Goodnight – Tessa Waugh’s hunting diary: The September mission

  • While Tessa Waugh’s annual pre-season search for her hunting kit is more fruitful than ever before, her husband ends up going out in his shooting coat. Just don’t mention the dry-cleaner...

    THE eve of the new hunting season always begins with a panic. I can never find any of the stuff – boots, coat, gloves, spurs – which I carefully put away at the end of last season.

    Every year at precisely the same hour, I can be found rifling through suit bags in Adam’s wardrobe in the hope of unearthing a missing tweed coat. Look in my own cupboards? Far too obvious. It is invariably concealed somewhere completely random.

    This time I found my coat very quickly: hanging on a clothes rail in an uncarpeted hellhole at the end of the house. My missing spurs were inside a boot. So I was feeling rather smug when Adam marched into the house and made a beeline for the wardrobe, on the same mission.

    I expect there are efficient wives who can lay their hands on things instantly; produce a dry-cleaned coat from the mothballed bag they put it in more than 10 months ago. They might even leave it hanging on display, so His Highness needn’t worry his head. Not me. I knew exactly where Adam was heading, but I kept my head down: no need to get involved until absolutely necessary.

    After several minutes of rustling in the depths of the wardrobe, Adam emerged from the bedroom empty handed. Still I kept schtum.

    “Can’t find my coat,” he said, adding, slightly tentatively, “could it possibly be at the dry-cleaner?”

    “Absolutely not,” I replied firmly and rather pompously. “I am not in the habit of leaving things at the dry-cleaner.”

    Somewhere in the back of my mind I had a memory of a tweed coat, rolled up in a sad ball and abandoned somewhere on the premises. The two of us set forth to look and spent a fruitless half hour or more scouring the lorry, the workshop, Adam’s office and the tack room. An abandoned supermarket crate had a bag of dog biscuits in it, but no coat.

    Adam was incredibly sanguine, dismissing the coat as “possibly the ugliest thing I ever bought”, and decided to hunt the next morning in a shooting coat.

    “I expect it’s at the dry-cleaner,” offered our hunt secretary when we told him the story.

    A week later I gave the dry-cleaner a ring, thinking I was on a fool’s errand. The coat was probably adorning a charity-shop rail. I was surprised when the lady replied, “Gentleman’s tweed coat. Yes, we have it here. Came in in November.”

    Delighted to have completed the search,  I went outside to tell Adam, but he was really fed up. Who took the coat there is anyone’s guess.

    H&H, 24 September 2020


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