Decoding the strict rules of manly welly wearing
What's the common denominator between farmers? Use of baler twine to tie things up or a penknife to cut stuff down, weathered faces or deeply furrowed hands? Perhaps. But in a temperate climate such as ours, surely the one thing they all do is wear wellies.
Last week, I went to a farm walk and, while my ears were glued to what was being said, my eyes kept straying groundwards. There they were, on everyone's feet. Everyone, that is, except the poor few eejits including myself who thought they could get away with boots. I could almost hear the chorus of disapproval, "where in the world did she think she's going?"
At a guess, I would say the dominant brand was Dunlop, especially the thermally lined Purofort but also evident were Bekina, Cofra, Steelite. I spotted a few pairs of Hunters. Then I saw wellies unlike any of the others. A lighter green, long and slim in the calf, with an elastic insert near the top. Could it be a pair of Le Chameau, the expensive French brand popularised by the Duchess of Cambridge. I'd have felt a bigger eejit if I asked.
But what does what wellies you wear say about you? Opinions abound, now that wellies are commonly worn at outdoor social events. For male farmers, which I will confine this discourse to, the answer is probably quite simple.
Most farmers couldn't care less about the name on the welly. All that matters is that they fit and keep you dry. However, while it is a rare farmer who would claim to be a fashionista, most, perhaps unknowingly, adhere to strict rules of manly welly wearing.
During the summer or working with tillage or sheep, mid-calf wellies might suffice yet they are seen as the preserve of gardening grannies and most farmers wouldn't be caught dead in them.
Usually the purchase of wellies is a pretty unceremonious event. You walk into your local farm supplier and say: "Can I have a bag of calf nuts, a box of Effydral and a pair of size 10 wellies?" If there is a choice on the latter, it would be "black or green?"
Sometimes you will see a man - it is always a man - wearing wellies so wide they are like dual wheels. What kind of feet does he have? Shrek's? Or maybe he just likes a bit of room.