & lugging my wellies over the Atlantic. (I quite like the idea of prancing down Broadway in my purple Hunters & fur coat. I think I'll have to scrape all the mud off them first.) Of course if I could find them I'd be happier. I've searched the boot room at my parents' house in the country, (a hell hole filed with twenty year's worth of accumulated outdoor gear: walking sticks, boots, bobble hats, smelly Barbours, & knackered old Burberry trenches (from before the brand rehabilitation), looked in the attics, scrabbled under the stairs at my sister's, braved the damp in my garage, and even searched in her garden shed. They must be somewhere. Having my possessions (specifically my clothes & footwear) scattered across two continents is starting to become the major drawback of a Ny-Lon lifestyle.