HOOLET enjoyed a taste of Nordic noir this week. When the postman knocked, Alan was first at the door. He was hoping for the latest issue of Uncut Magazine, with its free Bob Dylan CD, which a friend has kindly sent. Until it arrives, the postie faces a daily interrogation concerning its whereabouts. The book he handed over was no compensation.

What did arrive, a few hours later, was almost as welcome. A large courier van rolled past the windows and again Alan, who is starting to resemble a cat at a mousehole, opened the door. Several minutes passed without sight of the delivery man, although the van rocked as if on the high seas as he rummaged through the items in the back.

He emerged unsmiling with a bag labelled Stutterheim, a Swedish rainwear company. Inside was a pair of black galvanised rubber ankle boots with a tractor-tyre tread. Called Chelsea Rainwalkers, they have the brand emblazoned on the heel presumably so that even in monsoon conditions admirers can see from afar where they were bought.

As soon as he put them on, the house acquired a Scandinavian air. They were utilitarian, robust, seriously but stylishly sensible. I could imagine him as a snow-ploughman in Arctic wastelands, leaping out of the cab to free his back wheels with no fear of getting his socks wet. That’s assuming he could lift his feet, that is. Each boot is as heavy as if caked in cement.

I eyed them with envy. Only the embarrassment of going out looking like identical twins prevents me ordering the pair with red soles. Most interesting of all was the note that came with them. “We believe that melancholy inspires creativity and change. So embrace it. You can start by embracing the rain.”

Stutterheim’s motto is “Swedish melancholy at its driest.” It’s an insight into the humour and self-awareness of a nation inured to filthy weather. No wonder it struck a chord. Last night, I was woken by hail pinging down the chimney and onto the hearth. The deluge roared, blanketing the skylight in slush, then passing over and allowing sleep to return. A couple of hours later, as daylight strengthened, it returned. I peered out of the shutters. The street was running in rain and our windows were awash, as if buckets of water were being hurled at us.

I have always loved rain. Grey skies suit me, as do black clouds. But there are limits, and of late it feels as if we have reached them. What must it feel like to wake in spring time or summer, with the certainty of blue skies and warmth?

Stutterheim’s boots have answered the problem of taking a stroll through muddy lanes whether it’s fine or dreich without worrying about the state of your shoes. The rest of the time, getting dressed in this see-sawing climate is as much a game of chance as placing a bet at the Kelso Races.

Last month, on my first visit to Edinburgh since November, I changed clothes three times before making it out of the door. The issue on this occasion was less the need to cover every meteorological eventuality, and more remembering what it is to appear in public among folk more used to urban boulevards than rutted Borders by-ways.

Waiting at Tweedbank station for the Edinburgh train a few days later, Alan got speaking to a woman who said she too had found it difficult to know what to wear that day. As sleet and wind battered the shelter where they’d taken refuge, his eyes travelled to her feet. The open-toed sandals had certainly been a mistake.

At the moment, thanks to the elements and the work to be done in the garden, my main accessory is mud. Last weekend I came in from an afternoon’s labouring looking like a Henry Moore sculpture. I could barely peel off my jeans, which were moulded in earth. The fleeting thought of throwing them in the bin did, shamefully, cross my mind. How could anything this mucky go in the washing machine? The same went with my hat, which was awful to behold. After hours crawling on hands and knees in the undergrowth, my favourite pale blue beret had been transformed into a Tunnock's teacake.

Some years ago I too embraced the Scandi-noir school of fashion. In a discount store I picked up a parka whose fake-fur-lined hood was so funnelled, it made me look like an Inuit keeping vigil at an ice-hole. Murderers trying to hide their identity from CCTV have gone to fewer lengths to conceal their identity. It was, nevertheless, my ideal coat, so stuffed with down that I could barely bend my arms. Squeezing behind the wheel of the car was a reminder to go easy with the cheesecake.

Chic it was not, but as the trip to the capital reminded me, now I live in Hoolet I can go for weeks without looking in the mirror. Some Hooleteers, by contrast, are well-dressed whatever the conditions, regardless of the hours they spend digging or walking the dog. Heads down into the gale, they pass the house in caped rainwear, or sleek skiing jackets, bringing a hint of Aspen to the village. It is not that living in the country turns you into a scarecrow. Simply that, should you have a tendency that way, it will flourish at every opportunity.

Acres of comment have been devoted to fashion during lockdown, or abandonment thereof. While I cannot imagine sitting at the desk in pyjamas, and have not allowed my feet to go feral, I sympathise with the shock to the system of suddenly smartening up. It’s been hard enough these past few weeks trying to dress for al fresco society when you need to be less Catweazle and more catwalk, while ever-ready for squalls.

Sartorial code this past year has echoed police advice for winter drivers: pack blanket, shovel, torch and high-calorie rations to tide you over until rescue. Yet as of tomorrow, when we can finally meet indoors, the wardrobe situation will have to be addressed. Soon there’ll be no need for a woolly jumper or fingerless gloves. Who knows? Summer dresses and strappy shoes might even make a return. But for the moment, as the sky darkens yet again, that’s further than my imagination can travel.

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