Only those of of certain age will know what I’m talking about when I mention Robert Hirst; this was the name to be found on the label of many of the ubiquitous school raincoats of the past, made by a clothing manufacturer at Harrogate. Every boy and girl in the middle decades of the 20th century owned such a school raincoat and I have previously included a paragraph or two about my own experiences when wearing such a coat in a couple of tales about my childhood; the Atlantean bus and a story about a rainy day. It was an all year round garment suitable for summer and winter, some more expensive versions had a removable quilted lining specifically for colder weather.
A week or so ago, whilst researching for another project, I somehow stumbled upon a blog story of a childhood memory about a young boy; entitled When Batman wore Wellington Boots, it’s a tale of improvisation using the only props available when growing up in the late 50s and early 60s, and a lot of imagination! It was however the paragraph where Kid Robson, the author, describes his use of his raincoat as a cape with the sleeves pulled outside in, that reminded me of one of the games we played when I was in primary school.
In the 1950s the government of the day ordered the building of three new bombers for the Royal Air Force, these were the Valiant, the Victor and the Vulcan, collectively known as the V-bombers. It was the Vulcan that inspired us youngsters with its futuristic delta wing design which we discussed at great length and speculation and inevitably led us on to play bombers. As Kid Robson described in his Batman adventure, with the sleeves pulled outside in and the raincoat draped over your shoulders and buttoned tightly round the neck, you could grab hold of the edge of the coat and run round the playground, arms outstretched in a backward V formation, the wind flowing through the coat causing it to fly behind you so creating your own delta wing. As a further aid to streamlining our improvised Vulcans, we would turn our traditional school caps round so the peak was at the rear, one boy even carried a pair of swimming goggles in his raincoat pocket, just in case! On many a damp school playtime, when every boy had worn his raincoat that day, we engaged in this energetic game with us emulating the roar of the jets as we flew about the playground in our imaginary bombers!