My camel coat has come back into my life every winter since I bought it for a hundred pounds in the January sales of 1990.
The coat may never have seen it’s first anniversary in my care: but for a sharp-eyed colleague after I had left it unattended at a London Film Festival reception hosted by.animation pioneer John Halas.
Cheap wine amplified the buzz of excitement around Mrs Thatcher’s impending demise. On the other side of the murky Thames, thoroughbred stalking-horse, Michael Heseltine was rocking the political landscape with his strong showing in the first round of the conservative leader’s election.
My former tutor, and Oscar winning legend, Bob Godfrey, was on fire. He vowed he would dance through the streets of London, naked, should Thatcher fall at the next round.
By the time I left there was a solitary camel coat hanging by the exit. A group of us crossed the river in search of pasta. I noticed something strange in my coat pocket. How had an ancient rubber dwarf from Disney’s Snow White got in there? It was sometime later that I realised that the coat I was wearing was not mine. It was older, a little shabby, and a good six inches shorter.
The next morning bleary-eyed colleagues suffered in silenced as I moaned about the loss of my coat. Looking at the imposter coat, hanging on the wooden hat-stand, one of them said, “That’s John Halas’s coat”. He had spent a year working for John Halas and knew the coat well.
I set off for Halas’ office. My coat was on the back of the door. His PA pulled out a rolled up Times from its pocket and transferred it to the real John Halas coat. Seeing the rubber dwarf she simply said, “Bless”. She hadn’t mentioned the mix up to Halas: he probably would have preferred to keep my new coat.