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Feel the force

The missus has requested a djellaba for Christmas.

I remind her again about my allergies and the house policy on pets but she insists this isn't a moggy or a pooch or a long-haired Peruvian guinea pig – it's a dressing gown for her to mooch about in when the kids are at school.

A quick web search apprises me of the salient facts. A djellaba is actually a hooded robe with wide sleeves worn by the Berber peoples of the Maghreb, a region that covers most of the bits of North Africa where charter flights land when there isn't a popular uprising. If you've ever holidayed there you may have seen someone wearing a djellaba in the souk at Sousse or Essaouira, or on that trip into the Atlas Mountains where you ate barbecued goat and mistook the harissa for ketchup. Ouch!

If you've watched Star Wars, you've definitely seen a djellaba: Alec Guinness wears one throughout Episode IV, at least until he vanishes into thin air and leaves it lying on the floor. His was brown, which in the Berber areas signifies that he was unmarried. The hood, by the way, is called a qob and is sometimes used as a makeshift shopping bag.

Now Edinburgh has its fair share of patchouli-scented ethno-shops selling rainbow-coloured sweaters, Nepalese nik-naks and earrings made from yak droppings, so I'm sure one isn't going to be hard to find. Trouble is, she wants a very particular djellaba from a very particular high-end retailer, which seems to have turned it into a fashion item and given it a price tag to match. It has a tartan lining, too, so you can un-djellabafy it and turn it into a more traditional sort of dressing gown. Traditional enough to fool the postman, anyway.

I think the inspiration here might be Patrick Lichfield's iconic photograph of John Paul Getty Jr and his wife Talitha Getty, taken on a rooftop in Marrakesh in 1969. In the picture, the oil heir wears a light brown one. For the record, Talitha Getty died in Rome two years later from a heroin overdose, but I suppose that just adds to the dark glamour.

Turns out these djellabas are unisex, too, which raises the prospect of both of us mooching about the house in them if I decide I'd like one for Christmas as well. It's a nice idea, his 'n' her djellabas, but I worry for the kids. It's hard enough dragging them back from the Star Wars/Harry Potter la-la-land in which they spend most of their waking hours, so for us to actually dress like wineglass-toting Jedi wizards when they're not plugged into the grid seems like extremely poor parenting. Mind you, a djellaba would be a cut above my usual mooching-about-the-house-wear – saggy tracksuit bottoms, faded hoodie and Storm Trooper mask. n

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